Friday, 06 May 2011 00:00
In a recent Florida State Court decision, a Judge stated, “1. This case will proceed under ecclesiastical Islamic Law.” Yes, that was the order of the Court in a case involving some trustees of the Islamic Education Center of Tampa, Inc. and the Center. Yes, not the laws of Florida under which the Islamic Center was created but under Sharia Islamic Law?
As I read the opinion, I could not believe what I was reading. The Judge went on and said in the order, “…pursuant to the Qur’an, Islamic brothers should try to resolve a dispute among themselves.”
Then, the Judge went even further stating, “If that is not done or does not result in a resolution of the dispute, the dispute is to be presented to an Islamic judge for determination, and this is or can be an A’lim.” Now that sentence was even harder for me to grasp.
First, I had no idea that in Florida, New York or any other State that we had appointed or elected an “Islamic judge”? Next, putting on my attorney hat, I could not figure out how any State could move to Sharia law and not the law of the State in which the legal action is taking place? At the same time, it is possible for both sides in a dispute to agree on an arbitrator – but, is that appropriate under laws not a part of the laws of the United States?
As I did further research about this matter, I came to a December 2010 press release from the New York City Bar Association, which criticized an Oklahoma Referendum which declared Sharia Law as Unconstitutional. The Bar Association press release, unbelievable to me, called the Referendum “discriminatory” and “counterproductive.”
Can you imagine the mess our laws would be in if every religion or special not-for-profit interest group had its own set of laws? Sometimes, it is bad enough to have Federal and State laws overlap and interfere with each other.
While some might argue that Sharia is appropriate in the business world because of the growing influence of Islamic banking interests, I cannot buy that argument – even though some large banks are developing Islamic banking sectors.
Where does all of this stop? We are proud to be a nation of laws. But, a system of multiple laws based on religion or other theories is not at the heart of the United States. Do you think for one minute that Saudi Arabia or even Malaysia, a liberal interpreter of Sharia laws, would permit the application of a U.S. law in its system or even the Ten Commandments? I doubt it very much.
At the heart of this piece should be the preservation of the Constitution and the laws of our States. No foreign based law should be permitted to encroach on our systems of justice. Stay tuned, because I feel this issue is not over and the debate could become as heated as healthcare and immigration.