Muslim Group Launches Shariah Campaign - 27 March 2012 - From Herbert London

The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) announced a national Shariah education campaign to promote "religious freedom and combat Islamophobia.” This campaign will include an education tour to introduce Islamic faith to the American public, as well as billboards, college campus seminars, radio ads, and a national hotline to address questions about Shariah.

Shariah education and interfaith events and town hall forums are scheduled for 25 cities. According to Dr. Zahid H. Bukhari, president of the ICNA, "The First Amendment guarantees religious freedom for every citizen. Muslim Americans are asking for the same fundamental rights to observe Shariah, a component of the Islamic faith, in our personal, familial and religious affairs within the boundaries of the United States Constitution and all local, state and federal laws.”

Presumably these town hall forums are designed "to clarify misconceptions about American Muslims.” But suppose Shariah is incompatible with constitutional guarantees? Suppose as well that Shariah, if widely instituted, would shatter provisions for free speech, individual rights and equal protection of the law?

It is certainly appropriate to educate the public about Shariah. Is it, however, appropriate to propagandize in behalf of religious attitudes that encourage hostility to women, that argues Jews are the progeny of apes and pigs and that can only accept categorical rights as opposed to individual rights?

It will be interesting to see if ICNA encourages an opposition voice at its public events. At most interfaith conferences I have attended Muslim representatives offer their selective interpretation of the Koran and Hadith. Rarely are contrary opinions cited, nor are portions of the holy documents carefully parsed.