Guest / Limited Access /
Shari'ah's Uphill Climb
Image: Andreas Kermann/ iStock
Shari'ah's Uphill Climb

A constitutional battle over Muslim family law has begun. In November 2010, Oklahoma voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning the use of Muslim Shari'ah and other international laws in its state courts. This was a direct rejoinder to other Western nations allowing Muslim citizens to enforce Muslim marriage contracts in state courts and to resolve family law issues before Shari'ah tribunals without state interference. Oklahoma's citizens wanted none of it, and they voted to ban the use of Shari'ah altogether. Twelve other states are discussing comparable measures.

In January 2012, however, a federal appeals court upheld a lower federal court injunction of Oklahoma's amendment. Singling out a specific religious law for special prohibition, the court of appeals concluded, violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause and unjustifiably injured Oklahoma's Muslim citizens. This leaves Oklahoma courts with a stark choice: allow Muslims to use Shari'ah to govern internal religious affairs and the private lives of voluntary members, or equally prohibit all religious groups from exercising comparable authority through organs of internal mediation, ecclesiastical discipline, and canon law.

Oklahoma can likely escape this choice by crafting a more neutrally-phrased constitutional amendment. But deft legal drafting will not end the matter. As American Muslims grow stronger and anti-Muslim sentiment in America goes deeper, constitutional and cultural battles over Muslim laws and tribunals will likely escalate.

Many Shari'ah advocates reject America's sexual revolution of the past half century, built on cultural and constitutional ideals of sexual privacy, equality, and autonomy. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedMosul Christian: Thanks for Changing Your #WeAreN Photo
Mosul Christian: Thanks for Changing Your #WeAreN Photo
Believers in Iraq rally around label that forced them out of their homes and churches.
TrendingMark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
Mark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
(UPDATED) Driscoll offers 8-step solution to followers: 'Current climate is not healthy for me or for this church.'
Editor's PickDesire and Deliverance
Desire and Deliverance
Three new documentaries examine Christian faith, homosexuality, and the question of change.
Comments
Christianity Today
Shari'ah's Uphill Climb
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.