So Just What Is “Shariah Law”?

By Yashwanth Manjunath

The looming specter of “Shariah law” continues to terrify the ignorant and intolerant among us (as if anyone is planning on bringing Shariah to this country), while allowing the agents of hate to divide this country for political gain. To the average American, “Shariah law” represents honor killings, heavily veiled women, stoning people for adultery, and the beheading of infidels. In short, “Shariah law” represents America’s very worst ideas about radical Islam, because that is what the conservative media continues to tell people. I hope people take the time to understand what exactly what “Shariah law” is before working themselves up into paroxysms of terror over the usual race-baiting and fear-mongering rhetoric that forever spews from the conservative noise machine.

“Shariah” is just a set of principles in the Quran, not a system of law.

The six principles of Shariah are:

1. The right to the protection of life.
2. The right to the protection of family.
3. The right to the protection of education.
4. The right to the protection of religion.
5. The right to the protection of property (access to resources).
6. The right to the protection of human dignity.

Wow, those six principles sound a lot like parts of the Bill of Rights. There is nothing in the core principles of Shariah about stoning adulterers, honor killings, or beheading infidels. Those are cultural practices, not Islamic ones. “Shariah,” just like the entire religion of Islam, has been perverted by radical groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban for the benefit of their own twisted ideologies. Shariah is not inherently dangerous to Americans, and we have no reason to fear it — just as we have no reason to fear the construction of a glorified rec center in Lower Manhattan, regardless of what lies the Islamophobes in the conservative media tell us.