AUDIO: Shari’ah in America discussion

Yesterday’s panel at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, MI discussed the definition of shari’ah, its application in America and the roots behind the bigotry that promotes fear over it inAmerica.

Speakers in order of audio:

Dawud Walid

Professor Saeed Khan

Sayyid Mohammad Baqir Al-Qazwini

Cut & paste below for part 1:

Cut & past below for part 2:

Marable’s take on Malcolm X: Mixed bag

Marable’s take on Malcolm X: Mixed bag

• Sun, May 22, 2011

By Dawud Walid
Assistant Imam of Masjid Wali Muhammad

The late Manning Marable’s magnum opus, titled “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” is an extensive new work about the life of Black American Muslim human rights icon Malcolm X. It is a mixture of new information, repetition of the familiar and hypotheses stated as facts.

Marable’s most prominent life work begins by laying a historical foundation into the socio-political environment in which Malcolm X was born, as well as providing a fairly thorough overview of the immediate family backgrounds of his parents. As the book flows from the narrative of Malcolm’s Garveyite parents giving birth to him to the death of his father and subsequent mental breakdown of his mother, Marable slides into the realm of irrelevant postulates in the name of humanizing him.

He states Malcolm embellished his criminal background as “Detroit Red,” yet simultaneously provides the breadth of his criminal deviance. He also writes Malcolm most likely had a homosexual relationship with a white male friend, then states such as fact. This brings into question other conclusions Marable makes in the book that may merely be assumptions.

The strength of this work resides in the narrative provided of Malcolm X’s evolutionary journey, from embracing the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s program within the Nation of Islam to his expanded worldview, which was the cultivation of the seed planted by his Garveyite parents and brought into fruition by his embrace of universal Islam.

Marable weaves a sequence that paints Malcolm’s travels in Africa and the Middle East with meeting heads of state, competing Islamic groups and Black American expatriates, which now provides contemporary perspective of current controversial issues facing Muslims and Black folks in America. That Malcolm X had close relations with competing Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi movement (so-called Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia) in an effort to establish himself as the voice of American Muslims within the Muslim world highlights his political adeptness in ways other books written about him haven’t.

Marable’s book also provide great detail about the depth to which not only the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) and the CIA spied on him, but also the profound degree to which the New York City Police Department infiltrated the Nation of Islam, and Malcolm’s Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU).

But as Marable adeptly gives the exhilarating, breakneck pace metamorphoses of Malcolm’s religious and political ideology and degree of government dirty tricks in his affairs, Marable disappointingly creeps back into the world of innuendo by stating that Malcolm’s wife, Dr. Betty Shabazz, was engaged in an affair with a bodyguard and that Malcolm himself had an affair. None of these innuendos were concretely confirmed.

Though Marable repeats previously noted conjecture about Malcolm X, his book is a must read simply because it adds to the knowledge-base of Malcolm. “A Life of Reinvention,” however, is just one piece of literature within a large and growing body of Malcolm X literature. In no way should it be read as the authoritative view on Malcolm and what he represented to Black Americans and Muslims during his lifetime.

Flint parents say 11-year-old daughter stranded in Syria

Last Updated: May 16. 2011 2:42PM

Flint parents say 11-year-old daughter stranded in Syria

Oralandar Brand-Williams / / The Detroit News

Southfield —A Flint man and his wife say their 11-year-old daughter is stranded in Syria, unable to leave because of violence sweeping the Middle East.

Ahmad and Wisam Alouh say their daughter, Sara, has been in the Syrian town of Dara’a since last year, where she went to study Arabic and live with her grandparents. The town has been under siege as the government is cracking down on a two-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Since March, Syrian troops have killed about 700 demonstrators who, like others in the Middle East, are peacefully demanding democratic reforms.

“As parents we need our Sara back,” Ahmad Alouh, a pharmacist, said during a press conference today at the office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR-MI) in Southfield.

“My concern is my daughter. I understand the concern of other parents as well.”

The parents said their daughter first tried to leave in November, but was prevented by government officials. Since the crackdown began in March, communications have been increasingly difficult and the family hasn’t heard from Sara first-hand, Ahmad Alouh said.

The Alouhs have received word from someone via satellite phone in Dara’a that their daughter is OK but they are longing to talk to her and get her back home.

Sara’s mother, Wisam Alouh, said Sara’s younger siblings have been asking about their sister.

“It’s very difficult,” Wisam Alouh said. “They are asking about her every day. It’s very sad.”

The family has enlisted the help of CAIR-MI and U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit. Clarke said he is going to ask the European Union to put pressure on Syrian officials to return the girl and other Americans who may not be able to get out of Syria.

Clarke added he will talk to the White House about extended sanctions against Syria and for the U.S. government to freeze the assets of Assad.

“This is a terrible thing that is happening to this family,” Clarke said today.

CAIR-MI staff attorney Lena Masri, who is Syrian-American, said the area where Sara Alouh is staying with her grandparents is the scene of continued bloodshed.

“Close to a thousand protestors have been reportedly killed throughout the country … and hundreds in the city of Dara’a long,” Masri said. “Video footage apparently recorded in Dara’a show unarmed protestors shot and killed by snipers from rooftops — men, women and children alike.”

CAIR-MI also called on the Syrian and the U.S. governments’ assistance in the emergency evacuation of the girl.

TX State Rep Fearmongers About Dearborn Being Governed By ‘Shariah Law’

State Rep. Leo Berman says judges Dearborn, Michigan, practice Shariah law

This legislative session isn’t just about the budget; state Rep. Leo Berman has won House approval of a proposal that would prohibit courts from making legal decisions based on foreign laws, such as Shariah, the religious law of Islam.

On May 9, House members attached Berman’s legislation as an amendment to House Bill 274, a tort reform measure that Gov. Rick Perry earlier declared emergency legislation, before sending the overall proposal to the Senate.

But Berman, R-Tyler, drew our attention April 4 when he told the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence that Shariah law is “being done in Dearborn, Mich,” adding:”The judges in Dearborn are using, and allowing to be used, Shariah law. Also in England… in France and in Germany, the use of Shariah law is being allowed as well.”

Keeping this fact-check stateside, we wondered if judges in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb, practice Shariah law.

But first, what is it? According to an April 3 United Press International news article, Shariah is “roughly comparable to the Talmudic tradition in Judaism” — in other words, religious principles which adherents seek to live by.

Testifying before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on March 30, Farhana Khera, the president of Muslim Advocates, a legal resource for the Muslim community, said Shariah guides Muslims “in the way that religious law guides those everyday activities for Christians and Jews, and other faith communities in the United States.”

When we sought back-up for Berman’s claim, his legislative director, Sharon Guthrie, guided us to Grand Prairie, Texas, resident Dorrie O’Brien, who told us she’s a speaker for Act! For America, a Florida-based group that describes itself as a citizen action network that “defends America and democratic values against the terror and tyranny of radical Islam.”

O’Brien pointed us to a Feb. 24 post on “Creeping Sharia,” a blog about “the slow, deliberate and methodical advance of Islamic law (Shariah) in non-Muslim countries,” according to the blog’s “about” page. The blog says that on June 18, police at Dearborn’s annual Arab International Festival jailed four Christian missionaries, one of whom was “peaceably discussing his Christian faith with Muslim youths” and three others who were “allegedly ‘breaching the peace.’”

According to a June 20, 2010 Detroit Free Press news article, the missionaries were with the group Acts 17 Apologetics, which seeks to convert Muslims to Christianity. They were arrested and jailed for disorderly conduct. One of the four, Negeen Mayel, was also charged with failure to obey a police officer’s order — to put down the camera she was videotaping with — according to the article.

A July 27 Free Press news article says Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly and others had said the missionaries were trying to provoke festival goers, according to the article.

“Creeping Sharia” has a different take: “The Christians were led away in handcuffs by police to the applause and cheers of Muslim onlookers who just witnessed a victory of Shariah law over the Christians.”

The blog post quotes Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, as saying: “Muslims dominate the political and law enforcement process in Dearborn. It seems that police were more interested in placating the mayor and Muslims than obeying our Constitution. Shariah law makes is a crime to preach the Gospel to Muslims. This a classic example of stealth Jihad being waged right here in America.”

The Christians were charged with disorderly conduct after police said theyr eceived a complaint from a Christian volunteer working at the festival who said he was harassed by the group, according to a Sept. 25 Free Press news article.

When the missionaries stood trial in September, festival volunteer Roger Williams testified that at the festival, they “were making me nervous and I felt intimidated.”

A jury acquitted the missionaries, according to the Free Press. Mayel was found guilty of failure to obey the officer’s order.

The Dearborn dust-up made national headlines that month, when U.S. Senate hopeful Sharron Angle of Nevada claimed that the city is subject to Shariah law. “We’re talking about a militant terrorist situation,” she said.

Weeks later, O’Reilly appeared on CNN to dispute the characterization.

“There’s no Shariah law in Dearborn, Mich.,” he said. In an Oct. 11 letter to Angle, he wrote: “Contrary to the Shariah law misconception, there are Christian Evangelists who proselytize to Muslims 365 days a year without resistance or interference from anyone.”

On Feb. 22 of this year, the Thomas More Law Center, which describes itself as a law firm that defends and promotes Christians’ religious freedom, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Dearborn’s mayor, chief of police and two executives for the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the festival. The case is still pending, and neither the city, police department or law center responded to our queries.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Detroit-based Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called Berman’s claim “complete rubbish.” Shariah is a “spiritual compass” that Muslims live by, not a “thick codex of laws,” he said. “Obviously the U.S. and Michigan Constitution are the law of the land in Dearborn, Mich.”

He offered this example: Islamic law prohibits a Muslim from marrying a Hindu. “But obviously if a Muslim male wants to go to the justice of the peace with a Hindu woman, he can marry a Hindu woman,” he said. “Actions guided by a person’s belief in what God wills for him is not anything that can be endorsed by the state.”

However, as PolitiFact Florida reported this month, courts may use religious laws when interpreting a contract that specifies, for example, Shariah as the legal foundation, and both parties agreed to those laws from the beginning.

Markus Wagner, a professor of international law at the University of Miami’s School of Law, said: “It happens all the time… We could use Jewish law, Canaanite law, so long as it doesn’t contravene public policy.”

Detroit attorney Noel Saleh, who specializes in civil liberties and immigration law, told us in an email that “judges in Michigan (like all judges in the United States) are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the state.” The Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution makes the Constitution and the laws of the United States “the supreme law of the land.”

As for the way Berman is suggesting judges use Shariah law, Saleh said: “There are no courts in Dearborn, Michigan that utilize Shariah law in any way, shape or form. This is an urban legend.”

Lastly, we searched online and in the Lexis-Nexis database, which archives news articles, for evidence of Berman’s claim. We found nothing but unsubstantiated claims and speculation.

As we were finishing up this item, Mark Somers, chief judge for the 19th District Court in Dearborn, emailed us this statement: “As with every justice, judge and magistrate of this state, the judges and magistrates of Michigan’s 19th District Court are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of the State of Michigan and to faithfully discharge the duties of the office to which they have been elected or appointed. There are no other laws that govern the adjudication of the matters within the jurisdiction of this court.”

All told, Dearborn Muslims, like all U.S. Muslims, may follow Shariah law in their personal lives and may enter into contracts — such as pre-nuptial agreements — bound by their principles. So may adherents of other religious faiths. And judges may use religious laws to interpret such contracts, providing all parties agree from the beginning.

Far as we can tell, though, judges don’t use Shariah law in lieu of the U.S. Constitution or state laws — nor are they doing so in Dearborn. We rate the statement False.