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Sharia and the Shahada: Where is OUR Outrage?


Lex Emmanuel

2006/02/16


I recently challenged a muslim man in one of my favorite restaurants, a Hindu owned and operated Indian restaurant which has recently made the unfortunate decision to start serving halal meat (meat prepared to the standard of muslim law). The man and his enshrouded female companion were seated next to me, though that would have made little difference considering the decibel level in which he chose to make his arguments over his cell phone. He was, of course, arguing with someone who seemed to be seeking to quote him regarding the now-infamous muhammad cartoons (all uncapitalized words MY EMPHASIS). He ranted and raved on his phone that the cartoons were an insult and an incitement to muslims and therefor should not be allowed in print and must be protested to the last breath of every muslim alive today.

Once he finished his call, he stood up and I had to ask him (being an afternoon buffet, one never knows another diner's motive in leaving their seat), "Sir, are you leaving now, or should I simply ask to be reseated?". When he asked why I would want to be reseated, I simply told him that I did not prefer to lose my appetite by having to listen to such offensive speech and displays of religious arrogance. He was clearly quite angry with my statement, but I was much more angry with the arrogance I have been feeling over the cartoon protests, dhimmitude, sharia (islamic law) and the most offensive of all in my opinion, the muslim shahada (profession of faith).

He informed me that he was in fact leaving and that I was obviously "filled with hate". With that rock thrown from his little glass house, I promptly informed him that he should carefully consider that he and his co-religionists have been invited freely to practice their religion in Western countries, but that if he wanted a true example of incitement, insult to another's religion or arrogance, he needed look no further than the muslim shahada. I then repeated the words (never fear, if they are spoken without belief, they do not render the speaker automatically a muslim, and I remain a proud infidel!), "There is no god but allah, and muhammad is his prophet". I told the man that by this very statement/doctrine, muslims had provided an incitement and rather deep insult to every other religion on the planet. The man at this simply repeated that I was "filled with hate" and promptly left the restaurant.

Yet are not these words, which are chanted at protests along with "allah akbar" ("allah is greatest"), not an insult and an incitement to the whole non-muslim world (Dar al-harb, or the "realm of war" according to muslims)? I do not believe that allah is the same as the Judeo-Christian God, no matter how much muhammad and his followers insist. Nor do I believe muhammad to have been the Judeo-Christian's God's prophet at all, much less his final one. This issue, however extends as well to other religions, many of which that find themselves in constant contact with islam, as do the millions of Hindus who have endured centuries of muslim conquest and encroachment. Indeed, the many thumbs-ups I received by Hindu diners in the restaurant signified to me that at least some Hindus agree with my feelings and statements.

In addition to the shahada, the world is also home to the many different applications of islamic law, or sharia. More recently, calls for sharia to replace more Western systems of law have resounded from throughout the muslim world, as well as in areas of the West, muslim communities in Canada , for instance. The more militant factions in the Northern (mostly muslim) Nigerian State of Kano have now brought the issue to full flare, having trained vigilantes called the "hisbah" which have been banned in the nation's highest court. This ban is now being challenged, and the non-muslim population of the mostly muslim North will be subject to the terrorism of the hisbah, as well as the unfortunate muslims deemed guilty of any infraction of sharia.

Yet some of the most poignant examples of the applications of sharia come from the almost unending stories of women executed or awaiting execution in Iran . Many have been unable to forget the brutal hanging of 16-year-old Atefeh Rajabi, a defiant girl whose stated crime was of the sexual nature of having a boyfriend with whom she was accused by the local judge of sexual relations. Many reports from Iran state that the truth may in fact lie in her refusal of the judge's sexual advances on her. This seems plausible, as the judge himself dragged her to the town's center and hanged her himself, insisting that her body hang for approximately 45 minutes as an example. It has also been reported that Atefeh  screamed "repentance" repeatedly as she was dragged to her fate, which according to the standards of her culture should have given her a stay of execution.

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