Lawmakers urged to address Sharia
The Topeka Capital-Journal recently covered a measure in the Kansas Legislature that would attempt to keep the influence of Sharia, or Islamic law, out of the courtroom. Sharia expert and Rice Distinguished Professor Raj Bhala was interviewed for the story, and he called the bill "wrong-headed."
University of Kansas professor Raj Bhala teaches International and Comparative Law — courses that include Sharia, as well as Chinese law and other systems. He said students understand U.S. law better by learning about other countries and knowledge of foreign systems is absolutely imperative for anyone who plans to practice international law.
Bhala said the anti-Sharia bill sounds "wrong-headed."
"Sometimes the worst legislation is spawned by fear," he said. "This is an example of that."
A Catholic, Bhala has written a book called "Understanding Islamic Law" that provides "systematic comparisons" between Sharia, U.S. law and Catholic teachings. He also teaches Sharia to U.S. Army Special Operations officers at Fort Leavenworth — classes he said generally garner rave reviews for their applicability to current conflicts.
But Bhala said that might be exactly what the Legislature does if it passes the law. He said if the state gains a reputation for intolerance — like other states did after enacting strict immigration enforcement laws — it could turn off businesses that generally prefer to operate in cosmopolitan environments familiar with foreign customs and languages.
"If we are trying to promote business in Kansas, we ought not be enacting legislation that will turn business away," he said.