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Midwest Muslims Work To Change Anti-Shariah Movement

KCUR 89.3 FM
Alex Smith
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

KCUR published:

In some interpretations of Shariah, a husband is permitted to beat a wife who fails to fulfill her responsibilities. The penal codes, which call for severe punishment of certain crimes, have also drawn a lot of attention. KU law professor Raj Bhala, who teaches Shariah, explains the punishment for shoplifting.

"That is a crime which is a crime against God, a claim of God, a crime against the religion, and the punishment – it’s know in Arabic as haqq allah crime. And there are a limited number of haqq allah offenses. And they are seen as the most serious offenses that one can commit, triggering the most serious punishments. And these punishments are generally – not all of them, but generally – spelled out in the Quran, and saraqa happens to be one of them – theft – where after the first offense, the right hand would be cut off, and then the second offense would be left foot. And then thereafter would be imprisonment or flogging.”

However, there are actually a very small number of places in the world where the most severe practices of Shariah are carried out.

“Most Muslims would agree that these offenses - while serious, of course –the punishments for them need to and have been interpreted in different ways so as not to trigger that strict cutting off of a limb. And when you look at polls of Muslims around the world, including the Arab Muslim world, most of them would not want the most severe forms of Islamic criminal law to be their own law.”


In injunction has upheld on January 10th of this year, and the case will next go to federal district court, where the merits of the case will be heard. Muslims and 1st amendment advocates will finally get their chance to challenge anti-Shariah legislation. And they have cause to be optimistic, because the chance of a law that specifically mentions Shariah staying on the books is very slim. KU Constitutional Law professor Richard Levy explains.

“I guess I would say highly likely that a law that targeted a religion would be considered unconstitutional. Under the Supreme Court’s case law, the law might be upheld if it were narrowly tailored to meet a compelling governmental interest. So if the government could show there was a very, very strong interest, like protect millions of lives and things like that or other similarly important interests. And then that the law targeting the religion was really necessary in order to avoid that harm or serve that compelling interest, it might survive Constitutional scrutiny. But I’m not aware of any case where the US Supreme Court has said that a law targeting a religion or religious practice was Constitutional.”

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