New resource: “What is the Truth About American Muslims”

Proud to finally announce the release of the important pamphlet I co-wrote with Dr. Hussein Rashid, Dr. Charles Haynes (The First Amendment Center), and the invaluable suggestions, input, edits and revisions of several scholars, experts and faith leaders. It is produced by The First Amendment Center and Interfaith Alliance.

It’s called “What is the Truth About American Muslims?

It’s only 13 pages, meant for a broad audience and explains religious freedoms in America, a brief snapshot of American Muslims, some misunderstood terms,  such as ‘Jihad’ and ‘Sharia,’ and explains how the “Sharia Threat” is bogus.

It’s sponsored by great groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, Sojourners, Rabbis for Human Rights, Sikh Coalition, ISNA, MPAC, ING, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good and more.Please give it a read, spread it around and ask for copies if it’ll be helpful for your communities.

The Q&A is attached and available to read and download for free here and we have hard copies we are happy to share if they would be useful for any events you have in the future. Contact:

2 thoughts on “New resource: “What is the Truth About American Muslims”

  1. Thank you Wajahat for providing this. The FAQs include many important points.

    Muslim women should be aware of the following – specifically that “Courts may not, and do not, apply religious law in deciding contracts disputes, divorce or child custody cases. . .”

    “The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibit American courts or other government agencies from substituting religious law for civil law.

    This prohibition applies to all religions equally. For example, a court may not say that since the parties belong to a faith that prohibits divorce (or provides for different post–divorce property arrangements than civil law) that religious law will govern the divorce.”

    Among the primary aims of the Sharia are the achievement of justice, fairness and mercy. That Sharia is subject to a “broad definition of Sharia reflecting the diversity of interpretations. . .”

    “For some, adherence to Sharia means keeping some or all of the religious observances, such as prayer, fasting, or charitable giving. For others, Sharia also affects religious practices and rituals concerning personal matters, such as marriage, divorce, dress, inheritance, business transactions, and property.”

    It should be noted that dispute over divorce etc if challenged in court will result in the secular civil law overriding religious law (or her rights in Islamic law).

    Another important question: Can American courts enforce the decisions of religious tribunals?

    “Yes, as long as the parties:

    1) voluntarily and knowingly submit the matter to the jurisdiction of a religious tribunal,
    2) the tribunal follows certain minimum procedural safeguards, and doing so will not conflict with important public policies (e.g., the policy against awarding custody to a parent guilty of child abuse).

    Such an agreement – in effect an agreement to arbitrate – cannot require a secular court to decide theological questions (i.e., an agreement cannot require reference to a tribunal appropriately applying Islamic, Jewish, canon law or other religious law because that would require the secular court to decide whether a religious tribunal properly applied religious law).”

    The above is subject to a number of legal limitations. The laws governing Muslim women and her religious rights cannot be implemented in the U.S. as there are few religious bodies of proper standing, to escalate to. Arbitration is subject to full voluntary participation – that is, all parties involve must agree without coersion and the results must not defy existing laws or denial of established civil law rights or policies.

    Yet we expect Muslim women to conform to standards and limitations here as if she is fully entitled to her Islamic rights. This really does not exist in the current paradigm. The rules governing marriage for Muslim women were built with the expressed understanding that she has recourse within a certain legal system (Islamic). That is not the case here.

    The patriarchal supremacy of insisting that a Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man – as he is in a position to provide her with her required rights (which a non-Muslim cannot) – is negated by civil law.

    A much needed paradigm shift for religious laws governing Muslim women living here needs to be examined. Especially when rights-based reasoning from one religious legal system (which canot be applied), is negated by another civil legal system – with the full weight of enforcement and legitimacy behind it.

    The inability to transplant a system of religious rights created to enact within a certain socio-economic-political framework (of Islam) to another legal environment here must be addressed when questioning the limitations of Muslim women, especially when it comes to issues of marriage.

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