MEDIA STATEMENT FROM AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIANS
Sharia law is Islamic law and the law of the Islamic state. Therefore it may seem unsurprising that given the claims of ISIS to be an Islamic State that Jacqui Lambie associates sharia law with terrorism. The obvious question that follows is; ‘what is terrorism?’ It seems our own universities, though they have courses devoted to it, have trouble defining terrorism and suggest one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. What is clear is that academics would never define terrorism as sharia law which leaves Lambie languishing.
Fortunately we have Australian Islamic scholars like Mehmet Ozalp who have given us a few more clues about sharia law. In his submission to the 2012 Multiculturalism Inquiry Ozalp noted there are four categories of sharia law; the first two pertain to beliefs, worship and rituals and the latter two to ethics and law. It seems clear that if we are to maintain a healthy separation of ‘church’ and state – or in this case mosque and state – the line should be clearly drawn before we seek to redefine ethics and law.
In a free society, promoting freedom of religion is a no brainer. It should have no bearing on the rest of society whether adherents of Islam face Mecca five times a day or not. However when we get to ethics and law, those other two categories of sharia that affect everyone, we encounter a number of issues. These include the apostasy and blasphemy laws, that undermine freedom and human rights. It’s clear it is here that the line must be drawn.
No one should cry ‘racism’ when these lines are drawn. Dr Zudhi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is an example of a strong advocate for separation of mosque and state. He renounces sharia law and refers to those OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) leaders pushing for the international recognition of laws that would effectively act as international blasphemy and apostasy laws, as ‘thugs’. Despite being a committed Muslim, Jasser urges Americans to not bow down to these thugs because he values freedom, democracy and human rights for all.
In their submission to the Multiculturalism Inquiry the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AIFC ) noted ‘Islam advocates for legal pluralism and accepts all customs of the land, known as the urf, which are valid considerations in interpreting the Koran as long as they do not contravene the principles of Shari’ah.’ That’s the problem of course because many customs in Australia do indeed ‘contravene the principles of sharia’. And the claim that some of those practices such as FGM are not Islamic cannot stand up when historical documents like ‘Reliance of the Traveller’, the Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, refers to FGM as mandatory. The revival of Islam we see in many nations is a revival to the sources; ie to the fundamentals. And as Jasser will attest, real progress is leaving many of those practices in the past.
Lambie may not have the history and theology down pat, but she is in tune with many other Australians who know that limb amputation, capital punishment by beheading, public flogging, polygamy and child marriage are part of the gamut of sharia laws on the books in Islamic states both legimate and illegitimate, and so why would we endorse sharia at all. Let’s draw the line between the religious aspects of sharia, worship and ritual, and the sharia laws that redefine ethics and law. With approximately 60%of sharia laws pertaining to treatment of non-Muslims it is time to recognize that this question of sharia is not one to leave to Muslims only.
Australian Christians is a federal political party with the goal of representing the values and concerns of the 2.7 million Christian Australians who attend church once a month or more, and others who identify with these values and human rights concerns.
Vickie Janson, Victorian State Director
M: 0411 298 464