Friday, November 23, 2012

Taking Sharia Seriously

"Shari'ah's Uphill Climb"
Photo from Andrea Kermann
Christianity Today

Christianity Today has an article by legal scholar John Witte, Jr., that actually takes sharia seriously as making claims already in the US, "Shari'ah's Uphill Climb" (November 20, 2012):
Some advocates [of Shari'ah] want separate Muslim arbitration tribunals that operate alongside the state; others want independent Shari'ah courts akin to those of Native American tribes . . . . [T]he bottom line is . . . to allow Muslim communities eventually to become more of a law unto themselves in the governance of marriage and family life. For the past decade, law journals, blogs, and conferences have been full of sophisticated papers pressing this case. Readers can get a good sampling of these arguments in two superb new edited volumes: Shari'a in the West (Oxford University Press) and Marriage and Divorce in a Multicultural Context (Cambridge University Press).
I told you multiculturalism pointed this way! Witte tells us even more, noting the three paths that lead the way indicated:
The three most prominent arguments for the use of Shari'ah family norms and procedures in America (and the rest of the West) are based on religious freedom, political liberalism, and nondiscrimination.
These terms "religious freedom, political liberalism, and nondiscrimination" hint at the sharia advocates' arguments, which Witte spells out in greater detail, but he also offers rebuttals:
Though each argument seems plausible on the surface, they are all, to my mind, fundamentally flawed.
I won't attempt to summarize his more detailed analyses or rebuttals, for they are already brief and easily read at the website. Suffice it to say that he thinks sharia will not find easy acceptance in the US, or in the West, and he should know:
John Witte Jr. is Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, Alonzo L. McDonald Distinguished Professor, and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University School of Law.
I hope that he's right, and maybe with these credentials, he's believable . . .

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