N.C.’s Sharia ban biased and harmful, says panel

N.C.’s Sharia ban biased and harmful, says panel
February 05
00:00 2015
Photo by Todd Luck, Above: Imam Leonard Abdullah makes a point.

A panel of local Muslims last week denounced the state’s ban on a foreign law designed to bar Sharia or Islamic law.

“Folks were in this hysteria thinking that the minority Muslim Community here in North Carolina could somehow impose our laws, laws taken from the Sharia,” Imam Khalid Griggs of Community Mosque said at a forum on the subject held Tuesday, Jan. 27 at the Polo Recreation Center.

Fleming El-Amin speaks on the Sharia ban.

Fleming El-Amin speaks on the Sharia ban.

The discussion took place at the monthly meeting of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. In addition to Griggs, the panel included Imam Leonard Abdullah of Masjid Al Muminun and Dr. Darlene May, an associate professor of Arabic at Wake Forest University.  Fleming El-Amin, an  Americans United for the Separation of Church and State board member and a member of the local Board of Elections, acted as moderator.

The North Carolina law, sponsored by Republican lawmakers and allowed to become law by the governor without his signature in 2013, bans the use of all foreign laws in family cases. Sharia is moral code and religious laws taken from the Quran and the example set by the Prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. In the case of family law, it may affect things like marriage and prenuptial agreements for people from certain countries.

Seven states have passed similar measures and the matter has been debated in dozens more. The laws typically ban foreign laws, since a court in Oklahoma struck down that state’s ban because it specifically focused on Sharia law, which is observed in some Muslim countries.

sharia Griggs

Imam Khalid Griggs speaks.

Proponents of the bans say they protect the Constitution, but many disagree. Muslim groups have been joined by Jewish organizations in their opposition to the bans. The Anti-Defamation League in Florida opposed that state’s foreign law ban, which passed last year, for fear of its potential effects on alimony, child custody and even the ability to remarry for Jews who divorce in Israel.

The American Civil Liberties Union has opposed such bans as being discriminatory and successfully challenged the Oklahoma ban. The American Bar Association said the bans are unnecessary and can complicate divorce and marriage cases that involve religious laws and that  wider foreign law bans could have negative effects on international business deals.

“The law has all types of far reaching implication that we may not even realize until situations arise,” said May.

Panelists assured attendees that there is no justification in Sharia or the Quran for terrorist attacks like the one on a Paris newspaper last month. Abdullah said violence in reaction to blasphemy was not following Muhammad‘s example. He said those trying to incite Muslims, like the Florida pastor who threatened to burn the Quran in 2010, are best left ignored.

“If you ignore it, it’ll go away,” he said.

El-Amin said Sharia is also not represented by Islamic State militants beheading prisoners. He said few ever identify the Ku Klux Klan with Christianity, even when members burn crosses in people’s yards, yet many want to judge his faith by its extremists.

“It‘s a different mindset today because we don‘t have a knowledge base of each other,” he said.

Another aspect of the Sharia bans, panelists said, is that they added fire to the fear of Muslims across the nation.  On Jan. 29 in Texas, where legislators have attempted to pass a foreign law ban for years, Muslims were invited to come to the state Capitol in Austin. They were met with angry protests shouting things like, “No Sharia!” “Go Home!” and “Jesus is Lord.” One Texas lawmaker, Molly White, posted on Facebook that she left an Israeli Flag in her office with instructions for Muslims to denounce extremists and pledge allegiance to America and its laws.

“We’ll see how long they stay in my office,” she wrote.

Griggs said even he’s been accused of radicalism by online websites. An article on the website Clarion Project cited a study called “Shariah: The Threat to America” when asking why WFU didn’t understand the “serious implications” of hiring “an individual like Griggs” as associate chaplain for Muslim Life.

Griggs is well known in the community for appearing at interfaith programs. Under his leadership, Community Mosque has long held a free medical clinic, regular food and clothing giveaways and will open its own academy for children ages 4 to 18 later this year.

About Author

Todd Luck

Todd Luck

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors