How Sharia Undermines Western Justice (with Addendum)
Andrew Bostom 5 September 2011
By Andrew Bostom
Wife-battering imam of the Darul Quran Mosque in Munich, Sheikh Abu Adam, is the face of Germany’s Islamic "Justice.” Adam gave a lecture at the city’s Catholic University entitled "An Islam which distances itself from violence,” shortly before being arrested (12/10) for allegedly assaulting his spouse so violently that she suffered a broken nose and shoulder and numerous cuts and bruises. Media reports claimed the woman, who has borne one of his ten children, wanted to live a more "western” lifestyle, and was allegedly attacked by him after expressing this wish to her husband. The icon of Germany’s Islamic parallel Islamic "justice” system, Sheikh Adam, purportedly shouted Koran 4:34 at his wife as he beat her. [for eg., Shakir translation: "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great”]
Yale Assistant Professor of religious studies Eliyahu Stern’s 9/2/11 NY Times op-ed ("Don’t Fear Islamic Law in America”) vilifies those who seek fair, rational legislative remedies to the encroachment of Islamic law (Sharia) in America as, "stigmatizing Islamic life.” Stern’s vitriol is directed specifically at SB 1028, a bill which was recently passed by the Tennessee General Assembly, and includes this straightforward language regarding Sharia:
This bill defines "sharia” as the set of rules, precepts, instructions, or edicts which are said to emanate directly or indirectly from the god of Allah or the prophet Mohammed and which include directly or indirectly the encouragement of any person to support the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States or Tennessee Constitutions, or the destruction of the national existence of the United States or the sovereignty of this state, and which includes among other methods to achieve these ends, the likely use of imminent violence. Under this bill, any rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Ja’afariya, or Salafi, as those terms are used by sharia adherents, is prima facie sharia without any further evidentiary showing.
Michael Nazir Ali. was the first Bishop of Raiwand in Pakistan’s West Punjab (1984-1986), who emigrated to become the initial non-white diocesan bishop in the Church of England. During September 2009, he gave up his English Bishopric to work full-time in defense of beleaguered Christian minorities, particularly within Islamdom. Nazir Ali has authored Islam: A Christian Perspective (1984), Frontiers in Muslim-Christian Encopunters (2006), and From Everywhere To Everywhere (2009).
Contra Stern’s distressingly uninformed polemics, Nazir Ali offered these scholarly and experience-based observations from his adopted Britain (8/7/11), which support Tennessee’s eminently reasonable legislative solution.
To understand the impact of Sharia law you have to look at other [i.e., Islamic] countries. At its heart it has basic inequalities between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between men and women. The problem with Sharia law being used in tribunals [in Britain] is that it compromises the tradition of equality for all under the law. It threatens the fundamental values that underpin our society.
Author and veteran television journalist Joachim Wagner has just published his analysis of the parallel Sharia-based Islamic "legal” system burgeoning in Germany, entitled Richter ohne Gesetz ("Judges without Laws”). Consistent with Nazir Ali’s assessment of the deleterious impact of Britain’s Muslim "tribunals,” Wagner’s alarming investigation –summarized in English during a two-part Der Spiegel series—elucidates how what he terms "Islamic shadow justice” undermines Germany’s Western constitutional legal system, ultimately abrogating even German criminal law.
The parallel, indeed superseding application of Sharia within Germany’s Muslim community is a widespread, dangerous phenomenon according to Wagner’s research.
As far as I know, very prevalent. There are no reliable statistics, since these mediations take place almost exclusively in secret. But criminal investigators who specialize in organized crime and violence within Muslim immigrant families have confirmed for me that in nearly every conflict in this milieu, the first attempt is to find a solution outside the German justice system.
These arbitrators try to resolve conflicts according to Islamic law and to sideline German criminal law. We see witness testimony withdrawn (from German courts) and accusations trivialized to the point where an entire case runs aground. The justice system is "powerless,” partly because it hasn’t tackled the problem vigorously enough.
Sheikh Abu Adam, wife-battering, polygamist imam of the Darul Quran Mosque in Munich, illustrates the tragic, dangerous perversity of Germany’s tacit acceptance of Sharia as a "communal” alternative legal system.
A Munich-based arbitrator, Sheik Adam maintains that it is a religious duty to mediate among the Muslim faithful. The imam, who lives with three women, and in accord with classical Islamic understanding, believes Islam is an all-encompassing theo-political ideology, described to Der Spiegel how he applies his Sharia-based legal method.
He invites both parties to visit him at the mosque, listens to both sides, and ultimately has them sign a peace treaty. The important thing, he says, is not who’s right and wrong, and evidence is no particular help—the important thing is to find a compromise. In nine out of 10 cases, the people respect his decision, he says.
Adam added unabashedly, despite ignoring accusations of running a shadow justice system,
My judgment is fairer than the government’s. I tell my people, don’t go to the police. ‘We’ll take care of this conflict among ourselves.’ I’m making less work for the police.
Sheikh Adam gave a lecture at Munich’s Catholic University entitled "An Islam which distances itself from violence,” shortly before being arrested (12/10) for allegedly assaulting his spouse so violently that she suffered a broken nose and shoulder and numerous cuts and bruises. Media reports claimed the woman, who has borne one of his ten children, wanted to live a more "western” lifestyle, and was allegedly attacked by him after expressing this wish to her husband. An icon of Germany’s Islamic parallel Islamic "justice” system, Sheikh Adam, purportedly shouted Koran 4:34 at his wife as he beat her. [for eg., Shakir translation: "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great”]
Sheik Adam’s abusive (if Koran-sanctioned) misogyny (and polygamy; see Koran 4:3), notwithstanding, there is no debating that his defiant rejection of Western evidentiary methods for establishing legal truth (and right versus wrong) reflects mainstream, Sharia-based jurisprudence. Joseph Schacht (d. 1969), arguably the pre-eminent 20th century Western scholar of Islamic law, made these salient observations about evidence and legal proof according to the Sharia, in his classic "An Introduction to Islamic Law”:
The emphasis of the Islamic law of procedure lies not so much on arriving at the truth as on applying certain formal rules…If both parties produce evidence, the number of the witnesses produced by each, beyond their minimum number, is irrelevant. There is no examination of the witnesses, or the likelihood of their testimony being true…[I]n cases concerning hadd punishments (i.e., defined by the Muslim prophet Muhammad either in the Koran, or the hadith included: (lethal) stoning for adultery; death for apostasy; death for highway robbery, when accompanied by murder of the robbery victim; for simple highway robbery, the loss of hands and feet; for simple theft, cutting off of the right hand; for "fornication,” a hundred lashes; for drinking wine, eighty lashes) the evidence of women is not admitted, and in the case of zina ("fornication”) four male witnesses are required (notably. if a woman claims to have been raped!)…the dhimmi (non-Muslims vanquished by jihad, and living under Sharia jurisdiction) cannot be a witness, except in matters concerning other dhimmis…
Clearly, Sharia "standards” which do not even seek evidentiary legal truth, while sanctioning explicit, blatant legal discrimination against women and non-Muslims, are intellectually and morally inferior to the antithetical concepts which underpin Western law.
The late Kirsten Heisig, a juvenile court judge in Germany, underscored a year ago, the inevitable consequences of relegating legal decisions to Muslim arbitrators such as Sheikh Adam:
The law is slipping out of our hands. It’s moving to the streets, or into a parallel system where an imam or another representative of the Koran determines what must be done.
Moreover, Joachim Wagner’s "Judges without Laws” documents judges and prosecutors recollections of threats toward public officials and systematic interference with witnesses. For example, Stephan Kuperion, a juvenile court judge in Berlin, noted "We know we’re being given a performance, but the courts are powerless.” And Federal public prosecutor Jörn Hauschild provided this ominous warning: "It would be a terrible development if serious criminal offenses in these circles could no longer be resolved. The legal system would be reduced to collecting victims.”
Wagner himself made this astute diagnosis of the current predicament to Der Spiegel, and proffered an uncompromising interim resolution:
They’re [German public prosecutors and judges] overwhelmed, because they don’t know how to react. They’re in the middle of a legal case, and suddenly there’s no evidence. Eighty-seven percent of the cases I researched either were dismissed or ended with an acquittal when Islamic arbitrators were involved.
Prosecutors need to investigate Islamic arbitrators more intensively. If they had done so sooner, the arbitrators would have been convicted of obstruction of justice long ago. And certain lawyers need to stop behaving as if they were mere servants to a parallel justice system. They allow themselves to be directed by their clients’ desires, regardless of truth and justice. And finally, my plea would be for judges to hear witnesses earlier, which would reduce the arbitrators’ influence.
But Wagner is keenly aware of the more profound, fundamental incompatibility of Western law, and Sharia, the latter being,
Very foreign, and for a German lawyer, completely incomprehensible at first. It follows its own rules. The Islamic arbitrators aren’t interested in evidence when they deliver a judgment, and unlike in German criminal law, the question of who is at fault doesn’t play much of a role.
Nearly six decades earlier, Robert H. Jackson, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1941–1954), who also served as the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, made these more expansive, complementary observations in his foreword to a treatise on Islamic law:
In any broad sense, Islamic Law offers the American lawyer a study in dramatic contrasts. Even casual acquaintance and superficial knowledge—all that most of us at bench or bar will be able to acquire—reveal that its striking features relative to our law are not likenesses but inconsistencies, not similarities but contrarieties. In its source, its scope and its sanctions, the law [i.e., Islamic Law, Sharia] of the Middle East is the antithesis of Western Law…Islamic law, on the contrary, finds its chief source in the will of Allah as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It contemplates one community of the faithful, though they may be of various tribes and in widely separated locations. Religion, not nationalism or geography, is the proper cohesive force. The state itself is subordinate to the Qur’an, which leaves little room for additional legislation, none for criticism or dissent. This world is viewed as but the vestibule to another and a better one for the faithful, and the Qur’an lays down rules of behavior towards others and toward society to assure a safe transition. It is not possible to separate political or juristic theories from the teachings of the Prophet, which establish rules of conduct concerning religious, domestic, social, and political life. This results in a law of duties, rather than rights…
Joachim Wagner’s modern study has lead him to conclude that even the ostensibly limited application of Sharia arbitration within Germany’s Muslim community nullifies the state’s Western conception of legal justice.
The problem starts when the arbitrators force the justice system out of the picture, especially in the case of criminal offenses. At that point they undermine the state… Islamic conflict resolution in particular, as I’ve experienced it, is often achieved through violence and threats. It’s often a dictate of power on the part of the stronger family.
Past as prologue to the present, application of the Sharia has obviously negative societal repercussions, for both Muslims and non-Muslims. How this undeniable truth somehow escapes the mental and moral calculus of Western Sharia-apologists such as Yale’s Eliyahu Stern is astonishing, and reveals the frightening, delusively self-righteous cultural relativist mindset of the American academy. If Stern was truly desirous of protecting the unique Western freedoms many Muslim immigrants to the US cherish in common with non-Muslim Americans, he would applaud the Tennessee state legislature’s bill SB 1028, instead of condemning it.*
*ADDENDUM: It is perhaps an ironic footnote that the language about Sharia Professor Stern fulminated against was actually pruned out of the final Tennessee bill (House Bill No. 1353), when state legislators came under intense pressure from local Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated "advocacy” groups House Bill No. 1353 never mentions the words "sharia,” "Muslim,” "Islam,” or "Islamic law.” Sharia dictates that non-Muslims, in particular, have no right to criticize this divine, perfect, and immutable "law.”