No, Newt: Anti-Sharīʿa Rhetoric Doesn’t Change the Law

US Editor Abed Awad summarizes the inaccuracy of Newt Gingrich’s proposal.

Newt Gingrich told Fox News in an interview last Thursday that “Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in shari’a they should be deported.” Gingrich continued, “Shari’a is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up shari’a — glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door.”

Granted, Gingrich’s suggestions about testing Muslims is illegal, unconstitutional and racist. Gingrich is well aware of this, but he still spews ignorance and hate for a purpose. In a New York Times profile of attorney David Yerushalmi, Yerushalmi explained the motive of his anti-Shari’a campaign: “If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would have not served its purpose,” he said. “The purpose was heuristic—to get people asking this question, ‘What is Shari’ah?’”

Gingrich and his ilk do not care whether or not people asking this question learn the truth about Shari’a and what it means to millions of Muslims in the United States. Gingrich wants to politicize his fabricated version of Shari’a in order to convince mainstream Americans that all Muslims are possible ISIS cells, and thus they are suspect and their faith a threat to America. This fabricated fear and threat mantra fuels the growing Islamophobia.

In the end, for millions of devout Muslims in the United States, Shari’a constitutes their moral compass from the way they eat, dress modestly, pay zakāt (charity), treat animals humanely, love their neighbors, and protect the environment. Shari’a reminds them to conduct business with fairness and transparency, forgive debts, and respect parents and the elderly. They marry and divorce in kindness, distribute their estates after death, and so much more. Shari’a is more than the law in the prescriptive sense; Shari’a is the road map to an ethical and moral life to please God. This is a very personal and intimate spiritual existence.  Contrary to Gingrich’s racist allegations, this is protected by the First Amendment and is compatible with the American way of life.

I would like to share with you a New York Times video interview I did back in 2011 about the anti-Shari’a movement in the United States. It debunks Gingrich’s bigoted comments and explains that courts every day in the United States consider foreign law, including Shari’a, in their evaluation of cases as long as it does not violate our Constitution. The compatibility of Shari’a and our Constitution is assumed, as these evaluations indicate.

The views and opinions expressed are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of SHARIAsource.