TRENDING: When is a Texas “poll” about sharīʿa not really a poll and not really about sharīʿa?

Recently in Texas, a state legislator, Representative Kyle Biedermann, sent out what he called a poll to mosques across the state. A copy of the loyalty test-style letter and reform-of-Islam manifesto, called a “poll”, is reproduced here. The “poll” was in fact a 7-page series of documents that drew on false notions of select questions of Islamic law (here: sharīʿa) that are uninformed by fact, history, or sociological practice. Sharīʿa, in fact, is the Arabic word for an ideal of justice, and often is used to refer to fiqh — manmade constructions of that ideal. To refer to either is to refer to a broad and diverse legal system that is informed by different cultural context, scholarly interpretation, and community discussion over time and space. These facts are lost in the so-called poll. It only serves to underscore the need for more informed discussion about Islamic law, or sharīʿa, especially as it becomes more and more a matter of local and national debate in our legislatures and courts.