Both Christians and Muslims have suffered under Sharia law, but don't tell that to Imam Feisal Rauf, who claimed during a Tuesday panel that “the fundamentals of Islamic law insist that there be freedom of religion.” Rauf and Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput disagreed over the role of Sharia in society during a panel discussion held Tuesday at George Washington University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.
Rauf, who recently endured criticism over his advocacy for an Islamic cultural center close to Ground Zero in New York, ignored how Sharia is currently being practiced around the world, instead focusing on the idealized version of Sharia as defined by Sunni scholar Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi in the 14th century — preservation of religion, life, lineage, intellect, and property
He even suggested adding a sixth principle saying, “All of law is to further the interests of human beings in this life and the next.” Not only are these principles in line with America’s constitutional protection of human rights, Rauf argued, but they “flow from the Jewish and Christian greatest commandments” — love God and love your neighbor.
This flies in the face of how Sharia has been practiced in the world. Even the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has noted that Christians and Sufi Muslims in Iran experience “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
“The primacy of Islam and Islamic laws and institutions adversely affects the rights and status of non-Muslims. Members of these groups are subject to legal and other forms of discrimination, particularly in education, government jobs and services, and the armed services,” said the commission’s annual report.
Archbishop Chaput addressed these ills: “Sharia law is not a solution. Christians living under Sharia uniformly experience it as offensive, discriminatory and a grave violation of their human dignity.”
If Rauf's goal is to advance Sharia as peaceful, he'll have to address its not-so-peaceful practice around the world.