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When sentenced in a federal court earlier this month for his failed attempt to detonate a powerful car bomb in New York City’s Times Square, Pakistani immigrant and Muslim militant, Faisal Shazad made a statement that many found disturbing in its matter-of-fact delivery. Given opportunities to speak at various times during his sentencing hearing, Shazad made clear his low regard for civil and criminal law, particularly U.S. civil and criminal law. In his estimation, U.S. law should be regarded as a man-made construct that lacks any authority to direct the behavior and conduct of Muslims. In his own words, Shazad said,
“How can I be judged by a court that does not understand the suffering of my people?”
“We do not accept your democracy or you freedom because we already have Shari’ah and freedom.”
Shari’ah and freedom. To varying degrees, perhaps less as we go on, Americans understand the concept of freedom and in fact may be comfortable with it to the degree that they take for granted how much of it they possess and how much of it they may be losing. What about Shari’ah, the other object of his statement? What do we really know of Shari’ah? Even more incredible to our sensibilities and concepts of law and religion, was Faizal Shazad right? Should, in the mind of right-thinking Muslims, Shari’ah stand separate and above any other form or concept of civil or criminal law? The simple answer, from an Islamic perspective is, yes.
Let us first answer the question, “What is Shari’ah law?” While the simple answer is, “It’s Islamic sacred, or Muslim, law,” that is the answer as it might be written on a 200 question multiple-choice test on world religions. It’s a bit more complex that, but not much.
Shari’ah law, or Sacred Islamic Law, is derived from two basic, in fact the two basic, Islamic sacred texts, the Qur’an and the Hadith. By now, most of us understand the Qur’an as the holy book of Islam. During my presentations on jihad, I ask my audiences if they know what the Qur’an is, they often reply, “It’s the Muslim Bible.” Well, sort of, but only. In Islam, the Qur’an is differentiated from the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity in several key areas.
First, unlike the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the Qur’an is not a collection of books, traditions, historical accounts, and revelations collected over 30+ centuries. It is a single series of revelations handed down by God (Allah) Himself, directly to he whom Muslims claim is the final prophet of all history, Muhammad. These revelations were told to Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel and serve as the final prescription for the salvation of all humanity until the end of times. They do not complement or complete the prior revelations of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, they abrogate them; correct and erase the corruption of the Jews and the fabrications of the Christians. The Qur’an renders null-and-void all scriptures that came before, just as Islam renders all prior faiths untrue. Thus, there is no reconciling Islam to Judaism and Christianity, or the scriptures of the Jews and Christians to the Qur’an.
Next, there is the hadith. These are the customs, habits, sayings, and traditions of the prophet of Islam, Muhammad; believed by Muslims as the only true apostle of God and the final (or “Seal of”) all prophets before Moses, Isaac, Abraham, and Jesus, too (to the Muslims, Jesus is just another prophet; not the Son of God). Simply put, the hadith are records of what Muhammad’s companions recalled of the things he said about all host of issues, from using the bathroom, to praying, to washing, eating, marrying, bequeathing inheritance, and to fighting unbelief through jihad. Many American Christians wear leather bracelets that read, “WWJD?” What Would Jesus Do? In Islam, the question “What Would Muhammad Do?” is answered by referring to the hadith, not necessarily the Qur’an. Among the strongest collections of hadith, those with the greatest veracity and authority are the Hadith Sahih of Imam Muslim and of al-Bukhari. The 9th Century Islamic jurists, Imam Muslim and al-Bukhari are regarded as the two most authoritative collectors of hadith. They collected, sorted, and compiled the traditions of Muhammad according to interviews with relatives and followers of Muhammad’s closest companions. The word “sahih” implies that these are the strongest and most reliable collections of hadith. In fact, the Hadith Sahih of al-Bukhari is, after the Qur’an, considered the most sacred collection of texts in Islam and it is used almost exclusively, together with the Qur’an for formulating shari’ah law.
So, from these two sources, the Qur’an and the Hadith, are drawn the instructions and prescriptions for all facets of life, conduct, and law, for both individuals and the community as a whole in Islam. To the Muslim, having been drawn from the Qur’an (the direct, undiluted “Word of God”) and the Hadith (the customs, habits, and sayings of God’s final prophet, Muhammad, the most perfect man ever created), shari’ah is the law of God (Allah), delivered to all of humanity 1,400 years ago! It is complete and addresses all issues personal, spiritual, communal, criminal and civil. It is final. It abrogates all law that came before and trumps all attempts at man-made law that came after. For how can laws created by men and women be superior to the laws for all of humanity, until the end of time, given by God (Allah) Himself?
So, in the mind and heart of a right thinking Muslim, when criminals like Faizal Shazad say things like,
“If I am given a thousand lives, I will sacrifice them all for the sake of Allah fighting this cause, defending our lands, making the word of Allah supreme over any religion or system,” he is right, according the laws of God, undiluted and pure.
When his brothers and sisters in jihad kill in defense of Islam and shari’ah, their victims have not only gotten what they deserved, by the will of God, they will then suffer an eternity of pain unimaginable in hellfire. To Shazad, his sufferings in the Supermax Federal Prison in Colorado will be only temporary and rewarded with an eternity of delight and pleasure in heaven. Such is the belief system that proponents of shari’ah desire to see spread the world over, America being no exception.
Frank Wuco is a retired Naval Intelligence Officer and former Chief of the U.S. Central Command Red Team. He is President of the consulting firm Red Mind Solutions. For more information, visit Frank at www.redmindsolutions.com