Shaukat Malik is a Muslim-American Certified Public Accountant from Potomac. A native of Pakistan, he arrived in the United States in 1980.
We cannot name one country with Islamic laws that is a functioning democracy or a benchmark for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness except Turkey.
Muslim majority countries such as Pakistan have a history of thousands of years of customs and folklore shared with India that already plays havoc with the largely uneducated population in the rural areas. Unofficial patriarchal village juries made up of illiterate villagers will hand out and execute primitive punishments along the lines of a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye. Add to this outdated Islamic laws and punishments for, for example, adultery, blasphemy and women’s rights and you have created a living hell for women and minorities.
Because of the Islamization in Pakistan, carried out behind the veil of training Mujahedeen to fight the Soviet infidel, Pakistan has a large number of Madrassas and religious charities that share and support Saudi Arabia’s brand of Orthodox Islam. This was on display during the Lal-Masjid standoff against the Pakistan army in July 2007. These Madrassas and charities openly support the Taliban and al Qaida. It is interesting to note that a majority of the terrorists in prison have received their training in Pakistan.
The recent unrest in Malaysia over the use of the name “Allah” by Christians when referring to God has more to do with fear over losing members of the congregation to the Christian church than to Muslim sensibilities. Separate Sharia laws for Muslims, who make up 60 percent of the population, could open doors for al Qaida types to make inroads into Malaysia’s Muslim population.
The conflict in interpretation between the bible and the Quran over the holy trinity and the oneness of God as stated in the Quran is exploited by Muslim clerics to foment prejudice against Christians. It is clearly stated in the Quran that there is no compulsion in religion and that there must be complete freedom of religion. Muslims Jews and Christians are all children of Abraham and people of the book. A believing Muslim must submit to the will of God. It is God’s will that decides our religion at birth.
Christians freely practiced their religion during Muslim rule in Jerusalem. Muslims have always respected freedom of religion. A bit of history will confirm this. After a brief and bloodless siege, Muslims seized control of Jerusalem from the Byzantines in February 638. Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab accepted the city's surrender from Patriarch Sophronius in person. Omar was shown the great Church of the Holy Sepulcher and offered a place to pray in it, but he refused. He knew that if he prayed in the church, it would set a precedent that would lead to the building's transformation into a mosque. He instead prayed on the steps outside, allowing the church to remain a Christian holy place.
Christians and Jews have used the name Allah to refer to God, especially in Arabia. When we say Allah we are referring to the same one God, notwithstanding the trinity of God argument put forward by Muslim clerics.
I quote from the Quran:
YUSUFALI: And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."
PICKTHAL: And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our Allah and your Allah is One, and unto Him we surrender.
SHAKIR: And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our Allah and your Allah is One, and to Him do we submit.
It is ridiculous for any Muslim to claim a certain name to God as exclusively theirs. The Muslim majority in Malaysia is using religion to subdue the Christian minority. One solution is to have universal laws for all citizens in Malaysia that confirms complete freedom of religion, and not separate Sharia laws for Muslims.
Imagine the United States or Europe without freedom of religion, and Christianity enforced by the state. I think the Muslims of Europe and the United States, with populations of 37 million and more than 6 million, respectively, would find life a living hell. The same is true for minorities living in Muslim majority countries where Sharia laws are part of the constitution and enforced by the state.
Incorporating religious laws in a country’s constitution, no matter what the religion, will generally lead to religious persecution of the minorities. By invoking religious laws when writing any state's constitution, we can never create a vibrant society or culture that is inclusive and welcoming to all.
In a theocratic state only one group of people, for example mullahs in Iran, will end up with complete and absolute control over everything. A theocratic state is a recipe for disaster. Iran and Saudi Arabia are basically fascist states. Either you are with the mullahs or they are against you. Oil-rich theocratic states like Saudi Arabia and Iran provide the funding and lifeline that all terrorist organizations need to foster their agenda of establishing a theocratic caliphate by uniting all Muslims under their banner.
A country with Islamic laws as part of its constitution can easily be transformed into a one-party dictatorship, as is the case in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Such is the power of religion that in Iran protesters against the current government for alleged election rigging publicly profess their allegiance to Imam Khomeni their supreme leader.
Theocratic states where religion becomes the rallying cry can easily lose rationality when faced with difficult decisions. Emotionalism and anger overrides all reasonable analysis and arguments. This is why we fear Iran’s nuclear bomb.
We should never forget that fifteen out of the nineteen 9/11 killers were from Saudi Arabia. This is a scary statistic. Osama Bin Laden is a product of Saudi Arabia’s theocratic dictatorship. He founded his al Qaida network after being deported from Saudi Arabia.
Islamic/Sharia laws are the rallying cry for extremists. In every Muslim country that has Islamic laws, extremists find it easy to organize, using the argument that the government of the day is not enforcing these laws in the true spirit of Islam.
The preamble to the al Qaida constitution can be interpreted as follows: “To set up a theocratic Muslim state with a Caliphate whose laws are based on the Sharia laws as stated in the Quran and unite the entire Muslim world under this state and to fight the infidels (read: Christians and Jews).”
Armed with this message, organizations like the Taliban and al Qaida can claim divine sanction from God to pursue their struggle. By labeling Israel and the West as enemies of Islam, they are able to easily recruit large numbers of fighters among economically disadvantaged populations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world.
It is ironic that al Qaida and the Taliban, who share Saudi Arabia’s religious ideology and method of punishments, have fashioned their flags after that of Saudi Arabia. By doing this they are symbolically holding themselves out as the true guardians of Mecca, Medina and the Kabbah, which are currently under Saudi Arabia’s control. An average Muslim identifies Saudi Arabia and its flag with the annual pilgrimage of Hajj. Performing the Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam: “Every able-bodied Muslim is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime if he or she can afford it.”
An uneducated Muslim can be easily taken in by this symbolism.
The al Qaida murderers are very cunning when it comes to playing psychological wars. The flag bears a very important prayer or saying for Muslims:
"There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah."
This prayer or saying is uttered by Muslims when embracing Islam and also when carrying the body of the deceased for burial.
Similar Flags are used in the background of beheadings and news conferences of al Qaida and the Taliban. When masked al Qaida men cut off heads of hostages, they display this prayer on thier masks and also display it on the wall behind them. Display of this very important Islamic prayer is intended to insinuate a sanction from God for their Heinous and barbaric acts.
Sharia laws, like the Ten Commandments, are given to humanity by God in order to create a just and fair society. Every Muslim believes that God is all-knowing and all-powerful. God would never wish these laws to violate inherent rights that God has given to every human being, namely the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The holy Quran is intended to be for all times, and hence its guidelines as provided by God must be reevaluated and reinterpreted in the context of the times we are living in. One cannot freeze all laws in the context that existed during prophet’s life more than 1,400 years ago. If the Prophet Muhammad were alive today, he would no doubt have a website with an e-mail address!
Much of Sharia law is man’s interpretation of laws that were given to Prophet Mohammed in the holy Quran. Some of these laws were given in response to issues that confronted people living in Arabia 1,400 years ago. There were many orphans and widows after wars and laws with respect to polygamy, et cetera, responded to the situation on hand.
Crafty clerics using self-serving translations and made-up sayings of the prophet have sanctioned themselves up to four wives and convinced the women to go along with this practice They have event prescribed a dress code to restrict and control women.
They equate their act of marrying more than one to that of the holy prophet, conveniently forgetting that the Prophet Muhammad’s marriages were in the context of his role as God’s messenger on earth to spread the word of God and to form political alliances. In fact, the Quran clearly states that since it is impossible for any man to treat two women equally in his relationship with them, he should only marry one.
Punishments such as cutting of heads for murder, hands and limbs for theft, stoning for adultery, et cetera, are out of step with today’s world. If Islam is a religion for all times, then for it to be applicable and relevant as God’s word for a just and fair society, it must be adapted to modern times. A crime of adultery is not a crime against the state but against one’s immediate family, yet in some countries the punishment is stoning to death.
To facilitate this transition, what should be done?
The western media and press must present Muslims in a positive light by not referring to terrorists as Muslims or Islamist fascists. These people cannot call themselves Muslims by simply displaying banners and shouting slogans of “God is great” while cutting off heads and murdering people. This is tantamount to referring to Nazis in Germany as Christian Nazis. Why not just call them terrorists and subtract Muslim from their respective names? This should not be difficult.
Economic development and education programs must be instituted in Muslim-majority countries, and dictators and despots, who create the environment for extremist behavior, should be phased out through elections.
Relgious parties organized on the basis of religion that support terrorism must be treated as enemies of the state and disbanded. This step should be taken in every Muslim-majority country and will go a long way towards neutralizing extremist groups, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Muslim-majority countries must break the linkage of Islamic or Sharia laws with terrorism by amending their constitutions and embracing complete freedom of religion along Turkish lines. This necessary act will deny the extremists and terrorists their reason for existing and over time marginalize them as nothing more than the thugs they are.
Pakistan must be encouraged to repeal its Hadood ordinance that clearly violates the rights of women and minorities and was cunningly imposed on the people of Pakistan through a fake referendum by a military dictator. Today, especially after all the murder and mayhem committed by the Taliban, Pakistan is ready for such a change. The Supreme Court of Pakistan should take a lead and remove these draconian laws from the statute.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference should adopt the Turkish model of moderate Islam that provides for freedom of religion as a benchmark for all its member states. The United Nations can support the OIC in this regard.
The constitution of most Muslim-majority countries contains a clause that no law shall be in violation of Islamic laws as laid down in the Quran, making Islamic laws superior to laws made by an act of parliament. This clause should be replaced by a statement that no law will be included in the constitution that violates the divine human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness given to every human being by God, and that these rights include the freedoms of speech and religion. In summary, we are accepting that God’s law is supreme without the complications of confrontation.
We must educate our children in schools about the Muslim religion and its shared history and roots with Jews and Christians as children of Abraham. The fact that the Quran shares the prophets and stories with the Old and New testaments must be taught to schoolchildren to reduce prejudice, and vice-versa in Muslim majority countries.
There must be an international focus on education in Muslim majority countries to teach tolerance of other religions and shun extremists. Children must be taught that the Quran shares its stories and its prophets with the Old and New testaments and God’s will in determining someone’s faith. Islam’s overriding principle is to submit to the will of God.
The organization for Islamic countries must convince Saudi Arabia to embrace a moderate form of Islam, as has been in done in Turkey, that can then become a benchmark for the rest of the Muslim world.
The West and the United States must encourage Israel and the Palestinians to settle their dispute. Arab countries must accept the reality of Israel as God’s will and recognize Israel. In turn, Israel, by reaching a settlement with the Palestinians, can become an economic power in the Middle East and develop a large market for its goods and services. This will take away a major recruitment tool for religious extremists that have been successfully used in every Muslim majority country.
Iran has been around for thousands of years and is not going to go away. Iran’s largest trading partner is Europe, with over one-third of its exports going to Iran each year, in addition to its trade with China and Russia and Turkey. Sanctions against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons will not work. Israel should sit down with the Iranian leadership to iron out their disputes. Iran’s one-party system is under strain and will yield to international pressure for adopting a moderate brand of Islam. A moderate Iran with nuclear weapons – if we cannot stop them – is a safer bet then a theocratic Iran.
Islam does not ban family planning. Family planning must be encouraged to reduce childbirths among poor parents whose children end up becoming a burden on family and society. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, many of the Madrassa children are a product of poor family planning. Unwanted and surplus, many have ended up becoming human bombs after brainwashing by evil clerics. There is some merit in China’s one-child policy. Space on earth and resources are limited. It is simple commonsense.
Europe went through the Inquisition, and after centuries of persecution of millions learned to embrace complete freedom of religion. The word Muslim means “One who submits to God.” For Muslims everywhere, the simple message is to accept God’s decision as to why someone belongs to a certain religion or is an atheist and to accept them as God’s people.
Jews and Christians as people of the books should reciprocate this sentiment in equal measure.
The founders of this great country were blessed by God to come up with the idea of inherent rights for all human beings namely the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Muslim countries should look for guidelines provided by the U.S. Constitution that is indeed Sharia compliant and use it as a template for their respective constitutions and defeat terrorists with the power of the written word.