Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"The Shariah Project" brought to you by ... well, can you guess?

It can be a little hard to find (hmmm, I wonder why that is???) But here is an interesting tidbit from the "program areas" section of the Cordoba Initiative's website:
The Shariah Project – Shariah (Islamic holy law) requires a nation to care for its citizens’ welfare, provide religious freedom, offer educational opportunities, protect minorities, and allow citizens to participate in their own governance. The Shariah Project will enumerate the societal – as opposed to religious – obligations that Shariah requires of a nation governed according to Islamic principles. The Project will strengthen the capacity of moderate Muslims to employ the vocabulary and principles of Islam to reduce conflict and promote democratic values in Islamic societies.
And this is from the "recent programs" section of their website:
2006 August: The Shariah Project – Initial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur
Convened in Malaysia by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Shariah Project’s initial meeting assembled five distinguished scholars of Islamic holy law from four countries. In addition to Imam Feisal, the group included: Professor Dr. Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi, Pakistan (Chairman of the Shariah Board for the State Bank of Pakistan and former president of International Islamic University); Professor Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Malaysia (Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilization and Former Interim Chairman, Constitutional Review Committee, Afghanistan); Professor Dr. Tahir Mahmood, India (Founder/Chairman, Amity University Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, New Delhi, and former Dean of the Faculty of Law, Delhi University); Dato’ Abdul Hamid Mohamad, Malaysia (Judge, Federal Court of Malaysia … Malaysian Supreme Court). The Shariah Project is sponsored by the ASMA Society in cooperation with the Cordoba Initiative.
Well, isn't that special? Hey, it's even more special than that. Please note the location of the founding of the "Sharia Project": Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, which just happens to be where the other HQ for the Cordoba Initiative is (besides NYC). And Malaysia already has fully functioning Sharia Courts!

In 2007 when a Malay woman, Lina Joy, decided to officially convert to Christianity from Islam (she had already been baptized almost a decade earlier), a Malaysian federal court "transfered the matter to an Islamic tribunal."

You see, by law all Malaysian citizens are "registered" with a particular religion, and Ms. Joy wished to have her religious "registration" officially changed. To an American, that may sound like something out of the Middle Ages, but in Europe most countries still have a similar registration process.

Lina Loy appealed the decision, but her appeal was rejected by a three court panel of Judges who ruled that "a person who wanted to renounce his/her religion must do so according to existing laws or practices of the particular religion. Only after the person has complied with the requirements and the authorities are satisfied that the person has apostatized, can she embrace Christianity.... In other words, a person cannot, at one's whims and fancies renounce or embrace a religion."

Lina Joy's case is an excellent example of "moderate" Islam at work. Malaysia is routinely cited as an example of a majority Muslim state with constitutional guarantees of religious freedom! And, besides, "extremists" give apostates one chance to change their mind, and, failing that, stone them to death.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Another example, from the Hindu American Foundation site:

28 year old Siti Hasnah Banggarma was denied the right to change her religion back to Hinduism. After a long, drawn out court battle, the secular court referred the case contesting her conversion to the Shariah court for Muslims.

Banggarma, born a Hindu, claimed that state authorities forcibly converted her to Islam at the age of seven while she was under the care of a government-run orphanage. She later married a Hindu in a traditional Hindu ceremony, but could not officially register her marriage nor could she list her Hindu husband as the father of their children on birth certificates. Malaysian law requires any non-Muslim marrying a Muslim to convert to Islam before a marriage is legally recognized.

“The right to religious freedom has continued to erode in Malaysia, and minorities continue to suffer,” said Professor Ramesh Rao, HAF’s Human Rights Coordinator. “This case, which was covered in HAF’s 2009 human rights report, is yet another of example of officially sanctioned religious discrimination and coercion.”

Although Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, minorities, particularly ethnic Indians and Hindus, have continued to face serious discrimination over the years. The Hindu American Foundation publishes an annual Hindu human rights report, "Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights 2009," documented the discrimination, intimidation and persecution faced by Malaysia’s minority Hindu population. The Foundation has also supported the work of Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), a Malaysian human rights organization, that monitors, documents and publicly highlights human rights abuses faced by the country’s minority Hindu population.