Saturday, November 1, 2008

Constitutions are NOT Created Equal (Part 2)



In part one I analyzed the foundational documents of the United States, along with other assorted cultural artifacts that have become controversial in the argument over what role religion should play in government. I contended that any references to a Creator in American law are meant to enhance and reinforce the rights of the citizens, not to impose religious rule on or infringe on the rights of non-monotheists.

In stark contrast, most Islamic nations have constitutions that unambiguously declare Islamic Sharia law as the ultimate arbiter of human affairs. Allah is addressed directly, and the people are ordered to live within the limits set by him. In many cases even the official names of these countries explicitly elevate particular religions and/or races as above all others.

Full transcript with links follows:




In part one I analyzed the foundational documents of the United States, along with other assorted cultural artifacts that have become controversial in the argument over what role religion should play in government. I contended that any references to a Creator in American law are meant to enhance and reinforce the rights of the citizens, not to impose religious rule on or infringe on the rights of non-monotheists.

In stark contrast, most Islamic nations have constitutions that unambiguously declare Islamic Sharia law as the ultimate arbiter of human affairs. Allah is addressed directly, and the people are ordered to live within the limits set by him. In many cases even the official names of these countries explicitly elevate particular religions and/or races as above all others.



For example, the full name of the country we call Pakistan is the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” Imagine for a moment that the United States was called the "Christian Republic of America." Imagine the furious outcry by domestic activists and governments across the world.

Here’s an excerpt from the preamble of the Pakistani constitution:

"Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone, and the authority to be exercised by the people of Pakistan within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust; … Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. "

"1. Pakistan shall be a Federal Republic to be known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan…"

"2. Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan."

We see from this brief study what the average Pakistani citizen can expect from his government in the sphere of individual rights. All individual rights are predicated on Islamic law. That means that regardless of what laws the secular government of Pakistan might like to enact, even if the vast majority of people and representatives agree, they cannot enforce anything that goes against the Quran. For this reason, sub-populations such as non-Muslims, women, and gays are destined to be 2nd or 3rd class citizens forever.



The formal name of the country we know as Syria is the Syrian Arab Republic.

"Syrian Constitution Article 1

"The Syrian Arab region is a part of the Arab homeland."

"The people in the Syrian Arab region are a part of the Arab nation. They work and struggle to achieve the Arab nation's comprehensive unity."


What if similar terminology was found in the constitution of a nation called “The White North American Republic”?

"Constitution Article 1"

"The White North American region is part of the White homeland."

"The people in the White American region are part of the White nation. They work and struggle to achieve the White nation’s comprehensive unity."

I think that speaks for itself.

The Constitution goes on to state that Islamic law is Syria’s primary source of law"

"Article 3 [Islam]"

"(1) The religion of the President of the Republic has to be Islam."

"(2) Islamic jurisprudence is a main source of legislation."

Again, there is no ambiguity. The leadership of Syria must be Muslim, and any laws passed by the secular government may be struck down if they contradict the Quran or the rulings of Islamic scholars.



And what about the Islamic country that the US recently freed from decades of totalitarian tyranny? I quote Maj. Stephen Coughlin on the legal situation in Iraq:

“The Iraqi Constitution ties Iraqi governance to Islamic law -- to the exclusion of the democratic principles that are given superficial recognition in the text of the Constitution. The Constitution starts by stating that the official religion of Iraq is Islam; that Islamic law serves as a basis of Iraqi law; and that “no law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.” While it is true that this restrictive language is jumbled in with other restrictors relating to democracy, etc… there is no reasonable basis to deny the simple meaning of the constitutional language; that the Iraqi Constitution formally subordinates itself to Islamic law. While Western drafters insist that the Iraqi Constitution includes “guarantees [for] full religious rights of all individuals to freedom of religious belief and practice” based on specific language in the Iraqi Constitution, to the extent that such language contradicts published Islamic law, those constitutional protections can be superseded by Islamic law."

So Iraq, a country which has been afforded the opportunity to recreate its political system from scratch, with Western protection and supervision, has decided to submit itself to Sharia Law. Well, perhaps we can excuse the Iraqi people. After all, they suffered under a secular fascist dictator, not a religious theocracy. Saddam denied religious freedom to the Shia Muslim majority in the south, can we blame them for seeking comfort in traditional religious governance?



The population of the other Islamic country the United States liberated this decade has no such excuse. They languished under perhaps the strictest application of Sharia law on earth for years. The Taliban barred women from working and forced them into Burqa’s. They barred girls from attending school. They destroyed priceless cultural artifacts, shut down theaters and museums, banned music, and left animals to starve to death in zoos, all in the name of Islamic law. But obviously the people didn’t see theocracy as the root of their problems.

Again I quote from Stephen Coughlin:

The Afghan Constitution states that it is an “Islamic Republic,”... Stating that Islam is the state religion, the Constitution then says “followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law.” Westerners believed this language secured a religious right of tolerance; but those rights are actually subsumed by Islamic law as specifically stated in the very next clause where the constitution says that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.”

Islamic law has clearly stated provisions on the rights, or lack thereof, of non-Muslim subjects of an Islamic State. In the Hadith it says quite bluntly “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” The supremacy of Islamic law was confirmed when an Afghan convert to Christianity was sentenced to death in 2006. Only substantial high-level Western intervention saved the man’s life

His sentence was commuted by Afghan President Karzai when he was declared to be “insane”, which is the only defense loophole available to an apostate under Islamic law. And I guess on some level you would have to be insane to convert to Christianity in Afghanistan.

Unlike Christianity, Islam is political by nature and design. The Sharia is a complete body of law, established in the Quran and Hadith, and endorsed and interpreted by authoritative scholars over the centuries. Muslims are called to establish Sharia as the law of the land wherever they predominate, and they have done so even in states that are considered “secular” or “moderate” by talking heads in the West. This should give you some perspective on what religious extremism in government really looks like… and that it is a remote shadow in the US, while it is a matter of immutable law in the Muslim world.

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