I am from Alabama. Frequently I am ashamed when Alabama makes the national news. Not this time. The above article deals with an attempt by Pat Robertson (just to name drop) and those of the Religious Right to get states to formally ban sharia law. Fortunately even the Christian Right in Alabama see this as "just silliness." Truer words were never spoken.
But, what is sharia law and why ban it in the first place?
First the term "sharia law" is a bit redundant. In Arabic "sharia" just means "legislation." It is, however, associated with moral and religious laws typically associated with Islam but technically applicable to any religious law and could apply to Zoroastrian, Christian, or Jewish statutes. In the Islamic world sharia began under the caliphates (political and religious rulers in Islam) of the mid-600s CE (Current Era, we use that because not all of our readership would say Anno Domoni or "The Year of Our Lord") and flourished until the 1200s. At that time shifts and schisms in the culture of the Middle East altered its application. The law itself was a mixture of tribal traditions and the Quran, although it might be more accurate to say that it is based on tribal law as filtered through the Quran.
Ulema, or scholars, interpret and apply the law. In Modern Islam there are eight main schools, madhhab, of interpretation (5 Sunni and 3 Sharia, the distinction of which is a topic for another time) and a few smaller schools. How much sharia comes into play in any given predominantly Muslim country varies from almost not at all to almost completely. I shall leave it to you and the ulema to untangle the knot of what it might mean for issues of democracy, human rights, and the modern world.
So why the initiative? First, Americans, and many others in the Western world, consistently overestimate the number of Muslims living in their country. There is no way that sharia would ever become the law of the land in Alabama, or any other state in the Union. Not in this century. Second, it is preaching to the choir. It only energizes those who already agree with the originators of the movement. Agree on what? The demonizing Muslims. A popular past time for some Christians for over 1400 years.
It is disgusting. Even my five year old this morning said "It's wrong to Hate people. Right Daddy?"
Right you are baby girl, right you are.
EDIT: UGH, it passed and apparently similar measures passed in other places.