Of what you're smoking? Learn to read, bonehead.September 15 2004 at 1:13 AM
|HR (no login)|
from IP address 126.96.36.199
Response to Have another hoot, dude.
Unlike you and your slobbering incoherent defense of "multi-culturalism", this Christian Canadian, "gets it".
Social Shari'a in Canada
The introduction of Muslim shari'a law in Canada sets the stage for troubling developments.
by Harold Jantz
Western countries took many centuries to overcome what happened when the Roman Empire hi-jacked Christianity and wed the Church to the state. Even though it was a huge struggle, especially for the Roman Catholic Church and for others who embraced magisterial notions of Christianity, eventually Christians of all hues came to see that Christianity could flourish without assuming the reins of government.
That's how Christianity originated. As a pacifist faith at its beginning, early Christianity could encourage believers to pray for the emperor, pay their taxes, give honour to whom honour was due, and yet hang completely loose as far as the instruments of power were concerned.
It is no accident that today those nations with the longest Christian tradition—especially those who've benefited most from the Reformation—are also among the most open and free democracies of our world. They can separate the Church from the state and develop democratic structures which protect all religions and in which the right to persuade people to a faith and also to convert to another faith are fully protected.
Now Canada may be on a course to reverse something it thought it had put behind it with the move to create a Muslim arbitration service using shari'a law within the framework of the Canadian Arbitration Act. The service, under an Islamic Institute of Civic Justice, would deal with family and civil matters, say its proponents, and decisions would need to be approved by a judge of a Canadian court to become binding. But once approved, they would have the force of the law behind them.
Given the history of the practice of shari'a in countries in which Islam is either the dominant faith or a significant presence, what does the experience there tell us about the protection for women or for religious minorities? It is very difficult to demonstrate that shari'a is not inherently biased against women. The instances that have demonstrated this are legion, whether it was in Iran, Afghanistan or Nigeria or Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Even such an innocuous thing as driving a car is not allowed to women in Saudi Arabia.
And certainly the human rights record for countries with shari'a raises serious questions. Anyone who wishes to convert from Islam to another faith, for example, faces great obstacles under shari'a. Considered an apostate, that one in some countries is risking his or her life to convert away from Islam. On the other hand, someone who responds to the invitation to convert to Islam faces none of those obstacles.
Other questions. What are the theological underpinnings for shari'a? And what does it tell us about how society is to be structured? It would be helpful for Muslim advocates for shari'a to explain why it is necessary or indeed helpful to incorporate it somehow into the Canadian legal system.
If, as its teachers say, it reflects the desire to unify all of life under God and provides a code whereby that can be done, it clearly places that set of laws over Canadian laws. Yet the argument is being made that it will always be subject to review by a Canadian judge. The ongoing effort of Islamic nations to counter the United Nations Universal declaration of Human Rights with a Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, in which countries like Iran and Sudan have taken a leading role, at least suggests that Canada should be cautious in embracing a legal code whose implications very few non-Muslims understand.
It is almost inevitable that if shari'a is introduced for some situations—relating to family and civil disputes--there will be those who will soon argue for an extension of the codes that shari'a covers. We will have a hard time resisting that pressure. Are we prepared for that?
Furthermore, the more shari'a is practiced, the more it will tend to isolate the Muslim community from the rest of society. As someone who also represents a strong faith community, I understand that impulse very well, and I respect the need to freely practice one's faith and apply it to all of life. Nonetheless, one must question whether creating enclaves through a set of laws peculiar to one faith community is good for the country as a whole.
Finally, one must question whether the Muslim community will create clear protections for those who do not wish to employ the arbitration practices that are being proposed under the shari'a codes. The potential will be there for a great deal of pressure to be placed on people within the community. The concerns about the use of shari'a in Canada of those who escaped persecution in countries like Iran and Afghanistan ought to be a signal that strong safeguards are needed.
Whether we understand it or not, the creation of institutions such as the Islamic Institute of Civic Justice is a way of claiming Canada for Islam, though most non-Muslim Canadians wouldn't recognize it thus. In this, Islam is re-enacting an ancient paradigm. Islam takes the flight of the prophet from Mecca to Medina, the journey from suffering to statehood, the Hijra, as a paradigm of what it ought to look for everywhere. As Muslim scholar David Shenk puts it, "In Medina all the mechanisms of political, economic, cultural and religious power were brought under the rule of God through the statesmanship of the prophet." Islam saw the victory over the enemies of Islam as a sign of the favour of the Lord upon the Muslim community. To this day, the Muslim Ummah (community) sees the visible subjection of the state to the rule of Allah as the ideal condition. Anything that can work toward that end must be good.
For Christians, on the other hand, the paradigm created by Jesus was one of vulnerability and willingness to lay down His life. Rather than save His life through political or military means, Jesus accepted death on the cross and established His rule through redemptive love. Shenk says the "Hijra represents the fundamental theological divide between Islam and the [Christian] Gospel." It has taken western society in very different directions from Islamic societies. Not all of these are good, but they have assisted the movement within western democracies toward protection for people who hold widely divergent views.
The Islamic worldview looks for the Muslim community to be fully realized when it has the levers of political power. In places where Muslims are a clear minority that can hardly be imagined, but creating small enclaves through such vehicles as the Islamic Institute of Civic Justice are a beginning.
Canadians are right to question whether creating legal room for the application of shari'a in this country is a step forward. A simple way to frame the issue is to ask whether any of those proposing it would argue for doing anything similar for Christians in predominantly Muslim countries.
Harold Jantz was one of the organizers of a Faith and Media Conference for all faiths in Canada held in Ottawa in 1998. He was the founding editor of ChristianWeek, a national Christian newspaper published in Winnipeg.
Originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press, April 25, 2004.
- Booooooo! - smike on Sep 15, 2004, 8:05 AM
- WTF? - HR on Sep 15, 2004, 9:01 AM