Executive Director of CAIR-MI, entitled Take A Stand Against Anti-Muslim Fearmongering, which was published on April 14, 2018, in Volume 34, Issue 1679(13) of the Arab American News.
This article includes 27 questions and a point-by-point rebuttal to an editorial written by Dawud Walid,
Background of CAIR
Before addressing the comments you made in your editorial, Mr. Walid, as Executive Director of CAIR-Michigan, it should be fair and reasonable to ask you about the background of the organization you represent.
As proven in extensive Federal District Court records (affidavits, documents and testimony), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was founded in 1994 as a “nonprofit, grassroots civil rights and advocacy organization” by several individuals with direct ties to Hamas (aka the Islamic Resistance Movement), a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization since October 08, 1997. In 2014 CAIR was designated as a terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates.
The close affiliations between CAIR and Hamas were further proven during the Holy Land Foundation trial (still the largest counter terrorism trial in American history), which concluded on November 24, 2008 with the convictions of five individuals on 108 counts of providing at least $12 million in material support to Hamas in Palestine.
Despite nearly ten years of legal efforts and PR by CAIR to deny these irrefutable facts, it remains true to this very day that the goals of CAIR remain inextricably entwined with the goals of Hamas, which is still part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “intellectual school,” while supposedly operating as “an independent Palestinian organization.”
Note: For additional background on CAIR, see here and here.
Question 1: What is your position regarding these proven connections between CAIR and Hamas?
Rebuttal of Take A Stand Against Anti-Muslim Fearmongering
Note: In this rebuttal, each portion of Mr. Walid’s editorial is italicized, while specific words or phrases that I address are highlighted in bold font.
Michigan remains the stomping grounds for some politicians to score cheap political points and for right-wing activists to attract more followers at the expense of Muslims. While some of the names of these purveyors of anti-Muslim bigotry have changed over the years, much of their rhetoric remains the same. One of the centerpieces of their fearmongering is to frame Muslims as a fifth column who seek to undermine the American way of life by imposing sharia upon everyone. This false frame needs to be more aggressively challenged by our community.
In order to discuss what influence Islamic Sacred Law (sharia شَرِيعَةٍ) may have here in America, we must start by acknowledging  what the Quran says about sharia,  what sharia says about itself, and  what prominent Islamic scholars here in America say about sharia.
Two verses from the Quran that specifically refer to sharia include Quran 5.48 and Quran 45.18. Translations of these two verses found in the seven common English versions of the Quran describe sharia in several synonymous ways.
In verse 5:48, sharia is translated as a Divine Law, a Law (several times), and a Right Way, while in verse 45:18, sharia is translated as a Clear Road, a Code of Conduct, a Course in the Affair[of Religion], an Open Way of the Command, an Ordained Way, a Plain Way, and the Right Way of Religion.
Next, here are three examples of what Islamic scholars of Fiqh (فقه the human understanding of sharia) universally acknowledge about sharia, taken directly from Umdat As-Salik, aka the Reliance of the Traveller and Tools for the Worshipper (see here for a review of Reliance):
T3.09: Never explain a verse of Holy Koran by your own opinion, but check as to how it has been understood by the scholars of Sacred Law and men of wisdom who came before you. If you comprehend something else by it and what you have understood contradicts the Sacred Lawforsake your wretched opinion and fling it against the wall.
T3.10: Beware lest you ever say anything that does not conform to the Sacred Law. Know that the highest stage of the perfected ones (Rijal) is the Sacred Law of Muhammad.
V2.01: Allah Most High sent Muhammad, the Qurayshite unlettered prophet, to deliver His inspired message to the entire world, Arabs and non-Arabs, jinn and mankind, superseding and abrogating all previous religious systems with the Prophet’s Sacred Law, except for the provisions of them that the new revelation explicitly reconfirmed.
Islamic Scholars – Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA)
Question 2: At this point, we should also ask: If the Muslim community in America is not a fifth column who seek to undermine the American way of life by imposing sharia upon everyone, then what is the purpose of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) بأمريكا الشريعة فقهاء مجمع (Majama Fuqaha Al-Sharia B’Amrikiya, the Group of Sharia Scholars in America)?
Question 3: If AMJA is not seeking to undermine the American way of life, then please explain the purpose of this AMJA Fatwa, dated March 14, 2012: Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America Cautions Muslims Against Participating in American Legal System; Urges Them to “Hate It in Their Hearts.”
For several other examples of AMJA Fatwas that are obviously seek[ing] to undermine the American way of life by imposing sharia upon everyone, see here, and below for Appendix I – AMJA Fatwas.
Question 4: Do you agree, or disagree, with this July 2007 Fatwa by AMJA scholar Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah?
“Our belief is that Islam is the final divine religion, supersedes all other divine religions, and that all other religions are abrogated by the prophet-hood of Mohammad. In another words; no one has the right to stay on his/her Christianity or Judaism after the prophecy of Mohammad. Based on the above, if any one from the people of scriptures [People of the Book] has received the message of Islam clearly, yet, insisted on his belief, then he is – from an Islamic perspective – a disbeliever.
Earlier this year at a 11th Congressional District GOP debate in Novi, candidates were posed the preposterous question of whether they agree or not that the American Constitution supersedes sharia. Fayrouz Saad, an Arab American Muslim, is running for the Democratic nomination in that same district.
Note: See the entire debate here.
In fact, Article 6 of the Constitution specifically prohibits any of form of law other than the Constitution itself, as stated here:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby…
Question 5: Why is asking whether the American Constitution supersedes sharia such a preposterous question?
Further, on April 7, 2018, you wrote on Facebook that: Islam is deen [دِينِ Complete Way of Life] not a “religion,” and we will be judged by Allah on what political stances we advance and how we vote. I know that every political stance of every single Muslim isn’t based on deen just as every single Muslim doesn’t make income according to deen. That doesn’t justify Muslim activists or those getting into politics justifying Haram [حَرَام Forbidden]. Sorry, but this is a fact too.
Question 6: If Islam is actually a Deen, but “not a religion,” then what are the authorized sharia statutes for determining what is Haram, versus what is Halal [حلال Permissible] in the American political process?
Last week, State Senator Patrick Colbeck from the Seventh District, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, was part of three events entitled “See Something, Say Something,” which centered around scaring Michiganians about the bogus proposition that Muslims are seeking to overthrow American law.
The event in which Colbeck participated also featured charlatan ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem aka Khodor Shami, a man whose story has been debunked by mainstream journalists. Later this month, the right-wing group Unite America First has a scheduled protest in Dearborn against what they state as the threat of sharia taking over.
Michigan Muslims are fortunate to have well-wishers and supporters such as State Senator David Knezek of Dearborn Heights, who challenges such fearmongering. Such challenges against hateby politicians, clergy and social justice coalition partners are indeed welcomed.
Question 7: Why do you describe public campaign events such as “See Something, Say Something,” which included discussions of sharia and the Explanatory Memorandum, with derogatory, inflammatory terms such as “right wing,” “bogus,” “charlatan,” “fearmongering” and “hate”?
Less than five years ago, a satirical “joke” article asserting that Muslims residents of Dearborn, Michigan had voted to adapt sharia prompted such a backlash of angry calls that city officials had to issue a statement denying it, insisting that “the article is false; Dearborn is not under sharia law and has never at any time even considered such an action.”
However, it looks like we’ve come a long way in the last few years. Earlier this month, while publicly accusing Mr. Colbeck of trying to “score cheap political points,” you also stated that Muslims in Michigan “need to better explain what sharia really is, [and to] not be apologetic.”
April 19, 2018 Twitter exchange between Dawud Walid, CAIR-MI Executive Director, and Patrick Colbeck, Republican primary candidate for Governor of Michigan.
Question 8: Mr. Walid, rather than slinging ad hominem stones at Mr. Colbeck, wouldn’t it be more productive to clearly and simply explain to non-Muslims here in America  what sharia really is, and  how Muslims in Michigan can unapologetically promote sharia…without violating Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution?
Question 9: As Executive Director of CAIR-MI, who else is more qualified to explain sharia than you, Mr. Walid? However, if you fail to honestly explain the true nature of sharia to the American public, then you have no right to publicly criticize non-Muslims for drawing their own conclusions, or to belittle them for being alarmed about what sharia really is.
The Muslim community, however, has the primary responsibility to defend itself and its interests. No group of people can reasonably expect those outside of themselves, no matter how well-meaning, to be as passionate and committed to defending themselves and their interests.
As Islam’s sacred text and the Prophet Muhammad’s example have influenced cultures of Muslims, being Muslim is a faith identity, not just a cultural or socio-political identity. American Muslims recognize the authority of the U.S. Constitution, including the Supremacy Clause that no law can take the place of American law.
It has been a strategic misstep of the Muslim community to have allowed others to consistently and incorrectly define sharia to the public without explaining what the objectives of sharia truly are.
According to an April 30, 2013 poll by the Pew Research Center,
“most Muslims believe sharia is the revealed word of God, rather than a body of law developed by men based on the word of God. Muslims also tend to believe sharia has only one, true understanding, but this opinion is far from universal; in some countries, substantial minorities of Muslims believe sharia should be open to multiple interpretations. Religious commitment is closely linked to views about sharia: Muslims who pray several times a day are more likely to say sharia is the revealed word of God, to say that it has only one interpretation, and to support the implementation of Islamic law in their country.”
In addition, a July 17, 2015 analysis by this author of 21 different surveys conducted over a 10-year period revealed that the level of support among American Muslims to make shariah the law of the land (51%) are similar to the level of support for sharia by Muslims in the rest of the world (64%). In other words, support for sharia by Muslims in America is not significantly different than support for sharia by Muslims in the rest of the Islamic world.
Question 10: Would you please explain to non-Muslims in America  exactly how others [have] consistently and incorrectly define[d] sharia to the public, and  how they have done this without explaining what the objectives of sharia truly are?
Instead the rare responses to anti-Muslim critics regarding this issue have been defensive in nature, which has allowed the framework of sharia to be hijacked in the minds of the broader society no differently than extremist Muslims have hijacked the term jihad (struggle) in the view of the public.
Question 11: How can the responses of the Muslim community to anti-Muslim critics of sharia be anything but defensive in nature, when sharia is legally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution?
Question 12: What does the term framework of sharia actually mean, and where will this sharia framework be built?
Question 13: How has this sharia framework been hijacked in the minds of the broader society?
Question 14: What is your definition of broader society (is it mainstream America?), and why would non-Muslims in this broader society want to replace the U.S. Constitution with sharia?
Regarding whether extremist Muslims have hijacked the term Jihad, let’s look again at the what sources have to say about this uniquely Islamic word.
Starting with the Quran, the trilateral root for Jihad (Jim-Ha-Dal د ه ج Strive Hard) occurs 41 times, in five derived forms.
However, as in verse 66:9, which reads “Oh Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination,” it is obvious that Jihad is much more than a peaceful ‘inner struggle,’ and that the true meaning of Jihad has not been hijacked in the view of the public.
Meanwhile, citing section O9.0 of Umdat As-Salik, let’s do a quick review of what the definitive (mainstream) manual on sharia has to say about Jihad:
Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word Mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion. And it is the lesser Jihad. As for the greater Jihad, it is spiritual warfare against the lower self (Nafs), which is why the Prophet said as he was returning from Jihad, “We have returned from the lesser Jihad to the greater Jihad.”
The scriptural basis for Jihad, prior to scholarly consensus, is such Quranic verses as:
1 “Fighting is prescribed for you” (2:216)
2 “Slay them wherever you find them” (4:89)
3 “Fight the idolaters utterly” (9:36)
O9.1: The Obligatory Character of Jihad
Jihad is a communal obligation. When enough people perform it to successfully accomplish it, it is no longer obligatory upon others (O: the evidence for which is the Prophet’s saying, “He who provides the equipment for a soldier in Jihad has himself performed Jihad”).
O9.9: The caliph fights all other peoples until they become Muslim (though according to the Hanafi school, peoples of all other religions, even idol worshippers, are permitted to live under the protection of the Islamic state if they either become Muslim or agree to pay the poll tax [جزية Jizya]; the sole exceptions to which are apostates from Islam and idol worshippers who are Arabs, neither of whom has any choice but becoming Muslim).
Question 15: In light of these citations from the Quran and Umdat As-Salik (we haven’t even looked at the numerous references to Jihad in the Hadith), would you please defend your premise that extremist Muslims have hijacked the term jihad (struggle) in the view of the public?
Question 16: As with the broader society mentioned above, what is your definition of the public? Are you referring to the general public here in America?
Sharia is a sacred term mentioned in the Qur’an and is a concept that has been elucidated by Islamic scholars for centuries. As the original linguistical meaning of sharia in Arabic means a path leading to water, sharia is a path towards faithfulness with-in Islam. As there is no fixed universally applied codex called sharia, that does not mean an absence of it either.
According to the Understanding Islam website, the Holy Qur’an, Tradition and Ijtihad (اجتهادConsensus in Judgment) are the:
“three main sources of Islamic law which govern and regulate all aspects of a Muslim’s public and private life. These laws relate to religious worship, prohibitions, and all contracts and obligations that arise in social life such as inheritance, marriage, divorce, punishments, conduct of war [including Jihad] and the administration of the state.”
We read that Ijtihad, or the exercise of judgment, is a valid source of Islamic laws in areas where the Holy Qur’an and the Traditions are not explicit. But the exercise of this independent judgment can only be left in the hands of proper scholars of the Holy Qur’an and the Tradition. The vast majority of Muslims give this right of independent reasoning to only four ancient Muslim theologians and jurists who lived in the first three centuries of Islam. These four Fuqaha [Jurists, as in the title of AMJA above] are:  Imam Abu Hanifa of Kufa,  Imam Malik bin Anas of Medinah,  Imam Muhammad al-Shafi of Medinah and  Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal of Baghdad.
Question 17: It is universally acknowledged within the global Islamic community that there are four major schools of Fiqh, and that these four schools are followed by Muslim students in Madrassas(Academies) all around the world. In light of this, can you please defend your statement that there is no fixed universally applied codex called sharia?
As there are Jewish religious codes and Catholic Canon, which guides Jews and Catholics on how to pray and fast and regulation of who can marry whom as well as what dietary restrictions are upon adherents and more, Muslims have regulations in which different schools of thought factor in religious textual evidence and societal norms as to how to live the faith as a way of life. This by no means equates to Muslims seeking to violate civil laws of the land nor seeking to legally impose upon others to follow Islamic traditions.
Question 18: When you say that Muslims have regulations, would you agree that these regulations are actually codified in sharia, and that the religious textual evidence and societal norms are actually the Quran and Traditions (as discussed above)?
Question 19: In light of the small sample of AMJA Fatwas provided in Appendix I below, can you honestly assert that following sharia by no means equates to Muslims seeking to violate civil laws of the land?
Question 20: According to Quran 5:47 “Whosoever judges not according to what Allah has sent down, they are defiantly disobedient,” while verse 6:57 says, “The rule is to none but Allah.” And, according to Islamic Fiqh and Tradition, sharia is permanent for all people all the time, nor does it change with time and conditions. No-one can change this; it is a law that is valid for all time and for all places.
In light of all of these warnings and admonitions, can you deny that, given the first opportunity, the Muslim community (even here in America) would not seek to legally impose upon others to follow Islamic traditions?
So yes, there has been the implementation of sharia in Michigan for the past century. This practice has been protected under the First Amendment, just as Jewish people have been free to keep kosher, to Catholics continuing their opposition to abortion based upon their Canon.
Now we come to the heart of the matter, the culminating purpose of Mr. Walid’s editorial, which is to normalize the implementation of sharia here in America, while marginalizing anyone who has the courage to express concern about the obvious dark side(s) of sharia (as seen so plainly in Muslim countries where sharia is the official law of the land).
Since 9/11, the implementation of sharia has been debated with increasing frequency and intensity in America, Australia & New Zealand, Canada, several countries in Europe, the United Kingdom, and South America.
For example, according to a June 30, 2017 article entitled Sharia in America,
Islamic courts are becoming common in North America. Muslims are building religious communities in America, and religious courts are part of the structure of many of these communities. These so-called sharia tribunals do what courts everywhere do: They provide a means for hearing and resolving disputes between members of their communities.
On April 19, 2018, the Maine House voted 77-70 to kill legislation banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in their state. For those who insist that FGM is not part of sharia, please read the following passage from section E4.3 of Umdat As-Salik, entitled Circumcision Is Obligatory:
Circumcision is obligatory (for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Bazr) of the clitoris (not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert). (Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but Sunna[سنة Allowed by Mohammed], while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband).
Question 21: Do you support Islamic sharia courts here in America?
Question 22: Do you support the sharia-endorsed Islamic practice of FGM?
Question 23: If you don’t support FGM, aren’t you violating sharia law?
What no group in America is free to do is to have a judicial system that can reward and punish citizens parallel to or above American courts.
In fact, all of the following practices are either authorized by sharia, or endorsed by Islamic Tradition, but are considered serious crimes here in America: Apostasy from Islam, Blasphemy of Islam or Mohamed, Child Marriage (Pedophilia), Extreme Punishment (Hudud حدود), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Honor Violence, Human Trafficking, Mass Murder (Sanctified Warfare), No-Fault Rape, Polygamy and Wife Beating.
Question 24: Are you willing to condemn these sharia-sanctioned Islamic practices, which are obviously part of a judicial system that can reward and punish [Muslim and non-Muslim] citizens parallel to or above American courts?
Those like Colbeck, who propagate such misinformation, are repeating the same scare tactics that Anglo protestants used against Irish Catholics 90 years ago. In these trying times in which racism and xenophobia are on the rise, Muslims in America would be better served to actually learn in depth the normative teachings of Islam and then convey them in simple terms to the public. Something more robust is needed than simply taking stances that too frequently sound apologetic and at times misrepresents the faith’s beliefs and virtues. That has not gotten American Muslims far. In fact, the community has lost ground.
Question 25: Earlier, you said there is no fixed universally applied codex called sharia. If this is true, then how can you show non-Muslims in America the normative teachings of Islam?
The first “purpose-built” mosque in America was built in Detroit in 1921, and by 1970 an estimated 100 mosques had been built across the country. This number increased to about 1,210 in the year 2000, to more than 2,100 in 2011, and to an estimated 3,200 by 2015. It is also worth noting that more than 80% of these mosques were built after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Question 26: In light of this information (compiled by Muslim researchers), please explain how the Islamic community has lost ground in America?
Perhaps if we invested more time and resources in proactively explaining our faith, the likes of President Trump and Colbeck would get less traction when attempting to appeal to the public.
Question 27: It appears that you are placing blame on President Trump and [Patrick] Colbeck for the vast disconnect between Islamic sharia and the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. As the Executive Director of CAIR-MI, would you agree that some honest and transparent answers to the questions I have included in this rebuttal would be a good way to start proactively explaining our faith?
Appendix I – AMJA Fatwas
In April of 2006, AMJA Shariah scholar Dr. Katem Al-Haj authorized capital punishment for Muslim apostates in America, stating that “as for the Shariah ruling [for apostasy], it is the punishment of killing for the man…as the prophet said: “Whoever a Muslim changes his/her religion, kill him/her,” and his saying “A Muslim`s blood, who testifies that there is no god except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, is not made permissible except by three reasons: the life for the life; the married adulterer and the that who abandons his/her religion.”
In June of 2006, Dr. Al-Hajj issued a fatwa reiterating the Shariah-endorsed punishment [Al-Hadd] of stoning for committing adultery: “All praise be to Allah, and may his peace and blessings be on the last and best prophet and messenger, Muhammad. Since you are ashamed and you have repented sincerely, Allah is all forgiving, so don`t lose hope in his mercy and forgiveness. The act you have committed – as you appear to know – is an offensive sin, and it is a form of fornication, as the Prophet indicated…Yet, it is not the absolute Zina [sexual sin] punishable by Al-Hadd (which is stoning in the case of a married man).”
In July of 2007, AMJA scholar Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah issued a fatwa sanctioning animosity and hostility (derived from Quran 5.51) toward non-Muslim “Disbelievers” [Kufar]: “Our belief is that Islam is the final divine religion, supersedes all other divine religions, and that all other religions are abrogated by the prophet-hood of Mohammad. In another words; no one has the right to stay on his/her Christianity or Judaism after the prophecy of Mohammad. Based on the above, if any one from the people of scriptures has received the message of Islam clearly, yet, insisted on his belief, then he is – from an Islamic perspective – a disbeliever. Meanwhile, we believe that hellfire is granted for the disbelievers, which include anyone did not believe in the prophet-hood of the messenger that he/she lived during his/her life.”
In November of 2007, Dr. Al-Hajj posted a 23-page fatwa forbidding Muslims in America to work for the FBI, the military, or for U.S. security (and law enforcement) services, because such work could possibly involve “spying on Muslims,” and because Muslim minorities in non-Islamic countries are “subject to man-made laws, which Islamic law [Shariah] does not recognize, either fully or in part…”
This AMJA-authorized prohibition against involvement with law enforcement was on full display in 2011, when CAIR published a poster admonishing Muslims in America to “Build a Wall of Resistance” and “Don’t Talk to the FBI.” The same precedent was expressed again in 2016, when CAIR called on Muslims to openly defy Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers when questioned on travel from Islamic controlled countries by saying, “None of your Damn Business,” and to “agitate Customs Agents by saying Islamic prayers “very loudly” when questioned”
In January of 2009, AMJA Secretary-General Dr. Salah Al-Sawy issued a fatwa on the penalty for blaspheming the prophet Muhammad: “[F]or those scholars who say that repentance of a person who insults Allah or His Messenger shall not accepted, [they] mean that repentance does not lift up the set punishment for cursing and insulting the Prophet, i.e., execution. Because the Prophet is the one who was actually wronged and insulted and he is no longer alive, therefore, he is not alive to practice his right to forgive him [the blasphemer] for what he did. Also, no Muslim is ever is entitled or authorized to forgive on the Prophet’s behalf.”
In January of 2009, Dr. Al-Qudah issued a fatwa on the death penalty for apostasy, stating that “Under the authority of the Muslim state, the People of the Book have the right to stay on their belief without being compelled to embrace Islam. But if one of them has embraced Islam, it would not be acceptable from him to go back to his original religion. The same rule applies to those who are born into Muslim families. According to the Islamic Law, they cannot commit apostasy. Implementing the punishment of killing the apostate is the sole and the exclusive responsibility of the Muslim state (were there any nowadays). Nobody else has the right to implement it.”
Three months later, in April of 2009, Dr. Al-Qudah issued another fatwa on Shariah-endorsed death sentences for apostates, stating that “The fact that there is no compulsion in religion does not negate the other fact that someone who has embrace Islam cannot change his mind afterward and embrace polytheism.”