by Jerry Gordon

Since the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) published the anti-anti-Sharia rant by ADL's Abe Foxman, on August 10th, "Shout Down the Sharia Myth-Makers",[1] there have been a number of Jewish Federation (JFed) publications that have re-published it. The latest was the Jewish Exponent[2] in Philadelphia that did so in their August 31st edition. The Jewish Exponent republication of the Foxman JTA op-ed was the basis of the Philadelphia Jewish Culture Examiner[3] post that contained my Iconoclast[4] comments about Foxman's lack of knowledge of Sharia. Foxman has supported Mega-Mosque building in America. JFed weeklies re-published the JTA Foxman rant because they had already paid for it via their JTS service subscription. Thus, these JFed weeklies did so uncritically.

In the wake of Foxman's rant, the New York Times published an op-ed by assistant professor of religious studies at Yale, Eliyahu Stern, "Don't Fear Islamic Law in America".[5]

He proclaimed in today's New York Times, op-ed that we should not be afraid of Sharia, that anti-Sharia legislation passed in three states including Tennessee, is tantamount to know nothingness, a kind of contemporary outpouring of 19th Century American Nativism. Stern is a product of Yeshiva University who holds a doctorate from U.C. Berkeley. Stern's forthcoming book to be published in 2012 is about the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu,[6] a revered figure in Judaism in the late 18th Century in Eastern Europe, not about Sharia.

Given his background, has Stern published anything about Sharia versus halacha, Jewish law?

When I did a Goggle search, I came up with only this piece in today's New York Times. As he is a graduate of Yeshiva U, surely he must know the halachic respect for governing civil law established in the early Talmudic era. Are both Stern and Foxman staggeringly ignorant about the differences between Halacha, Sharia and Civil law?

In October, 2009 we published remarks by Rabbi Jonathan Hausman in the New English Review regarding differences between Halacha and Sharia in an article, "Halacha, Sharia and the Religious Acceptance of Constitutional Governance". [7] This article by Hausman should have been something that Stern researched before writing his Times op-ed.

Hausman, who is trained in both Halacha and studied doctrinal Islam as a graduate student in Egypt in the 1970's knows the differences. Here are excerpts from what he wrote:

Simply stated, there is a basic Rabbinic principle that has operated since roughly the year 226 CE. That principle is known as Dina d'malchuta Dina; the law of the country is binding and, in certain cases, is to be preferred to Jewish law/Halacha.


Samuel, the leader of the Babylonian Jewish community in 241 CE, specifically imbued his community with the consciousness that one must be reconciled to changed circumstances regarding government, and that civil law is necessary for the functioning of the greater society. The result was an internal recognition of Judaism's non-supercessionist and non-conversionary character. According to the Prophet Nehemiah, Jews should obey the laws of their rulers (Nehemiah 9:37).

As a result, Jews view this legal principle as deriving from the Biblical authority. . . .The United States has a Constitution under which the government functions, and the Bill of Rights which protects basic human rights and freedom - rights derived from the Almighty according to the secular foundational documents of these United States - freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of education and freedom to organize political parties. Judaism accepts this situation without issue.

Sharia would seem to have much in common with Halacha. Sharia means "the path" (as does the Hebrew word halacha at its etymological root) and, on its face might be described as the religious code for living the moral system according to Islamic tradition...perhaps, in the same way the Bible would serve for Christians. The question with Sharia (as with Halacha) is the same . . . Does the Rabbinic principle of 'the law of the land is paramount' apply in Islam?

You peel back the layers and understand that Sharia refers both to the Islamic system of law and the totality of the Islamic way of life. . . .Whereas Judaism took the Torah and its commands as rubrics within which to live . . . Sharia holds a different view.

Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the direct word of Allah delivered to the last and greatest prophet Muhammad. Therefore, it is immutable, perfect, unchangeable, static, and unchanging. What can't be derived from the Qur'an may be gleaned from the Sunna, which relates how Muhammad conducted his life in practice, and is considered by Muslims to be immutable for all time.

So, if Muhammad used the pretext of a hudna or tahadiya (two Qur'anic terms meaning an impermanent cessation of military hostilities) to regroup and strengthen his forces for a future battle against the Banu Quraysh, killing and enslaving the Jews in Arabia, legitimizing the rape of women as a tactic in war, it applies today as a tactic. (Parenthetically, the treatment of Jews as described and prescribed in the Qur'an is particular graphic and loathsome...kill the Jew where one finds a Jew and do so for glory and honor.) If the punishment for rudd/apostasy, to a murtadd was death, then apostasy continues to be a capital offense. Homosexuality, adultery, freedom of speech issues when it comes to criticizing Islam or Muhammad or drawing satire cartoons such as the Jylland Posten satires by Kurt Westergaard are capital offenses under Islam...How does this impact our Bill of Rights as Islam is as it has always been, expansionary, supercessionist? Or, in the words of a number of its defenders in the US, Islam is not meant to be one amongst equals but to be the supreme law of the land?

Because in Islam, Religion is State and State is Religion.

Islam is political, and is determined to conquer. It concerns the unofficial sixth pillar of Islam, Jihad. It can be overt as in outright military hostilities and actions, and it can be expressed in the manner in which non-Muslims are treated under Muslim governing authority. It can be covert in the manner in which the court system is used to further the grand goals of preferences for Muslims above others, and the use of Da'wa (conversionary outreach) and Taqiyyah (Islamic religiously sanctioned dissimilitude).

[. . .]

The values of Islam couldn't be more different than American values of freedom, liberty, and individual responsibility. Also, the concept that all men (and women) are created equal under God and should be treated accordingly is a concept that doesn't exist in Islam, beginning with its foundational and doctrinal texts.

[. . .]

Democratic, western societies embrace and legislate many basic human rights and freedoms. Some of these rights and freedoms include freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of education and freedom to organize political parties. These are rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights, part and parcel of the system of governance defined by the United States Constitution. Imagine how different life would look with those "Islamic values" being put in place in America. Our country and way of life would look radically different and we would be poorer as a nation for it.


[1] op-ed-shout-down-the-sharia-myth-makers

[2] article/24256/Opinion_The_Threat_of_Sharia_Law/

[3] jewish-culture-in-philadelphia/ in-new-jewish-exponent-seems-threat-of- sharia-law-is-matter-of-myth-making

[4] jerome-gordon-sharia-apologist-abe-foxman- of-adl-is-staggeringly-delusional

[5] dont-fear-islamic-law-in-america.html

[6] jsource/biography/vilnagaon.html

[7] Rabbi_Jon_Hausman/Halacha,_Sharia_and_the_ Religious_Acceptance_of_Constitutional_Governance/


Jerry Gordon is Sr. Vice President of World Encounter Institute and Senior Editor of the New English Review. This article appeared September 6, 2011 in the New English Review


Editor's Addendum:

Don't Fear Islamic Law in America
by Eliyahu Stern dont-fear-islamic-law-in-america.html
September 2, 2011

MORE than a dozen American states are considering outlawing aspects of Shariah law. Some of these efforts would curtail Muslims from settling disputes over dietary laws and marriage through religious arbitration, while others would go even further in stigmatizing Islamic life: a bill recently passed by the Tennessee General Assembly equates Shariah with a set of rules that promote "the destruction of the national existence of the United States."

Supporters of these bills contend that such measures are needed to protect the country against homegrown terrorism and safeguard its Judeo-Christian values. The Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has said that "Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it."

This is exactly wrong. The crusade against Shariah undermines American democracy, ignores our country's successful history of religious tolerance and assimilation, and creates a dangerous divide between America and its fastest-growing religious minority.

The suggestion that Shariah threatens American security is disturbingly reminiscent of the accusation, in 19th-century Europe, that Jewish religious law was seditious. In 1807, Napoleon convened an assembly of rabbinic authorities to address the question of whether Jewish law prevented Jews from being loyal citizens of the republic. (They said that it did not.)

Fear that Jewish law bred disloyalty was not limited to political elites; leading European philosophers also entertained the idea. Kant argued that the particularistic nature of "Jewish legislation" made Jews "hostile to all other peoples." And Hegel contended that Jewish dietary rules and other Mosaic laws barred Jews from identifying with their fellow Prussians and called into question their ability to be civil servants.

The German philosopher Bruno Bauer offered Jews a bargain: renounce Jewish law and be granted full legal rights. He insisted that, otherwise, laws prohibiting work on the Sabbath made it impossible for Jews to be true citizens. (Bauer conveniently ignored the fact that many fully observant Jews violated the Sabbath to fight in the Prussian wars against Napoleon.)

During that era, Christianity was seen as either a universally valid basis of the state or a faith that harmoniously coexisted with the secular law of the land. Conversely, Judaism was seen as a competing legal system — making Jews at best an unassimilable minority, at worst a fifth column. It was not until the late 19th century that all Jews were granted full citizenship in Western Europe (and even then it was short lived).

Most Americans today would be appalled if Muslims suffered from legally sanctioned discrimination as Jews once did in Europe. Still, there are signs that many Americans view Muslims in this country as disloyal. A recent Gallup poll found that only 56 percent of Protestants think that Muslims are loyal Americans.

This suspicion and mistrust is no doubt fueled by the notion that American Muslims are akin to certain extreme Muslim groups in the Middle East and in Europe. But American Muslims are a different story. They are natural candidates for assimilation. They are demographically the youngest religious group in America, and most of their parents don't even come from the Middle East (the majority have roots in Southeast Asia). A recent Pew Research Center poll found that Muslim Americans exhibit the highest level of integration among major American religious groups, expressing greater degrees of tolerance toward people of other faiths than do Protestants, Catholics or Jews.

Given time, American Muslims, like all other religious minorities before them, will adjust their legal and theological traditions, if necessary, to accord with American values.

America's exceptionalism has always been its ability to transform itself — economically, culturally and religiously. In the 20th century, we thrived by promoting a Judeo-Christian ethic, respecting differences and accentuating commonalities among Jews, Catholics and Protestants. Today, we need an Abrahamic ethic that welcomes Islam into the religious tapestry of American life.

Anti-Shariah legislation fosters a hostile environment that will stymie the growth of America's tolerant strand of Islam. The continuation of America's pluralistic religious tradition depends on the ability to distinguish between punishing groups that support terror and blaming terrorist activities on a faith that represents roughly a quarter of the world's population.

Eliyahu Stern, an assistant professor of religious studies and history at Yale, is the author of the forthcoming "The Genius: Elijah of Vilna and the Making of Modern Judaism."


Additional Remarks on the subject:

From Dr. Richard Swier: should-embrace-shariah-law

(1) Compatibility with USA Law:

Rabbi Hausman notes that: "Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Treaties, and Federal Statutes as "the supreme law of the land." This is compatible with both Jewish and Christian principles. The Supremacy Clause flies in the face of shariah law.

This Rabbinic principle [Dina d'malchuta Dina] is embedded in Christian principles and attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels, which reads, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). So both Jews and Christian principles recognize "civil law is necessary for the functioning of the greater society."

(2): Professor Stern makes a fatal assumption — that shariah compliant individuals easily and over time fully assimilate into non-Islamic societies.

Historically, have Christians, Jews and Muslims fully and completely assimilated into other societies? The answer is yes for Christians and Jews. We find that while Christians and Jews been subjected to unspeakable persecution by a variety of societies from the time of Pharaoh, to ancient Rome, to Nazi Germany to Arab countries in the Middle East, they have worked to assimilate.

The opposite is true of those who adhere to shariah Islamic law. As shariah law spreads in non-Islamic societies it demands separate but equal status. Additionally, in predominately shariah compliant nations Jews, Christians and all other non-believer are categorized as infidels, a term of derision. They are forced to assimilate or are persecuted.

Professor Stern misses the practical application of shariah Islam in countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, etc. Professor Stern is asking Americans to sell the rope to shariah Islamists, that will be used to hang us.


From Edward S. Beck:

Professor Stern says: "the majority have roots in Southeast Asia."

In fact up to a half are from the Middle East — Arabs, Persians, Turks, and Berbers — plus a quarter from South Asia, which is directly influenced by Saudi Arabia, and a quarter from mainly Black converts."


From The Rebel: law-mean-for-women-in-america/question-2144897/

Professor Stern says, "The crusade against Shariah undermines American democracy..."

His take is flat wrong. Particularly for women, allowing Sharia law would severly undermine American democracy, not the other way around. We encourage the professor to do a little further research into what Sharia law would mean for American women, taking into account the following points:


From Barry Rubin:
( more-intellectual-junk-from-the-ny-times-sharia-is-just- fine-those-who-oppose-it-are-just-bigots/)
on the difference between Jewish law and sharia in practice:

To cite one famous incident that sort of reveals the difference, the baseball player Hank Greenberg became an American Jewish hero for refusing to play in the World Series on Yom Kippur. No Jew would have thought of demanding the World Series be changed to another day. Or, to give another example, Jews would never think of demanding that public facilities install special equipment or rooms for their needs at taxpayer expense, nor insist that work places shut down to permit them to pray, nor that kosher food had to be provided or else, nor that publications better censor themselves or they would face legal action and perhaps violent retribution. If passengers in taxi cabs were regularly bringing pigs into the vehicles — the equivalent of Muslim cabdrivers with guide dogs and even alcohol in some cases — Jewish cabdrivers wouldn't have refused them service — they would have found another line of employment.

And then there are those little details like Jews not periodically kidnapping and murdering women for their social behavior or coreligionists who wanted to convert to other religions. Jews didn't demand time off in the work day to pray and sue if it weren't granted to them. They "knew their place" instead of demanding that others yield to them. Well, over 2000 years of being a dominated people had taught them to keep a low profile and avoid trouble. In contrast, Islam really does have the sense of being a ruling religion before which others must make concessions."


From Joy52: the-fear-of-a-sharia-planet-36734/
sums up the practical aspects well:

If there is no threat from sharia law, then there should be no problem with laws affirming the US Constitution as supreme, right? Just let those constitutionalists run around and pass all the laws they want. No problem for islam, right, so what's the problem? You just go ahead and don't worry about us. It will only come up if you, say, decide to honor kill (murder), attempt to or kill infidels or apostates (murder or attempted murder), chop off body parts (aggravated assault), practice polygamy (illegal), genital mutilate (aggravated assault), abuse animals (a crime), discriminate against gays and women (crimes), engage in domestic abuse including rape (crimes), commit pedophilia (a crime), incite others to commit crimes, support terrorism. Otherwise, we're good and you can go right ahead.

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