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Commentary & Opinion

Herbert London: Shariah And The Constitution

With very little fanfare, the first Muslim woman was sworn in as a judge of the 7th Municipal Civil Court District of East New York. During the swearing in ceremony she held the Koran at Brooklyn Borough Hall on December 10, 2015. That was two years ago and it does not appear as if anything untoward has occurred in the subsequent period.

However, the Koran is jurisprudently anti-American since it requires Islamic supremacy – by force if necessary – over Judeo-Christian beliefs and the laws of this land. How can one uphold the tenets of the American Constitution and the precepts of Islam simultaneously? All Muslims are ordered by their imams to adhere to the edicts of the Koran and its political-cultural offshoot, Shariah. Hence, it is impossible to predict the philosophical position to which any Muslim is loyal. Needless to say, there are Muslims who embrace our way of life and Constitution, but if they adhere to the precepts in the Koran there cannot be a secular authority higher than the word of Allah.

Even if self-identified as an American, a devout Muslim raises the concern of impartiality in the courtroom.  Can one be confident that the vast majority of non-Muslims will have the conviction a Muslim judge is completely fair minded? Can justice be blind as most courtroom commentary argues when faced with the politically correct claim “inclusiveness and diversity” must be honored? Can two masters be served at once? As Jesus noted: “for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. He cannot serve both God and Mammon.”  Alas, neither can the Constitution and Koran be served together.

It therefore seems obvious that a trend to appoint Muslim judges and elect Muslim congressional figures runs headlong into the unavoidable loyalty question. In fact, it is worth asking whether a commitment to uphold the Constitution can be honestly kept by someone adhering to Shariah principles.

Clearly there are conducted civil cases which, in most instances, do not involve Constitutional questions. But one can only wonder what would happen if a loyalty to one’s faith runs headlong into a conflict with a pledge to the United States.

Clearly this is not the first time loyalty questions have been raised. In the fifties, there was the matter of Communist loyalty to this nation with a lot of handwringing over personal conscience and the First Amendment. This time, the matter has a decidedly different flavor since religious adherence militates against secular positions forcing the First Amendment that guarantees the freedom of conscience and religious observance into a seeming contradiction with the precepts of the republic that expect upholding the Constitution as a foundational principle.

Where this goes is anyone’s guess. But the issue will rise again. Keith Ellison, after having been elected as a congressman from Minnesota, insisted on taking his oath of office by putting his hand on a Koran rather than a Bible. To what entity did Mr. Ellison offer his loyalty?

America is a land of extraordinary tolerance. But even tolerance has its limits. In fact, as George Santayana noted, the first duty of a tolerant man is to be intolerant to intolerance. When does religious observance end and political commitment begin? The age of confusion is upon us. To be liberal minded may jeopardize national principles and to be unalterably conservative may raise confusion about the meaning of the First Amendment.

Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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