A new report titled Shari`a-the threat to America issued by the Center for Security Policy claims that Shari`a is not a teaching based on religious inspiration but is part of a murderous and authoritarian ideology. This report in some way echoes the talking points circulated all summer by the anti-Manhattan Islamic center chorus and others. It is almost as if the various Islamophobic actors had sight of this report before it was released.
If the proposed Qur’an burning exercise provoked anger among Muslims, then clearly this report is going to offend a great number of Muslims once it hits the blogosphere. For a simple reason: the Shari`a is a central feature of Muslim moral life. For CSP to make ad hominem attacks on what most Muslims deem to be their most cherished moral system and a system of commitment to God, is not only offensive but one can also anticipate why many would consider this to be a provocation. This kind of “research” does not build bridges; in fact it is designed to torpedo inter-cultural and inter-religious relations.
Surely, the meaning, content and ends that Shari`a was to serve has been debated extensively among Muslims. It remains a troubling issue, even for insiders. Some portraits of Shari`a are indeed lurid, such as the versions showcased by the Taliban, the Iranian and Saudi regimes, and other authoritarians. Yet, more humane interpretations are in short supply. Thus it provides ammunition to adversaries of Muslims.
This report is also tainted. Despite the prominence of James Woolsey, former CIA director as one of the sponsors of the report, one of the lead authors is retired General Jerry Boykin who several years ago made anti-Muslim and inflammatory statements while still in uniform. He was never disciplined. Since then he has gone on to become an evangelical proponent and on a crusade of trying to convert Muslims and disparage Islam. Apart from squandering its credibility by letting Boykin write the report, the CSP has produced a most wrong-headed and ill-serving report.