Senator Larry Grooms introduced the bill. While it doesn’t specifically name Islamic law, it would also apply to Islamic sharia law. For Senator Grooms, a shocking case in New Jersey that cited sharia law to rule against a sexually abused woman was sufficient cause for him to see that South Carolina is protected from competing jurisprudence rooted in foreign legal systems. (That case was later overturned on appeal.)
The step Senator Grooms is taking is a necessary preventative measure that helps ensure future debate and controversy over legal cases and competing values are kept at bay. South Carolina is making it clear that its courts will not entertain a foreign legal system. Case closed.
At present, it is vital that Americans are clear about our values and initiate calm, rational and definitive steps to ensure those values are protected. The longer we deter meaningful strides to protect American values, the more we are allowing a level of paranoia to brew. Sharia law has traditionally been a bogeyman among conservative audiences which usually use the term to refer to the brutal hudud punishments. As such, a significant degree of Muslim-hatred has seeped through in that dialogue.
Our conversation on sharia needs to have a deeper understanding of what sharia is exactly. During Islam’s early years, sharia was more akin to a current in an ocean and any number of currents (or pathways) could be taken to arrive at a decision. However, over the course of hundreds of years — as Muslims tried to build a framework for Islam — sharia become more rigid and structured. Still, sharia law differs from region to region. At the end of the day, sharia amounts to following the law of the land, which is why in the U.S., following ‘sharia’ means following American law.
While this might make us feel warm and cozy, it’s also important to keep a sharp eye on the horizon. We’re neck deep in a culture war where American values are either under a microscope or on a chopping block. With the increased number of misinformed politicians paired with alarmingly staunch Islamists in the halls of Congress, American law is at the risk of becoming something we don’t recognize in another generation.
It is important to remember that the goal of a strategic Islamist wouldn’t be to force acceptance of sharia law; it would be being in a position to change American law to reflect their politicized interpretation of religious ideology.