Fortunately, I received a response from Mr. Muneer Awad, Executive Director of C.A.I.R.'s Oklahoma Chapter. Mr. Awad's initial response led to an interesting dialog, and as you will read below, he made some good points that I agree with. In particular, I understand C.A.I.R.'s position as far as maintaining religious integrity while meeting the legal requirements of marriage licences, wills, business contracts, etc. I don't believe that's where the issues lie (as long as all finances are legitimate). Numerous religions, including Christianity and Judaism, do this when it comes to preparing such documents. The issue is when Sharia Law interferes with a citizen's Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties. I addressed this in my final email to him.
On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 12:23 PM, Aaron Yeargan
To Whom It May Concern:Good morning. I hope this e-mail finds you doing well. I wanted to take the time to share my concerns about CAIR's opposition to Oklahoma's SQ755. As a tolerant and open minded individual, I am glad that we live in a country that allows us all the freedoms of speech, religion, and association. These rights are granted to us by the Constitution's First Amendment and the legally upheld concept of Separation of Church and State. This ensures us that personal religious beliefs will not interfere with our legal system or dictate any legal decision.In addition to the Constitution and federal laws, by passing SQ755, Oklahoma took steps at the state level to preserve the Separation of Church and State. Just as you admirably work for a grater respect and tolerance of Islam in the United States, you must also respect the laws, practices, and freedoms granted by our Constitution.Respectfully,Aaron YearganOn Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 12:08 PM, CAIR Oklahoma
wrote:Thank you very much for contacting us. We agree whole heartily with your first paragraph. But by suggesting that OK had to take an additional step to preserve the Separation of Church and State, you are implying that the Constitution and federal laws are not sufficient alone. Is that what you are saying?If you can show me an example where our Constitution and federal laws were insufficient in preserving the Separation of Church and State, then I may better understand your claim. What we are saying is that the Constitution and federal laws are in fact sufficient. And that exact principle of Separation is why the state of OK cannot make a law touching on the establishment of a faith.I respect the Constitution and am a student of that document. It is the document which makes our nation and state so great. And that document was created to prevail against majority votes. We cannot have an election question that takes a poll on which Constitutional Rights we want to deprive, and who we seek to deprive them from. The Bill of Rights was created to withstand even a 100% vote. This is why our lawsuit in fact seeks to preserve the Constitution. We are asking a judge to stop OK from changing our Constitution. This SQ is an amendment.For the interest of a productive dialogue, can you share what practice in Sharia you find particularly troubling? Why do you need this Amendment?Thank you again so much. I respect your opinion and do not aim to change it, but I hope to better understand it.On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 1:42 PM, Aaron Yeargan wrote:Thank you so very much for your reply. I don't have an issue with Sharia Law. People are and should be allowed to practice their religion as they see fit, as long as it does not infringe on the rights and liberties of others. My issue is using a religious belief or guideline as a way of deciding cases within the legal system. With that, I want to make it clear that I have no issue with Islam. I would be making the same argument regardless of the religion in question.I do see your point concerning the Constitution and federal laws being sufficient, and I do agree to an extent. However, are states not granted the ability to pass laws as they see fit under the 10th Amendment?Is CAIR's opposition solely confined to the fact that this law is unnecessary because of the Constitution and federal laws? If so, does C.A.I.R. support the use of Shara Law in the public court system?Again, thank you for your reply. While I know people will always have differences, I truly believe knowledge and unbiased dialog will make real peace, understanding, and tolerance reachable.-AaronOn Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 1:30 PM, CAIR Oklahoma wrote:State's are not granted the ability to deprive a class of citizens of their Constitutional Rights...that again if we believe a law that mentions only one faith, is a violation of those Constitutional Rights. CAIR's opposition is the "State condemnation of Islam".The reason I asked the question I did, is because if there is an aspect that we do not want to percolate in our courts, then we can forbid that certain aspect while not forbidding the consideration of the entire faith. For instance, my will today, makes reference to my religious practices and is still in compliance with the law of the land. So why should it become invalid?Polygamy was a problem legally in the US, but courts did not ban Mormonism, they banned polygamy. That allows Mormons to keep their faith in good standing in the community, but simply bans that one practice. What one practice in Islam in America do we seek to keep out of courts. Lets find out what that is and forbid its consideration...but lets not forbid the entire faith from having equal standing in the community?I hope that makes sense. If it helps, let me mention that Marriage COntracts, Business Contracts, Home Mortgages, and Wills can all be Sharia compliant...and are. In the US today you can find Sharia compliant documents that do not break the law and are in compliance with Public Policy. Why should they now become invalid?MuneerOn Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 2:14 PM, Aaron Yeargan wrote:Muneer,Thank you Sir. I definitely see your point and agree with them. With the issue addressed in the below link, is this allowed under Sharia Law? If so, regardless of religious beliefs and practices, once the wife in question made the complaint, shouldn't the courts system address her constitutional rights and liberties?http://www.secularnewsdaily. com/2010/07/28/nj-judge-oks- rape-of-wife-by-muslim-citing- religious-belief-overturned- on-appeal/AaronOn Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 8:00 AM, CAIR Oklahoma wrote:Again Aaron, I (and I feel comfortable in saying the American Muslim community) agree with you. This case -as I know you may already know- was reversed and overturned. In legal terms, an overturned case is considered "bad law". It is not precedent and can not be used by a court. However the Appellate court's ruling that reversed this case is considered "good law", and is a precedent that other courts can consider. So what does this case actually tell us?A person's religion cannot be used as a defense to commit an illegal act. Similar to what I described in previous emails, Sharia guides Muslims to practice their faith while mandating a respect for the laws of the land. This case in particular does not even touch on the idea of Sharia as defined by many Muslims (that is a whole issue in itself...who gave this offender the authority to define what Sharia is? How did the judge define what Sharia is? Having the courts define what my religion is or isn't is a Constitutional violation in and of itself). Sharia does not allow for domestic violence. But for argument's sake, even if a religious act did conflict with the law of the land, the law of the land reigns supreme. This is how Sharia mandates, and how our Constitution governs. The judge your link pointed to was declared to have been mistaken in his judgment and the understanding of the law. Just as Mormons are not allowed to use their religion to legalize polygamy, just as some Natives are not allowed to use their religion to legalize some intoxicants, and just as any other religion would not be able to use their faith to legalize any illegal act, Muslims too are Constitutionally prohibited from using their religion to legalize an illegal act.But now looking at the Appellate court's decision (not the overturned decision), we see the US already has laws that govern domestic violence, and marital rape. Let us also be honest with ourselves, and admit that domestic violence, and marital rape are not exclusive to Muslims. These are problems that plague our entire society. In Oklahoma alone there have been two murders in cases of domestic violence in the past month. Neither of those involved Muslim couples, and even if they did, Sharia would not be a defense because MURDER is a crime in the United States. So if marital rape, or domestic violence were the crimes that concerned Americans (and the concern that Americans have with Muslims because of this NJ case) than I suggest us lobby our Legislatures and communities to get tougher on those issues, rather than claim to get tougher on those issues by banning an entire faith from our courts.Again, I cannot emphasize this enough. We have a Constitution in this nation. That Constitution reigns supreme above any law. But that Constitution also provides me the protection to practice my faith so long as it is in compliance with the law. That is what our Constitution ensures, and that is what my faith mandates,Thanks again, and I hope I did a reasonable job at explaining my point.ps) Sorry for the late reply...one of the perks for working for a Muslims Civil Liberties organization is half-day Fridays.