Religion

Maryland vs. Islam

If I ever hear of any moderate or liberal Muslims, I will let you know. So far, that hasn’t happened. I’d been thinking, “Well, I bet Muslims in the U.S. are much less fundamentalist than the ones we here about in the Middle East and in Europe all the time,” but apparently not, according to an article in the Baltimore Sun. Here’s a synopsis from Ed Brayton:

Maryland’s highest court has rejected a talaq divorce performed by a Muslim man in order to prevent his wife from getting anything in their divorce under state law (see full ruling here). Under Islamic law, a man can divorce his wife merely by saying “I divorce you” three times. In this case, the man, Irfan Aleem, a World Bank economist, went to the Pakistani embassy and signed a piece of paper saying that so they would immediately grant him an official divorce and he would not have to split up his $2 million estate with his wife. The Maryland court said no, they will not recognize that divorce and he still has to go through the laws of the state in order to get one, saying, “the enforceability of a foreign talaq divorce provision, such as that presented here, in the courts of Maryland, where only the male, i.e., husband, has an independent right to utilize talaq and the wife may utilize it only with the husband’s permission, is contrary to Maryland’s constitutional provisions.”

Bully to Maryland for not putting up with this shit or suggesting that Sharia law should be adopted so the Muslims don’t have to feel uncomfortable and join Western society. (Whoops, click on that last link and you will hear of one Muslim who doesn’t think with the pack. I agree with that guy: if you want to live under Sharia law, move to Saudi Arabia. Have fun.)

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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28 Comments

  1. Right on. There’s nothing wrong with saying that, when someone moves to a secular society with the non-religious rule of law, that person must follow that laws of that secular society.
    In a somewhat related matter, we Canadians have had to listen to arguments from motorcycle-riding Sikhs that they shouldn’t have to wear helmets, because the helmets won’t fit over their turbans. Why any sensible judge won’t just say ‘Well, you don’t have to ride a motorcycle” is beyond me.

  2. I don’t know much about her, but I thinkn Irshad Manji might count as a moderate/liberal Muslim. She’s a lesbian raised in BC who blames the Arab culture for the problems with fundie Muslims.

    Here’s a NY Times article comparing and contrasting her to Ali. (Free registration required.)

  3. I live in NYC and everybody brushes up against everybody all the time. Most of the time, it isn’t a big issue because we pretty much leave each other alone, but sometimes it really gets on my tits. For example, in the summer it gets hot. To help dissapate heat, I try to leave as much of my body as is aesthetically and legally possible uncovered (note: using my own aesthetic standards). There are certain sects in our fair city that feel it is unclean for a woman to expose her bare arms (much less legs) and I’ve gotten more than one dirty look when sitting next to someone on the subway who feels this way. Listen mofo, if your religion tells you you cannot have contact with a woman’s bare arms, then it is up to you, not me, to ensure that it doesn’t happen. As long as I comply with my city’s rules and regulations, I can do as I please.

    And don’t get me started on the anti-dog people.

  4. Every single Muslim I’ve ever met has been moderate. I see lots of crazy Christian bigots on T.V. I also know a lot of smart, moderate Christians. I don’t assume that every Christian or Jew I see on T.V. represents the whole of that religion. Why is it perfectly alright to do this with Islam?

    There’s a sampling bias in getting your view of a group of people from news stories. Would you like being judged by every crazy news story about atheists? There are scales of crazy in every religion. Singling out Islam just validates the radicals’ persecution complexes.

  5. I’m with delphi_ote on this one.

    I’ve met crazy Muslims, crazy Christians, crazy, Jews, crazy Hindus, even crazy atheists. (No crazy Sihks, yet. But I’m sure they are out there.) I’ve also met moderates in each group.

    I think that fundamentalism or liberalism or moderation are human viewpoints that are expressed through your beliefs, not an essential part of the beliefs themselves. The far more interesting question to me is what makes one person a fundie and one a liberal when they come from the same environment?

  6. Why is it perfectly alright to do this with Islam?

    Because the moderate muslims are invisible by choice? Let’s have them show their stuff. If they are silent (and I say the same things for moderate Christians and Jews), then they are choosing to be so and are complicit in the atrocities of their fundamentalist counterparts. However, I might be tempted to give muslims a bit more leeway here because their fundamentalist counterparts might be willing to kill them if they speak out against the extremists.

    I have never heard of any atheists killing people, discriminating against women or gays, spreading hate, or frankly doing anything terrible because of their atheism. I have heard of many people of many different religions doing so because of their religious beliefs. (People of any philosophy do terrible things just because…. that doesn’t count in this discussion.)

    That said, I’d like to possibly write a post on moderate Muslims, so keep the examples coming.

  7. Ontario rejected a motion to allow sharia law for domestic issues as well, for reasons that must be all too obvious now – it is an infingement on the civil liberties of women, which overrides religious freedom.
    Yay us!

  8. …and I agree with writerdd, too.

    Moderates of all stripes are too invisible. We all know that putting crazy screaming people on your TV program or quoting them in your blog will get more hits. Politicians avoid saying things like “negotiate” or “compromise” because they get labeled as wafflers. The problem is partly with moderates who don’t do enough to speak out and the problem is with the media who give too much time to the crazies, but the problem is also with us.

    We respond to the extremes. If we really want a more civil society, call your TV station or newspaper the next time that they post and interview Fred Phelps or Ayman al-Zawahiri or Richard Dawkins, ask them to post a response from a local leader from the corresponding religious or non-religious community. If they would, I think that you would hear some much different and much more moderate voices.

  9. I met a crazy sikh! I met a crazy sikh!

    It was at the liquor store, he was the proprieter. My roommate was getting some ice cream,when he asked the price, it was very high,he exclaimed “holy cow!”. The sikh totally freaked out and went on a long diatribe about how he and his people do not worship cows (uh, thanks, Harbinder, I can tell a sikh from a hindu(and yes, hindus don’t necessarily “worship” cows…unless Nandi…never mind)), etc…anyway, it all ended in us leaving, utterly bewildered, with he in his pujabi accent yelling “to hell with you and your vernacular!”.

  10. durnett, “, call your TV station or newspaper the next time that they post and interview Fred Phelps or Ayman al-Zawahiri or Richard Dawkins, ask them to post a response from a local leader” — what a fantastic suggestion!

  11. oh, and Wiremonkey, I assumed you meant the hasids. what a bunch of crazy that is. I cannot fathom why any of them do not live in Israel. Maybe they prefer Los Angeles and NY summers to Israeli ones when they’re playing dress up like a 19th century Lithuanian?

  12. I beg to differ, I know a musilm family that is very liberal . The fact is that they are terrified to sound like they don’t “love America” I don’t think it impossible to think that people might not want to combine unfair stereotypes and seem like an “America hating muslim”

  13. Whitebird wrote:

    I met a crazy sikh! I met a crazy sikh!

    It was at the liquor store, he was the proprieter. My roommate was getting some ice cream,when he asked the price, it was very high,he exclaimed “holy cow!”. The sikh totally freaked out and went on a long diatribe about how he and his people do not worship cows (uh, thanks, Harbinder, I can tell a sikh from a hindu(and yes, hindus don’t necessarily “worship” cows…unless Nandi…never mind)), etc…anyway, it all ended in us leaving, utterly bewildered, with he in his pujabi accent yelling “to hell with you and your vernacular!”.

    Yikes. That guy sounds sikh, sikh, sikh.

    ~Wordplayer

  14. A thought on the issue of silent moderates. I am gradually coming out of traditional Christian thought entirely, but I think that at this particular stage in my journey (and for the last few years) I could safely be termed a moderate Christian. At least for myself, I am not especially vocal about my thoughts because I have better things to do with my time and energy.

    Same idea as politics. A LOT of America is politically moderate, probably more than is extreme (I’m in this camp too). But they’re too busy living life and doing what needs to be done to try to get anybody’s attention with what is, face it, not a very interesting platform whether you’re talking religion or politics.

    “Hey! I think our different viewpoints have a certain amount of merit while they also contain unavoidable flaws, and if we can open an intelligent dialogue on both the public and personal level, we might find a huge common ground in which we can all live in relative (if rather talkative) peace!”

    See what I mean? I’m not gonna get my own radio show saying that.

  15. I’d certainly listen to your show, Bee!

    Sadly, what seems to be required for much of this is the existence of Militant Moderates. And as Bee pointed out, most of us that might fit into that category are too busy living our lives to want to plunge into the culture wars. Almost every time I think about writing a letter to the paper, or my senator, etc. I end up with five other things that take priority.

    Add another log of guilt to the bonfire!

  16. Is this really a case of a fundamentalist Muslim attempting to insinuate Sharia into US law? My brief reading of the Baltimore Sun article suggests that this case is about a Muslim man knowing he has $2 million at stake and attempting to use (abuse?) Sharia to protect his assets rather than using Sharia because of his religious beliefs. Simply speaking, his motives were venal, not spiritual.

  17. “Simply speaking, his motives were venal, not spiritual.”

    So it seems. But when a great many of fundamentalists beliefs, Muslim or Christian, amount to subjugating women in various ways, you have to wonder if it didn’t all start out as “venal”.

    It’s rather interesting. Religious beliefs can constrain behavior, perhaps preventing people from doing what the desire very much to do (e.g. fornication); or they can provide an outlet for expressing and acting on desires (e.g. the desire to keep your butt-loads of money to yourself).

    It’s all such a jumble that I often think most people just pick whatever it is that sanctions what they already think. But what many people already think is based on previous religious training, and so we have a (sometimes vicious) feedback cycle there.

  18. Note that the Muslim and Jewish divorce laws are similar in some ways. “I divorce you” three times is enough for the man, the woman has to work much harder.

    OTOH, in Jewish Law, a get does not entitle the man to leave his wife destitute, as (this interpretation of) sharia apparently does.

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