North Carolina Sharia Ban is Unconstitutional


North Carolina just passed a bill banning judges from considering Islamic law — or sharia — in court rulings. The bill was passed without Gov. Pat McCrory's (R) signature. North Carolina is now the seventh state to enact anti-sharia legislation, joining Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee. Unlike broader bans enacted by some of the other states, North Carolina limits the ban to family law practices.

Governor McCrory called the bill "unnecessary" and he is completely right. Not only is banning sharia law pointless but it is unconstitutional too.

Banning sharia law in any state is a superfluous decision because sharia law actually requires Muslims to obey the laws their nation. So any Muslim who lives in a non-Muslim country as a citizen or immigrant is obligated by Islamic law to follow the law of that country they reside in. As long as American Muslims want to continue to live in the United States they must adhere to the U.S. Constitution as the ultimate law of the land. Any individual who unlawfully attempts to use Islam as a justification for committing a crime is actually going against Islamic guidelines.

Critics of sharia law, the very individuals who encourage banning it, would probably be the first to ask: If U.S. laws do in fact trump sharia laws for American Muslims who live in the United States, then why would a ban bother them? The answer to this question is simple: Because banning sharia law is unconstitutional and an infringement on their religious freedoms as American citizens.

As previously mentioned in a different PolicyMic article, sharia literally means a way or path to be followed. This path is a personal relationship Muslims have with God. The First Amendment prohibits Congress from establishing laws that restrict or impede the free exercise of religion. So if sharia is banned, then American Muslims' religious practices would be precluded. American Muslims would no longer be able to get married or inherit money, for example, because these practices require Islamic guidelines.

Lawyers versed in Islamic law also point to the fact that a Sharia ban could make it difficult for a Muslim women who is married in Islamic countries to obtain alimony or child support, because the husband can argue that he is not actually married to her. This recent ban in North Carolina essentially would prohibit judges from recognizing those types of marriages.

Unfortunately, many non-Muslim Americans shiver upon hearing the phrase sharia law because the meaning of this term has been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted. What they don't know is that American Muslims do not expect sharia law to be applied to non-Muslims. In fact, the Qur'an clearly states that "there shall be non compulsion in religion" (2:256).

However, most American Muslims would condemn banning sharia law because that ban equals an infringement on their right to freely practice their religion. After all, First Amendment rights are rights that belong to all American citizens and that means Muslims too.