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KARAMAH Speaks about Islam, Shari’ah and Religious Freedom at the Islamic Center of Long Island, NY.

Mr. Abed Awad, Ms. Engy Abdelkader and Reverend Mark Lukens

On October 2, 2011, KARAMAH held a town hall meeting at the Islamic Center of Long Island, NY, featuring Mr. Abed Awad, Ms. Engy Abdelkader, Reverend Mark Lukens. During this event, scholars and experts explained what Shari’ah is, how it is practiced in the U.S., constitutional issues surrounding a potential ban, and the effects a ban would have on religious freedom in America. The meeting was attended by an interfaith audience; both men and women from the different faiths.

Mr. Abed Awad discussed the background of Islamic law (Shari’ah), that it is “a process to construct divine meaning and ascertain divine will.” Then he explained why religious law is relevant in American courts by providing relevant examples about how it is brought in as foreign law and that it often serves as extrinsic evidence.

Ms. Abdelkader said that while people are afraid that Islamic Law will infiltrate the American legal system, we have to remember that 1) we have a constitution that protects us from this, and 2) not all that we see abroad is Islam (as understood by all Muslims). She also explained that all that we see in the media is people manipulating a doctrine to further their own agenda.

Reverend Mark explained parallels in Canon law. He also explained how this legislation is “an offense to humanity and a stain on our nation.”

Mr. David Newman from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island also joined the discussion. He talked about Halakha (Jewish law) and the idea of a Ketuba (Jewish marriage contract) and the get, which a woman has to receive for the divorce to be finalized and other issues relating to the Jewish community.

The panelists agreed that the anti-Shari’ah wave is political an ideological and that we need to educate ourselves and others about this issue. Ms. Ailya Vajid described the event as being “very powerful and moving and reminded us of what America claims to be.”