Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Understanding Sharia Law, Debunking Conservative Claims
Press Release

RELEASE: Understanding Sharia Law, Debunking Conservative Claims

Press Contacts

  • Christina DiPasquale

By Matthew Duss and Wajahat Ali

To read the full report, click here.

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released the issue brief, “Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives’ Skewed Ideas Need Debunking,” by Matthew Duss and Wajahat Ali. Though conservative pundits have presented Islamic religious law as a growing threat to the United States, and politicians have introduced legislation forbidding Sharia, this brief provides an explanation of Sharia, debunks false claims, and illustrates why current misunderstandings pose a danger to America’s national security interests and our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

Sharia is personal religious law and moral guidance for the vast majority of Muslims. Moreover, these core values are in harmony with the core values at the heart of America. Muslims consider an interpretation of Sharia to be valid so long as it protects and advocates for life, property, family, faith, and intellect.

Misleading reports authored by conservative pundits, without credentials in the study of Islam, characterize Sharia as totalitarian in nature and a threat to freedom. This deeply flawed conclusion would cast suspicion on all Muslims who practice any aspect of their faith, as the text is primarily concerned with correct religious practice. Adopting a flawed analysis and integrating it into policy would direct limited resources away from actual threats to the United States and bolster an anti-Muslim narrative that Islamist extremist groups find useful in recruiting.

The Center for American Progress brief dissects the misinformation which risks alienating our best allies in the effort against radicalization—our fellow Americans who are Muslim—and presents the following agreed upon facts about Sharia:

  • Sharia is not static—its interpretations and applications have changed and continue to change over time.
  • There is no one thing called Sharia—a variety of Muslim communities interpret Sharia in their own way as the ideal law of God aimed toward justice, fairness, and mercy.
  • Sharia is overwhelmingly concerned with personal religious observance such as prayer and fasting, and not with national laws.

To read the full report, click here.

For a related interview, visit: Setting the Record Straight on Sharia: An Interview with Intisar Rabb.

To speak to Matthew Duss, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogress.org.

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