The other day, I wrote an article concerning how the Muslim Brotherhood was waiting in the wings to take over Libya, now that Moammar Gadhafi has assumed room temperature.
I hate it when I’m right.
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its “basic source”.
But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways – it was also the basis of Egypt’s largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall.
Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.
In a blow to those who hoped to see Libya’s economy integrate further into the western world, he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia. “Interest creates disease and hatred among people,” he said.
Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, and other Muslim countries, have pioneered the development of Sharia-compliant banks which charge fees rather than interest for loans but they normally run alongside western-style banks.
In the first instance, interest on low-value loans would be waived altogether, he said.
Libya is already the most conservative state in north Africa, banning the sale of alcohol. Mr Abdul-Jalil’s decision – made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process – will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.
What is Sharia Law? According to the official website of the Council on Foreign Relations, cfr.org:
Also meaning “path” in Arabic, sharia guides all aspects of Muslim life including daily routines, familial and religious obligations, and financial dealings. It is derived primarily from the Quran and the Sunna–the sayings, practices, and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. Precedents and analogy applied by Muslim scholars are used to address new issues. The consensus of the Muslim community also plays a role in defining this theological manual.
Sharia developed several hundred years after the Prophet Mohammed’s death in 632 CE as the Islamic empire expanded to the edge of North Africa in the West and to China in the East. Since the Prophet Mohammed was considered the most pious of all believers, his life and ways became a model for all other Muslims and were collected by scholars into what is known as the hadith. As each locality tried to reconcile local customs and Islam, hadith literature grew and developed into distinct schools of Islamic thought: the Sunni schools, Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanafi; and the Shiite school, Ja’fari. Named after the scholars that inspired them, they differ in the weight each applies to the sources from which sharia is derived, the Quran, hadith, Islamic scholars, and consensus of the community.
Wait a minute. Didn’t Obama say that brighter days were ahead in Libya after the killing of Gadhafi?
So this is a momentous day in the history of Libya. The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted. And with this enormous promise, the Libyan people now have a great responsibility — to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Gaddafi’s dictatorship. We look forward to the announcement of the country’s liberation, the quick formation of an interim government, and a stable transition to Libya’s first free and fair elections. And we call on our Libyan friends to continue to work with the international community to secure dangerous materials, and to respect the human rights of all Libyans –- including those who have been detained.
Oops. I think you missed that prediction, Kreskin.
The problem is, according to The Council of Foreign Relations, the jury is still out as to whether Democracy and Sharia Law can co-exist:
In a 2007 University of Maryland poll (PDF), more than 60 percent of the populations in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia responded that democracy was a good way to govern their respective countries, while at the same time, an average of 71 percent agreed with requiring “strict application of [sharia] law in every Islamic country.” Whether democracy and Islam can coexist is a topic of heated debate. Some Islamists argue democracy is a purely Western concept imposed on Muslim countries. Others feel Islam necessitates a democratic system and that democracy has a basis in the Quran since “mutual consultation” among the people is commended (42:38 Quran). John L. Esposito and John O. Voll explain the debate in a 2001 article in the journal Humanities.
Noah Feldman, a former CFR adjunct senior fellow, writes in a 2008 New York Times Magazine article that the full incorporation of Islamic law is viewed as creating “a path to just and legitimate government in much of the Muslim world.” It places duplicitous rulers alongside their constituents under the rule of God. “For many Muslims today, living in corrupt autocracies, the call for [sharia] is not a call for sexism, obscurantism or savage punishment but for an Islamic version of what the West considers its most prized principle of political justice: the rule of law,” Feldman argues.
On the other hand, some Muslim scholars say that secular government is the best way to observe sharia. “Enforcing a [sharia] through coercive power of the state negates its religious nature, because Muslims would be observing the law of the state and not freely performing their religious obligation as Muslims,” says Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, a professor of law at Emory University and author of a book on the future of sharia.
That makes two countries in the volatile Middle East, Egypt and Libya, who have headed straight toward a fervent embrace of radical Sharia Law after disposing of their secular despots – cheered on by President Barack Hussein Obama and his State Department practitioners of Smart Power!
And this helps the United States…how?