Mainstream American Muslim Jurists’ Blueprint for Undermining America’s Legal System

Salah al-Sawy, mainstream AMJA “jurist”, expresses his patriotic views on US citizenship:

As for obtaining citizenships in light of circumstances of Muslims today who are residing outside the lands of Islam — on the condition that they do not accept indefinitely the law and legislation of that country and being indefinite belonging to the nation of the non-Muslim country so that they become loyal to all their allies and an enemy to all their enemies — and obtaining the citizenship is considered a required means in order to organize the affairs of Muslims who already live there while ensuring fulfilling vows and agreements between them and host countries, and exists due to urgent necessities and needs and this Muslim kept his loyalty to Allaah and His Messenger, then it would not be farfetched to say that it would be permissible.


Since all of the earth was bequeathed by Allah to “the best of humanity”—i.e., the Muslims (Koran 3:110)—the ancient, but timeless jihad war imperative is to render the entire globe “dar al Islam”—territory under Muslim suzerainty, and governed by Allah’s “law”, the totalitarian Sharia.  An explicit, if “legalistic” statement of this goal is the 1990 Cairo Declaration, or Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, drafted and subsequently ratified by all the Muslim member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), re-named the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on June 28, 2011.

Now a 56 state collective which includes every Islamic nation on earth, the OIC, currently headed by Turkey’s Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, thus represents the entire Muslim umma (or global community of individual Muslims), and is the largest single voting bloc in the United Nations (UN).  Both the preamble and concluding articles (24 and 25) make plain that the OIC’s Cairo Declaration is designed to supersede Western conceptions of human rights as enunciated, for example, in the US Bill of Rights, and the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which Allah made as the best community [Koran 3:110] and which gave humanity a universal and well-balanced civilization, in which harmony is established between hereunder and the hereafter, knowledge is combined with faith, and to fulfill the expectations from this community to guide all humanity which is confused because of different and conflicting beliefs and ideologies and to provide solutions for all chronic problems of this materialistic civilization…Article 22: (a) Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Sharia. (a1) Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Sharia…Article 24: All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia…Article 25: The Islamic Sharia is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.

These statements capture the indelible influence of the Islamic religious law Sharia—the Cairo Declaration claiming supremacy based on “divine revelation,” which renders sacred and permanent the notion of inequality between the community of Allah, and the infidels. Thus one can see clearly the differences between the Cairo Declaration, which sanctions gross limitations on freedom (i.e., abrogating freedom of conscience and speech, via “apostasy” and “blasphemy” laws), and legal inequalities inherent in the Sharia, and its Western human rights counterparts (the US Bill of Rights; the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights), which guarantee freedom of conscience and expression, and do not refer to any specific religion or to the superiority of any group over another, stressing the absolute equality of all human beings before the law.

My colleague Translating Jihad has just rendered into English an Arabic-language paper published by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) in 2007, and presented at their 2008 careers conference in Houston. As he observes, aptly, in his introduction to the posting, “Credit goes to the Center for Security Policy for discovering this paper and bringing it to me for translation.”

The mission statement  of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) maintains the organization was, “…founded to provide guidance for Muslims living in North America…AMJA is a religious organization that does not exploit religion to achieve any political ends, but instead provides practical solutions within the guidelines of Islam and the nation’s laws to the various challenges experienced by Muslim communities…” With regard to the Sharia, specifically, AMJA’s stated purpose is to “clarify the rulings of the sharia which are relevant for those who live in America.” AMJA is well-accepted by the mainstream American Muslim community.  The Islamic scholars affiliated with this group maintain influential positions in universities, Islamic centers, and mosques throughout the United States. Translating Jihad compiled a list of some of their prominent members, including the names of universities and other organizations with which they’re affiliated, accessed from AMJA’s website:

  • Mohammad Naeem AlSaei, University of Texas, American Open University (AOU) (Virginia);
  • Waleed Basyouni, North American Imam Federation (NAIF) (Arizona), Texas Dawah Convention, AlMaghrib Institute (Texas);
  • Hatem AlHaj, Sharia Academy of America (Florida), Albert Lea Medical Center (Minnesota), NAIF, Islamic Jurisprudence Council of Minnesota;
  • Waleed Al-Maneese, Dar-al-Farooq Islamic Center (Minnesota), University of Minnesota, AOU, NAIF;
  • Muwaffak Al Ghaylany, Islamic Center in Grand Blank City (Minnesota), Shari`a Academy in America (Florida), NAIF:
  • Main Al-Qudah,  MAS Katy Center (Texas), AOU, Islamic American University (Minnesota), Al-Yarmook University (Iraq);
  • Salah Alsawy, Institute of Arabic and Islamic Sciences (Virginia), AOU, Sharia Academy (Florida), Al-Azhar University (Egypt), Umm Al Qura University (Saudi Arabia); and
  • Muhammad Adam Alsheikh, Al Rahmah Mosque (Maryland), Sudanese courts.
  • Alsheikh, Al Rahmah Mosque (Maryland), Sudanese courts.

Notwithstanding this mainstream acceptance, including uncritical endorsement of its seventh annual American conference in Houston (October 15-18, 2010) to train American imams, AMJA has issued rulings which sanction the killing of apostates (here), “blasphemers” (including non-Muslims guilty of this “crime”; here), or adulterers (by stoning to death, here), and condone marital rape. Even more ominously, another Arabic-language fatwa from AMJA’s Dr. Salah Al-Sawy leaves open the possibility for offensive jihad against America and the West, as soon as Muslims are strong enough to do so. When asked whether “the Islamic missionary effort in the West … [was] to the point where it could take advantage of offensive jihad,” Al-Sawy ruled:

The Islamic community does not possess the strength to engage in offensive jihad at this time. With our current capabilities, we are aspiring toward defensive jihad, and to improve our position with regards to jurisprudence at this stage. But there is a different discussion for each situation. Allah Almighty knows best.

It is also of grave concern that AMJA, as an American organization, offers only grudging and conditional support to the fundamental notions of acquiring citizenship in, and swearing allegiance to, the U.S. and our Sharia-antithetical governing legal system. Responding to the query: “Is acquiring an American citizenship lawful or prohibited?” AMJA issued fatwa #77223:

As for optionally obtaining citizenship of a non-Muslim country it is definitely prohibited without a doubt, moreover it could be a form of apostasy or main means leading to apostasy because willingly accepting the laws of disbelievers and obeying it without any valid excuse or enforcement, or ignorance is considered a nullifier to Tawheed and Islam, as long as the proof has been established upon this person and the matter and its consequences are as I clarified. As for obtaining citizenships in light of circumstances of Muslims today who are residing outside the lands of Islam — on the condition that they do not accept indefinitely the law and legislation of that country and being indefinite belonging to the nation of the non-Muslim country so that they become loyal to all their allies and an enemy to all their enemies — and obtaining the citizenship is considered a required means in order to organize the affairs of Muslims who already live there while ensuring fulfilling vows and agreements between them and host countries, and exists due to urgent necessities and needs and this Muslim kept his loyalty to Allaah and His Messenger, then it would not be farfetched to say that it would be permissible.

Now, Translating Jihad puts what one might wish to deem as these circumscribed, “purely Islamic” rulings, in a more disturbing—and entirely unacceptable, seditious context. AMJA’s own words make plain the organization’s long term commitment to superseding the US legal code with its antithesis, a Sharia-based system.

As Translating Jihad notes in his introductory summary of the newly translated 2007 AMJA paper, it

…provides guidelines for American Muslims on what they can and cannot do vis-à-vis infidel legal systems. The paper makes clear that according to Islam, the only legitimate law is that which comes from Allah, and in fact authority to make laws rests with Allah alone. This renders every other legal system—including the American system—illegitimate.

AMJA’s paper acknowledges the existence of many Muslims under ‘infidel’ legal systems, and invoking the Islamic doctrine of darura—necessity—the paper provides guidelines describing how they should behave under these systems, as Translating Jihad notes,

…specifically addressing issues such as Muslims studying man-made law (i.e. non-Islamic law), Muslims governing under infidel legal systems, Muslims working as judges or lawyers or prosecuting cases in infidel courts, and Muslims granting powers of attorney to non-Muslims in disputes. Throughout the paper it is made abundantly clear that Muslims should view the American and other non-Muslim legal systems as infidel systems, and that they are only to participate in them in specific circumstances in order to benefit Islam and Muslims generally. They are specifically instructed to feel hatred in their hearts toward such infidel legal systems, and to do everything within their power to make the Islamic Shari’a supreme, even if that means engaging in deception in certain cases.

Below, using quotes from the AMJA paper, are illustrations which validate Translating Jihad’s summary assessment, and my concordant judgment that the ultimate goal—entirely consistent with timeless, ad nauseum reiterated Islamic doctrine—is nothing less than the eventual subversion of the American legal system to the Sharia.

  • The document’s opening rejection of even “colonial remnants” of non-Muslim, secular legal systems in Islamdom: …that many Muslim lands have been occupied by foreign powers, and have had foreign judicial systems imposed on them which are secular and which disallow the Shari’a from being used in court, or only allow it to be used for personal and family issues.
  • Reiterating the doctrinal basis for why non-Islamic legal systems are ultimately unacceptable: Various sources in the Qur’an and hadith attest to the fact that making it permissible to rule by other than that which Allah sent down is disbelief in Allah (kufr) and outside the pale of Islam…Quotes from Shaykh Ahmad Shakir, who claims that infidel colonialists have imposed un-Islamic laws on the Muslims, which in fact represent an alternate religion to replace Islam; laments that most Muslim countries have adopted godless European systems of governance..Quotes from Shaykh Salih bin Ibrahim al-Bulayhi (or al-Balihi), who calls ruling by other than that which Allah sent down to be disbelief in Allah (kufr); the only way to preserve the rights granted by the Shari’a is to govern by the Shari’a completely. These quotes from ancient and modern imams are sufficient to establish that governing by other than that which Allah sent down is major disbelief in Allah (kufr kabir), and departure from Islam.
  • The role of Muslims serving as judges in non-Muslim (including US) legal systems: It is permissible to work as a judge in an infidel nation or a nation which rules by infidel law, even if that leads to ruling by their law, if by so doing one is able to increase the good and decrease the bad as much as possible.  Among those who have stated this in classical times is the Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyya (may Allah have mercy on him), and among contemporaries are the scholars of al-Azhar and Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Hassan al-Hadyi and his son M’amun al-Hadyi, as well as ‘Abd-al-Qadir ‘Awda and others… Joseph (of Egypt) took charge in an infidel nation, and he wasn’t able to rule by all of the rulings of Islam. It cannot be said that he governed but did not judge, because the governor or ruler judges between the people. Shaykh Ibn Taymiyya made it clear that the imamate is a type of judgeship. (Quotes from Imam al-Qurtubi, who elaborates on this interpretation of Joseph’s position in the government of Egypt as justifying ruling by other than that which Allah revealed, as long as he’s only there in order to improve things as much as he’s able, and not because he prefers infidel rule.)… Quotes from Shaykh ‘Abd-al-Rahman ‘Abd-al-Khaliq, who says there is no basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah for saying that it is not permissible to work as a judge in an infidel nation, and also quotes from the story of Joseph in the Qur’an to support the idea that Muslims can work as judges in infidel nations. He also argues that if you’re going to say that Muslims can’t work as judges in infidel nations, then you might as well say they can’t work as engineers or teachers or anything else which supports the state. Says that it is among the worst sins to leave the affairs of Muslims entirely in the hands of their enemies..[As a concrete example] This position was also taken by Shaykh Muhammad Salim bin Muhammad ‘Ali bin ‘Abd-al-Wadud from what is now known as Mauritania. This Shaykh held several positions in the Mauritanian courts, through which he attempted to abolish the man-made law in the country, and replace it with the Shari’a, which he accomplished somewhat. To this day he continues to sit as the president of the Supreme Islamic Council, and also participates in several other Islamic organizations. …[Concluding observations most relevant to the US]…Muslims should be forbidden from being employed as judges in infidel countries or those ruled by man-made law, except in certain limited cases where they can rule by the judgments of Allah.. That he understand the Shari’a in such a manner as to be able to rule by it in every case brought before him, or at least as close as he’s able to from the cases brought before him. He also must in his heart hate the man-made law… He must also do everything in his power to enact laws that allow the Muslims to practice their Shari’a. He must keep it in his mind that he was not permitted to take this job except to serve Islam and Muslims. He must also choose the judicial profession which is closest to the Shari’a. ..That he judge by the rulings of the Shari’a as much as possible, even if by a ruse
  • Deferring to non-Muslim, “man-made” law under the doctrine of necessity (darura): The Muslim living in a non-Muslim country has rights and interests which will be lost if they are not referred to for judgment, and his opponent will reject them if he refers to the Shari’a for judgment. The Muslim does not have power in himself to enforce the law, however the man-made law obligates the police to intervene and enforce it. This is an oft-repeated scenario for Muslims living outside the land of Islam. If they are forbidden from referring judgment to man-made courts in these situations, they will be deprived of their wealth and rights, and subjected to whatever their enemies bring against them. The issue becomes even more important when it involves referring judgment to man-made law for cases involving the rights of Muslims as a whole. This situation can possibly be better understood by referring to the large institution set up to demand rights for Muslims and fight against anti-Muslim discrimination, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). (Quotes from 2003 CAIR report on its efforts in the US, written by Arab Affairs Director Alaa Bayoumi) It is a principle of jurisprudence that a general and public need brings the status of necessity. Therefore every issue which is needed by the Muslim general public is necessary and permitted.. Shaykh ‘Abd-al-Razaq ‘Afifi was asked about this issue:  “What is the ruling on courts which rule by man-made law?” He responded:  “If possible, one should not refer cases to them for judgment. However, if he cannot claim his right except by this means, there is no fault in it.” Shaykh Salih bin ‘Abd-al-‘Aziz Al al-Shaykh explained that this means: It is required for a Muslim to be hostile to courts which rule by man-made law, and to dislike them.; Do not freely choose to refer another to those courts for judgment. Doing this freely without compulsion is what Allah revealed:  “They want to refer to the tyrant for judgment.” Note that He said ‘they want’.; If you were wronged and you demand your rights which are guaranteed by the Shari’a, and you have no other recourse but to go to the man-made courts, and you have hatred in your heart for the courts, you are permitted to do so…To summarize the words of the scholars, it is permitted to seek recourse in man-made courts if the following three conditions are present: 1)You are unable to reclaim your rights in any other way, because your adversary refuses to refer the case to the Shari’a, or he refuses to execute the ruling of the Shari’a.; 2) You do not take more than the rights guaranteed to by the Shari’a; for if they ruled that you should receive more than your rights under the Shari’a, you do not take more than what you’re entitled to by the Shari’a from your adversary.; 3) At the time that you go to the court, you feel hatred for it in your heart. 

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