Tennessee Islamic Center delayed on procedural technicality

The sign has been spray-painted with the words "Not Wanted." Photo: CNN

The proposed Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is no stranger to controversy. Since 2010, plans to set up the facility have been constantly thwarted by opponents. Some argued that Islam is not a legitimate religion and thus not protected under the U.S. Constitution. Others protested that the mosque would create traffic problems and lower housing values. Still others decided to take the law into their own hands, spray-painting “Not Welcome” on signs announcing the center, and even setting fire to construction equipment and vehicles.

The center prevailed through a string of lawsuits, so opponents adopted another tactic, this time attacking the planning commission who granted the building permit. Now it seems that construction may be held up on procedural grounds. On May 30, a county judge ruled that plans for the center, which had previously been approved by the planning commission, are now “void, and of no effect.” Continue reading

The Aims and Purposes of Sharia

Chebika Oasis, Tunisia. Photo: Flickr, Miodrag Bogdanovic.

Asmah Sultan Mallick is a master’s student in International Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Given the revolutions across the Middle East, with countries trying to rebuild and form stable governments better able to serve their people, the topic of sharia law has been a common subject of debate. We’ve even heard about “threats” of sharia taking over areas within the United States.

Putting these perceptions aside, my intention is neither to defend sharia nor delve into how it can or cannot be implemented. Rather, I want to shed some light on its goals.

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Sharia Courts in Nigeria

Sign for Zamfara State Sharia Court in N.W. Nigeria

Sharia, an Arabic word translated as “way” or “path,” is the code of conduct or religious law in Islam, and has been the subject of a number of recent hate rallies and growing prejudice against Muslims in the U.S. and around the world. A few countries with significant Muslim minority populations have experimented with various ways of integrating sharia into their legal systems, often using it in civil law situations involving divorce, inheritance, etc. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 156 million people, is a good example of the diverse forms of sharia implementation.

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Islamic Civilization in Crisis?

"Light" in Arabic

"Light" in Arabic

I have often thought about the reasons for what seems to be unending turmoil in some Muslim communities. I can’t say that I have reached a clear answer–I doubt anyone has–but I do know that this is a question that occupies many, especially Muslims. Several possibilities are offered as explanations: the effects of colonization, the secularization of societies, conflict between tradition and modernity, and so on. However, Ali Allawi suggests in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that these factors only affect the outer world and that the real crisis lies in Islam’s inner world. Allawi’s article got my attention because he doesn’t discuss what he calls the outer world to the exclusion of the inner world; rather, he finds a way to show how both are intertwined. The fact that he is able to bring the two together is for me especially insightful because most discussions on this topic focus on one or the other, but never show the interplay between the two. Continue reading