Sharia Law In Florida

I would kindly like to point your memory back to last year’s elections in Oklahoma and the issue of State Question 755. There was much discussion about the question at the time and Sharia Lawmany comments were made on the posts I published on the issue. In a nutshell, SQ 755 would prevent Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic or Sharia Law when making their decisions. Those of us who supported and voted the measure into law felt it was a proper response to prevent this from happening in our state, just as it happened in New Jersey. Those who disagreed with SQ 755 said it was much ado about nothing, that the New Jersey case had been reversed and this was nothing but an attempt to single out Muslims and prevent them from practicing their religion. The ink was barely dry on the election results when a lawsuit was filed, claiming just that, and U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange agreed, putting an injunction into place and preventing the law from taking affect.

Again, I want to make sure you remember exactly what the detractors of SQ 755 said, that it was an unnecessary provision to prevent something that was not and could not happen. As it turns out, that is not so much the case, as is evidenced by the latest news coming from Florida. Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen has issued a ruling that outright invokes Sharia law, which is something that we were told would never happen. From Tampa Bay Online:

The question of what law applies in any Florida courtroom usually comes down to two choices: federal or state.

But Hillsborough Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen is being attacked by conservative bloggers after he ruled in a lawsuit March 3 that, to resolve one crucial issue in the case, he will consult a different source.

“This case,” the judge wrote, “will proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law.”

Nielsen said he will decide in a lawsuit against a local mosque, the Islamic Education Center of Tampa, whether the parties in the litigation properly followed the teachings of the Koran in obtaining an arbitration decision from an Islamic scholar.

The suit was filed by several men who say they were improperly ousted as trustees in 2002. The dispute may decide who controls $2.2 million the center received from the state after some of its land was used in a road project.

But attorney Paul Thanasides last week appealed Nielson’s decision with the 2nd District Court of Appeal, saying religion has no place in a secular court.

His client: the mosque.

“The mosque believes wholeheartedly in the Koran and its teachings,” Thanasides said Monday. “They certainly follow Islamic law in connection with their spiritual endeavors. But with respect to secular endeavors, they believe Florida law should apply in Florida courts.”

Here is what Judge Nielsen said, according to transcripts of the hearing.

“It appears that the Koran provides that where two or more brothers have a dispute, they are first required to try to resolve the dispute among themselves. If that does not occur, they can agree to present the dispute to the greater community of brothers within the mosque or the Muslim community. And if that is not done, or does not result in a resolution of the dispute, then it is to be presented to an Islamic judge … The next question is whether the proper procedures have occurred. … Did they properly invoke the use of … an Islamic judge or an Islamic A’lim?”

Judge Richard NielsenLet me be very clear, I have no problem with a Muslim practicing their religion. It is their right and freedom to do so, but this has nothing to do with freedom of religion. Those us who stood up for SQ 755 tried to point that out, but we were shouted down by those who would accuse us of singling out Islam for discrimination. I think the case in Florida is a prime example of exactly why we need measures such as SQ 755, to keep Sharia Law out of our courts. It has no place in our judicial system and Judge Nielsen had no justifiable reason to use it as the basis of his ruling. It sounds to me that the parties involved in the arbitration and the subsequent lawsuit tried to resolve the issue among themselves, using Sharia Law, which is fine by me. However, because it didn’t turn out how one of the parties wanted, they resorted to filing a lawsuit in the Florida courts. That move should have taken this issue out of the realm of Sharia Law and placed it directly into the realm of American judicial system, thereby removing any justification for relying on Sharia Law for the ruling.

Unequivocally, Judge Nielsen has made a bad decision and it should be reversed. The question is raised again, what should be done about the willingness of America judges to apply Sharia Law in the American judicial system? Where are the detractors of SQ 755 now?

For a related post, please visit rjjrdq’s America II.

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 2006 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

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  • Mike

    This is the first I’ve heard about the case so I have no frame of reference or point of view. But this sounds like an issue related to a contract and not to religion. If you and I enter into an agreement, and one term of that agreement states that any conflict between us will be decided by an arbitration panel composed of your brother, Harrison, and Country Thinker, then we have effectively taken the US courts out of the legal process of our dispute. If the panel then makes a decision that I’m not happy with and I sue you in US court then it seems to me the court can only decide whether the arbitration process followed the agreement and not decide on the outcome of the panel’s decision.

    I may be completely off base here but that’s how I see this. The court can decide whether the decision properly followed Sharia law becasue those were the terms of the contract. It’s not about Sharia Law, it’s about a contract written in the US with terms that codify Sharia law for jurisdiction.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      Good to see you back around, Mike.

      I understand what you are saying and would even dare to agree with you to some extent, but I still question if Sharia Law should be considered. As has already been mentioned in the comments, the liberals would be having a heyday if the Judge had said he would use the Bible to help make his decision. That should apply to every religion, not just Christianity.

  • http://www.Bunkerville.wordpress.com Bunkerville

    I am sick to death of this Sharia bit and am not prepared to try and split a hair or two to give them a pass. Got it???

  • http://www.wwtft.com/ Martin

    I wonder what the reaction would have been if this were two baptists trying to argue for a ruling based on the old Testament? Where is all the outrage over “separation of Church and State?” The state is not supposed to establish a religion – having a court adjudicate decisions based on the Koran seems to cross that line.

    I don’t get it.
    -

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      I have wondered the same thing, Martin. I can’t help but think there would be a very loud outcry about how the court was respecting a religion. For some reason, some people think it should go the opposite direction when it comes to Islam.

  • http://www.4wallsandaview.com Dominique

    What I find astonishing is that Sharia Law is known to not follow the laws of the land of the country the followers currently live in, and yet, an AMERICAN judge feels that is appropriate?

    Furthermore, if this really is a Sharia law contract, then why allow it in the court system at all? Why not say this is a religious contract that must be resolved within the boundaries of your religion? Is there not any Sharia Lawyers?

    I agree with Martin as well. Where is the outcry? God help us if this were two Baptist or Christians in a religous dispute.

    I think you are dead on Larry that this is just what we were all talking about. Sometimes an ounce of prevention is with a pound of cure. The fact that judges seem to think it is within their judicial purview to decide these cases is very telling.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      It will be interesting to see how this plays out, Dominique. This could start a new precedent.

  • http://rjjrdq.com rjjrdq

    He is forcing a party to observe sharia law against their will. The people of Oklahoma understood this was coming and they took action. We now have sharia law in the U.S. that can be imposed on ANY OF US at any time.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      I feel you are correct, rjjrdq. The leaders of the mosque were content to follow Sharia Law, as long as the dispute stayed out of the court system. They apparently believe that is as far as it should go. Playing devil’s advocate here, but I do wonder if they would be content to follow Sharia Law if the arbitrator had decided against them in the original decision. After all, over $2 million is at stake. That is quite an incentive to make sure their side wins the dispute.

  • http://americaswatchtower.com Steve Dennis

    I remember that post of your’s well and I remember those that claimed this was a non-issue which singled out a single religion over others. There were claims that this would never be a problem in America but this case shows us the wisdom of the Oklahoma voters. We cannot allow the laws of the United States to be trumped by extraneous laws which have no place in the justice system of this country.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      Yeah, we had quite a time with that post. More comments were made on it than on any other post on Political Realities, except for the first post I ever wrote on the 2nd Amendment.

      You are right, we can not afford to allow our laws to be trumped by Sharia, international, or any other law. In America, our law has always reigned supreme and it should stay that way.

  • http://fleeceme.wordpress.com fleeceme

    CAIR filed the lawsuit against Oklahoma, they are a bunch of Islamist bastards who are always filing lawsuits with the intent of destroying our ability to prevent the Islamist dream, Sharia law across the US. IMO, if CAIR is behind something,t he exact opposite of what they support is probably the safest course for anyone who does not desire to live under an Islamist caliphate.

    As far as this Florida judge goes, I do in some ways have to agree with Mike (it pains me, Mike and I agree on very little). According to the quotes provided, it appears he is just following the thought process behind the arbitration. What would be germane to this discussion is what the lawsuit actually attests? Is he looking at Sharia law because the plaintiff is saying the mosque somehow breached a contract that was written under said law? Does the Sharia arbitration process even have a facility to seek recourse from an infidel court? Is CAIR involved? These are all important questions – none of which have to do with the freedom to practice one’s religion, err, socio-political totalitarian style of government (i.e. Islam).

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      Anytime CAIR gets involved in anything, it’s a pretty safe assumption that nothing good will come of it. Unless I have missed a reference to them somewhere, I do not believe they are involved in this case. That much is a good sign.

      Colin, it is great to see you are still alive and kicking. Thanks for your comment.

  • http://www.sentryjournal.com/ John Carey

    CAIR has learned that judicial activism is the key to shredding our constitution. They learned this lesson from the ACLU. The founders never intended for the courts to govern, their intent was for the people to govern. This simply cannot be allowed to stand when the supreme law of the land is the constitution. Yes that’s right the supreme law…which means sharia law is irrelevant in America in legal terms. It cannot coexist with our constitution plain and simple.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      I would have to agree, John. I trust CAIR not in the least.

  • JohnC

    I’m a detractor of SQ 755, and the Florida judge’s ruling is even more evidence of why the Oklahoma law is blatantly unconstitutional, both in text and in the spirit of the law.

    The Florida case concerns a dispute between a mosque and its trustees over an interpretation of the mosque’s constitution (which is a private contract, voluntarily entered into by the parties). The mosque’s constitution provided that disputes on the board of trustees would be referred to an A’lim who would provide guidance on Islamic law.

    Sure enough, a dispute did arise, and the A’lim was asked to arbitrate the dispute. There are two disputes between the parties. One is whether the mosque was given notice of the arbitration, and the other is whether certain conditions precedent to the A’lim’s involvement were met.

    The mosque argues that civil law should control interpretation of the aribtration agreement because it did not specifically state that Islamic law would govern. However, it seems pretty obvious that the A’lim’s involvement in the case can only be explained with reference to Islamic law.

    Courts have long permitted parties to engage in private arbitration of disputes pursuant to contract law. Decisions arising out of ecclesiastic arbitration, whether Islamic, Jewish, or Canonical, have long been enforced by courts, subject to a public policy exception when the provisions of the arbitration are in conflict with civil or constitutional law. No one has made any credible argument that any aspect of the arbitration agreement violates any U.S. law.

    One can argue that the court should not have gotten involved to the extent that the judge may be required to interpret obscure aspects of Islamic law in order to determine if the arbitration decision was proper under the contract, because public policy prohibits courts from adjudicating religious disputes. But that’s a fairly narrow criticism in relation to the breathless rhetoric about the case, and certainly does not suggest that Islamic law would be “imposed” on anyone who is not a party to such an arbitration agreement.

    Were SQ 755 applied to this case, the judge would be forced to ignore the agreement between the parties solely on the basis of WHICH religion the participants adhered to. That is blatant discrimination in violation of both the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. Imagine if a court voided a private agreement between two African-Americans on the grounds that courts can’t enforce agreements that involve Negro (as opposed to white) traditions, and you’ll catch the obvious and unjustified discriminatory effect of SQ 755.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      First of all, thanks for your comment on Political Realities. I appreciate you taking the time to leave such a detailed response.

      I think it is safe to say that my position on this issue is evolving. I still hold Sharia Law in very low regard, considering how it provides for the treatment of women by their husbands, or even male members of their immediate family. However, I can see how it should possibly be considered in cases of contract law, such as the one in Florida.

      Concerning your comparison of the Florida case to a hypothetical case involving Negro and white traditions, I am not so sure that is a valid comparison. Tradition is tradition and Sharia Law is anything but a tradition. It is a law that lays out how certain things are to be done, in great detail. There is a vast difference between Negro and white traditions and Sharia Law.

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