Sponsor of Alabama Sharia Law Ban Doesn’t Know What Sharia Law Is

After an Oklahoma judge blocked a state constitutional amendment “banning” Sharia and international law, state legislators across the country have been following in Oklahoma’s (failed) footsteps. Proposals to ban the use of Sharia law in courts have emerged in at least thirteen states, and legislators in Tennessee and Missouri may even make practicing Sharia law a felony.

One Alabama state legislator now wants to pass a law which states, “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia.”

The Anniston Star reports that the bill’s sponsor, Republican State Senator Gerald Allen, admits that he doesn’t know of any court cases in Alabama or anywhere in the U.S. using Sharia law to make decisions. Allen’s staff lifted the legislation’s description of Sharia law from Wikipedia, and the senator admits he doesn’t even know what it is:

A bill introduced Tuesday in the Alabama Senate would ban the use of Islamic law in Alabama courts.

The bill’s sponsor said the measure was designed to protect future generations from erosion of the Constitution. One Birmingham area Muslim leader said the move was an effort to “demonize Islam and Muslims.”

But no one — not even Sen. Gerald Allen, who sponsored the bill — can point to examples of Muslims trying to have Islamic law recognized in Alabama courts.

“It’s not about what’s happening right now,” Allen, a Republican from Cottondale, said in a telephone interview.

“I’m thinking about 10 years down the road, 20, 30, 40. Time has an effect on these things, and I’m thinking about the future.”

Allen is the sole sponsor of SB 62, a bill that would ban Alabama courts from using Shariah law or international law in making legal decisions.

The bill defines Shariah as “a form of religious law derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: The divine revelations set forth in the Qur’an and the example set by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.”

That definition is the same, almost word for word, as wording in the Wikipedia entry on Shariah law as it appeared Thursday. Allen said the wording was drafted by Legislative staff. A source on the staff at the Legislature confirmed that the definition was in fact pulled from Wikipedia.

Allen could not readily define Shariah in an interview Thursday. “I don’t have my file in front of me,” he said. “I wish I could answer you better.”

Allen said his bill was based on a state constitutional amendment that was recently passed in Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, too, supporters of the measure were unable to cite a single in-state example of Shariah law being used in court, according to an account by the Los Angeles Times.

Allen said his bill, which also bans the use of international law in Alabama courts, is designed to “protect the Constitution for the future generations that come after us.”

“Our Founding Fathers were pretty smart,” he said. “They gave us three branches of government, a separation of powers. I want to preserve that system.”