A Myth Debunked: Linda Sarsour cannot be a feminist and a supporter of Sharia law at the same time

The other day, whilst scrolling through the blogs on this site, I encountered an article centered around the author’s belief that Linda Sarsour could indeed be an anti-Zionist supporter of Sharia law, and a believer in equal rights for both sexes all at the same time. The author substantiated this claim by explaining that Sarsour only supports “certain aspects of Sharia”, and not those aspects that call for violence and gender inequality. She furthermore had the “chutzpa” to suggest that Sharia law is the Islamic equivalent of Halacha (Jewish law). Both of the above claims are nonsensical and lack factual substantiation.

Sharia law may have similarities with Halacha in the sense that both law systems are a guide to living for their subscribers, but that is pretty much where the similarities end. Whilst Halacha does not encourage conversion of non-Jews, and in fact makes the conversion process challenging in order to ensure that the non-Jew who wishes to convert sincerely desire to do so, Islam calls for all infidels to convert to Islam, otherwise Muslims must “fight them until the mischief ends” (Quran 8:39). In fact, the source that I got this information from continues to explain that this is a purpose for which “Muslims are required to rage war”, not to mention that this source gets it’s information directly from the Islamic Foundation UK (see the webpage’s heading), so there is no chance of biased manipulation of text being carried out by “Islamophobes” in this instance.

Apart from the nature of both law systems, another area that they differ in greatly is the influence over civil law that they have on the countries whose official religions are those of their respective subscribers, namely Islam and Judaism.

Whilst the State of Israel is a majority Jewish State, it does not impose Halachic law on it’s citizens. This is evident as the Israeli law system incorporates elements of common law as well as civil law, as derived from the English and Ottoman Empires’ periods of rule over the land, and developed through judicial precedent set by the modern Israeli Supreme Court and Knesset legislation. Furthermore, whilst Israeli law does accomodate religious courts that implement judgements based on Halacha, religious courts for Druze, Muslim and Christian laws are accomodated as well, and all of these religious courts are restricted to a limited scope of matters such as marriage and divorce. As one can see, whilst Halacha is indeed given recognition in Israel, it is implemented in a way that complies with Israeli civil law, and is thus not the ultimate law of the land. The combination of laws adopted in Israel makes it the only free country in the Middle East, with a score of 80 out of 100 by the Freedom House.

Sharia law, on the other hand, still results in discrimination in Muslim majority countries, even if only limited to certain legal issues. With the exception of Tunisia, the entire of the MIddle East as well as North Africa has adopted Sharia Law as state-level law, meaning that it is the highest law in the land, as can be seen on the map in the link. The Muslim counties in light green, for example Indonesia, only apply Sharia law in family law matters, however this still amounts to gender discrimination, as explained below.

Family law includes matters of marriage and divorce. In matters of divorce or “Talaq”, it is only the husband who has the right to determine whether or not he wants a divorce and not the wife. Furthermore, a husband can decide to take the wife back by simply uttering the words to her or having sexual relations with her. Once the waiting period, known as the “Iddat”, is complete, the wife must immediately leave the matrimonial home. Do you notice how it is only the husband who gets to choose whether or not to end a marriage, and it is the wife who is forced to leave the former couple’s home after the divorce has been completed?

The above Sharia legal rule displays just one of many clear instances of discrimination against women, and because divorce is a part of family law, such discrimination is practiced in every country that practices Sharia law. Such discrimination is testament to the fact that, apart from Tunisia, not a single Muslim country is regarded as being a free country. Even in Tunisia, there were “setbacks” concerning “political rights” and “civil liberties”, as explained by Freedom House in the “Key Findings” provided below the world map with countries’ results.

Sharia law displays discrimination against women no matter what degree it is implemented in a country’s legal system. When Linda Sarsour says she supports Sharia law, she immediately discredits her claim to be a supporter of feminism and womens’ rights, as we have seen that Sharia law is indeed discriminatory against women even in its mildest forms. This goes without mentioning that if you approve of and wish to adopt a certain system of law, you agree to follow all of it’s rules, and not just those that you find convenient. That is what a law-abiding citizen does.

Linda Sarsour’s claim to support feminism and Sharia law is an oxymoron and is fundamentally false. Sharia law is incompatible with gender equality, and is thus incompatible with Western values.

Linda Sarsour had better decide which side of the equation she is on, as there is no way that she can support two value systems that are in complete opposition of one another. Either she is for Western values or against them; there is no room for “fence-sitters” here.

About the Author
Mathew Cohen's areas of expertise are business intelligence, data analytics and research. He holds a BCom Law Degree, and is currently studying his Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree in Business Management. His work experience includes being a data specialist for Ocean Basket International, and he is currently a writer for the 90min football media platform.