A small group of about a dozen protesters gathered outside the Embassy Suites in Anaheim where a prominent Muslim theologian was scheduled to deliver a lecture on Shariah – the Islamic legal code akin to canon law in Christianity or Judaic law in Judaism. The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California invited Dr. Tariq Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University and a man who was once banned from entering the United States.
organizations like CAIR and MPAC to decry the proposed bans as
In his lecture, Dr. Ramadan said there is room for Shariah to operate
within the United States' common legal framework, just like there is
room for Canon law and Judaic law.
which is good in this country is our Shariah,” he said to a crowd of
more than 400 community members. “It's an integrative system. It's not a
closed system coming to colonize others.”
find many things in the [U.S.] Constitution that are similar to
Shariah,” said Ramadan.
Shariah, more specifically, is a set of laws for Muslims related to
family, marriage, creed, burial practices, ethics, morality, and
punishments; anti-Sharia proponents mainly criticize the rulings on
punishment, which Dr. Ramadan, along with other Muslim scholars, contend
is in need of serious reform, and unjustly implemented in places like
historically Shariah and Judaic law inspired European law.
“When you have people approach you and say, 'You need to respect our
system,' you can tell them that we are already inside,” he said. “The
problem is that we are ignorant of our own history.”
audience members welcomed his words, with frequent head nods and smiles
when he delivered punchy points, but Dr. Ramadan is not welcomed
everywhere. He is banned from six countries including Egypt, Tunisia and
Saudi Arabia. In 2004, the Bush administration invoked the Patriot Act
to ban the Muslim academic from entering the United States. The State Department lifted that ban in January, 2010.
Since then, Ramadan has honored multiple speaking engagements in the
United States, including this year's spring tour where he has delivered
speeches in Washington D.C., New York and Massachusetts, and will end at
The Swiss-born, Egyptian academic is
the grandson of Hassan El-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood
in Egypt; the once outlawed group now leads the Egyptian
parliament. Ramadan's father, Said Ramadan, is attributed with
bringing the Brotherhood to Germany where it spread throughout the
rest of Europe.