By TMO Stringer
American Muslims have experience with most of the alphabet soup of Islamic organizations which grace the shores of this continent, from AMC to ICNA, from ISNA to Zakat Foundation, however there may be an important one which has until now escaped notice.
The organization AMJA (Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America) has a list of scholars associated with it which stretches from Al-Azhar University to Virginiaâ€™s Open University, and back across the ocean to the professors at Saudi universities.Â Its website, amjaonline.com, provides fatawa on many issues and promises 24-hour access to scholars who can give legal opinions on the issues people face.
AMJA focuses on providing fatwas to Americans, and believes it is able to provide culturally appropriate fatwas although many of their scholars are not American–because they have some American scholars and because of the technological ties that bind AMJAâ€™s American scholars with those abroad.
AMJA just had, in Houston, its seventh annual American conference of imams, and two local Michigan imams attended, namely Imam Musa of Bloomfieldâ€™s Muslim Unity Center, and Imam Ali of MCWS.
Mr. Sadiqul Hassan of AMJA explained that â€œthe event was the 7th annual imam workshop and its topic was Islamic arbitration, its methods and procedures.â€
Mr. Hassan said that AMJA is â€œa fiqh council basically,â€ with â€œscholars who live abroad and inside the US; we have experts in different fields to educate about life in the US–fatawa are based on life in the US.â€
The workshop provided training on â€œhow to do family counseling, how to resolve peacefully before arbitration.â€ Mr. Hassan explained that by the time a family needs arbitration,Â family counseling is finished and â€œusually at that point people just need somebody to judge between them.â€
The workshop â€œgave the imams two great tools, a constitution on family issues (a wasiqa), and the second great tool–how to make arbitration binding by the American system.â€Â Hassan explained that sometimes imams spend hours and hours arbitrating disputes and then discontented parties ignore their decisions and seek different resolutions elsewhere.
Two lawyers attended the workshop, and Hassan explained that the method to make the arbitration decisions binding is an arbitration contract entered into before the arbitration begins.
â€œActually,â€ Hassan argued, â€œthe Jewish community has their own arbitration, arbitrators–thereâ€™s no way they can deny you this.â€Â â€œWe are not forcing this on non-Muslims,â€ he said. Muslims sign these arbitration contracts by agreement.
â€œWe do one [conference] a year in the US, and another one in Canada,â€ he explained.
Intolerant extremists from the non-Muslim community have attempted to paint this event as a building block of implementing “Sharia” in the US; quite ridiculous.Â “Sharia” is a term similar in its broad nature to “morality” therefore their idiotic attempts to limit “Sharia” are in fact attempts to limit people from doing things that THEY THEMSELVES do day in and day out.Â Eliminating “Sharia” means eliminating, for example, marriage, going to the bathroom, getting out of bed, etc., as these are all things that have recommended methods in Shari’ah.Â Implementation of “Sharia” in marriage laws in the US would obviously be the exact equivalent of applying Jewish or Catholic holy law to marriage–a fact which has been recognized by anti-Muslims within those communities who fear that the “anti-Sharia” backlash, when promulgated into law, will inevitably cascade into laws that limit the practice of all religions in this country.Â But all of this argument will fall on the deaf ears of anti-Muslim extremists whose tolerance and morality are as limited as their intelligence quotients.