Where does the Defence imam stand on Sharia law now?

A few weeks ago an interesting little story surfaced.

And then it was promptly forgotten.

No. I’m not talking about Keysar Trad helpfully explaining that Islamic law allows a husband to beat his wife. Instead, I’m referring to Hizb ut Tahrir’s confession that Sharia law demands the execution of those who leave this ideology for something else.

This story comes due to the courage of Alison Bevege. She attended a Hizb ut Tahrir conference at the Bankstown public library in March and confronted Uthman Badar about its proposed constitution for an Islamic Australia. Article 7 (3) states this:

Those who are guilty of apostasy (murtad) from Islam are to be executed according to the rule of apostasy, provided they have themselves renounced Islam. If they are born as non-Muslims, i.e., if they are the sons of apostates, then they are treated as non-Muslims according to their status as being either polytheists (mushriks) or People of the Book.

You can read the rest of this document here.

You can watch Alison Bevege’s question here (and please note how she does not allow Badar to weasel his way out of an answer):

And you can contact the City of Canterbury Bankstown Council to congratulate them on demonstrating their diversity and tolerance of Hizb ut Tahrir here.

Of course, some may find it wildly newsworthy that:

  1. Islamic law requires the execution of apostates, and
  2. Islamic organisations support this law.

However, the reality is that the former is not newsworthy to anyone who’s cared to spend more than 3 seconds googling Islamic law and the latter is about as newsworthy as news that the Labor Party supports the goals of the union movement.

So this little story is interesting, not for what we have learnt about Islam, but for what we have learnt about ourselves: collectively, we don’t have much of an idea about this barbaric ideology at all. And the fact that it has already been forgotten so quickly is proof that we are not really interested in learning about it either. But that’s another issue.

To be fair to Uthman, he’s not calling for the execution of Islamic apostates now. He’s just saying that they’re safe until Sharia law is implemented in Australia. When Hizb ut Tahrir first released its Islamic constitution the forecast was that this would take about 25 years. It’s since been revised and Islam is scheduled to take a little longer to conquer Australia: set your clocks for 2670.

As an aside, Uthman Badar’s reticence to go about executing Islamic apostates is a key insight into most of the objections in the wider Islamic world against the Islamic State.

As a general rule, beheading apostates in Islam is not a problem but it’s only one half of the law. The other half requires the sentence to be given by a person with the authority to give it.

And that’s the really tricky question. Mohammad left behind a legal system that was heavy on every aspect of daily life but pretty light on when it came to succession planning and power. As a result, Islam has been riven by an internal civil war since the day he died. That’s hardly surprising given the only thing his warring band of followers agreed on was that violence was a legitimate way to sort out problems. All of them.

So Uthman has helped us all understand the Islamic world’s opposition to the Islamic State: it’s all about power and authority and has nothing to do with morality.

It’s not what the Islamic State does that is questionable under Islamic law; it’s whether the self-declared caliph and his cronies have the authority to do what they do that gets imams across the world hot and bothered. Furthermore, any imam that recognises the caliphate has to give up his own power. So it comes as no surprise that there’s not a lot of takers for that.

This eternal and internal Islamic power struggle is clearly evident in other ways. For instance, the Australian National Imams’ Council spends a lot of time berating ‘unrecognised’ imams. Advising imams of other such things as the finer points of Australian law in regards to child marriage is a lesser priority:

And the regular stories of warring imams at your local mosque are merely another reflection of this reality:

But back to Uthman, Hizb ut Tahrir and our surprise that Islamic law requires the execution of apostates.

Just over two years ago a number of Islamic clerics signed a petition supporting Hizb ut Tahrir. I assume these clerics were ‘moderates’ because one of them was appointed as the first imam for the Australian Defence Force. And I would hate to uncharitably judge our government by rashly coming to the conclusion that they deliberately appointed an ‘extremist’ to the job.

So where does Sheikh Mohammadu Nawas Saleem stand on Hizb ut Tahrir and Sharia law now?

Does he believe that the penalty for apostasy under Islamic law is death?

More importantly, does he reject this aspect of Sharia law?

Given Saleem has previously called for Sharia law in Australia, has happily backed a group that condemns Anzac Day and was part of the peak Islamic body in Australia that rejected laws prohibiting the advocation of terrorism on the basis that they infringe the free speech of Islamic preachers, his track record is less than encouraging.

On the balance of probabilities, it seems likely that the Australian Defence Force is now being advised by a bloke who shares similar views to Uthman Badar on the lawfulness of executing apostates.

Welcome to diversity world where everything is tolerated except common sense.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of seven children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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