IRVING, Texas (Christian Examiner) – The Islamic Tribunal which enforces sharia, or Islamic law, has been given "official" status by a group of Muslims in North Texas. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, though there are similar courts in Great Britain and Europe.
Imam Moujahed Bakhach is one of four men who have taken up the title of "tribunal judge" to permit them to hear civil cases involving divorce, business problems and other disputes involving individuals and to rule according to Sharia law.
Sharia "refers to a set of rules and regulations, principles, guidelines for the Muslim to live with," he explained on Glen Beck's The Blaze television program. "This includes family issues, includes manners, behavior characters, including marriage divorces, including inheritance law, including a lot of aspects of the family and the social things."
The Islamic Tribunal would be a sort of non-binding ruling between consenting Muslims, the imam claimed, comparing it in concept to Christians going to "Christian arbitration" to settle a dispute, rather than going through the legal system.
A satirical magazine wrote in the summer of 2013 that Sharia law had been established in Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a large number of Muslim residents, but reputable news sources have debunked that story despite the continual presence of the article on the Internet. Texas is the first confirmed place in the nation where people have agreed to have legal differences ruled on by precepts of Islam.
A majority of U.S. states have introduced bills banning courts from accommodating Sharia law; however, only a handful have survived to become law.
Oklahoma's ban on referencing Islamic law in its courts was struck down because of the potentially discriminating use of the word "sharia." Only seven states (Louisiana, Arizona, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Kansas and Alabama) have been able to pass sharia-limiting legislation, and only after watering them to not even mention the word, "sharia."
Concern about the spreading influence of Islam on state and federal legal systems comes amid claims that Islamic groups, including Muslim Brotherhoods' Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), have penetrated the highest levels of the U.S. government.
Franklin Graham did not mention names, but claimed Muslims have infiltrated "halls of power" in Europe and the United States and even "are advising the White House." The president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and also the international relief agancy Samaritan's Purse made his charge during an interview Feb. 26 with Bill O-Reilly on Fox News.
Graham told O'Reilly he could provide a list later, but said "I do know they're there" and clarified that these followers of Islam were not necessarily next to the president whispering in his ear, but insisted they "are in the halls and they are speaking to staffers and they are influencing."
Christian Examiner found three Muslim staffers (and two former advisers) with presidential access whom Graham could have been referencing:
-- Rashad Hussain was promoted to U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications since 2010 as U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a role in which he has worked with the OIC, Muslim-majority countries, and civil society "to deepen and expand engagement on U.S. policy and build partnerships with Muslim communities around the world," according to the White House. He previously was deputy associate counsel to President Obama, focusing on national security, new media, and science and technology issues, and also served as director for global engagement at the National Security Council which reports directly to the president.
-- Mohamed Magid, a native of Sudan, is a Muslim cleric who serves on the Department of Homeland Security's Countering Violent Entremism Working Group and has worked as an adviser to the White House National Security Council to formulate U.S. responses to appeal to moderate Muslims in the battle against Islamist extremists.
-- Eboo Patel, an India-born Muslim was raised in Illinois, has served on President Obama's advisory council on faith-based neighborhood partnerships since 2009. He is founder and president of the Intefaith Youth Core, an international nonprofit that states its aim as promoting "interfaith cooperation." He was highly criticized for minimizing Islamic extremism with the controversial claim that "Muslim totalitarians" were not all that different from "the Christian totalitarians in America," "the Jewish totalitarians in Israel," or "the Hindu totalitarians in India."
-- Mohamed Elibiary served since 2010 as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council with the Department of Homeland Security until released as a "senior fellow" under controversy in September 2014. He made provocative comments about the "inevitable" return of the Muslim "caliphate" (used by affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, ISIL, to attract extremist followers), and was accused of improperly accessing classified materials obtained with his security clearance. He also was close to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic extremist group banned in Egypt, and sparked controversy by saying the United States is "an Islamic country with an Islamically compliant constitution."
-- Arif Alikhan served in President George W. Bush's Justice Department as a member of the intellectual property task force, but in 2009 was elevated to assistant secretary for policry development by then Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. He stepped down in November 2010 to become distinguished visiting professor of homeland security and counterterrorism at the National Defense University's College of International Security Affairs in Washington DC.
There are an estimated five million Muslims in the United States, a number equal to the Hispanic population 27 years ago. Demographers estimate the Muslim population is growing six times faster than the rest of America, thanks to high rates of birth, immigration and conversions.