The purpose was to examine the place of Islamic Law in The United States.
The Plenary Panel is the conclusion of the Symposium. Two of the seven panelists, Michael J. Broyde (Emory University School of Law) – Jewish Law and Mohammad Fadel (University of Toronto, Faculty of Law) Professor of Religion and the Liberal State: The Case of Islam, were unable to stay for the Plenary, where the audience asked questions of the speakers.
The Panel for this final Q and A was Umar F. Moghul (University of Connecticut School of Law, Murtha Cullina LLP) who spoke on Sharia Finance; Asifa Quraishi (University of Wisconsin Law School) – Family Law; Kristen Stilt (Northwestern University School of Law) – Constitutional Law; Frank E. Vogel , an independent scholar and consultant on Islamic law and the laws of the Muslim world and Sadiq Reza (New York Law School) – Criminal Law.
Next are some written notes from the Plenary Q and A, followed by the audio:
Q - A woman asks Prof. Reza about the punishment and apostasy in the context of treason.
A - Reza refers to the Sunna and the template he used in his slide presentation. Confirms it is a death penalty at a time when renouncing God was seen as a treason, endangering the Muslim Community. Modern Muslims now see this as inconsistent with modern human rights and freedom of religion
Prof. Moghul adds this is not just a modern position. In the Prophetic Era, those leaving the Faith of Islam were left alone; not seen as a threat.
Q - A man asks about problem of marital courts and Islamic legal experts. Can American judges be equipped to perform or is it better to have Muslim Tribunals that are legitimized by American courts.
A- Prof Quraishi replies, problem under our First Amendment. Non-credible people like bin-Laden don't help. Needs to be a standard. She doesn't want State to decide, interpret, Muslim Law. She mentions Gov. Christie.and reminds that just because someone is a Muslim does not mean they'll infiltrate.
Prof. Vogel (as he and Prof. Quraisha talk back and forth) mentions something about Common-law/Muslim Law in the Academic Community. Quraishi adds that with a theoretical point one can go to a mufti and get a fatwa which is not necessarily a death-threat.
Q - A woman asks who are the progressives. Is it Prof Quraishi?
A - Quraishi says it's too early to know...
Q - A woman says she has heard a lot about fear. Why isn't the Muslim Community speaking out to the America Public
A - Prof Moghul says Muslim Community is tiny, it is speaking out, bt it is being drowned out by greater funding. To build bridge, dialogue, quite a bit is being done but voice is being pushed aside.
Prof Reza puts on his 'scholarly hat'. He rejects notion Muslims ( any group) has obligation (morally) to address anything said because they are just people going about their jobs as accountants and janitors, with kids; not a duty to refute everything said. ( similar he said to an American Black kid being asked to speak for all Blacks...he's just a kid.) Those with the job of speaking up for the Community are being drowned out.
Prof. Stilt mentions David Yerushalmi, that he goes after CAIR heavily, when they are supposed to be doing this (as moderates). She admits they don't always do this well (she may even disagree with them) but claiming they are Stealth Jihadists doesn't help.
Prof Quraishi continues that it is bad. They are vulnerable to speak out against this level of hate. She was criticized at her campus ( in Wisconsin) for supporting a speaker invited there. She was attacked as an Islamo-Fascist; her tenure was threatened. Community can't handle such pressure, the tsunami, the burden against reasonable thinking
In his 'lecture" he says, "What is the agenda behind and who are those behind it? He is pessimistic . These are Know-Nothings. Rants on about Teddy Roosevelt, a racist. and a Social Idiot. Most people are boobs (he of the odd-attire) Anybody can be an idiot (no kidding!) He proclaims, "It takes TIME to be educated! There are so few (out there) like him ." (says he proudly)
He seems to inspire Prof Stilt who starts in on David Yerushalmi (again). Yerushalmi is not a white-man in North Dakota. He wouldn't belong either. This hatred of a people or a religion, she asks, "WHY don't they worry about immigration? The Economy? Why hate? This Ignorance in Oklahoma and Tennessee where there are a lack of Muslims, they should worry about the immigrants taking their jobs."
The Odd-Fellow responds, "This is a Fashion; a fashionable position to Hate."
Prof Stilt concludes that it is not insignificant that most of this rhetoric comes from Republicans, without criticism; no Party criticism because it scores points at the polls. It's a political tool, fear. To be afraid like of Gay Marriage, it's an elaborate ruse to get people to the polls.
Skipping ahead to other moments in the Q and A that are unrelated ....
Prof Quraishi asked,"Why is the Tea Party worried about Muslims taking over; this Islamo-phobia They should be worried about Economics; things International."
Prof. Reza mentions Tariq Ramadan and a couple of Iranian writers. He says writing on Criminal and Constitutional law not confined to one country
Prof Vogel says there is a lot of disagreement when scholars interpret Qur'an as there are many interpretations. Not one better than another.
Prof Reza suggest that critics use stray guys on internet to suit their purposes
Prof Quraishi asks, "What is orthodox?" Changes. Organic relationship with scripture to get to changes. She mentions Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) is just an understanding of the Law. Fiqh deals with the observance of rituals, morals and social legislation in Islam. With the laws against Sharia, Muslims are afraid to naturally challenge (Sharia).
RE the audio : For the audience questions, I had to reposition the hyper-sensitive recorder when people were not speaking directly into mic (but the rustling noise is usually brief). However, Professor Vogel has a few moments where he, unfortunately, spoke too softly and off-mic. (That too, will pass) The other speakers were always audible.
The VIDEO/AUDIO of the Plenary Panel
I hope you found this series interesting. It has left me with much to ponder and to question.