Another Emory Scholar on Sharia in Western Lands

Berman and Witte’s colleague, Rabbi Broyde (as co-author), comments on the Sharia discussion:

Some non-Muslims fear that this [arbitration in Islamic courts] will prove to be the first step in the incursion of Sharia in Western life, and the ones to follow will not be so innocuous. It is more likely, however, that for many Muslims the very opposite will happen.

Like Jews, Muslims will learn in time that the state is not bent on destroying them. Muslims who turn to the secular courts to uphold Sharia decisions will encounter cognitive dissonance. Having been taught about the evils of the detested kafirs, they will instead meet people of honesty, integrity and many shared values — and move toward closer association with them.

Broyde’s interventions in public life have not always impressed me (he gave an odd, semi-halakhic defense of torture last year, also in The Forward). This argument is less assertive of the application of Jewish law to public policy and seeks to employ sociological trends of observant Jews in America to emerging Islamic issues. Broyde refuses the comparison Archbishop Williams uses of Jewish courts to Islamic Courts, suggesting that Jewish courts in America follow the norms of secular law, such as due process.

In the UK, the head of the Beit Din, “House of Justice” or Jewish court, said Jews should support the greater role for religious courts that Williams advocated, while Chief Rabbi and public intellectual Rabbi Jonathan Sacks suggests that a common culture and single law is what the UK needs.

Sometimes it seems no one know what Williams actually said, let alone what he meant or how that matters. Let’s agree to read each other’s statements 3 times and start from there.

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