A recent book raises the question of whether or not Muslim politicians can truly swear to uphold and follow the U.S. Constitution. The issue arises because, according to Islam, sharia law is supreme and any human law - including a constitution - must yield if it is incompatible with sharia law. The book is Islamic Doctrine Versus the U.S. Constitution: The Dilemma for Muslim Public Officials, written by Stephen Kirby and published by the Center for Security Policy.
Kirby’s book sets forth a number of ways Muslim politicians can appear to take the oath of office, but not truly be bound under Islamic doctrine by what the oath says. First, an oath is not binding unless it is sworn in the name of Allah or one of his attributes. Even the phrase ‘so help me God’ does not make the oath binding, because Allah is not the same deity as the God of Christians and Jews. Second, an oath is no longer binding if it becomes a hardship on the oath taker to follow it. Third, an oath is not binding if a Muslim says silently the phrase Inshah’ Allah - if Allah wills - while taking the oath. Thus, Muslim politicians can appear to outside observers to be taking an oath of office when they really are not. This is perfectly fine under Islamic jurisprudence given the religious duty to spread Islam in non-Muslim lands and to conceal one’s true intentions while doing so. Tricky stuff.
Add to all of this the basic problem of how any Muslim can truly swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution which conflicts with Islam in so many ways. There is no right to free speech, no right to bear arms, and no equal rights for women under Islamic doctrine, just to name a few of the ways sharia law and the U.S. Constitution are not compatible.
These are not just theoretical concerns. The author Stephen Kirby sent questionnaires to 80 Muslim public officials and 36 new Muslim candidates for office across the U.S. Kirby’s questions, among other things, probed the conflicts between Islamic doctrine and free speech, freedom of religion, and the 8th Amendment’s injunction against cruel and unusual punishment.
Only six Muslim public officials and three Muslim candidates who received the questionnaire indicated they would support the U.S. Constitution. Most of the people who were sent questionnaires did not reply to them. Among those who did reply was one Muslim political figure who accused Kirby of being racist for even asking the questions. Muslims playing the race card have always puzzled me. Islam is not a race. Islam is ascendant from Morocco to Indonesia. What race are we talking about, exactly?
It does not bode well for America when so many Muslim candidates and officials won’t affirm their support for our Constitution and dodge the question when asked about conflicts between Islamic doctrine and our founding documents. If they won’t affirm our basic law, why should they get to lead us? More to the point, we have only ourselves to blame if we elect people - Muslim or otherwise - who won’t acknowledge that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land, as it says in Article VI, or have no intention of following it.