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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 15, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 88

Peru police fear PLO moves on Jewish, U.S. targets

Peru's anti-terrorist police say Palestine Liberation Organization members have arrived in Peru to attack Jewish and U.S. targets this month. PLO members who entered the country March 31 "plan to carry out a series of terrorist acts against Jewish installations in Peru -- likewise against U.S. interests," the police report said. The group plans to strike on important anniversaries in the Jewish calendar, including this week's celebration of the creation of the state of Israel.

Islam and the U.S. Constitution

By Hafez Mirazi Osman (VOA-Washington)

An American-Muslim law professor says that the US Constitution should not be viewed as a secular document but as one that is based on religious values that are shared by Christians, Jews and Muslims. In a lecture to an American Muslim group in Washington, Prof. Aziza al-Hibri, who teaches law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, said that the American founding fathers were believers in God as Christians and some of them had a knowledge of Islam.

Al-Hibri relies on that argument in her appeal to Muslim-Americans to become more involved in the American legal system and public service. In her lecture at the Council on American Islamic Affairs, al-Hibri said that she knew of some cases in which Muslim parents in the United States discouraged their children from going to US law schools because of what she described as "ill advice" from some Muslim clergymen.

She said the clergymen say that it's 'haraam' -- or un-Islamic -- to participate in the US legal system. Al-Hibri, who is a Lebanese-born American, has a simple answer to people who believe that. She advises them to move to a country with a legal system they can feel comfortable with. As far as she herself is concerned, she finds no contradiction between Islamic values and the basic values in the US Constitution.

Al-Hibri surprised many in her audience when she told them that one of the founding fathers of the United States was familiar with the Quran -- Muslims' holy book -- and even cited Islamic law in a legal opinion:

"Some of the founding fathers had Qurans and they read the Quran. How do I know? Because there are records that tell us. For example, Jefferson had a Quran when he was a student of law. Then something happened, is belongings burned down. (So) he went and got another copy of the Quran. And I can mention to you for example that Jefferson in one opinion of his, when he was discussing the idea of divorce and whether divorce should be legal or not in these United States, cited Islamic law...He was familiar with Islamic divorce law."

Al-Hibri cited other evidence to make her point that Islam was not alien to the men who wrote the US Constitution. She pointed out that the correspondence of the founding fathers reveals that in crafting the Constitution they specifically said they wanted to avoid the absolute monarchies that ruled "Muslim countries."

Al-Hibri made clear that absolute monarchy was not the preferred form of government under Islam. She said that Muslim countries that had authoritarian regimes deviated from the democratic principles and practices of the first Islamic state under Prophet Mohamed and his immediate successors.

Al-Hibri criticized self-proclaimed "Muslim or Islamic scholars" in the West. Far from being scholars, she said they were ignorant of Islam and partly to blame for distorting the image of Islam in the West. She cited Quranic verses and other evidence to show that Islam does not discriminate between people based on gender, religion, race, color, physical ability or national origin. She said some people confuse what is cultural and what is Islamic in the traditions of some Muslim countries.

She mentioned the tradition, in some Muslim countries, of the monetary gift that is given to the bride or her family before the wedding.

"For example, one person, who happened to see a write up I had on 'mahr'- 'dowry or sadaq' - wrote to correct me. He said 'don't forget to mention that 'sadaq' is the bride price.'...Bride price? And he is correcting me? Where did he get it from? Not from Islam. And you see this person goes to courts and gives testimony as an expert witness. Do you then blame an American judge who says 'Oh, you know, we do not believe in this Islamic marriage thing because we do not sell our daughters in this country. They do.' Do you blame him? I don't."

Al-Hibri urged Muslims in America to make a greater effort to understand their own religion in order to better represent it and find the common human values that they share with their countrymen and women. She also urged them to consider the US Constitution part of the common heritage of the followers of the Abrahamic faith -- Jews, Christians and Muslims.

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