Newsletter : 7fax0515.txt
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>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
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
"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
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
"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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