It is a case of happy timing. Barack Obama’s nominee as Legal Adviser of the State Department, Harold Koh, has said that he has no objection to Islamic Sharia law being applied “in an appropriate case” in the United States. And at the same time, the world is witness to a veritable laboratory experiment of what it means to apply Sharia in a place where it previously had not been in effect.
While Koh, of course, probably has in mind something like the voluntary Sharia arbitration courts that are currently operating in Britain, Sharia is a comprehensive system covering every aspect of life. It will not prove so easy to separate out its elements that do not conflict with Western laws from those that do.
And that’s why the Pakistani experience is instructive. After the Pakistani government agreed to a deal implementing Sharia in Pakistan’s Swat Valley — formerly a popular tourist destination — Islamic supremacists have moved swiftly to implement Sharia rules.
The results are illuminating not just of the situation in Pakistan, but of the ultimate outcome of stealth jihad attempts to insinuate elements of Sharia into Western societies:
• In Taiser, a town near Karachi, Taliban jihadists spray-painted pro-Taliban graffiti on a church. When the church members began to clean it off, a Taliban gang appeared and began firing into the crowd, killing three Christians. One attacker declared: “You infidels have to convert to Islam or die.” The jihadists also burned down three area churches.
• In the village of Sultanwas, the Taliban began broadcasting radio talks about Islam, and issuing warnings that barbers must no longer shave men’s beards.
• In the Buner district, Taliban members punished four men who were caught listening to music by shaving their heads and mustaches.
• Also in Buner, the Taliban posted notices warning women to stay in their homes and not to appear in the markets.
• In the village of Luqman Banda in northwest Pakistan, a bomb left outside a girls’ school killed four children.
• In Orakzai, the Taliban has demanded that Sikhs pay the jizya, the tax on non-Muslims mandated by the Qur’an (9:29), and have expelled from the area Sikhs who could not pay the exorbitant amounts they demanded.
• The Taliban executed a couple they had accused of adultery, and filmed the execution — the film is now circulating all over the country, viewed with horror by urban secular Pakistanis.
All of these incidents and others like them have taken place in recent weeks, as the Taliban has consolidated its power in Swat and attempted to seize control of a much larger expanse of Pakistani territory. All of them are in accord with traditional provisions of Islamic law, which forbids women to leave their homes without the permission of their father or husband; forbids men to shave; forbids education to women except on an extremely limited basis; mandates a death sentence for the crime of adultery; and offers non-Muslims conversion, subjugation as inferiors under the rule of Islamic law, or death.
Sharia supremacists want to bring this program to all of Pakistan. Qazi Hussain Ahmad, a supporter of Osama bin Laden and former leader of a pro-Sharia political party in Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami, recently wrote that “those who believe that Pakistan can be secularized by separating the Islamic system from its state are suffering from a serious fallacy.” He declared that the complete Islamization of Pakistan “has been the genuine and long-standing demand of the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis.”
That appears to be true: according to a February 2008 U.S. Institute of Peace poll, 84% of Pakistanis believe that America is more of a threat to them than Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Apparently, when Sharia comes to them, they will be very happy. But not entirely, at least not yet.
Mulla Nazeer Ahmad, a leader of the Taliban jihadists, has declared: “Our Jihad is a global Jihad and we aim to…establish Sharia all over the world.”
And Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told CNN recently that the Taliban hoped ultimately to spread its strict Sharia adherence “even in America.” Obtaining that goal will make their happiness complete.