IRVING (Texas): The Islamic Tribunal which enforces sharia, or Islamic law, has been given “official” status by a group of Muslims in North Texas. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, though there are similar courts in Great Britain and Europe.
Imam Moujahed Bakhach is one of four men who have taken up the title of “tribunal judge” to permit them to hear civil cases involving divorce, business problems and other disputes involving individuals and to rule according to Sharia law.
Sharia “refers to a set of rules and regulations, principles, guidelines for the Muslim to live with,” he explained on Glen Beck’s The Blaze television program. “This includes family issues, includes manners, behavior characters, including marriage divorces, including inheritance law, including a lot of aspects of the family and the social things.”
Following Sharia, or Islamic law, the tribunal is operating as a legal nonprofit registered with the state of Texas.
Their website states, “The need for a mediation and non-binding arbitration firm that adheres to Islamic principles in the Muslim community has been a long time in the making.”
The judges say they only deal with civil cases in the community, helping settle issues ranging from business disputes to divorce. Most of their cases have concerned divorce.
This tribunal has nothing to do with crime or punishments, the men say.
“Our work, we just fix the religious part and we file another suit as a regular case to the civil courts,” said judge Dr. Taher El-badawi.
The other three judges are Imam Moujahed Bakhach, Imam Zia ul Haque Sheikh and Imam Yusuf Z Kavakci.
They believe the tribunal offers the Muslim community an option to resolve conflicts and disputes according to the principles of Islamic law.
A magazine wrote in 2013 that Sharia law had been established in Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a large number of Muslim residents, but reputable news sources have debunked that story despite the continual presence of the article on the Internet. Texas is the first confirmed place in the nation where people have agreed to have legal differences ruled on by precepts Islam.
A majority of U.S. states have introduced bills banning courts from accommodating Sharia law; however, only a handful have survived to become law.
Oklahoma’s ban on referencing Islamic law in its courts was struck down because of the potentially discriminating use of the word “sharia.” Only seven states (Louisiana, Arizona, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Kansas and Alabama) have been able to pass sharia-limiting legislation, and only after watering them to not even mention the word, “sharia.”