Monday, February 21, 2011

COMMENT: Senator Mitch Fifield on sharia

This car was convicted of adultery.

The Sunday Telegraph cited Liberal Victorian senator Mitch Fifield as follows:

Australians revel in diversity and embrace different cultures but they expect people who come to Australia to sign up to mainstream values. You have to muck in with the rest of the community and not develop a sort of separate society.

Indeed. I recall Captain Arthur Phillip adopting the values of indigenous spirituality and learning to speak local languages.

We need to heed the lessons of the UK where you have whole suburbs which are basically separate entities to the rest of the community.

A bit like Chinatown in Sydney. A huge tourist attraction.

There are some interpretations of Islam which aren't healthy and aren't compatible with Australian values, such as sharia law.

The values of sharia are totally alien to Australian values? Let's consider them for a short while. I'll quote myself on this one.

Costello says most migrants become Australian citizens because they want to embrace the things this country stands for. He lists six core Australian values, including economic opportunity, security, democracy and personal freedom.

In 2002, a visiting Indonesian academic lawyer delivered a series of lectures under the auspices of the Centre for Independent Studies. Professor Mohammad Fajrul Falaakh is a vice-dean of the Gadjah Mada University, among the top 100 universities in the world. Falaakh is also a senior figure in the Council of Theologians, or Nahdatul Ulama, the world's largest Islamic organisation.

In the annual CIS Acton Lecture, on the topic of sharia and pluralism in Indonesia, Falaakh listed five basic values of sharia, agreed on by sharia scholars from all schools of Islamic law. If one compares the five principles of sharia to the six values espoused by Costello, one finds they are virtually identical.

... sharia is not the name of a draconian system of legal punishments. It is not a synonym for amputations and beheadings. Rather, sharia is a legal tradition, a set of legal principles based on certain values. And those values are identical to those expressed in the Old and New Testaments.

Further, legal scholars in the East and West agree that the traditions of sharia, English common law (from which our legal systems are derived) and European civil law have borrowed from, and influenced, each other.

Some commentators present sharia as a system of medieval criminal punishments. But for Australian Muslims, sharia represents little more than ethics (honesty, enterprise) and liturgy (how to perform prayers, weddings, funerals).

Fifield is showing the same ignorance of sharia as Peter Costello did back in 2006.

Words © 2011 Irfan Yusuf

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