BY BARBARA HOBEROCK – Tulsa World
The man behind a lawsuit seeking to overturn a controversial ballot measure has a passion for the law and his Islamic faith.
Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter on the Council
for American-Islamic Relations, filed suit last week in federal court to
overturn State Question 755. The measure bans state courts from the use
of Sharia and international law in deciding cases. It passed Nov. 2
with slightly more than 70 percent of the vote.
Sharia law is not used in state courts, but supporters said SQ 755 was needed as a preventive measure.
U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange granted a temporary restraining
order putting implementation on hold. A hearing for an injunction is
set for Nov. 22.
Awad, who has been on the job with the council’s Oklahoma chapter since
Oct. 14, said Sharia law could never replace federal or state laws.
Adoption of a constitutional amendment referencing Sharia law voices the
state’s official disapproval and condemnation of Islam, he said.
And that raises constitutional issues on its own with respect to the
government being able to approve or disapprove of religion, Awad said.
It involves my standing as a Muslim in the political community.
When news of the lawsuit spread, his organization got a lot of hate mail, but it has also received encouragement, Awad said.
Our organization has gotten more donations from non-Muslims in the past
week than we have from Muslims, he said. This has really been a sign
of Oklahomans, I think, realizing that no matter what disagreement we
have here, there is still a need to remain rational and let the courts
consider what is being presented.
Sharia law is guidance for Muslims on how to practice and interpret their faith in daily interactions and in society, Awad said.
It touches on things that are even beyond law, he said. Simply me
refraining from eating pork is part of following Sharia. Me not drinking
alcohol is part of following Sharia. Me marrying is part of Sharia. So,
Sharia encompasses so many things beyond the law.
He said Sharia changes and is not applied the same in all countries.
One of the main aspects of Sharia is abiding by the law of the land,
Awad said. As a Muslim, I am mandated to abide by the law of the land I
He said it is disingenuous for critics to point to how Sharia is
followed in other countries. While polygamy is permissible in his faith,
it is not legal in the United States, he said.
Awad said politicians are profiting from the fear of Islam.
I know this element of hate is definitely a fringe element, he said.
So, I don’t actually live my life in fear of someone attacking me or