Tribunal in Dallas & First Corinthians
by Bill Lockwood
The distinction that Texas is the first state in the Union to have an Islamic Tribunal is not something for which we should be proud. Actually, a Sharia Court pre-dated the current one in Richardson, but the onus is still on Texas. One of the “judges,” Dr. Taher El-badawi, says that participation is only voluntary. Nevertheless, the new Sharia Tribunal is operating in Irving, which ought to be of no little concern to all Americans because there is no school of Islamic jurisprudence among either Sunnis or Shi’ites that does not mandate stoning for adultery or the subjugation of women.
Even more disconcerting is the reaction of liberals to this court as well as the complete misuse of Bible passages to support it. When measures were introduced into the Texas House several years ago to forbid Sharia Courts in Texas, liberal bloggers went wild accusing conservatives of seeing ghosts that weren’t there. Now that the Sharia Court is operating, liberals chirp, ‘Well, at least they are not cutting off hands,” blah blah blah. But it is Rodger Jones of the Dallas Morning News (2-3-15) who writes in defense of the Islamic Court, “Don’t mainstream Jewish and Christian congregations offer those kinds of services? Consider, too, that the New Testament includes an injunction against taking a Christian brother to court. The church is a better place to solve disputes, according to some interpretations. From 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 (pretty snappy for a Catholic guy, eh?).”
The snappy Catholic guy demonstrates a woeful lack of knowledge of not only the Bible, but also of Islamic law.
Context of 1 Corinthians 6: Paul addresses the church at Corinth regarding a number of problematic areas, including sin in the church (chap. 5) which the community of faith was to judge (5:13). This judgment was to expel the wicked man—not physically, but that he was to be considered outside of the realm of the faithful. Withdrawal of fellowship—yet “count him not as an enemy but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess. 3:15) is the disposition of Christians toward an offending member.
The entire paragraph of 6:1-11 turns to a kind of “judgment” that was to occur within the church, namely matters of everyday life where one member has a grievance against another. But instead of settling disputes within the church Christian was litigating Christian before tribunals of the unbelieving at Corinth (v. 2) and soiling the church’s name. Paul is filled with indignation and alternates between statements of horror (v. 1, 6), rhetorical questions (v. 2-4, 5b) and sarcasm (v. 5). He warns that their misconduct would forfeit their inheritance of the kingdom of God (v. 9-11). What can we conclude?
Confusion with Sharia Law
First, Sharia is a Codified System of Jurisprudence Taken from the Koran and Sunna. The Sunna includes the biography of Muhammad plus the Hadiths (what Muhammad said). Sharia is nothing more than a condensation and extrapolation of these two Islamic texts. Sharia covers everything, from how Muhammad cleaned his teeth, which shoe he first put on, or what were his toilet habits. These are patterns for Muslims to follow including specified punishments for failure in any particular. It includes such wide topics as political control of non-Muslims, prayer, jihad, punishments, land use, etc.
What has this to do with 1 Corinthians 6? The inspired apostle certainly never did set forward an Alternate System of Jurisprudence or Specified Legal Code determining how cases were to be judged and what penalties were to be enacted. Instead, he admonished, have a brother assist in settling the dispute before it goes to public trial. To suggest a comparison between the inspired text of the Bible and Islamic law is a case of gross and willful ignorance.
Second, Paul encourages a completely different attitude than being “litigious.” “Why not rather take wrong?” “Why not rather be defrauded?” To “defraud” specifically has reference to property loss (cf. James 5:4). The primary point: Guard the reputation of the church! Quit airing dirty laundry before the community! What comparison is there here with a Sharia Court? Paul nowhere advocates an official “tribunal” with an alternate system of laws that come into conflict with legal jurisprudence of the nation. He is advocating settling disputes by brotherly agreements within the church. For the “snappy Catholic guy” to use this text to somehow equate to an official Islamic legal system that supplants the American legal system, complete with civic and criminal courts called Sharia is not snappy at all. It is an abuse.
Third, the only penalty enacted by the Corinthian texts, and any NT text, is simple expulsion from the community of faith. Withdrawing fellowship (2 Thess. 3) is how it is worded elsewhere, including “to have no company with” (3:14). This is a recognition that the offender is not living as the New Testament teaches. Yet, even those “put away” from the church are to be loved and admonished as brethren (v.15). What in the world has this to do with “legal physical punishments” enacted by Sharia Courts around the world which includes beating a rebellious wife because “men are superior to women” (Koran 4:34); female genitalia mutilation (Bukhari 7,72,779); stoning and honor killing?
Even the Dallas Court already uses Islamic denigration of women, for according to El-badawi, “The husband can request a divorce directly from the tribunal” BUT the “wife must go to an Imam who will request a divorce for her.” She herself cannot even apply in the Court! What has this to do with the New Testament? Nothing at all. Hatred of the Bible apparently drives the liberal media. How else can one explain a Rodger Jones’ efforts to equate the brutality of Islam with the message of Jesus Christ?