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The Judicial Quandary in Michigan

By Douglas J. Hagmann

11 April 2006: The investiture of Judge Charlene Mekled Elder by Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm will take place tomorrow in Dearborn, Michigan. Governor Granholm appointed Charlene Mekled Elder, 36, wife to the deputy CEO of Wayne County, Azzam Elder, as a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Wayne County. She is the first female Muslim to hold a state judicial position in the country, and the first Arab-American female judge in this circuit to speak fluent Arabic. Wayne County has the largest concentration of Arab Americans outside the Middle East, roughly 350,000 and Michigan is home to approximately 400,000 citizens of Muslim faith.To most Americans, her appointment will go unnoticed. To most Americans, her appointment will seem to have little consequence. Most Americans, however, do not understand what is taking place inside of America. And if they did and verbalized their objections, they would be called religiously intolerant and bigoted toward Muslims. After all, we are constantly told that Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by a small contingent of that religion – a minority that does not speak or represent the majority of Muslims.

Understanding the Potential Consequences

Perhaps Governor Granholm believes that a female Muslim will bring diversity to the bench. As the first female Governor of the State of Michigan, perhaps she is equally excited to make history again by her appointment of Elder to a judicial position. But does she understand the potential consequences of a Muslim in a position within the judiciary?

Few Americans fully understand Islam, and fewer still understand that the Muslim religion necessitates what is termed a “sacral government,” or a church-state form of rule. Islam teaches that it is a religion inherent in the rule of law that must control the state. If we are to be honest with ourselves, we would admit that Islam is more than a religion – it is a comprehensive way of life where the Quran and the Hadith provide the final judgment in issues of law for all Muslims. The Quran and Hadith contain the religious, social, civil, commercial and even the legal rules that govern and regulate every aspect of the life of a Muslim. For true Muslims, there is no separation between church and state, and Sharia law takes primacy over constitutional law.

There is only one primary law and that is Allah’s law. All manmade laws must take a backseat to his law and if anyone says that Allah says in the Quran that you must follow or obey the law of the land in deference to Allah’s law, ask the liar to show you. He can’t, and he won’t, because Allah would never give an order which even possibly leads to disbelief.*

Based on the Islamic concept of subjugation of constitutional law to Sharia law, perhaps someone should ask the judicial appointee which legal authority she intends to use to adjudicate cases before her. If she chooses constitutional law, how will she be able to reconcile that with her Muslim beliefs? If she chooses Sharia law, will anything else matter?

*Imam Abdullah Yasin, Islamicizing America (Nashville, TN: James C. Winston, 1996)

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