Oklahoma anti-Shariah amendment heads to appeals court

An amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution that bans state judges from considering Islamic law will face its next legal hurdle on Monday (Sept. 12) when a federal appeals court considers its constitutionality.

Just weeks after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters last November, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled it unconstitutional, saying “the will of the ‘majority’ has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals.”

While judges routinely consider religious law when deciding family or contract disputes that could not be settled by religious authorities, constitutional law supersedes religious law if they are found to be in conflict.

Opponents say the Oklahoma measure would invalidate civil documents like marital contracts and wills, which some people draft according to religious guidelines.

While many Muslims viewed the Oklahoma referendum as discriminatory and fueled by Islamophobia, they say it has also given them a chance to educate non-Muslims about Shariah and Islam.

“We’ve stepped up our outreach efforts, and I think we’ve been able to change a lot of minds,” said Saad Mohammed, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. “If the referendum were held again tomorrow, I think a lot fewer people would support it.”