U.S. Companies and Islamic Law; American Businesses Need Secular Governance

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Byline: Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It's time for the United States to limit financial transactions that involve American companies to governance by secular laws. The swelling oil revenues of the Gulf states have created demand from those markets for U.S. investments in banks, real estate and industrial stocks. Most has been invested according to the usual financial guidelines, but the recent surge in revenues has also stimulated the demand to impose Islamic law (sharia) on financial investments.

In their urgent desire to find new markets, Americans have opened the door to Islamist expansionism. The Dow Jones Islamic Markets index and Islamic U.S. banks and financial products, which are catering exclusively to Muslims, only advance the Islamic impetus to impose sharia-governed banking on the West. For example, Michael J.T. McMillen, a partner at Dechert, and "a pioneer in the burgeoning Islamic banking and finance market," aggressively solicits and accommodates sharia compliant transactions. If Islamic investors want to abide by sharia, nothing prevents them from doing so. But there is no reason for American banks, businesses and investment firms to introduce Islam or any other religion into the U.S. capital markets.

American legislators, regulators and businessmen should follow the lead of Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty who on September 11, responding to the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice, which applied to arbitrate civil cases in the Muslim community according to sharia, declared: "There will be no Shari'a law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians." Mr. McGuinty said religious arbitrations "threaten our common ground," and promised his Liberal government would introduce legislation "as soon as possible" to outlaw them in Ontario. "Ontarians will always have the right to seek advice from anyone in matters of family law, including religious advice," he said. "But no longer will religious arbitration be deciding matters of family law."

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging Muslims to contact their elected representatives and urge them to sign a House resolution recognizing the upcoming fast of Ramadan and commending Muslims for their faith. There is nothing wrong with recognizing Ramadan. Many other resolutions had been adopted to recognize different religious holidays. There was even a special resolution adopted on July 1, 1999, "Supporting religious tolerance toward Muslims. …