Even as anti-Shariah legislation roils statehouses, including in Missouri, one Kansas City attorney has launched a new practice precisely in that field.
http://www.stltoday.com/news Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday failed to override two vetoes on measures that would have prevented foreign laws and a United Nations resolution from being applied in the state. The Senate early Wednesday voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon, who vetoed both bills earlier this year. But the veto-override attempts both later died in the House.
specializes-in-shariah-law Ahsan Latif said that, like any good businessman, he saw a need and is now filling it. “It’s a way of allowing Muslims to fulfill their faith commitment and also at the same time getting comfortable with lawyers and law,” Latif said.
Latif, an associate at MKL, is adding Shariah services to his practice precisely at a time when some state legislators are feverishly working at keeping it out of their borders. The Missouri Senate on Wednesday voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of SB 267, the so-called “Civil Liberties Defense Act,” which would have voided any court arbitration, tribunal or administrative agency decisions that are based on foreign law, and which are “repugnant” and “inconsistent” with the state and U.S. constitutions.
The House, however, failed to muster the votes needed for an override.
At least seven states have introduced anti-Shariah legislation or voter initiatives, including Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. Some of those laws have been thrown out, including in Oklahoma.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LeGrange ruled that a voter-passed amendment to that state’s constitution violated the freedom of religion provisions under the U.S. Constitution, writing, “It is abundantly clear that the primary purpose of the amendment was to specifically target and outlaw Sharia law.” The amendment, called “Save Our State Amendment,” was passed in 2010 with 70 percent of voter support.
Few Missouri lawyers list themselves as focusing on Shariah law, but it’s a bit more common in other areas of the country with higher Muslim populations.
Despite the controversy, Latif downplayed any fear he or other firm members may have of any negative reaction about his new practice area. “I’m not particularly worried about any backlash,” Latif said. “The way I look at it, the best possible thing I can do is go out there and represent myself and my religion in the best way possible with my clients and in the community.”
Latif, who is Muslim and grew up in Lexington, said he believes the call to ban Shariah law is grounded in fear of “other,” of something different than what many in the U.S. have grown up with and are familiar with.
“When these issues come up, the average (ignorant) person in America doesn’t have the context of understanding, and it becomes much more ‘out there’ than it is,” Latif said. “And it’s sad because it’s distracting and because it gets tied up in what people are doing overseas, and it becomes something ‘other’ or ‘dangerous,’ when, in reality, it’s a difference between cultural practices.”
Latif said his Shariah legal services, which for now will focus on estate planning, including trusts, are constructed within the context of U.S. and state laws. Shariah lays out how those of Islamic faith should distribute their wealth after death, including a stipulation that up to one-third of all estates must be bequeathed to charity — oftentimes a mosque — but which also provides a means for distribution to non-Muslim family members and loved ones. The remaining two-thirds of the estate are distributed in strict accordance to Shariah law to Islamic family members.
Later comes Sharia punishments:
The laws governing the distribution are so complex, Latif said, that he and other lawyers practicing Shariah estate-planning use computer programs with algorithms designed to sort it all out.
“It gets complicated because it depends on so many factors, but there are certain areas where we have leeway, including the development of certain kinds of trusts that are developed under scripture and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad,” Latif said.
Faizan Syed, executive director of the St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he was delighted to hear of Latif adding Shariah services to his practice.
“That’s very positive, and I’m happy that we’re seeing that in Kansas City,” Syed said. “You have to realize that the practice of Shariah in the sense of legality is always under the civil law affecting such areas as burials, estates, marriages, divorces, estate planning. And U.S. law has always allowed for multiple religions in civil law, and it’s good to see an attorney addressing that because it will protect clients and their religious beliefs.”
Faizan Syed, Executive Director of CAIR-St. Louis advocating for sharia law in America:
While the motion to override the veto was approved in the Senate, it failed to pass in the House of Representatives. There were a few shady things that went on in order for this override to fail:1. In order to override a veto in Missouri, the HOR needs 109 votes or more in order for the override to succeed. The bill originally passed back in May by a vote in the HOR of 109 – 41. However, on 04 June 2013 Republican Jason Smith who had represented the 120th Missouri district (and had voted YEA for the passage of the bill before it was vetoed by Nixon) was elected to the US House of Representatives. This created a vacancy in Missouri’s 120th House District. Available election dates in Missouri this year are 06 Aug and 05 Nov. Governor Nixon dragged his heels as he was in no hurry to fill that seat with a veto session approaching. http://www.semissourian.com/
story/1985769.html2. There were apparently two votes on the matter of overriding this veto and the first one actually passed with a vote of 109 – 52, with every republican voting in favor of the override and every democrat voting against an override (and one democrat absent with leave). Then, for some reason I am so far completely unaware of, there was a second vote in which the motion to override failed to get the 2/3rds majority needed, with a vote of 108 – 53 (one damn vote!!). I am wondering if the first vote was so close that someone called for a second vote. In any case, the second time it failed. In the second vote 3 “republicans” changed their minds and decided to vote against overriding the veto. They are:a. Jay Barnes – District 60 (Jefferson City, MO) – http://www.house.mo.gov/ member.aspx?year=2013& district=060b. Lincoln Hough – District 135 (eastern Springfield, MO) –c. Caleb Rowden – District 44 (Columbia, MO) –3. The betrayal by these three republicans outweighed the change in vote by two Democrats (Jeff Roorda and Michael Frame), thus the net loss of one vote. Note however had the 120th district not been left vacant by Governor Nixon, odds are very high the requisite 109 “Yea” votes would have been met.Here is a link to the Journal of the Veto Session so you can see the matter of there being two votes on overriding the veto of SB267:http://www.house.mo.gov/ billtracking/bills131/jrnpdf/ jrn074.pdfHere, the author of the SB267, Sen. Bill Nieves argues the case for the bill against another senator who just happens to be a POS muslim. Her name is Sen. Jamilah Nasheed. Notice how she makes it all about “racism against Islam” and “Islamophobic fear of Sharia law” even though Sen. Nieves points out repeatedly that neither Islam nor Sharia are mentioned in the bill. If she is so patriotic what does she have against American laws being used in American courts? The answer is obvious: she does like to have an opening for Sharia to be used in the future.