Why Sharia Law Threatens Freedom and Human Rights?/Program 1

Ed. Note: Unless otherwise indicated, footnoted Qur’an quotes are from the Yusef Ali transition, and Hadith quotes are from Bukhari’s Hadith.

By: Dr. Ergun Caner, Dr. Emir Caner; ©2013
Sharia Law is continuing to grow in influence in today’s world, but what it is it?  In this program, Dr. Emir Caner and Dr. Ergun Caner will help us discover what Sharia Law is and how it threatens freedom and human rights for all people, including Christians seeking to freely worship according to their biblical convictions.


Today on the John Ankerberg Show: In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the world has watched nation after nation in North Africa and the Middle East turn into Islamic States and embrace sharia law. This has raised many serious questions including what is sharia law? Is sharia law a threat to people’s free speech, their freedom of religion, and basic human rights? How are Muslims to treat Christians, Jews, and other minorities in Islamic countries? How are women to be treated? And what groups and organizations in America are trying to institute sharia law here?

To answer these questions, my guests today are two former Sunni Muslims who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where their father built mosques. When they made the decision to leave Islam and convert to Christianity, their father disowned them. Dr. Emir Caner went on to earn his PhD in history from the University of Texas and is now the President of Truett-McConnell College in Georgia. Dr. Ergun Caner received his Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa and is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Texas. We invite you to join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.

Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. I’m John Ankerberg, and today I’ve invited two former Muslims who have converted to Christ to come and talk to you about what we see happening in the world. Anybody that’s on the planet today has watched over the last two years where we’ve seen the Arab Spring, where we’ve seen country after country become Islamic states. And with Islamic states we’ve also seen sharia law being implemented. And today I want to know, what is this going to mean for our fellow Christians overseas? And in the future what could this mean for countries in Europe? What could this mean for even right here in America?
And my guests are Dr. Emir and Dr. Ergun Caner. Emir is the President of Truett-McConnell College in northeast Georgia. And Dr. Ergun Caner is the Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, TX. They’re both professors. They’ve taught overseas. They teach here. They’re bestselling authors. They’re brilliant in knowing what the Qur’an says, because they came out of that. And they also know their Bible backwards and forwards.
And I want you to start us off, Emir. I’m concerned, and I think people that are watching are concerned, but we’re not informed as to what is taking place in countries that have become Islamic states and have implemented sharia law. What is sharia law?
Dr. Emir Caner: Well, we’re living in the age of the renaissance of Islam and the politick of Islam is sharia law. Sharia literally means a clear path. It comes from the Qur’an, chapter 45 and verse 18, where you’re given a clear path.[1] That path then is not a democratic path; it’s a path given to you. There’s no vote taken. Basically all you have is consultation and jurisprudence. So sharia is very undemocratic. It is something given to you in stone. So, for example, in America it would go against the American Constitution. It would go against Article 1, with freedom of speech. It would go against Article 14 where women are only considered half the witness of men, or Article 8 where there’s cruel and unusual punishment because you have the cutting off of hands. So sharia is a picture of politick that is completely foreign to much of the Western atmosphere.
Ankerberg: How many countries now have embraced sharia law?
Dr. Ergun Caner: We have anywhere from three dozen that not only use sharia law, but it’s their Constitution, it’s their Bill of Rights. There’s, you know, say, a little less than 100 countries that allow sharia councils to take place in their country. Sometimes it’s a democratic country, a Parliamentarian country. England has about 85 sharia councils, and five arbitration councils. So even though they are operating in England, the birth of the Magna Charta, you know, the human rights basis, even though it’s in England, the sharia councils operate independent of the laws of the land.
Ankerberg: This is a wide swath of people. If you have 35-36 nations right now that that’s their law, and you’ve got, you know, 57 countries at the United Nations that are trying to protect sharia law, and you’ve got others that are dabbling with sharia law, that’s a lot of people in the world. How all-encompassing is sharia? Because it’s kind of a foreign word to us. You’ve said it’s a law. What’s it based on again? In other words, where did it come from?
Emir Caner: Well, the sharia is based on two things: one, the precepts of the Qur’an; and two, the example of the prophet. He’s the excellent exemplar and so the Hadith codifies Muhammad’s life. And as Islam is a cradle-to-grave religion, it’s 24/7, it involves everything from your dress and your modesty, to how you spend your money, to whom you marry, and everything in between. It is the pure lifestyle of Islam, and it demands everything from dietary habits, to those who blaspheme the prophet to be penalized and perhaps put to death. It really does take everything into your life.
Ankerberg: Why do you say, Ergun, that it takes away freedom of speech?
Ergun Caner: Well, because your speech is codified, down to the communication you have with the unbeliever, you know, the dhimmis they call them, the protected peoples. They’re actually kafirs, they’re infidels. Well, how the infidel is perceived in a country is, well, we’re allowing you to live here. And in an Islamic country that has sharia law, we allow you live here, but you now have to follow these rules and you are a second-class citizen. There’s no question. You have to pay the tax; you can’t hold office; you are not equal to the Muslim.
Ankerberg: What is it that makes sharia law so dangerous to Western society?
Emir Caner: I think the greatest thing, the entire base of Western society, I think, is based on four freedoms, but the greatest of the freedoms is religious freedom. And we hold it dear, and not simply being in the American Constitution, but being biblical from Matthew 13. In Islam, though, Muhammad said in Bukhari’s Hadith, volume 9, number 57, if a Muslim changes his Islamic religion, kill him.[2] And so you have, in places across the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia, where, if someone denies Islam who was a Muslim, he or she is put to death. It is so not only anti-Western, but it is against everything that the United Nations itself has held. And that’s why Muslims no longer hold to the United Nation’s Geneva, but holds to their own Cairo Declaration that denies the issues and what we hold most dear in our own hearts.
Ankerberg: Yeah, 57 countries at the United Nation’s OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] has actually opted out of the human rights declaration of the UN and has instituted, they want sharia law, and they’ve just said that’s what we’re going to do.
Ergun Caner: That’s why most of us see the advent of, or the spread of sharia law as one of the most dangerous things we’ve faced. And it is fraught with landmines and problems all the way through it. There is no individual rights. It’s a one stop shop. Whatever’s the edict, whatever comes out of it, it’s carried out within 24 hours. There’s no appeal. The one who is found to be guilty of the Pakistan 295c, if you’ve violated, or blasphemed the prophet, within 24 hours you are put to death. The appeals process is nil.
Ankerberg: Yeah, let’s talk about why we’re not hearing more from the Islamic moderates in Muslim countries. And I’d like to start off with a very interesting quote that I came across, and that is the former President of Indonesia. He was a moderate Muslim, alright, Abdurrahman Wahid, and he said in an essay that was entitled, “Right Islam, Wrong Islam,” that a literal reading of the Qur’an leads to what is popularly called Muslim extremism. Now, what got my attention is, here you have a Muslim who is saying the power of the extremist, so-called, is that if you just read the Qur’an literally, you come to that conclusion. Now, if that is the fact, then how are moderate Muslims going to say we’re not going to follow this saying of Muhammad or this part of the Hadith of the life of Muhammad? How can they do that?
Emir Caner: Well, in Indonesia, for example, which was influenced by mystical Islam, Sufi Islam, that took much of the Qur’an allegorically, we now have, in this renaissance of Islam that really began in 1928 with the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood, the end, the culmination, which was the Muslim Brotherhood and the Arab Spring which really was democracy’s fall, conquered one of the cradles of Islamic civilization in Egypt. They took control. Mubarak is out; Morsi’s in; and in between all of that, they have seen what is almost a century-old battle. And they’ve won. The Qur’an can no longer be taken in allegorical fashion, it must go back to a literal fashion. That is Islam, so many people of the West think that it needs a reformation. It has been undergoing a reformation for really two centuries since Wahhab, since the reformer in Saudi Arabia, came to be. And now we’re getting to see it play out in our very eyes. Not only is it a danger to the Coptic Christians in Egypt, but to these moderate Muslims who are now considered infidels in their own lands because they don’t see the Qur’an in the same light as the more literalists.
Ergun Caner: And if you want to see how it’s affected us in the American shores, some estimate up to 80% of the 1200-plus mosques and masjids and madrasahs in America are built by the Wahhabi. They are trained imams who were brought over here; they have the money provided, is what we, what these people, the media refers to as the radicals.
Ankerberg: Yeah, for the people who don’t know, who are the Wahhabis?
Ergun Caner: The Wahhabis are a subset of the Sunni who believe that, you must go back to the days of the prophet and dress like this, talk like this, walk like this. They don’t want reformation. They want a reformation back to the violent days when Muhammad held power.
Ankerberg: And they are backed by Saudi money, right?
Ergun Caner: Billions, billions of dollars.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I’m going to take a break right here, but when we come back I want to ask our guests, you know, George Bush said, look, we’ve got a peaceful religion of Islam. It’s been hijacked by a few extremists. And President Obama has taken that same kind of theme. And we really believe, listen, if we’re nice to these folks, the fact is that we’re going to amalgamate them. They’re going to come into our society and we’re all going to be friends. I want you to tell me from the Qur’an why that’s not going to take place, alright. And we’ll talk about it when we come right back.

Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with two former Muslims that have come to Christ. They’re professors, and they’ve written books about Islam and Christianity. And I’m asking them the questions about Islam and sharia today. And our presidents, George Bush and Barack Obama, have said, look, we’ve got a peaceful religion, Islam, across the world. And we’ve got a few extremists that have hijacked this religion. And yet, you’re seeing country after country become Islamic states and they’re adopting sharia law. And so the question is, is it true that just a few people have hijacked it and otherwise it’s a peaceful religion? What would you say?
Emir Caner: Well, I’d first say they probably are living either in fantasy land or in the past. Back in the 1920’s Ataturk, the leader of Turkey, secularized this nation, and they’re assuming that that still works when every single country since 1980 in Islam has moved towards a more literal Islam, an Islamic government, an Islamic type of constitution. And so they’re living in the past with this Turkish experiment, which is over. It’s done. Instead you have the Wahhabis out of Saudi Arabia. You have the Muslim Brotherhood out of Egypt. You have Ahmadinejad in Iran. You have Erdogan now in Turkey, moving back towards Islam. And so what we are watching is the Islamization really globally around the world.
Ankerberg: Yeah, Ergun, sharia not only dictates how Muslims should live themselves, but it also dictates how Muslims should treat non-Muslims. And this is what I want to get to is, what is sharia? And for our fellow Christians overseas, that some of them have the opportunity to watch the program right now—Egypt; I’m thinking about Tunisia, Libya, and so, you’ve got Syria, that, you know, we don’t know which way it’s going, and the fact is we’ve even got people via satellite that are watching in Tehran; we’ve got people in Turkey and Jordan and Yemen and all these other spots, the Emirates and so on—and I’m glad that they’re watching, but what are they going to be experiencing as sharia law continues to come down and to tighten around them?
Ergun Caner: It’s a political system. It’s a legal system that has two levels. To use the popular phrase, they have Dar Al-Islam, which is the house of Islam, and those are the rules, those are the legal rulings that deal with Muslims. But if you’re a nonbeliever, if you’re an infidel, then there’s Dar Al-Harb, which is the house of war—Harb = the war. And so what do you do with those who are considered the conquered peoples? It’s, you’re privileged to come to our country, but there are rules for you: such as, you will never hold office; you cannot allow a Muslim to date your daughter unless she converts, she must date him if the Muslim asks, but you can’t have your son date a Muslim girl; you must, you know, give up your seat; you must pay the jizyat, the tax; you cannot serve on our military; you are considered lesser; you are inferior. You are from the house of war. You are the conquered. They know this. If they are in those countries, they understand and they live with these rules. We talked how the advent of the Third Reich, you know, how they made the Jews be marked. But in Islam this is something not new. This is something that goes back 1300 years.
Ankerberg: Yeah, Emir, take me back historically. Where did this start?
Emir Caner: The famous document is the Pact of Umar. Umar was the second leader in Islam after Muhammad dies in 632 AD. And it becomes really the surrender treaty. And this is the document that is an end-all that Christians must understand, because they are reinvigorating this document in different constitutions, where Christians or Jews, Christians can’t build churches, rebuild churches. When a Muslim wants to sit down they must give up their seat. They can’t practice their faith publically. They can’t evangelize publically. They can’t dress or speak like Muslims. And so, all of this puts them as second class citizens at best. And if they break this treaty, then it’s treasonous, and all rules are off, and all of a sudden they’re considered as traitors of society.
Ankerberg: What about the tax? They were taxed. People that didn’t convert to Islam to live had to pay a tax, and during the years of the Caliphates and so on, that tax was a heavy burden.
Ergun Caner: It was, but you have now—in the modern era, this is not something taking place in the Dark Ages—a clear concise call. What they want is, they want the Caliphate back. To give a parallel, it’s like they want their Vatican back.
Ankerberg: What is the Caliphate?
Ergun Caner: The Caliphate is the ruling party like the Politburo, like the Parliament, and they want the regency that will rule past lands and countries. They want it to be an overarching voice to all Muslims. What’s fascinating is, you have these competing forms of Islam. In our social medias, in our, you know, the web and in the different countries, Sunni do not believe that Shia are true Muslims. The Shia do not believe that the Sunni are true Muslims, and you have them going back and forth and back and forth. And it’s almost as if they want to apply the infidel rules to another Islamic sect.
Ankerberg: Yeah, define who the Sunnis are and how we got the Shiites apart from the Sunnis.
Emir Caner: It’s fascinating that Sunni, which literally, they get their leader from electing from the people—so Abu Bakr is the first elective leader after Muhammad’s death. But the Shia, or what’s known as the party of Ali, comes around, now popular in countries like Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and so forth, they believe that the leader must be a direct descendent of Muhammad. And so the fourth leader of Islam, Ali, was married to Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah, and so he is a respected ruler of Islam. They split under war in 680, basically, and as Muhammad’s grandsons are martyred, now you have the suffering of the Shia, which represent about 10% of the Islamic population, whereas the Sunni represent about 90% of the Islamic population.
Ankerberg: How do you see the power blocs and the leadership taking place that we’re watching in the news today? In other words, go through the Middle East here and you’ve got Sunni versus Shiite, but you also have different leaders that are trying to establish the Caliphate from their home territory. Start where you want.
Ergun Caner: And of course what they want is they want the Caliphate to reflect their form of Islam. So the Sunni want it to be, of course, Sunni. And the Shia, they’re such a persecuted people, they would like it to be with them. But you have, the Middle East is sort of these uncomfortable alliances, sometimes across sectarian lines. What we would say, when Sunni and Shia get together, that’s a really uncomfortable gathering. What you have now, however, I believe, is the Wahhabi who are not only financing it, controlling it, but then you may have, say, up in Syria, the Alawite Muslims. The Assad family is Alawite, which is an entirely different sect, referred to as a gulat, a cult. But they stand against the Sunni, stand against the Shia. And yet somehow they’re all connected, usually united in their hatred for Israel.
Ankerberg: Now, let’s go back to the moderates. You do have moderates in different parts of the world. But why are they not succeeding in proclaiming their view of Islam?
Emir Caner: The moderates are losing every political battle. Turkey was a secular state. Here come Erdogan in, and he wants to Islamize the country very gradually. In fact, Turkey’s model of a gradual increase of Islam is what Morocco is modeling their new government on with Benkirane. On the other hand, you’ve got Egypt with Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood, that’s trying to affect the rest of North Africa, Tunisia and Algeria and so forth. Those two are battling, Muslim Brotherhood versus Turkey; while, of course you have Shia with Ahmadinejad. You have the Wahhabi’s in Saudi. But the Caliphate will probably draw that all in and the enemy of my enemy becomes my friend and they’ll see that the power resides within the organization of Islamic countries, and they hope one day within United Nations, as they become a powerhouse there as well.
Ankerberg: You fellows know Christians in all of these spots. What are you hearing? How are they being treated?
Emir Caner: The Christians are being persecuted from not being allowed to build churches anymore which, of course, is Pact of Umar, to being arrested for evangelism, to being imprisoned like the pastor in Iran, or being put to death as what’s happening in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and a host of other countries. The persecution is rising. I think by the end of this new century we will have seen more people martyred than all 20 centuries of Christianity combined.
Ergun Caner: I often ask, can you show me? Those who say, “Well, you know, Islam has been kidnapped; it’s such a peaceful religion.” When? Where? I ask, I will say, here’s my question: Can you show me one time in 1300 years of history where Islam has not either fought a common enemy or fought each other? Or can you show me, can you show me one country where they exist peacefully as a minority and allow themselves to stay this way? Or allow for any freedom whatsoever as a majority? And of course the answer is there’s none. The places where there may be a little peace, it ends up becoming a movement. Once they move to become the majority, rules change, it’s different. It will always be this way. Islam is built on conquest and conversion.
Ankerberg: We only have 30 seconds left. You fellows left that system. Why did you leave?
Emir Caner: Freedom, most particularly not politically, but spiritually in Christ. When Muhammad was praying, between say Allahu akbar and reciting the Qur’an, in Bukhari’s Hadith volume 1 number 711, he said, I want to pray that God removes my sin as far as the east is from the west.[3] He can never find that sufficiency because that can only be found in Christ who bore the sins upon His own shoulders that I may be free and alive in Him.
Ankerberg: Yourself?
Ergun Caner: For me, grace reached me. I understood mercy; world religions understand mercy; if I don’t get what I do deserve. That’s why we light the candles or throw something on a fire. But grace is the exact opposite. If mercy’s when I don’t get what I do deserve, grace is when I receive something I don’t deserve. They cannot figure out, “I have to earn this.” Well, you can’t earn love. Love is given freely. And, in this case, love hung on the cross and love was buried. And He didn’t do it for Himself. He did it so that I might have life.
Ankerberg: Emir?
Emir Caner: You really have two options. Either Christianity is true or Islam is true. Both cannot be. Either Jesus died on the cross or He didn’t die on the cross. Either Jesus was raised from the dead or He wasn’t raised from the dead. But you have to choose. You have to choose whether you’re going to live under the oppression of a ritualistic system based in Islamic sharia law or whether you’re going to be based in the freedom of the resurrection of Christ where Jesus said He has come to “give life and give life more abundantly.”
Ankerberg: Yeah. Next week we’re going to really come into this because I want to talk to those of you that are Muslims, or people in the Middle East that are watching. What is the good news that Jesus Christ brings, alright? In the Qur’an, as I’ve been reading it, I’ve seen the people that Allah does not love. He doesn’t love the transgressors; he doesn’t love those that are wayward; he doesn’t love those that don’t keep the faith; and so on. I want to know, who does God love? The Bible says God loves the sinner. And we’re going to ask these fellows how these verses impacted their lives when they realized God had provided the salvation, everything that was necessary for them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and they just had to put their faith in Christ. We’re going to talk about what that’s like, what that entails, and we’re going to compare Islam with Christianity. I hope that you’ll join me in our next program.


  1. Yusef Ali (trans.), Holy Qur’an, surah 45:18: Then We put thee on the (right) Way of Religion: so follow thou that (Way), and follow not the desires of those who know not.
  2. Bukhari’s Hadith, volume 9, number 57: Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’”
  3. Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle used to keep silent between the Takbir and the recitation of Qur’an and that interval of silence used to be a short one. I said to the Prophet “May my parents be sacrificed for you! What do you say in the pause between Takbir and recitation?” The Prophet said, “I say, ‘Allahumma, ba’id baini wa baina khatayaya kama ba’adta baina-l-mashriqi wa-l-maghrib. Allahumma, naqqim min khatayaya kama yunaqqa-ththawbu-l-abyadu mina-ddanas. Allahumma, ighsil khatayaya bil-ma’i wa-th-thalji wal-barad (O Allah! Set me apart from my sins (faults) as the East and West are set apart from each other and clean me from sins as a white garment is cleaned of dirt (after thorough washing). O Allah! Wash off my sins with water, snow and hail.)”

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