Why was Shariah not treated like Halachah?

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I know of no Canadian Jew, even atheist or non-practicing, who would make a personal cause out of smearing Judaism, ridiculing the Torah, badmouthing Moses, or proclaiming that the Halachah (Judaic Law) is backward and discriminates against women.

But it seems we Canadian Muslims are of a different breed.

For in the midst of our community we have members who are bent upon smearing Islam, ridiculing the Qur’an, badmouthing Mohamed, or go about proclaiming that Shariah (Islamic Law) is backward and discriminates against women.

Halachah, the Jewish religious Law which encompasses "all of the biblical and postbiblical enactments, decisions and rabbinic decrees" is the parallel tradition to Shariah for Muslims.

When the Ontario government granted the province’s Jewish community the right to have Halachah-based arbitrations legally recognized more than 10 years ago, there was no loud minority lobby jumping up in opposition; there were no anti-Halachah demonstrations, no petitions, no international campaign.

No Jews went out of their way to publicly and politically "defeat" Halachah.

Halachah is as integral to Judaism as Shariah is to Islam. The former comprises two main schools, Hillel and Shamai, with the second of these being the stricter. Similarly, applied Shariah also follows different legal schools, ranging from very lenient to very harsh.

But when the Ontario government was studying the impact of extending the same rights enjoyed by Jews and Christians to Ontario Muslims, some in our community chose to treat Shariah very differently from the way Halachah is universally regarded by all Jews.

Why should this be so, even if Shariah were to prove more flexible and fair than Halachah? Never mind, said the anti-Shariah champions; Muslim immigrant women would still be vulnerable to discrimination.

The patent falseness and chopped logic of their arguments did not bother these Muslims. They seemed to ignore the well-known and lamented situation that in Ontario civil courts, those who can afford the more expensive high-power lawyers nearly always "win" their case, regardless of gender. It also did not matter to them that Islamically based arbitration would be simultaneously recognized and regulated by the Ontario government, or that Marion Boyd had included enough checks and balances in her report so the process could be fair for everyone.

Instead, these anti-Shariah Muslims accused Boyd of being naïve to trust Islamic Law. They cheered and celebrated when the government hastily announced that it would not only reject Sharia-based arbitration, but — to be "politically correct" and avoid any suggestion of appearing racist or religionist — would also cancel the existing rights of other religious groups.

Why was the use of Halachah in Israel deemed unrelated to its use by Ontario Jews for more than a decade, while the application of Shariah in Pakistan, Iran, or South Africa, etc. was negatively linked by these Muslims to its planned application in Ontario?

Shariah will only become relevant when Muslims in Canada can depend on secular members of their communities not to make a cause of publicly deriding their religion, badmouthing their Prophet, ridiculing the Qur’an — and mounting uninformed crusades to smear their Islamic Law, the Shariah.

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