Interview: Ex-Muslim Woman on Life Under Sharia Law

For 30 years, Nonie Darwish lived under sharia law as a Muslim in Egypt. After moving to the United States, she became a follower of Jesus Christ and quietly lived the American dream.

But the 9/11 terrorist attacks awakened her to the threat of Islamic terrorism and spurred her to research what the Quran, sharia law, and Muslim religious literatures actually teach its followers.

Her latest book, Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implication of Islamic Law, dives into the history of sharia law and what it calls for, and examines the global campaign that aims to install the legal system in Western countries, including the United States.

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The following are excerpts from a recent Christian Post interview with Darwish.

CP: In the North West Frontier Province, Pakistan, sharia law was recently enacted in exchange for terrorist groups to stop their violent campaign in the region and to establish what the local government is claiming to be "peace." To many westerners unfamiliar with sharia law, the system appears to be just strict Muslim laws and seems like a good bargain for an end to terrorist-instigated violence. What don't Westerners understand about sharia law and what do they need to understand about the dangers of imposing sharia in Pakistan?

Darwish: Unfortunately, sharia - even in Muslim countries - is so against human nature that it has to be imposed by force because often it is rejected. So wherever you see sharia being practiced, it has always come and existed in that society through violence.

So the same dynamic is happening in Western Europe now. Muslims always use the word "impose" sharia. They never say let's pass sharia, no, they say let's impose sharia. The word impose is used.

It's very important to the West before they start considering sharia as a religious right for Muslims to know what it is.

I don't believe that sharia is a religious right. The West must really define what is a religious right and one of the basics in my opinion is that it does not hurt non-members of that religion. You can have all the religious rights you want but if your right to practice your religion violates the human rights of other people then that ceases to be a religious right.

Sharia law violates the human rights of women, of non-Muslims because it is part and parcel of sharia law to discriminate against non-Muslims. The commandment to do jihad is perhaps the centerpiece of Islam. It is not just the duty of a Muslim individual to do jihad, it is the duty of the Muslim head of state.

According to sharia books and mainstream Islam, the definition of jihad is "to war against non-Muslims to establish the religion."

So after 9/11 in America a lot of Muslims appeared on Western TV and said no the meaning of jihad does not mean violence, it means an inner struggle, self-analysis. But the truth is they are denying what the word jihad really means.

Jihad 97 percent of the time when it is mentioned in the Quran it refers to violence, annihilation, subjugation, humiliation, [and] subdue. So the word jihad almost always comes in the context of aggression.

If you read the Quran or Muslim scriptures, jihad is really the centerpiece of the ideology, which is the constant growth of Islam. In sharia books, it is one of the main jobs of Muslim heads of states to do offensive and aggressive jihad, especially against neighboring non-Muslim countries.

That means the sovereignty of neighboring countries are not really respected by Islam. And that law can explain to us why the Arab conflicts exist.

There is a story in the book about a young woman who was gang raped by seven men in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to flogging because she was seen talking with a man not her relative. As a westerner, this is a mind-boggling unfair justice system. Can you say if this only happens in a few extreme countries or just in a few cases? How widespread is this?

Darwish: I heard that the men who raped her were punished. I think, but I'm not sure, they got some jail time. But when men rape women they don't get beheaded, but if a women gets raped and cannot prove rape because if she is not a virgin anymore and cannot prove rape then she is considered to be a major violator and she will be beheaded.

Under sharia law, for a woman to prove that she has not committed adultery, she can only prove rape by having four male witnesses. So how can a woman prove rape? She can't. How can she get four male witnesses?

So what happens is usually men who commit rape are either not proven or they will not get punished as much as she will get punished.

Muslim countries range from extreme countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, and then very moderate countries like Turkey, and all in between. But unfortunately, sharia can apply unofficially. So the beheading done in Saudi Arabia, or the stoning, can happen in Turkey unofficially by her family.

So sharia can happen in a Muslim country or in a Muslim family in Europe. They can do honor killing.

CP: You made an intriguing observation that Muslim woman living under sharia law are in an odd predicament because they are like prisoners who guard their own jail cells. Could you explain what you mean?

Darwish: Islam gives no way out of the prison for women. For example, a woman can be beaten by her husband, she has no right for divorce, her testimony in court is half the value of the man, her inheritance is half what her brother gets, she cannot leave the house officially without her husband's permission, she cannot do anything without her husband's permission – she cannot leave the country.

So the rights of a woman in the Muslim world is so so weak. Even if she gets raped, she is the one to blame. So in order for a woman to have some sort of dignity, she must act as radical if not even more radical than men. She must act as if she is the guardian of Islam, the guardian of her own prison. She becomes an advocate for obedience of women to Islam. She will actually report on girls who don't cover their heads.

The predicament of women is it divides women. Women are not allowed to freely meet and very often men tell the wife that you can't befriend this woman. If a Muslim woman living in the Middle East, or even in the West, starts adopting activities such as joining a feminist movement she becomes an apostate immediately. And the punishment for apostasy is death.

So in this environment women are placed almost in an impossible situation where they are almost forced to become against each other instead of supporting each other.

CP: There are moderate Muslim countries like Jordan and Algeria. Jordan has a Sunni Muslim population of over 90 percent and only about a 4 percent Christian population but they are praised for their religious tolerance. Their queen promotes woman's right and interfaith dialogue. So when people see this kind of Muslim country, they hope that Islam and Christianity can co-exist and that extremist Islamic nations can one day "see the light" and become a moderate Muslim country like Jordan. How would you respond to people who believe that Islam is a peaceful religion and everyone can co-exist?

Darwish: But Jordan has a very high rate of honor killings. Most Muslims are cultural Muslims. Most have not read sharia, they are not even allowed to question or analyze the Quran or doubt. So because Muslims don't really know what is in their scripture - these kinds of Muslims are really nominal Muslims - but by the West's standard they are considered moderate Muslims.

There is nothing in the Middle East called moderate Muslim. You're either a Muslim or not. The problem is not so much the people but the ideology. Cultural Muslims are like sheep almost. They have to abide. They just want to survive. But anyone who takes Islam seriously and believes Islam seriously must follow sharia. That is the predicament. The [Jordan] queen can be a western minded woman, the King could be a moderate, peaceful man, but unfortunately the destiny of a country does not depend on honorable leaders who want to have peace.

Muslim leaders who want to live in peace and reject jihad, they want to reject sharia, become apostates. And what happens to those leaders? Many of them get killed. And that is why if you listen to the Jordanian queen or king or whatever Muslim leader, they have to present moderation in a very diplomatic way or else they will become apostates and their life will be threatened.

CP: How would you explain all the Muslim women living in the Middle East who are well treated by their husbands?

Darwish: Women have adapted themselves to living knowing that men are the power in their lives. That does not mean that all Muslim women are walking slaves in chains. No. You know why some Muslim women are living a good life? There's one reason – their husbands are good people, they are humane people. But the reason why their husbands are good people is not because of Islam, it's because of their humanity.

When I say that women don't have much rights because men have all the rights, it doesn't mean that all Muslim men are evil or bad. The majority of Muslim people are just human being - good and bad like everybody else. But I don't attribute the goodness between Muslim men and women towards each other to Islam. I attribute it to the humanity and observing the Judeo-Christian culture and emulating them.

CP: You warn that American-born Muslim students are advocating for sharia laws to be imposed in the U.S. Many American's first reaction is that could never happen. Do you think it could happen, why?

Darwish: Yes, and I'll tell you how that can happen. There is a French Algerian Muslim sociology professor by the name of Mohamed Sabaoui. He recently said the following in France, a western nation, a democracy:

The laws of your Republic do not conform to those of the Koran, and should not be imposed on Muslims, who can only be governed by Sharia law. We are therefore going to seize the power that is our due. We will start in Roubaix, which is a town with a Muslim population of over 60% ... and the next mayor will be Muslim… we will declare Roubaix an independent Muslim enclave, and we will impose Sharia (the law of God) on all the inhabitants. We will declare Roubaix an independent Muslim enclave, and we will impose Sharia (the law of God) on all the inhabitants. The Christian minority will have the status of dhimmis [non-Muslims with fewer rights]. This will be a category in which you will be able to buy back your rights in exchange for a tax.

Can you believe that this is being said today in France? As soon as Muslims congregate in one area and become a political power in that area, they will elect their own leaders. And as soon as they elect their own leaders they will say we will impose sharia law.

That is how sharia can happen - by congregating in one area and they have a very high birth rate. Compared to western women, the Muslim women birth rate is about three times more. And it is just a matter of time and there are already cities in France that are 60 percent Muslim.

In America it can happen, it is just a matter of time. It is just how fast they can congregate and extend their population in one area.

CP: Have you ever received death threats from speaking against Islam and sharia law?

Darwish: Not directly, but in my e-mail box I have hate mail. In Egyptian papers, someone wrote that if she (Darwish) ever comes back to visit Egypt she doesn't need a return ticket, which means she will be killed.

I never speak against Muslim people. My purpose is not to speak against the Muslim people. I have no intention whatsoever to hurt the feelings of people. But I speak against an ideology against the laws because they are evil laws.

CP: Is there anything you want to add?

Darwish: Yes, I want to make sure that every American that feels hesitant or doubtful that it is not proper to criticize sharia Islamic law because it is a religious right to read my book or read about sharia on the internet. If you read about it you'll discover it is the most horrific and cruel law that was ever created on earth. And in order for sharia to gain legitimacy, to make people respect and abide by it, they had to link it to religion.

But it was created 150 years after Mohammed died and also it was inspired by the Quran, the Hadiths and the lifestyle of Mohammed and it is really not a religion. It is really not a religion because it violates the rights of non-Muslims. It actually demands Muslims to kill non-Muslims. It is allowed. That is why we cannot consider it a religion.

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