THE surge of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), sometimes referred to as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has made it worthwhile to worry about Sharia Law and the non-Muslim Filipinos in Mindanao (and in other areas that could fall under the Bangsamoro substate). What will be the effects of the imposition of Islamic Sharia law on the non-Muslims, the Christians and Lumads (ethnic tribal Filipinos), in the large combination of provinces that the Aquino administration wished to surrender to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that it has signed?
The latest news is that the ISIS or ISIL appears to have taken over most of Western Iraq. Its armies are closing in on the Iraqi capital Baghdad. The United States has sent an aircraft carrier to the area. But many expert Americans have warned President Obama against getting the US involved in propping up the Shiite-dominated and Iran-friendly government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The al-Qaeda related Sunni ISIS/ISIL armies are well-equipped. When they were just among the many insurgent bands fighting Iraq’s national government, these Sunni fighters did not have the materiel and armored vehicles they have now. This is because their numbers and armory have swelled as Sunni officers and soldiers in the Iraqi military defected to join and surrender their posts and eventually entire cities to their co-religionists in the ISIS/ISIL.
Among the experts trying to persuade US President Obama not to aid the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister al-Maliki are former officials of the Iraqi government, Sunnis, who could not stomach the government’s policy of advancing Shiite Iraqis against Sunni Iraqis.
While the Shiite clerics and government officials themselves are strict enforcers of Islamic law, including the Sharia law that governs family and personal relations, it is what the ISIS/ISIL have done as they took over Sunni provinces and cities that have evoked fears.
Media organizations covering the ground in Iraq have reported that ISIS/ISIL forces have carried out mass executions of Shiites and other persons they label as infidels. In past conflicts, Shiites also did mass-liquidation of Sunnis and even Christians.
Muslim-Christian marriage forbidden
A recent case in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, illustrates what could happen under Sharia law to Christians. Last week, the Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum expressed “deep . . . disappointment” over the case of a Sudanese wife and mother, Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag, who was condemned by the Islamic judge to be hanged to death for apostasy.
Mariam Ishag’s father was Muslim. She was sentenced to be executed by hanging after she married Daniel Bicensio Wani, a Catholic. They have a 20-month-old son, Martin, and a daughter who was born during Ishag’s incarceration.
Mariam and Wani were first arrested on September 15, 2013, on adultery charges because Sharia law forbids marriages between Christians and Muslims. But these charges were eventually dropped.
Although Mariam’s father was Muslim, she was raised under her mother’s Ethiopian Orthodox Christian church because her Muslim father had abandoned their family. She converted to Catholicism shortly before her marriage to Wani. Mariam in fact did not abandon the Muslim religion because since childhood she was not a follower of Islam. But with the Sharia court judge’s recent decision, the only way she could be saved and remain married to Wani is for her to renounce her Christian faith, and for her and her husband to divorce, then for her husband to convert to Islam and then for them to be married again under Islam.
But Mariam would rather die than turn her back on the Catholic Church.
Cases like this are common in Muslim majority countries where Sharia law applies. The non-Muslims in the proposed Bangsamoro substate in Mindanao could end up having problems like Mariam and her husband Wani.