Sarwat Husain says that Shariah is badly misunderstood in America. "The way Shariah is portrayed here in the United
States and in the Western world, it is not that at all. Shariah is based upon equal opportunity, equality, democracy, rights for everybody, and social justice. So once you understand that, any society that is running on those laws -- and those are divine laws, they are not man-made -- any society that would run on those laws should not have any problems. "
"What is our constitution?" she asked. "What is our bill of rights? They all are based upon Biblical laws. Shariah is the same thing. Shariah is not any different at all."
Her statements were made during a half-hour videotaped interview with Paul Barrow, Director of United Progressives, a policy group based in Nashville, Tennessee, with an international membership that supports an explicit platform of progressive positions on issues ranging from war to health care to labor.
Ms. Husain is the Vice President of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and President of the San Antonio, TX, chapter. She has been publisher of Al-Ittihaad (Unity), www.alittihaad.com , the largest monthly Muslim Newspaper in country since 2003, due to restart as an online publication this month after a two-year hiatus that followed attacks she suffered for expressing her views. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1970, has a Masters in nutrition, and sold a thriving business after 9/11 to concentrate on demystifying Islam as a result of the wave of hostility and heightened discrimination that followed. She currently travels the country with a PowerPoint presentation and gives sensitivity training to law enforcement groups, churches and other organizations.
She makes it clear that incidents that occur involving wife-beating or abuse in Islamic countries represent cultural or individual aberrations in conduct and have nothing to do with Shariah. "Shariah would not allow anyone to touch the woman," she says. "Shariah would not allow anyone to impose anything against her will. Shariah will not allow her not to have an education if she wants to". Shariah supports the right of a woman "to work, run the government, or be the leader."
Ms. Husain is from Pakistan and can point firmly to the example of Benazir Bhutto, assassinated in 2008, who was elected Prime Minister of that country twice and served from 1988–1990 and from 1993–1996, regarding respect for women in Islam.
She says that disrespect for women is more often a result of cultural practices and the human ego, but the world blames Shariah.
The conversation also addressed the conflict in Kashmir, Western foreign policy objectives, and India's partnership with Israel's apparent efforts to destabilize Pakistan through the intelligence agencies that are active in Kashmir.