Trump doesn’t understand what Sharia is

Sally Kohn is aSally Kohnn activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter: @sallykohn. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)It’s clear that Donald Trump has no idea what Sharia is. Earlier this month, Trump proposed what he described as “extreme vetting” to ban immigrants who “believed Sharia law should supplant American law.” But while this irrational fear-mongering might play well to some of his supporters, it is detached from reality.

Perhaps Trump isn’t interested in the truth. The rest of us should be, though, because understanding the truth about Islam is the best way to fight extremism within it. The alternative is to misunderstand and misrepresent the majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, the very people who have the greatest stake in the fight. (Remember, the vast majority of victims of Islamic extremist attacks are Muslims.)trump
So, what exactly is the truth about Sharia, and how does that help us combat extremism? In short, there is a difference between personal, spiritual Sharia and the political incorporation of Sharia into law. And within both, there are progressive interpretations as well as more fundamentalist conservative interpretations. So the word Sharia doesn’t mean one thing.
“Every practicing Muslim — whether traditional or conservative or progressive — in some way follows Sharia,” says Wajahat Ali, a Virginia-based writer and creative director of Affinis Labs. “There’s no book called Sharia. You can’t rent it. It’s subject to human interpretation and is malleable, thus explaining how Muslims have existed for 1,400 years in nearly every society.”
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