U.S. court rejects Muslim's demand to use ShariahMan said all parties in case were of same faith, so state should apply Islamic law
Bob Unruh / WND
A state court in Minnesota, which already is heavily influenced by a
large population of Muslim immigrants and has one district represented
in Congress by a Muslim, has decided that in America, it’s American
inheritance law that applies.
The recent ruling from the Court of Appeals
affirmed a Hennepin County District Court decision that the widow,
Nariman Sirag Elsayed Khalil, of a taxi driver who died in an
accident should be the one to benefit from a $183,000 settlement over
her husband’s death.
It was the cab driver’s brother who argued in court that Islamic law
should apply, so that the widow of Nadir Ibrahim Ombabi would only get
25 percent of the wrongful death settlement, 16.7 percent should go to
his mother’s estate and the rest to Ombabi’s siblings, “with the males
to receive ‘twice the share of the female.'”
The opinion, which was marked “unpublished” and not to be used for
citation, involved the claim of Hosameldin Ibrahim Imbabi of Gold River,
Representing himself, he claimed that all of the parties in the case were Muslims, so the state court should apply Islamic law.
The appeals court ruling, however, knocked down his assertions,
pointing out that he didn’t even bother providing a transcript of
lower-court proceedings so the appellate judges could check his claims.
“This court therefore cannot resolve issues that require a
transcript, such as whether the district court judge made statements
indicating that he had predetermined the outcome of the case or whether
the district court erred by refusing to allow cross-examination of
certain witnesses,” the court found.
“None of appellant’s assertions of error are adequately supported by
legal argument or citation to legal authority. For example, appellant’s
main assertion of error appears to be that the district court should
have applied Sudanese Islamic law instead of Minnesota law when
distributing the wrongful-death settlement proceeds.
“But the appellant does not explain why, other than stating, ‘[he]
strongly believe[s] that the principles of the private international law
should have been applied from the beginning…”
The ruling found: “The district court found that ‘there is no
credible evidence to prove Mr. Ombabi’s mother, brother, or sisters
experienced a pecuniary loss, or more importantly what that pecuniary
loss is, because of Mr. Ombabi’s passing.’ Accordingly, the district
court ordered than 100 percent of settlement proceeds remaining after
deduction of attorney feeds, litigation expenses, funeral costs, and
trustee services be distributed to respondent.”
Legal blogger Eugene Volokh
said of the decision, “I think it was also influenced by a basic
American legal principle: American courts apply American law, rather
than one rule for Muslims, one rule for Christians, one rule for Jews,
and so on.
“Sometimes American law does allow the implementation of foreign
legal rules, or religious legal rules. A contract might, for instance,
call for applying the law of Sudan, or a will might specify that the
property be distributed one-fourth to the widow, one-sixth to the
parents, one-sixth each to the three brothers, and one-twelfth to the
one sister (whether or not that’s the Shariah-mandated split). A court
may well enforce such provisions, subject to any constraints imposed by
American public policy. (For instance, a contract calling for the
cutting off of a person’s hand would be unenforceable; a will calling
for a court to apply a legal rule that requires the court to distinguish
males from females might be unenforceable, though a will calling for a
court to distribute property to named parties would be enforceable.)
“But there, too, the principle is simple: American courts apply
American law, including when an American law principle calls on American
courts to enforce a foreign judgment, to apply foreign law or to follow
terms in a contract or a will that deliberately track foreign or
religious law. But there has to be an American law principle calling for
such application of foreign law. And in this case, there was no such
principle,” he said.