Muslim, Christian or otherwise, we're all equal under the law.
Sherman Jackson, an American scholar and director of the Center for Islamic Thought, Culture and Practice at the University of Southern California, will deliver a lecture that outlines the overlapping elements between Islamic Shari'ah Law and the U.S. Constitution titled "Converging Limits: Shari'ah and the U.S. Constitution."
Rachelle Scott, interim head of the Department of Religious Studies and one of the organizers of the event, said she predicts the lecture will reconcile "the intersection of Shari'ah law and understandings of law within society and that of the U.S. Constitution."
Citing Islamaphobia and the often-unfair persecution of Muslims in the United States since the Sept, 11 terrorist attacks, Scott said she hopes the event will clearly outline "how one can try to reconcile one's religious customs and religious law and understanding of law with that of a secular state."
For Manuela Ceballos, a lecturer in Islam at the Department of Religious Studies, Islamic and U.S. laws are often misinterpreted as being incompatible.
"They're contracts, so in a lot of ways they're similar and there are certain moral behaviors that are expected of Muslims and Americans," Ceballos said. "There isn't a reason I think why Muslims can't exercise their full citizenship as Americans."
Ceballos said the lecture should help diminish the natural prejudice Americans may hold towards Muslims and their roles as Americans within the country.
"(Islam has) been in this country for a very long time," he said, "and there's no reason to think that this country is not for Muslims or that Muslims can't be Americans."
Referencing Sherman Jackson's past successes in connecting to Muslim Americans living with "multiple identities," Ceballos said he sees the persecution of Muslims following Shari'ah as stemming from a misunderstanding of what Islamic law includes.
"People think (Shari'ah) is this very rigid sort of imposition that shapes everything about people's lives," Ceballos said. "It doesn't correlate with reality."
Agreeing with her colleague, Scott stressed the importance of remembering the context and environment of Islamic Law before drawing judgments about it.
"I think that a number of people view Shari'ah as black and white," Scott said. "They view it as rigid, I think once again there is a lot of room for interpretation."
When considering the importance society places on law and religion, Scott said she ultimately holds very little distinction between the two, especially as it pertains to Shari'ah law.
"(Religion and law) are fundamentally connected in some religious traditions," she said. "Law means how you govern your life, how you lead your life."
Scott said she hopes all attendees and students of varying disciplines will remember the importance of religious studies as well as its wide range of influence in nearly all areas of study.
"This is one of the misconceptions that religious studies is just about religion," Scott said, "when in fact the academic study about religion intersects with all of these other disciplines."
This lecture is the first in the "Converging Limits" series organized by The Department of Religious Studies. It will take place tonight at 7 p.m. in Cox Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building.