United States Defense League

In Kansas, the Islamic code of laws called Shariah has drawn a lot of suspicion and debate during the past year.

In May, the state legislature effectively banned consideration of Shariah in court, a move that some critics have called redundant and anti-Islamic. But Kansas is also home to a program that teaches Shariah in an unlikely setting: Army officer training at Fort Leavenworth.

Dr. Raj Bhala spends most of his week teaching International and Comparative Law at KU, and he’s become well-known in Lawrence and around the country for teaching Shariah, or Islamic Law. Bhala is actually the first non-Muslim to write a textbook on Shariah, which was published in 2011. But on Monday nights, his class is little different. Instead of law students, the florescent classroom lights shine down on a room of 19 big, short-haired men, most of whom wear military uniforms. Unlike your typical Midwestern L2, Shariah and Islam are not abstract ideas to these students.

For the last 3 years, Dr. Bhala has driven up to Fort Leavenworth one night a week to teach Shariah at the Command and General Staff College. His class is part of a graduate school program for mid-career military officers. Everyone in the class has been in the service for around 10 years, and they’re all either majors or about to become a majors. Most are Army, but other branches train here as well. The majority of the men in this class have spent most of their careers in the Middle East, and most will probably return there after graduating from this program. Realizing this, Raj Bhala says it’s vital that these students have a complete and balanced understanding of Islam.

“Some things that I say or do in class,” explains Bhala, “can make a life or death difference in a situation that I couldn’t possibly now foresee. When they have to make a quick judgment about what or how to say something to someone in a foreign country. So what I teach them, what I say to them, really matters.”

Command and General Staff School

The Command and General Staff School, which is part of the College, is pretty big deal for the army. All majors go through this intermediate-level training, and most of them do it at Fort Leavenworth. This is an intensive, 10-month program which ends in a Master’s degree in Global and International Studies. Lieutenant Colonel Paul Schmidt explains that, about 5 years ago, when the school wanted to upgrade its Master’s program, it decided to look outside its own walls.

“We started talking with members of the University of Kansas,” says Lt. Col. Schmidt, “members of our faculty, and then members of the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg to determine what’s most appropriate. A lot of this, quite frankly, is just part of where we’ve been in the last 11 years, which is the Middle East. So we thought that it was important to dive headfirst into what is Shariah law.”

The College brought Dr. Bhala on board to teach the very same Shariah class that he teaches at KU law. It’s a semester-long look at Islamic Law, and the philosophy and history that has shaped it.

Importance of teaching Shariah

One evening, Bhala lectures on the difference between Shia and Sunni Islam, and how these dominations view leadership in the Muslim world. Despite the nuance and detail of the professor’s lesson, the students seem to follow him every step of the way.

Bhala says that many of the militant or terrorist groups that the military encounters in the Middle East falsely claim to be acting in accordance with the teachings of Islam. He wants his students to understand the facts about the faith.

“Much of what is proclaimed in the name of Islam,” says Dr. Bhala, “and is used to justify violent actions, is utterly unIslamic. And so a key theme of the course is distinguishing what is authentically Islamic teaching and sound Shariah doctrine from what is not but proclaimed to be by people who are anything but Islamic but yet pose a threat to our security and the security of our allies. That means that we have to delve into what the Shariah says and why it says it, what the rationales are for it, and sources are for it. And then identify and isolate some of the, if I may say, deviant propositions that are not authentic. And then explain how they came about, and how to deal with them.”

Special Operations Forces

The students in this program are part of special operations forces. This includes elite units like Green Berets, Rangers and Navy SEALS. Some of the work that special operations forces do is the high-risk ambushes and raids you see in movies, but a lot of it isn’t. Special operations forces are also civil affairs and psychological operations. They try to stabilize violate areas by developing economies and assisting local governments. They also work to counter insurgency. Dr. Bhala believes that the work of special operation forces can actually prevent warfare from breaking out in unstable areas.

“When the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 was passed in the Kennedy administration, and the idea of Special Operations -- which pre-dates that -- had blossomed more, there were three basic pillars of what these folks are trying to do. One is engagement with local populations. And that can be through the Peace Corps; it can be through Civil Affairs, you know, working with the local populations. The second is development because a lot of problems really are rooted in poverty. And the third is defense. And all of them understand that very well – that the defense component is one of three pillars in their overall mission.”

Challenges of teaching Shariah

Later in the evening’s class, Dr Bhala’s lecture turns to what he says is one of the more challenging topics he teaches: literalism in Islam. In recent years, Islamists have increased their influence in the Middle East and Northern Africa. They believe that a strict, literal interpretation of Islam should be the law of the land. But Dr. Bhala teaches that Islamists are just part of a broad spectrum of beliefs in the Islamic world.

“There’s a lot of emphasis nowadays from recent events about literalism and reading a text that is accepted by adherents to it as the literal word of God that it need to be interpreted literally. But if we think about it carefully, something that is believed to be the literal word of God need not be interpreted literally.”

Now, critics and some Muslim leaders have accused the US military of being anti-Islamic, and they point to things like the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison as proof. But Raj Bhala says he hasn’t heard anti-Islamic sentiments from the students he’s taught.

“Absolutely not. I think they have a genuine intellectual curiosity and deep professional interest.”

Dr. Bhala says teaching the class is his way of giving back to people who serve this country. He also believes teaching Shariah has the potential to encourage peace around the world.

“I really do believe, perhaps naively, that if we have better educated professionals, American professionals, out around the world, we can be a force for good and build peace and tolerance through our better understanding of the peoples with whom we’re interacting. Because what are the classic sources of conflict through the ages? It’s misunderstanding that leads to stereotype and prejudice, isolation and conflict. And that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

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  • Or is this an attempt for the Government to be leaning toward Shariah Law for America? If so then it must be stopped damn it and how can people think this is something good? Unless you want to treat women and children like trash then it is a good thing? WOW!

    • This doesn't sound like leaning towards Sharia.  These are experienced military who are learning about the finer details of our enemies. IT'S GOOD TO KNOW ALL ABOUT YOUR ENEMIES.....


    • It has been reported that Chris Christie has apointed several muslims to Judges in New Jersey. Could this be true??? I am sorry but we dont need muslims in any part of our governments. They are sworn enemies of the American People!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Our enemies come at us under the guise of either 'educating' or 'protecting us.  Those who believe otherwise are not paying attention.  One does not have to 'understand' in order to recognize the enemy.  Never thought we'd see the day when our military needs to be rescued from our federal administration.  Some people continue to insist that Obama is a Christian.  Why, then, would he want this taught to and inflicted upon our military personnel?  Such classes weren't taught in other wars.  Those soldiers would have (can't print this) .......  Obama & Co. want to spread Islam across this nation, and is starting by 'educating' our military.  Our military has much bigger and more important things to do, rather than sitting in a classroom listening to this guy promoting an evil, alien practice that has nothing to do with the war.   Sharia has absolutely no place in a free nation.  Do we need to question the standards of our military command?  Aren't they supposed to reject orders which they do not believe to be right and are not in the best interests of America, according to the U.S. Constitution?  This is called abuse of authority -  from the top.  Can we imagine an America - everyone in it entirely brainwashed to think like Obama and the terrorists?  Horrors.

  • This is the same facility where Bill "The Red" turncoat wrote his paper on using the Army to put down the Te Party in S. Carolina, a hypothetical case to be used in the school on how our own soldiers would be deployed against our citizens. Couple this with previous PFA message about bho really being a Muslim, and a IQ of 70 would be able to see the connection.

  • I fail to understand these idiots. The only time peace will be on this planet is when God sits on his throne right here, or on the new heaven and new earth after this one is cast away.

  • With a Muslim pres what do you expect, BHO stated that if the wind of change happen he would stand with the muslims, we HAVE to vote this cancer out of our W/H.

  • This how the devil is slowly sneaking his slimey head in. Why aren't they teaching the Bible at Fort Leavenworth? That is what our country was founded on. You have to decide who you will serve JESUS or Satan. We have to bring our country back to our Christian foundation. When we have great catastrophies who do people in this great nation turn to it's definately not Allah it's our Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST!

    If you are firmly grounded in the Bible and have a one on one relationship with JESUS, He will show you how to deal with Muslims.

  • An ISLAMIST will NOT teach a BALANCED VIEW of ISLAM.   Throw this A-- -- HOLE MULSIM OUT and arrest the commanders that instituted this TEACHING OF SHARIA to our military officers, and charge them with TREASON.

       TEACH OUR MILITARY OFFICERS AND ALL OF OUR SOLDIERS the Declaration of Independance and the U.S. Constitution ONLY!!


    WHO GIVES A SH--T what the ISLAMIST believe.  WE KNOW THEY ARE THE ENEMY.  That's all we need to know.


    Do you think the ISLAMIST are teaching their people about America's Declaration of Independance and Constitution???  NO!!   They don't allow ANYTHING contrary to their SH--TRIA to be taught.


    ISLAM IS A CANCER TO ANY NATION IT ENTERS.  You can't explain away CANCER, you can't CURE CANCER, you have to IRRADICATE AND DESTROY CANCER or it WILL destroy it's HOST.  STOP HOSTING ISLAM, America.  Cut them off from EVERYTHING having to do with AMERICANS LIBERTY.    Isolate them, sanction them, make it soooooo uncomfortable they will want to go live in Arabia amongst their OWN.   ISLAM is DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED to the U.S. Constitution and the AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE.  ISLAM IS AMERICA'S (and the world's) GREATEST ENEMY!!



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