Edward E. Curtis IV, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, punctures a few misconceptions about mosques in an article in The Washington Post.
It includes this on sharia:
In Islam, sharia ("the Way" to God) theoretically governs every human act. But Muslims do not agree on what sharia says; there is no one sharia book of laws. Most mosques in America do not teach Islamic law for a simple reason: It's too complicated for the average believer and even for some imams.
Islamic law includes not only the Koran and the Sunna (the traditions of the prophet Muhammad) but also great bodies of arcane legal rulings and pedantic scholarly interpretations. If mosques forced Islamic law upon their congregants, most Muslims would probably leave -- just as most Christians might walk out of the pews if preachers gave sermons exclusively on Saint Augustine, canon law and Greek grammar. Instead, mosques study the Koran and the Sunna and how the principles and stories in those sacred texts apply to their everyday lives.
And this on the character of most American mosques:
There is a danger that as anti-Muslim prejudice increases -- as it has recently in reaction to the proposed community center near Ground Zero -- alienated young Muslims will turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America's mosques. So far, that has not happened on a large scale.
Through their mosques, U.S. Muslims are embracing the community involvement that is a hallmark of the American experience. In this light, mosques should be welcomed as premier sites of American assimilation, not feared as incubators of terrorist indoctrination.