Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.

Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman February 8, 2018

No, majority of states did not ban Sharia law

A story appearing on Facebook repeated talk of Donald Trump’s 2015 proposed ban on Muslim immigrants but went too far in including a claim that the majority of U.S. states have banned Sharia law.

"Just in: 45 states just banned Sharia law," said a Feb. 6 headline on viralusa.org.

Similar fake stories have circulated for months on various websites proclaiming that many states, or Trump himself, banned Sharia law.

Sharia law is a wide-ranging set of rules that govern aspects of Islamic life, including religious practice, daily living, and financial dealings.

Facebook users flagged the post as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat fake news. We found that the majority of states have not imposed such a ban. While the headline is a hoax meant to drive page views, some of the quotes in the article related to Trump’s proposed ban are accurate.

We have been tracking Trump’s promise "for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims" entering the U.S. and rated his efforts, which have been bogged down in litigation, Stalled.

The viralusa.org story that followed the headline makes no mention of states banning Sharia law. Instead, the brief story focused on Trump’s effort to ban Muslims.

The story repeated a quote by Trump about the Muslim ban:

"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on," he said.

The story on viralusa.org didn’t explain the setting when Trump made that quote: he said it at a rally in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Dec. 7, 2015 pointing to a statement he made earlier that day.

Viralusa.org then posted the response by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. who said on CNN "you know how you make American great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell."

The story also quoted a reply from Ben Carson: "We do not discriminate on people based on religion" -- again, a real quote from CNN.

(Graham and Carson were among Trump’s rivals in the GOP primary at the time.)

While the vast majority of states haven’t banned Sharia law, 11 states -- Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Washington -- enacted legislation regarding the application of foreign or religious law in state courts in recent years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

These state laws generally ban the application of foreign laws if it violates a person’s fundamental rights such as freedom of religion or speech.

Additionally, Texas adopted a law that requires the Texas Supreme Court to adopt rules and provide judicial instruction regarding the application of foreign laws in certain family law cases.

Though most of the laws don’t expressly ban Sharia law, critics say that they could be viewed as anti-Muslim.

In reality the practice of using foreign law in state courts is not uncommon and generally not controversial, experts told PolitiFact Florida in 2014. For example, parties in international contracts frequently agree to apply a specific foreign country’s law to govern their agreements.

A headline said that "45 states just banned Sharia law," but the story itself contained no information about any such state bans. While there have been some states that have enacted legislation to ban the use of foreign law, at least in some circumstances, it’s a gross exaggeration to say that the majority of states have banned Sharia law.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire.

Our Sources

Viralusa.org, "Just in: 45 states just banned Sharia law," Feb. 6, 2018

Americanproud.info, "JUST IN: 45 States Just Banned Sharia Law. Do You Support This?" Feb. 1, 2018

National Conference of State Legislatures, State resources on the prohibition of the use of foreign or religious law in state courts, July 2017

Arkansas State Assembly, Arkansas HB1041, April 9, 2017

CNN, "GOP rivals denounce Trump’s Muslim travel ban," Dec. 8, 2018

CNN, "Carson calls Trump's Muslim ban unconstitutional," Dec. 8, 2015

Washington Post, "Trump calls for 'total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,'" Dec. 7, 2015

Factcheck.org, "No Nationwide Sharia Ban," Sept. 25, 2017

Snopes, "Did President Trump Ban 'Sharia Law' in the U.S.?" Feb. 9, 2017

PolitiFact, "'Florida Democrats just voted to impose Sharia law on women,'" bloggers say

Trump-O-Meter, Establish a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., April 20, 2017

Trump-O-Meter, Suspend immigration from terror-prone places, Dec. 5, 2017

Interview, Jonathan Griffin, National Conference of State Legislatures, Feb. 7, 2018

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Amy Sherman

No, majority of states did not ban Sharia law

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up