Let me first disclose that I am not Muslim, nor have I ever really studied Islam. Most of what I know about it I've heard from others or looked up online. I was raised a Christian, and became an atheist/agnostic as an adult. I have a much better understanding of Christianity than of Islam. If I get anything wrong in this, please feel free to correct me in the comments section.
Sharia law is the framework for the Muslim faith. It has some extreme tenets, but also includes how a Muslim must pray, what they can eat, and how they must be buried. Moderate Muslims in today's society do not follow the more extreme laws. Many are quite relaxed and have come to disavow the more outrageous practices and beliefs of Sharia. They do not treat women as inferiors, or cut off people's hands when they steal. Some don't even wear traditional Islamic garb or follow dietary standards. However, they are still Muslim. When they pray facing Mecca, or go to Mosque, or bury their parents in keeping with Islamic traditions; they are still following the code of Sharia.
Yet the most extreme tenets of Islam are not under attack here in America. All of Sharia law is, right up to how they may pray and where they may worship. When Herman Cain makes statements that any Muslim he appoints to his cabinet or as federal judge must disavow Sharia law, he is telling them they must abandon their faith. American Muslims is this country came here themselves, or their ancestors before them did, not because they wanted to supplant American law with Sharia; they came because they wanted the freedom that American law entails. They are Muslims, yes, but they are also American; and they understand that in this country, the laws passed by the government come before the laws of their religion.
Christianity too has a lot of extreme laws that would be outlandish by today's standards. Many Christians still believe in God's law as laid out in the Old Testament, but as Lawrence O' Donnell has explained on his show; Christians do not follow the most extreme practices. Some are still behind the times and follow some outlandish traditions, but women and children are not being stoned in the streets. Just because the Bible has some really harsh traditions in it, doesn't mean we force Christians to disavow God's law. We don't call out Christianity for being a very violent religion that calls upon the execution of women, children, and homosexuals; so let's not do it to Islam either. Let's try to understand each other and cohabitate this country; not try to purge each other because of our different backgrounds and beliefs.
3:36 PM PT: I am quite astounded to find people taking my words completely out of context and accusing me of saying things I didn't say. Seriously people, grow up. I am not calling for Sharia law to be made law or upheld in our judicial system. I am not condoning or defending the extreme, inhumane, or sexist practices of any religion. What I am defending is the basic right of Muslims to practice their religion as long it conforms to the law. I am defending their freedom to pray, worship at a Mosque, wear traditional garb, eat as they choose to eat, and bury their dead according to their traditions. What is so damn extreme about that?