Moral Teachings of Islam- Prohibitions to Protect Faith & Life

Summary of 6.6 “The Lawful and Unlawful”
There were five basic points that we discussed last time.’ First of all, we said that in Islam there is no distinction between secular or religious as all aspects of life come under one jurisdiction and as such the moral code in Islam is not a separate compartment but is fused in of human activity.

The second point was the extent of specificity the moral code is in Islam.’ We said in Islam it doesn’t only tell people to be good or righteous but actually shows in detail with lots of examples on how to be righteous.’ In Islam there are division between different types of acts starting from the permissible, which is the base line and anything that is not prohibited or mandatory is regarded as permissible.’ Up one step from permissible is Mustahab or commendable and if we go further up there are acts which are mandatory.’ Going down from permissible there are certain acts which are not strictly prohibited but are detestable or discouraged.’ The lowest are the unlawful acts.’ This is another aspect of specificity where acts are categorized depending on whether they are positive or negative.

The third point was the discussion of the main philosophy of the unlawful in Islam.’ We said that it is not because things are taboo, or a way of punishment or a deprivation that things are made unlawful.’ The basic rule that is followed is that whatever is permissible is wholesome and good and whatever is unlawful is harmful physically, mentally or spiritually.

The fourth point was the methodology used to find out if something is lawful or unlawful.’ Again as a basic rule anything that is regarded as unlawful must have some evidence to that effect from the Quran, the word of God, or from the Prophetic tradition or any analogy or interpretation based on these two sources.

The final point was the fact that making things that are lawful unlawful is just as bad as making things that are unlawful lawful.’ The right to say what is right and what is wrong is not ours but God’s.’ If God has specified something in the scripture and defined it as right or wrong no body has the right to interprets it as one way or the other if the person sincerely believes in God.

6.7′ Prohibitions to Protect Faith and Life

Host:’ What is a method of classifying the unlawful acts according to the moral code of Islam?

Jamal Badawi:

There are a number of ways that one can classify the lawful and unlawful in Islam.’ One can divide them or subdivide them on the basis of personal, social, economic and political aspects of life.’ However, I found a classification which is more logical and easy to follow which covers the lawful and unlawful in Islam.’ There are five basic objectives behind Islamic law which relate to the moral code.’ The objectives are to safe guard al-deen, faith, al-nafs, life, al-akl, the mind, al-ird, honor, and al-mal, property.’ Any regulation whether it is lawful or unlawful relates in a way or another to the protection and safeguarding of these five basic things.’ In order to safe guard faith it is necessary to avoid and or fight things like shirk, sorcery and tyranny.’ These are only examples and not the complete list.’ To protect or safeguard life we find that the moral code of Islam involves fighting against killing, suicide, social injustice and other things that relate to the protection of life.’ To protect the mind the moral code includes prohibition of all types of intoxicants.’ To protect honor we find that the moral code involves prohibition of adultery, fornication, and slander of other people.’ To protect property there is prohibition of theft, cheating, usury and so on.’ In other words one can show how each of these five main objectives of Islamic law can be met through certain aspects of the moral code.

Host:’ In the protection of faith what is meant by shirk as a moral sin?

Jamal Badawi:

Shirk in Arabic literally means to associate and to assign partners, in the legislative sense it means that a person associates others with God in His powers.’ I should emphasis here that this doesn’t only mean the association of other gods beside God, which is a form of polytheism, but that Islam also regards attributing any of God’s divine attributes to any of his creatures to be a form of associating others with God.

The Quran responds to people who invoke names other than the names of God believing that these names have any power beside God in a very simple way in (7:194) ‘Verily those whom ye call upon besides Allah are servants like unto you: Call upon them, and let them listen to your prayer, if ye are (indeed) truthful!” A similar statement is made in (39:38) again that only God is able to remove difficulty and is the only one who has power in the universe.

Islam is very particular about keeping monotheism pure and simple and not to mix it with any mythical or philosophical ideas.’ In fact in the normal day to day practices of the Muslim the term La Illah Illa Allah is repeated constantly.’ It is repeated in the call to prayer and in the prayer.’ The Quran is full of citations that emphasizes that the corner stone of Islam is not to associate others with God.’ According to the Quran it shows that the only moral sin that can not be forgiven is to associate others with God.’ In (4:116) in the Quran it says ‘Allah forgiveth not (The sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgiveth whom He pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, Hath strayed far, far away (from the right).” There is almost an identical verse in the same (4:48) ‘Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.” An even more dramatic description which shows how fatal this kind of moral sin could be is in (22:31) ‘if anyone assigns partners to Allah, is as if he had fallen from heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prey) and thrown him into a far- distant place.” The emphasis on this question is very clear in the Quran.’ In the Quran in (72:20) Allah commands Prophet Muhammad to say ‘I do no more than invoke my Lord, and I join not with Him any (false god).” In chapter (18:43) it shows that people who associate others with God would regret doing so on the Day of Judgment and they would say ‘Woe unto me! Would I had never ascribed partners to my Lord and Cherisher!’

Host:’ Was Shirk regarded as a sin in other revelations preceding the Quran?

Jamal Badawi:

Yes it was regarded as a sin in previous revelations and Islam is not unique in this respect, but Islam rather culminates this eternal truth that God has given to His prophets.’ In chapter 7, Al A’raf, there are a number of stories about different prophets from the past such as Noah, Hud, Salih, Jakob, Shu’aib, Moses and others and each of them is quoted saying the same statement ‘Worship God alone, you have no other God, Deity or Lord but Him.” In (21:25) it says very clearly to Prophet Muhammad that ‘Not an apostle did We send before thee without this inspiration sent by Us to him: that there is no god but I; therefore worship and serve Me.” In (36:61) ‘And that ye should worship Me, (for that) this was the Straight Way?’

Sometimes the Quran even specifies a major Prophet to have repeated and emphasized these teachings of God.’ For example in (2:133) it quotes Prophet Jacob when he was on his death bed ‘What will ye worship after me?” They said:’ ‘We shall worship Thy Allah and the Allah of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma’il and Isaac,- the one (True) Allah. To Him we bow (in Islam).” Prophet Jesus is also quoted in the Quran in (5:75) saying ‘O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.” Another Prophet who is seen as a person of wisdom is Luqman (31:13) where he is advising his son ‘O my son! join not in worship (others) with Allah. for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing.’

The Quran also addresses Prophet Muhammad, the last prophet of Islam which was the message of all the prophets, in (39:65) ‘But it has already been revealed to thee,- as it was to those before thee,- “If thou wert to join (gods with Allah., truly fruitless will be thy work (in life), and thou wilt surely be in the ranks of those who lose (all spiritual good).” There is a command in the Quran telling the Prophet Muhammad to tell his people’ regarding the basics of the moral code (6:151) ‘Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from”: Join not anything as equal with Him.’

In essence of Shirk or worshiping others with God is the worst of moral sins according to the teachings of all the prophets from Adam to Abraham, Moses, Jesus and finally Prophet Muhammad (PBUT).’ This was the universal message of prophets through history in accordance to the Quran.

Host:’ Could you address the close connection between belief which allot of people regard as just being dogma and the more practical aspects of moral behavior?

Jamal Badawi:

When we think of Shirk, in the way we explained it, and once we avoid this moral sin according to Islam and admit the absolute oneness of God and His attributes then the person would willingly and lovingly and consciously submit to the will of God.’ A person would submit to Him in spirit, mind and body would be dedicated in obedience to God.’ Once one admits this and removes any mistakes on this issue from their thinking which would allow them to understand their priorities.’ Then it would also be clear that the injunctions of God would take priority over every other thing whether they are pressures of other individuals, social norms or indoctrination of institutions.’ Removing Shirk from ones life teaches the individual not to put his or her own opinion above the command of God as found in the Quran in (49:1) ‘O Ye who believe! Put not yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger. but fear Allah. for Allah is He Who hears and knows all things.” This very clearly ties between the act of belief and the philosophy of life and clarity of one’s objective and direction.

Host:’ Can we address the other issues regarding safeguarding faith?

Jamal Badawi:

Sorcery we discussed in some detail in a previous series on Islamic Belief.’ Basically Islam makes it unlawful for a person to use sorcery, to learn sorcery or to seek the help of sorcerers.’ Also divination and the belief that someone can tell the future are prohibited.

Protection of faith also requires protection of religious freedom and fighting tyranny especially tyranny which results in religious oppression.’ The concept of Jihad in Islam, which is mistakenly translated as holy war, is used to stop religious persecution or oppression which results from tyranny.

There is also prohibition of the use or adoration of statues which carry a touch of idolatry.’ There is prohibition of eating animals which are slaughtered in the name of an idol or the name of anything other than the name of God.

Host:’ What does the Quran say about the sanctity of human life?

Jamal Badawi:

First of all the prohibition of killing is made clear and in unmistakable terms.’ In (17:33) the Quran says ‘Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause.” The life of the human is sacred and should be protected.’ We find that the Quran after describing the story of Kane and Able, the children of Adam where one killed the other, in (5:32) it tells us with confirmation and approval of the laws that had been revealed to Prophet Moses (PBUH) ‘We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” In order to provide concrete protection Islam has legislated capital punishment for deliberate murder (we will go into detail about this subject when we address the social structure in Islam).’ In this case capital punishment could act as a deterrent and protect life in the community.’ People should not have miss placed sympathy for the life of a murderer and not the life of the people who he killed and this is why the Quran puts it clearly in (2:179) ‘In the Law of Equality there is (saving of) Life to you, o ye men of understanding; that ye may restrain yourselves.’

Host:’ What about Islam’s view on other types of killing such as abortion, mercy killing etc?

Jamal Badawi:

There is specific legislation for involuntary manslaughter the laws that deal with it are not capital punishment but rather financial compensation to the family of the diseased.’ A second point is the question of euthanasia or mercy killing, we discussed this under Muslim Beliefs in a previous program, and we said there is no mercy in killing.’ To give a person a shot or an overdose is another way of killing which is prohibited.

Abortion is another related subject.’ To abort a human life even the early stages is considered to be murder of an unborn helpless innocent infant.’ There is only one case where abortion is permitted and that is if it is the only way of saving the life of the mother.’ Otherwise this is not a subject to be played with under the pretext of personal freedom, because personal freedom is limited by the freedom of others including the freedom of the fetus.

Suicide is forbidden in Islam.’ Te he Quran says clearly in (4:29) ‘Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!’ ‘Suicide is regarded as a moral sin.’ So it’s not just a matter of killing or suicide but rather other aspects that interfere with the sacred aspect of human life that God has given as a gift to mankind.

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