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What Islam is and what it isn’t

April 4, 2009 6 comments

I am by no means a sheikh or Islamic scholar (far from in fact) but i would like to outline a few things with regards to the sanctity of life in Islam, simply to fulfil a personal desire to talk about it because the current world view about Muslims is that they’re all extremists who have apparently hijacked the religion and dont give a rats ass about other people etc. I am stressing the use of the word Muslims here. Islam is Islam in all its beauty but it is Muslims who have managed to turn something beautiful into something so misunderstood. this reminds me of something a new convert to Islam once told me:

I wish I’d known Islam before I knew Muslims so I could have become a Muslim sooner.

Islam gives a complete view of life and reality. I think it is somewhat unique in this respect as it holds everything humans do under the scope of religion and life is viewed as an organic or integrated ensemble and all the different aspects of life are subject to the same guiding principles. The principles of Islamic jurisprudence are meant to govern the whole of human life and there are 5 major objectives of Islamic law that have been underlined as the aims of Islam. These 5 can never be contravened by Muslim or otherwise through any law, legislation or human intervention. They are the protection and promotion of the following:

  • Life
  • Intellect, the mind (for people to create, think, invent, ask and question)
  • Religion (for people to believe freely. Let there be no compulsion in religion – Quran 2:256)
  • Progeny or family
  • Wealth or possessions

Those are the 5 objectives of Islam, which are in place to facilitate the improvement and perfection of the conditions of human life on earth. Our concern here is the protection of life. The sanctity of life is declared repeatedly and most categorically in the Holy Quran. One example of such a verse is:

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.

(Al-Maeda 5:32)

To kill one innocent human being is like killing the whole of humanity and to save a human life amounts to saving the whole of mankind. Is there a better way of emphasising the sanctity of human life than this? Does this sound like something that would inspire people to do the kinds of things that have been done in the name of Islam?

Islam should not be judged by the bad practice of Muslims. Islam simply is not what a lot of people would want us to believe i.e. barbaric and backward, but it is truly something beautiful and I hope we can all, including Muslims, begin to understand this.

Beauty (work by British manga artist, Asia Alfasi)

Beauty (work by British manga artist, Asia Alfasi)

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