Moral ethics or moral philosophy involves the systemization, defense and recommendation of the concepts of right and wrong behavior. Currently, we define morality within the religious tomes and its dictates. The normative concept of what is right and wrong is religiously determined; that is to say that the moral dictums we follow or pattern is dependent on what the religious tomes, like the Bible [for the Christians] and Qu’ran [for the Moslem] impose on its’ followers.
Take for instance, the suras of Mohammad in Al-Isra’ [ The Night Journey of the Children of Israel] , a Moslem disciple of Allah, defines the virtues and duties of a faithful Moslem. Hereto we investigate the moral dictums of Sura 17 of Qu’ran and moral implications on the contemporary society as well as several other important issues like the Sura politicization and current social relevance. Mohammad’s Sura 17Al Isra’ titled The Night Journey of the Children of Israel is equivocal to the Abraham’s Ten Commandments in the Christians Holy Bible.
As human beings, we are differentiated from the rest of the animal kingdom by our ability to ‘reason’ and to play by the set of rules and obligations as members of the holistic society. The imposition of ‘rules’, ‘regulations’, and ‘duties’ are complex but the foundation is basically the same—they appear obligatory irrespective of the consequences that may follow. One major tenet of duty theories is duty/obligation to God/Allah and arguably, any religion for that matter, would necessitate or allude to the practice of inward and outward worship to God.
For Moslems, such practice is neatly outlined in the ‘commandments’ imposed by Allah through the writings of His disciple Mohammad in Sura 17 of the Qu’ran. The precepts of Moslem moral duty are basically the same with that of the Christian, ‘Do not kill’, ‘Honoring parents’, ‘Do not lie’, ‘Avoid adultery’, ‘Do not covet, and ‘observing Sabbath’. Because such moral duties were defined thousands of years ago, they would naturally lose the characteristic elasticity especially if correlated to the current demands of the changing society.
The contention is that with the rise of technology and the current trend of globalization, moral duty is now questioned with the concept of Darwinian adaptation. Looking at it this way, Moslem moral duty would need to rectify the age old wisdom to answer to the demands of the societal evolution. Would Allah’s commandments be suffice to feed the moral need of the people? Apparently, Allah puts emphasis on prima facie duties described in Qu’ran Sura 17. In actuality such duties lay conflict on our daily life.
Poverty is a pox of the society and one of the major problems correlated to it is overpopulation. To combat this, the [most] government prescribed or legalized ‘abortion’ to control increasing population. Naturally, abortion is a huge no-no to Moslem duty and this was explicitly defined in Sura 17: YUSUFALI: Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin. PICKTHAL: Slay not your children, fearing a fall to poverty, We shall provide for them and for you.
Lo! the slaying of them is great sin. SHAKIR: And do not kill your children for fear of poverty; We give them sustenance and yourselves (too); surely to kill them is a great wrong (v 32). The notion is laughable considering that raising children is a responsibility which entails financial sustenance and not just from abstract provision from Allah. While it true that abortion is an unorthodox method of population control from the religious view, it cannot be contested that it is a ‘legal’ right in most Western and Westernized countries alike.
Additionally, the verse is also in contra with the women empowerment on their right to choose to deliver life of their own accord. Herein there is a question on individual moral conviction; in a sense, abortion is not religiously right by the premise of Allah’s Sura which is in contrast with the current trends on upholding women empowerment and the stabilizing force of the government-erected constitution. Perhaps the most debated issue on Allah’s commands is the verse concerning murder and the justice system underscored by it: .YUSUFALI: Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause.
And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the Law). PICKTHAL: And slay not the life which Allah hath forbidden save with right. Whoso is slain wrongfully, We have given power unto his heir, but let him not commit excess in slaying. Lo! he will be helped. SHAKIR: And do not kill any one whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause, and whoever is slain unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority, so let him not exceed the just limits in slaying; surely he is aided (V. 3). While it is true that murder is forbidden in Islam, there also constitute a just compensation for the victim and the allusion of Allah as the Supreme Being, Him being a cause to die for. Compensatory damages proceed by an almost unprecedented manner; Sharia law of qisas (retaliation) dictates an almost undemocratic treatment of the murder victims with biased favors for the Islams and only half of blood money allowed for the non-Islams.
Such system of compensation is far-fetch from the now-favored legislative system which does not pass down court decisions on compensatory damages depending on the type of religion. The notion of Supremist religion of the Islamic community is instigated by the fact that Qu’ran and any Islamic texts (if not abrogated) states the omnipotence and the due reverence that must be bestowed to Him [Allah], and if otherwise not followed, will incur the curses of Allah and all mankind.
YUSUFALI: And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression. PICKTHAL: And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers. SHAKIR: And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressor (v. 93). While mercy killing is condemned, jihad is ‘just’ because it is for the cause of Allah and it is an acceptable means to obliterate the unbelievers. Over the course of history, and more so now, jihad is politicized by Islamic communities; Islam government and in some small discrete communities who practiced Islamic faith claimed that jihad is just if for the cause of retaliation and Allah. YUSUFALI: The prohibited month for the prohibited month,- and so for all things prohibited,- there is the law of equality.
If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, Transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves. PICKTHAL: The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things in retaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil).
SHAKIR: The Sacred month for the sacred month and all sacred things are (under the law of) retaliation; whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you and be careful (of your duty) to Allah and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil)(v. 194). Jihad then is a defensive mechanism for the Moslem community. Looking at it this way, genocide is permissible given that the victims are Christians or Islam non-believers.
What is most daunting is that such principle/concept destroys diplomatic international relations between Moslems and Christians. Such moral principle lay conflict to the recently instigated international law banning warfare after the World War II. While it is true that religious laws lay foundation to our basic moral principles and ethics, it must be remembered that our greater obligation is to produce good for the greater mankind. An inspection on some Qu’ran laws display the importance of reconsidering or rectifying the foundations of Moslem moral ethics based on several social and universal moral considerations.
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