Living The Quran
From Issue: 973 [Read full issue]
Welfare of Humanity
Al-Maidah (The Table Spread) Sura 5: Verse 45
"We decreed for them in it (Torah): a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and a similar retribution for wounds. But for him who forgoes it out of charity, it will atone for some of his sins. Those who do not judge in accordance with what God has revealed are indeed wrongdoers."
Security and stability are basic human needs and are equally as important as food, clothing and shelter. Without security and stability, a human being is not able to properly conduct his daily life and contribute to the development and advancement of society. The ultimate objective of the Islamic legal code is to secure the welfare of humanity in the world and to build a civilization wherein every human being can live in a climate of peace, justice and security. This is a civilization that allows a person to fulfil his every spiritual, intellectual, and material need and cultivate every aspect of his being.
To safeguard human life, property and honour, Islam has prescribed punishments for those who commit crimes against these. These seemingly harsh punishments for murder, theft, fornication and rebellion are prescribed by the Creator and handed down through the teachings of all His prophets. On the one hand, these punishments are the just rewards for the crimes, and on the other, they also serve as deterrents to others to refrain from committing anti-social acts. In the case of personal injury, the victim has the option of foregoing the right of retaliation. This good by him may atone for many of his sins.
It is instructive to note that although the right of retaliation and the law of retribution are prescribed, the Islamic approach is to reform the individual and so it addresses the innermost soul of man and what motivates him. In this way, it tries to deter him from disobedience and make him obey Allah. The following passage on this issue by Sayyid Qu?b is very pertinent: "In the final resort, it is fear of God and consciousness of Him that work on man's conscience, both in public and in private. They are the motives that deter man from committing evil when no other human being sees him and when he is certain that he cannot be brought before the law in this life. Important and necessary as the law is, it cannot replace fear of God, because what escapes the hand of the law is far greater than the number of cases that are brought to justice. No human soul and no society can remain good if it relies only on the law without adding to it the fear of a higher, divine authority that works on human conscience."
"Treasures of the Qur'an: Surah al-Fatihah to Surah al-Mai'dah" - Abdur Rashid Siddiqui