Among the blessings and favors that Allah has bestowed upon humanity is that He endowed them with an innate ability to recognize and acknowledge His existence. He placed this awareness deep in their hearts as a natural propensity that has not varied since human beings were first created. Furthermore, He reinforced this natural propensity with the signs that he placed in Creation that testify to His existence. However, since it is not possible for human beings to have a detailed knowledge of Allah except through revelation from Himself, Allah sent His Messengers to teach the people about their Creator Who they must worship. These Messengers also brought with them the details of how to worship Allah, because such details cannot be known except by way of revelation. These two fundamentals were the most important things that the Messengers of all the divine revelations brought with them from Allah.
On this basis, all the divine revelations have had the same lofty objectives, which are:
1. To affirm the Oneness of Allah – the praised and glorified Creator – in His essence and His attributes.
2. To affirm that Allah alone should be worshipped and that no other being should be worshipped along with Him or instead of Him.
3. To safeguard human welfare and oppose corruption and evil. Thus, everything that safeguards faith, life, reason, wealth and lineage are part of this human welfare that religion protects. On the other hand, anything that endangers these five universal needs is a form of corruption that religion opposes and prohibits.
4. To invite the people to the highest level of virtue, moral values, and noble customs.
Allah, in the Qur’ân, points to the fact that all the revealed religions agree upon these fundamental principles. He says:
He has ordained for you the same religion that He ordained for Noah, and that which We have inspired in you (O Muhammad) and that which We ordained for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus) saying: “You should establish religion and make no division in it.
Allah, in His infinite Wisdom and eternal Will, decreed that all the divine missions prior to the final message of Islam be limited to a specific time frame. As a result, their laws and methodologies dealt with the specific conditions of the people whom they had been sent to address. Allah refers to this in the Qur’ân and points towards the wisdom behind it when He says:
…To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If Allah willed, He would have made you one nation. But that He may test you in what He has given you (he made you what you are), so strive as in a race in good deeds. Unto Allah you will all return; then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ.
Humanity has passed through numerous periods of guidance, misguidance, integrity, and deviation, from the most primitive age to the heights of civilization. Divine guidance accompanied humanity through all of this, always providing the appropriate solutions and remedies.
This was the essence of the disparity that existed between the different religions. This disagreement never went beyond the particulars of the Divine Law. Each manifestation of the Law addressed the particular problems of the people it was meant for. However, the areas of agreement were significant and many.
Areas of Agreement between the Different Manifestations of the Divine Law
The discussion here addresses the basic, unifying principles behind the different manifestations of the Divine Law, without looking at the corruption and distortion that some of them have suffered. All the manifestations of the Divine Law agree on a number of points:
1. Their common origin:
All the Divine Messages came from a single source, since all of the Noble Messengers (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them) received their missions from Allah. Their only role was to convey the Message on Allah’s behalf. Allah says:
– He has ordained for you the same religion that He ordained for Noah, and that which We have inspired in you (O Muhammad) and that which We ordained for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus) saying: “You should establish religion and make no division in it.”
– The messenger’s duty is only to convey.
It is a fundamental tenet of a Muslim’s faith to believe in all of the Divine Scriptures and to believe in all the Prophets and the Messengers of Allah. Allah says:
– The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him form his Lord, and the believers do as well. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. They say, ‘We make no distinction between any of His Messengers…
– And those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and make no distinction between any of them, We shall give them their rewards…”
2. Unity of purpose:
The ultimate goal of every Divine Message has always been the same: to guide the people to Allah, to make them aware of Him, and to have them worship Him alone. Each Divine Message came to strengthen this meaning, and the following words were repeated on the tongues of all the Messengers: “Worship Allah, you have no god other than Him.”
3. Agreement in general principles:
All of the revealed scriptures agreed on the fundamentals of belief such as belief in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Prophets and the Day of Judgment. Similarly, they all agreed on the basic principles and objectives of the Divine Law, such as protecting faith, life, reason, wealth, and lineage and establishing justice in the land. Allah says:
Indeed We have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance that humanity may uphold justice.
They also agreed on certain fundamental prohibitions, some of the most important of these being idolatry, fornication, murder, theft, and giving false witness. Moreover, they also agreed upon moral virtues like honesty, justice, charity, kindness, chastity, righteousness, and mercy.
These principles as well as others are permanent and lasting; they are the essence of all the Divine Messages and bind them all together.
4. They all shared the name Islam:
All the Divine Messages came to bring the life of the people into willing submission to Allah. For this reason, they all share the name of Islam, which means submission in Arabic. Islam, in this sense, was the religion of all the Prophets. Allah says:
Certainly, the religion with Allah is Islam.
The Qur’ân relates many statements of the Messengers to this effect:
Allah relates that the Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
And I am commanded to be from among the Muslims.
Allah relates that Abraham and Ishmael (peace be upon them both) said:
Our Lord! Make us Muslims to You and make our offspring a nation of Muslims to You.
Jacob advised his children, saying:
O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the true religion, then die not except in the faith of Islam.
Joseph (peace be upon him) called upon his Lord and said:
Cause me to die as a Muslim and join me with the righteous.
The Qur’ân relates:
And Moses said: “O my people! If you have believed in Allah, then put your trust in Him if you are Muslims.”
The Magicians of Pharaoh, after they accepted the message of Moses (peace be upon him), said:
Our Lord! Pour out onto us patience, and cause us to die as Muslims.
Solomon (peace be upon him) said in his message to the Queen of Sheba:
Be not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims.
Allah relates that the disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) said to him:
We believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims.
These were the main points of agreement between all the manifestations of the Message. So what was the wisdom behind the differences that existed between them and what were these differences?
The Differences between the Manifestations of the Message and the Wisdom behind These Differences
It is from the wisdom of Allah that all the Messages that came before the Final Message of Islam were restricted to specific times and specific peoples and were suited to their particular problems and circumstances. That is because every Messenger was sent to treat an acute problem of his people in addition to calling them to faith in Allah alone.
Some examples of these problems are as follows:
(1) The trial of material strength: The people of Hûd (peace be upon him) had been blessed by Allah with sophistication and strength. However, they ignored Allah’s commands and denied His blessings, having been beguiled by the power of their wealth. Hûd was sent to them as a Messenger from Allah, to remind them of Allah’s blessings and to treat their moral affliction in an appropriate manner. Allah relates in the Qur’ân that Hûd said to them:
So keep your duty to Him, fear Him Who has aided you with all that you know. He has aided you with cattle and children and gardens and springs of water.
(2) Moral Degeneration: The community of Lot (peace be upon him) suffered from deviant sexual behavior. Thus, Lot was sent to treat this moral sickness and restore decent, natural behavior. The Qur’ân relates that Lot (peace be upon him) said:
What! Of all creatures, do you go unto the males and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your wives?
(3) Economic Despotism: Economic injustice in the form of giving false measure and cheating the weak of their rights was rife amongst Shu`ayb’s people. Shu`ayb (peace be upon him) was sent to them as a Messenger from Allah in order to correct these economic injustices in the manner desired by Allah. Shu`ayb said:
Give full measure, and cause no loss to others. And weigh with the true and straight balance and defraud not people by reducing their things, nor do evil, making corruption and mischief in the land.
(4) Political Oppression: Pharaoh subjected the Children of Israel to political oppression and Moses (peace be upon him) was sent to rescue them from his tyranny and to treat the political and psychological illnesses that afflicted them as a result of this oppression. Allah says:
Certainly, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people castes, oppressing a group among them, killing their sons, and letting their womenfolk live. Certainly, he was a spoiler. And We wished to show favor to those who were weak in the land, and to make them rulers and to make them the inheritors and to establish them in the land, and We let Pharaoh and Hâmân and their hosts receive from them that which they feared.
(5) Crass materialism: Before the arrival of Jesus (peace be upon him), the people of Israel had been overcome by materialism and excessive greed. Thus, Jesus was sent in order to cure this affliction, turn their hearts to what is with Allah, and break the materialistic shackles that bound their senses and narrowed their reality. This is why he was sent with miracles that astonished the materialists and awakened within them an awareness of Allah’s power and supremacy. Allah relates that Jesus said:
And I heal him who was born blind, and the leper and I bring the dead to life by Allah’s leave…
He was also sent to foretell the advent of the Message of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah relates that he said:
– …and to give you glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me whose name shall be Ahmad.
– And We placed in the hearts of those who followed him compassion and mercy. But the monasticism that they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them, but they sought it only to please Allah therewith, but they did not observe it with the right observance. So We gave those among them who believed their reward, but many of them are disobedient.
Each manifestation of the Divine Law addressed the specific problems that existed among the people it came to. Therefore, the wisdom behind the different manifestations of the Law was so that the Law could be specially tailored to deal with the problems arising from the circumstances of each society, circumstances that differed from time to time and from community to community.
The differences in the Law were only in the details of the legislation that took into consideration the problems and circumstances faced by each society.
The Unique Characteristics of Islamic Law
We have been discussing the similarities and differences between the different manifestations of the Divine Law and the wisdom behind them. We are now going to turn our attention to the unique features of Islamic Law that become evident to those who study it in comparison with the others.
The most important of these qualities are as follows:
1. Protection from corruption and distortion:
It is a Divine Law whose source is Allah alone, free from any human contribution to its fundamentals, principles, and indisputable injunctions. Allah says:
It is sent down by the All-Wise, the Worthy of Praise.
Though the religions that existed before the advent of Islam were divine in origin, they were afflicted by corruption and substitution that Islamic Law has been protected from. The other manifestations of the Law did not enjoy this protection.
In Islam, there are no councils or religious authorities that that have the power to interfere with the Law, modify it, replace it, add to it, or subtract from it. In fact, even the Messenger himself was not allowed to do anything but convey the Message. He was not given the authority to make a contribution of his own. Allah says in the Qur’ân:
And if he had forged a false saying concerning Us, We surely would have seized him by his right hand, and then certainly would have cut off his life artery.
Islamic Law has left an area open for scholars to make interpretive judgments and present their personal opinions, but these opinions may be correct or incorrect. For this reason, their opinions can be accepted or rejected, and all of them are equal in this regard.
Because of this unique feature, Islamic Law is free from becoming biased towards one group over another or one person over another or even one generation over another. All people are equal before the Law: whether they be men or women, weak or strong, the first of them or the last of them.
The message of Islam is unique in its scope, for it addresses every possible matter for all people for all time.
It is relevant for all time. The Message of Islam is for all generations from the advent of Muhammad (peace be upon him) until the Day of Judgment, since it is the final Message.
Allah has taken it upon Himself to preserve the Message, guaranteeing that it will remain for all time. Allah promises to protect it, saying:
Certainly, it is We Who have sent down the Remembrance and surely, We will guard it.
The scriptures of the past had been entrusted to their people and became corrupted and lost to them when the people became deviant. Allah says:
Certainly, We did send down the Torah wherein was guidance and light, by which the Prophets, who submitted themselves to Allah’s Will, judged the Jews, as did the rabbis and the priests, for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah’s Book, and they were witnesses thereto.
Any comparison between the text of the Qur’ân and the texts of the previous scriptures will clearly establish this fact. Take any copy of the Qur’ân from any part of the world, from any era, from any printing, and compare it with another; you will find them to be in complete agreement with one another. Then compare that with the many different versions of the Bible that exist, which are inconsistent with each other to the extent of contradiction.
This Message is for all peoples and nations. It is addressed to all humanity. Allah says:
Say (O Muhammad): ‘O mankind! Certainly, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah.
Allah says about the Qur’ân:
It is but a Reminder for all the worlds.
The Message covers all issues. The subject matter of this Message is human life in its entirety, covering all the spiritual, intellectual, and physical aspects of life. Its legislations even include laws that ensure physical health and prevent disease.
It is concerned with the reformation of the individual and the community. Islamic Law pays as much attention to social reform as it does to individual development. It provides legislation on the social, economic, and political level to ensure the development of a civilized society that worships Allah alone. It pays careful attention to the institution of the family.
Islamic Law protects the rights of all members of society to ensure social harmony and strengthen social ties. It encourages closer ties between relatives, obedience to the parents, brotherhood, and social responsibility. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The believers in their affection and kindness towards each other are like one body. If one limb is in pain, then the rest of the body suffers from fever and sleeplessness.”
Thus, the political life of society is founded upon justice, mutual consultation, and protecting the general welfare. It focuses on strengthening the ties between the political leadership and the populace, commanding good and forbidding evil, and the individual responsibility of every Muslim towards society. All of this helps to protect society, ensure its welfare, and safeguard it from all the evils and dangers it might face. Islamic law provides an economic order that prohibits oppression, provides equal opportunity, and protects the weak, the young, the orphan, the poor, the destitute and the wayfarer.
In every aspect of human life, Islamic Law provides injunctions that guarantee justice, promote the general welfare, preserve order, safeguard human rights, and define responsibilities.
Similarly, we find that Islamic Law addressed every stage of human life, from the cradle to the grave. It contains laws that protect the life of the fetus and ensure a healthy environment for the pregnant mother. Allah says:
– And if they are pregnant, then spend on them until they deliver…
– And kill not your children for fear of poverty.
The Law continues to address the needs of the child after it is born, by legislating the aqîqah ceremony for the infant, by ordering the selection of a good name for it, and by requiring breastfeeding, so the child is brought up in good physical and mental health.
One of the qualities of Islamic Law is that it has a moderate approach to issues and problems, being neither excessive nor neglectful. Islam approaches every issue with moderation, whereas we find most ideologies tend to go to one extreme or the other.
This moderation manifests itself in many ways.
Moderation in belief: In Islamic monotheism, we find a moderate position between atheistic materialism on the one hand and pagan polytheism on the other.
Moderation in its outlook on the Prophets: The Islamic view of prophethood is a moderate one, between that of those who venerated them to the point of worship and those who defied them and killed them. From an Islamic perspective, the Messengers were the best of humanity and were completely trustworthy in what they related from Allah. However, they were human beings in every way.
Allah says the following about the Messengers: – And indeed We sent Messengers before you and made for them wives and offspring…
– And We never sent before you any of the Messengers but certainly, they ate food and walked in the markets.
– The Messiah, the son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger, many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a true believer. They both used to eat food…
– Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels? Moderation in its perspective on the human being: Islam is moderate in its view of humanity. This can be clearly seen in the fact that Islam honors the human being and has given mankind supremacy on the Earth. Yet, at the same time, it views the human being as a servant of Allah. Humanity has an honorable position in Islam, above everything else in Creation, and Islam recognizes humanity’s positive role in the universe. At the same time, Islam does not deify the human being. We do not find a contradiction between human honor and servitude towards Allah, for such servitude is the source of humanity’s honor, freedom and lofty status. Allah says:
And indeed We have honored the Children of Adam and We have carried them on land and sea, and have provided them with good things and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preference.
Moderation in its outlook on knowledge: Islam sees human knowledge as having two foundations: revelation and the visible universe. Islam maintains a balance between reason and revelation, whereby reason is used to understand revelation and revelation acts as a guide for reason.
The combined results of these two sources of knowledge are brought together and applied by the human mind.
Moderation in defining the relationship between the individual and society: Islam holds a moderate view with regards to the relationship between the individual and society. It neither gives the individual complete freedom at the expense of society, nor does it negate the value of the individual. Thus, while Islam protects the rights of the individual and safeguards his freedom, it expects him to exercise his rights and freedom within the sphere of the community’s welfare. Islamic Law maintains a balance between the needs of the individual and society, allowing neither to overwhelm the other. It allows the two interests to come together in a most beneficial way that assures the best interests of all.
Islam considers Creation to be a tangible reality that contains within it signs that point to the existence of the Creator. It takes into account the reality of life, considering it to be a stage of existence, containing both good and bad, that is a preparation for the eternal abode of the Hereafter. It takes into account the reality of the human being, recognizing human nature, human limitations, and the circumstances that surround human life.
The practicality of Islam is evident in many ways.
In matters of belief: The tenets that Islam calls people to believe in can be understood by the mind. They can be proven intellectually and they satisfy the needs of both reason and sentiment.
In matters of worship: The practicality of Islam in matters of worship is evidenced by the fact that Islam takes into account the circumstances of people, their activities, and their human limitations. Allah says:
He knows that you are unable to pray the whole night, so He has turned to you in mercy. So, recite of the Qur’ân as much as may be easy for you. He knows that there will be some among you who are sick, others traveling through the land, seeking of Allah’s Bounty; yet others fighting in Allah’s Cause. So recite as much of the Qur’ân as may be easy and perform the prayers and pay the Zakâh.
Islam also considers the psychological makeup of the human being and how easy it is for a person to become overtaxed. For this reason, many religious obligations have been spread out over time. Some acts of worship must be performed once a year, while some are required only once in a lifetime, and yet others must be performed many times during the day. Similarly, some forms of worship are purely physical activities, some are exclusively monetary, and some are a combination of the two.
Circumstances like sickness and travel are also taken into consideration. For this reason shortening of the prayers is allowed for the traveler, and a person who is sick or on a journey during the month of Ramadân does not have to fast.
In what it permits and prohibits: From the practicality of Islamic Law, we find that only harmful things have been prohibited and whatever has benefit has been permitted. Allah says:
He permits for them all good things and prohibits for them things that are foul.
Additionally, extenuating circumstances have been taken into consideration. For this reason, a person can eat prohibited foods in cases of dire necessity. Allah says:
And He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity.
In family matters: Islamic practicality in family matters can be seen in the permissibility of divorce when all attempts to reconcile the husband and wife have failed, in spite of the fact that divorce is disliked in Islamic Law and marriage is entered into as a permanent relationship.
One aspect of the practicality of Islam is the gradual implementation of its laws. This was applied in establishing many Islamic injunctions, especially prohibitions, such as the prohibition of alcohol and interest. This made it easier for people to accept the laws and ensured that they would be more inclined to obey them.
5. Clarity And Rationality:
The following are clear examples of the clarity and rationality of Islam:
In Belief: All aspects of the Islamic belief are clear, without any obscurity or ambiguity. Allah is One without any partners. He has the attributes of completeness and perfection. He has no deficiencies or limitations. This belief can be rationally proven. Allah says:
Say (O Muhammad): “Bring forth your proofs, if you are truthful.”
Similarly, the recompense of the Hereafter and the concept of prophethood are matters of belief that have no ambiguity or confusion about them. These matters have been addressed to all people, so all people are all able to understand them and apply them in their lives without the need of special religious councils or ecclesiastical decrees. They do not require any special genius or great intellectual effort in order to be understood and applied.
In Worship: The major acts of worship in Islam are well known to all Muslims. Their requirements and conditions are clearly understood. The times they must be performed and the reasons for performing them are matters that are well known to Muslims of all walks of life.
In Legislation: Similarly, in matters of legislation, all the Muslims know the major things that have been prohibited in the sphere of family relationships and other relevant matters.
Rationality is something that is found in every detail of Islam. Islam is established upon evidence and prohibits blind following or simply following in the footsteps of one’s forefathers without any knowledge. It calls one to contemplate, and contemplation in matters of religion is considered to be one of the most important religious obligations and one of the best forms of worship. Islam contains no tenet, however minute, that contradicts reason or observable reality.
Similarly, the mind is considered to be a gift from Allah that one must be thankful for, and as a matter of necessity one is expected to protect it and develop it with knowledge and contemplation. The rational mind is the basis for religious accountability and responsibility. Hence, religious obligations have been lifted from the shoulders of the insane.
The mind has been given a broad scope to determine many aspects of life. It has free reign on all issues that have not been addressed by the Scriptures. This is a vast domain where Islamic Law provides only the most general principles and guidelines. Islamic Law provides a general framework that merely serves to keep juristic thought from transgressing the bounds of sound reasoning.
6. Continuity and Progress:
Many philosophies and social systems are not able to reconcile the issue of ideological continuity with that of progress. Islam, on the other hand, looks at this matter from all of its different angels and strikes a balance between progress and continuity in matters of the world and human life.
Islamic Law responds to the demands of social progress in a way that keeps it in harmony with the practical realities of a changing world. At the same time, it maintains continuity in its primary goals and objectives. Its religious, moral, economic, and social values remain constant, governed by a set of unchanging principles. This is because the essential nature of the universe and the essential nature of the human being are constant and unchanging.
The areas of Islamic Law that are unchanging are as follows:
a. Beliefs: Islamic beliefs are permanent and unchanging truths. These truths include the reality of Allah’s existence, His perfect attributes, His creation of the universe, and its dependency on Him. They also include belief in the Angels, the Scriptures, the Messengers, and the Last Day, as well as knowledge that the purpose of life is to worship Allah, that the Earth is a place of trials, and that the Hereafter is the everlasting abode where deeds are recompensed.
b. Moral values: Concepts such as honesty, mercy, charity, justice, trustworthiness, chastity, and cooperation in performing righteous deeds are all eternal and unchanging moral values.
c. Primary goals and objectives: The general purpose and objectives of the Law do not change. Islamic Law came to protect faith, life, reason, wealth, and lineage, as well as to ensure the welfare of people in their worldly life and in the Hereafter.
d. General Principles: The general principles that Islam sets down to govern political, economic, and social affairs are permanent and unchanging. Among these principles are universal values like justice, consultation, equality, freedom, brotherhood, and social responsibility. There are many other important principles in Islamic Law. Enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong is a general obligation. The governing authority and the subjects should be able to advise one another. The right to private ownership must be upheld and protected within the limits and conditions set down by the Law. Interest is prohibited, but all other types of transactions are allowed as long as there is no injustice, cheating or exploitation. Society is responsible for its weak, its old, and its poor. The development of specialized skills and industry are to be encouraged in both the civilian and military sectors. All of these principles are permanent and enduring, regardless of how much circumstances and conditions might change.
e. Incontrovertible Laws: Islam has set down a number of incontrovertible laws in many areas. In the area of marriage we find, for one thing, that it is the only legitimate way to fulfill one’s sexual desires. Another incontrovertible law is the permissibility of divorce where circumstances require it. The manner and times of performing the formal, prescribes acts of worship are fixed an immutable. Prescribed punishments for crimes are unchangeable laws, as well as any quantities and measures specifically described in the Law. None of these laws can be changed in any way.
Other areas of Islamic Law are dynamic. They are:
a. Particulars of the law: Islamic Law includes many particular statutes that are either not addressed by the sacred texts or are addressed either indirectly or inconclusively, allowing for more than one interpretation.
b. Ways and means: For example: Islam has placed the human being in charge of the Earth. However, it did not delineate how this responsibility is to be carried out. Thus, all endeavors that fulfill this responsibility are lawful, like farming the land, mining the sea, or splitting the atom, as long as these means are not forbidden in and of themselves. Consequently, it is not permitted to steal in order to gain wealth.
c. Practical application of general principles: For example: In Islamic Law, the basis for all contracts is the willing agreement of both parties. However, the expression of this willing agreement does not have to take a definite form. Any way that this principle is upheld is legally acceptable. It might take the form of a verbal agreement, a written contract, or even a gesture.
7. Integration of Spiritual Development and Formal Legislation:
Islamic Law stresses the role of the individual conscience and is concerned with cultivating within it the fear and love of Allah and the hope for His mercy. This ensures that the individual will be responsive to the commandments of Allah even when there is no external monitoring system. However, Islamic Law does not rely exclusively upon the conscience. It complements its role by providing legislation to be upheld by society and enforced by the justice system.
There are many good examples of this characteristic in Islamic Law. For instance, in the domain of Contract Law, we find that Islamic Law firsts guides the individual conscience to the values of justice and integrity. It tries to instill in the heart of the believer a love of good conduct towards others and an aversion towards injustice. It calls the individual to abandon fraud and deception. Likewise, it provides specific laws that prohibit certain transactions that are oppressive and take advantage of the poor, like interest, fraud, and hoarding.
It also provides salutatory guarantees to ensure justice and eliminate oppression, like the documentation of loans and the authentication of contracts, measures that facilitate the task of the courts in resolving disputes.
Likewise, in matters concerning the lawful and the prohibited, we see the integration of moral guidance and formal legislation can be clearly seen in this aspect of Islamic Law. It does not leave any room for the heart to determine what is lawful and what is forbidden. Instead, the Law clearly defines what is prohibited and considers all other things to be permissible. However, it refers these laws back to the relationship that a person has with Allah, awakening in the heart of that person the fear of Allah so that he or she will voluntarily stay away from what is prohibited.
In family matters, we find that Islamic Law first provides guidance. For example, it encourages the couple to cultivate in their relationship love, tranquility, cooperation, and mutual sacrifice. Allah says:
– And they are a garment for you and you are a garment for them.
– And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.
We find that Islamic law complements these teachings with formal legislation. It provides that the marriage contract must be entered into by mutual consent and outlines the statutory obligations of both parties. Allah says:
And the women have rights (over their husbands) similar (to the rights of their husbands) over them in a reasonable manner.
With respect to its punitive measures, Islamic Law provided guidance that inspires fear in the hearts of the believers. This fear restraints the believers from committing sins. At the same time, it legislates severe punishments for those who violate the law. Allah says:
– And whoever is killed unjustly, We have given his heir the authority to demand justice.
– Cut off the hand of the thief, male or female.
Thus we find that Islamic Law perfectly addressed every aspect of human life and maintains a perfect balance between spiritual guidance and formal legislation, complementing the role of the conscience with the role of the justice system. Every verse that sets down a law invariably provides moral guidance as well that connects the believer’s heart to Allah, instilling in it love and fear and reminding it that Allah is keeping account of all things. This reinforces the belief in the oneness of Allah by connecting the heart, the limbs, and the deeds of a person – and every aspect of a person’s life – with Allah Almighty.