I agree with a letter writer who noted that there is too much of God in The Standard. But that is where our agreement ends for while he thinks that is a bad thing, I think that is a good thing. Our country is almost 99.9 percent religious. Atheists like my letter writer friend are almost nonexistent here. Therefore religion should be an integral part of our discourse.
The blessed month of Ramadan is here, a week is gone. There is something worrying me in the growing psyche in modern Islam. Though moral chaos, killing seems to be so easily justified, but we should all know that the higher path is found in patience and in choosing life.
From the sectarian violence in Iraq to the deadly school shootings in America, to Boko Haram in Nigeria, we wake up almost every day to tragic news of the loss of innocent lives. In these times, it is hard to make sense of all the murder and mayhem. Each incident or situation brings its own analysis of the who and why. But, whether it’s in the East or in the West there seems to be a larger problem underpinning all of these travesties: the loss of the sanctity of life.
As a Muslim, I am particularly saddened and troubled with how a small but dangerously misguided group of people are so easily willing to take life randomly to make a point that is only clear in their own minds all the while wearing the mantle of Islam. These individuals and their mischievous leaders have completely neglected the undeniable sanctity of life that is articulated in the religious sources and through the writings of Islamic scholars throughout the centuries.
The Qur’an — Islam’s highest source for knowing God’s will — describes human beings as carrying something of the divine spirit (15:29), inherently full of nobility and dignity (17:70), created in the best of moulds (95:4), and placed on earth for very high purposes (2:30) among other descriptions. Therefore, the Qur’an affirms the Jewish teaching that killing one innocent person is like killing all of humanity, and saving one person is analogous to saving all of humanity (5:32). Murder is strictly forbidden and considered one of the greatest sins (6:151). Abortion (17:31) and infanticide (16:59) are condemned. As a deterrent against the taking of innocent life, the Qur’an allows for capital punishment of a murderer in the court of law but encourages the victim’s family toward mercy or a lighter punishment (2:178). The Prophet Muhammad, likewise, emphasised in numerous traditions that the true believer was the one who safeguarded people’s lives, safety, and property.
As such, the legal scholars of Islam, in articulating the higher aims and purpose of Islam’s sacred law (maqasid al-shari’ah) always highlighted the preservation of life as one of the foremost objectives. There isn’t a scholarly work out there on the philosophy of Shari’ah that does not emphasize the sanctity of life.
This is not to claim that Islam is a pacifist religion. To claim so would be disingenuous. But, violence and the taking of life in Islam is limited to specific legal punishments in a court of law or fighting on the battlefield in a just cause (Qur’an 22:39-41). It is not and cannot be the random vigilante violence that suicide bombers and others have taken to as a daily method of traumatising and terrorising people to meet political objectives. This has no basis for justification whatsoever in Islam’s ethical system.
Alhaji Baboucarr Fofana