Guest Author - Linda Heywood
The Decalogue or the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai. They are found in two books in the Bible, Exodus 20: 1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. These same Ten Commandments are found in the Quran.
The Ten Commandments
1. You shall worship God alone.
2. You shall not worship idols.
3. You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.
4. You shall remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. You shall honour your father and your mother.
6. You shall not kill.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness.
10. You shall not covet your neighbour's possessions.
The first commandment is the declaration of faith: There is no god but God (3:18). This is the most important commandment.
The second commandment forbids idolatry in any form. To worship images of humans or actual human beings, animals or nature is idolatry. Putting anything alongside God is idolatry. Praying to anyone other than God is idolatry. Following fabricated doctrines written by humans is idolatry. God forbids idolatry in the Quran and tells many stories of the retribution of those who idolise others beside God. Mohamed was told to say to the people around him, that he had been enjoined from worshipping the idols that they idolised at the time the revelation came to him from God (40:66). He was ordered to submit only to the Lord of the Universe. God does not forgive idolatry if this practise is maintained until you die (4:48, 116).
The third commandment is in chapter 2 of the Quran. In verse 224 God tells us not to subject God’s name to our casual swearing, so that we appear righteous, pious or to attain credibility among people. If you are going to swear by God’s name that something is true, it must be true.
The fourth commandment is to keep the Sabbath day holy. The Quran tells us that the Sabbath was decreed only for those who ended up disputing it. God will judge them on the Day of Resurrection regarding their disputes (17:124). Certain communities in the past were condemned for desecrating the Sabbath.
The fifth commandment to honour your father and mother is found in many verses of the Quran. No special honour is given to the mother in Islam. Parents are to be treated equally with kindness and humility (17:23-24). We should respect them for as long as we live.
The sixth commandment forbids human beings from killing each other or themselves. Chapter 4 in the Quran has verses that tell us that no believer shall kill another believer unless it is accidentally (4:92) and verse 29 tells us not to commit suicide. You shall not kill yourselves. Murder and suicide are forbidden in Islam. Abortion is also murder for we are told in the Quran not to kill our children (6:140, 17:31). If we are told not to kill ourselves or each other, then this applies to the murderer too. Capital punishment is discouraged. Verse 178 of chapter 2 says that when dealing with a murderer the law is equivalence and compensation. Capital punishment is itself murder.
Chapter 2, verse 179
Equivalence is a lifesaving law for you, O you who possess intelligence, that you may be righteous.
The seventh commandment forbids adultery. In the Quran chapter 24 verses 2 – 10 discuss the procedure for dealing with adulterers. The punishment for adultery is one hundred symbolic lashes, witnessed by believers to humiliate the adulterer, not to kill them. There is no commandment in the Quran for an adulterer to be beheaded or stoned to death because that would contradict the sixth commandment of DO NOT KILL. Also anyone who falsely accuses someone of adultery and then fails to produce witnesses shall be whipped eighty times, and their testimony should never be accepted again because they are wicked (24:4).
The eighth commandment tells human beings not to steal from each other. There is no order in the Quran for us to cut off the hands of thieves, only to mark them.
Chapter 5, verse 38-39
The thief, male or female, you shall mark their hands as a punishment for their crime, and to serve as an example from God. God is Almighty, Most Wise. If one repents after committing this crime and reforms, God redeems him. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
Some translations of the above verse say ‘cut off’ the hands but hand cutting is also mentioned in 12:31 where it states in the story of Joseph that the women cut their hands; they did not cut them off.
The ninth commandment in the Quran is stated in the following verse,
Chapter 4, verse 135
O you who believe, you shall be absolutely equitable and observe God when you serve as witnesses, even against yourselves or your parents or your relatives. Whether the accused is rich or poor God takes care of both. Therefore, do not be biased by your personal wishes. If you deviate or disregard then God is fully Cognizant of everything you do.
Bearing false witness against someone is an act of perjury in a court of law and fictitious back biting is as bad as eating the flesh of your dead brother (49:12); both are sinful acts.
And finally, the tenth commandment, you shall not yearn for something that is not yours; you shall not crave for something that someone else has. That hankering you have for what does not belong to you, God provides for everyone. Envy is one of the deadly sins.
Chapter 4, verse 32
You shall not covet the qualities bestowed upon each other by God. The men enjoy certain qualities and the women enjoy certain qualities. You may implore God to shower you with His Grace. God is fully aware of things.
Chapter 20, verse 131
And do not covet what we bestowed upon any other people. Such are temporary ornaments of this life whereby we put them to the test. What your Lord provides for you is far better and everlasting.