(4) Taking into Consideration the Welfare of this World and the Hereafter

As noted earlier, Islam is not a religion that is simply concerned with the Hereafter or what can be referred to as the “spiritual side” of life.59 Instead, it promotes the welfare of humans in both this world and the Hereafter. Thus, Allah says, “Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do” (16:97).

Many scholars have studied the Islamic Law in its entirety and have noted that the Law is geared toward achieving specific goals in this world (as well as the obvious goals of the Hereafter). One can divide the “wants” and “needs” of this world into three categories: necessities, needs and amenities. The necessities of life are those components of life that are required to allow one to truly have a “life.”

In other words, without them, one may be so miserable that he may wish he was no longer living. Beyond those necessities become the “needs,” which make life much more bearable, although one can still live without them. Then comes the amenities, which make life comfortable and more enjoyable.

Islamic Law, coming from the Creator, has identified and emphasized what are the true necessities of life. When one studies the laws found in Islam and what seems to be the wisdom behind them, one finds that they have been laid down to establish, protect, reinforce and perpetuate these necessities. After these are truly protected and established, the Law then seeks to meet the needs of life. After due consideration is given to the necessities and needs, the Law then seeks to provide amenities for the ease of humankind.

Space does not allow a detailed discussion of these three categories. Therefore, only the five necessities of life identified via Islamic Law will be briefly touched upon here.

The necessities of life as envisioned by Islamic Law are:

(1) religion,
(2) life,
(3) familial ties and relationships,
(4) mental capacity and (5) wealth and property.

In one eloquent passage of the Quran, which is representative of the style of the Quran, Allah touches upon all of these goals of Islamic Law:

“Say [O Muhammad to the people]: ‘Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty - We provide sustenance for you and for them; come not near to shameful sins (or illegal sexual intercourse), whether committed openly or secretly, and kill not anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause (according to Islamic law). This He has commanded you that you may understand. And come not near to the orphan's property, except to improve it, until he (or she) attains the age of full strength; and give full measure and full weight with justice. We burden not any person, but that which he can bear. And whenever you give your word, say the truth even if a near relative is concerned, and fulfill the Covenant of Allah, This He commands you, that you may remember.’ Verily, this (way) is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This He has ordained for you that you may become pious” (6:151-153).60

The most important of these goals is that of religion. From an Islamic perspective, if people do not have religion and a sound relationship with their Lord they cannot have a healthy life. Hence, one is expected to be willing to risk or sacrifice one's own life for the sake of religion.

In fact, Allah says, “Is he who was dead (without Faith by ignorance and disbelief) and We gave him life (by knowledge and Faith) and set for him a light (of Belief) whereby he can walk amongst men, like him who is in the darkness (of disbelief, polytheism and hypocrisy) from which he can never come out? Thus it is made fair-seeming to the disbelievers that which they used to do” (6:122). Many of the laws of Islam are obviously geared toward the preservation of this ultimate goal, such as the institution of congregational prayer and so on. Next in importance comes life itself. Thus, for example, the law of retribution and the death penalty are part of Islamic law. These laws are not meant simply for the sake of punishment. Such laws are actually meant to protect life, as Allah says, “And there is (a saving of) life for you in the Law of Equality in punishment, O men of understanding, that you may become the pious” (2:179).

Concerning familial ties mention has already been made of the stringent laws governing adultery, fornication and slander. With respect to the protection of wealth, one finds that under specific conditions, the hand of the thief is to be amputated. The prohibition of wasting wealth, extravagance and interest are all for the sake of preserving wealth in the proper manner. With respect to the protection of mental capacity, all intoxicants have been prohibited and strict punishments are enacted for violating such laws.

59 In reality, as shall be demonstrated shortly while discussing the building of a strong relationship between the Creator and the created, there is no need for anything to be considered out of the “spiritual side” of life. For the time being, though, the traditional division between the material and spiritual is being followed here.

60 Another similar passage is al-Israa 23-36.