Traditional Islamic values are contained in the Sharia, or Islamic law, which dictates both personal piety and societal law. The five basic values upheld in the Sharia are life, religion, intellect, family and wealth. "Islam preaches that a human being cannot live without these values," writes Dr. Ahmet Akgunduz of the Islamic University Rotterdam.
Surah 5, verse 32 of the Quran states that whomever kills a person has metaphorically killed all of humanity. This verse refers to God's original commands to the Children of Israel, and it's similar to the Judeo-Christian "thou shalt not kill" from the 10 Commandments. The protection of life does not extend to criminals who have undergone due process, and this exception can be seen in surah 6, verse 151 of the Quran.
The establishment of religion is valued in traditional Islam, and its protection can take on many forms. The Quran forbids forcible conversion in surah 2, verse 256. This protects the Islamic "umma," or community, from insincere adherents. The protection of religion also inspires blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, where insulting Islam or Muhammad -- and often previous religions such as Judaism and Christianity -- is a criminal offense.
Intellect and Reason (Al-'Aql)
The very first revelation of the Quran states that God "taught man that which he knew not." Knowledge is from God in Islamic belief, and a person needs a sharp mind to receive God's knowledge through activities such as prayer and study of the Quran. The protection of intellect includes the prohibition of alcohol and other intoxicants because they hinder clear thought.
Islam values the family, advocating traditional roles for husbands, wives and children. These family values can include polygamy -- the Quran, surah 4 verse 3, allows Muslim men to take up to four wives. Divorce is permissible, but the family unit is the key structure of many of the Sharia's financial laws such as those regarding inheritance. Muslims try to follow the example of Muhammad, who was a proud father and grandfather.
Wealth and Property (Al-Mal)
Islamic finance can be thought of as capitalism coupled with strict moral guidelines. Muslims are permitted to earn as much money as they desire; but in a Muslim society, the poor must be given their share. The obligatory zakat, a poor tax that is one of the five pillars of Islam, is taken from accumulated assets, and this discourages the hoarding of wealth. Islam protects wealth through laws against theft and usury.
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