Friday, 26 February 2016

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 Verse 177 - 182

The last entry in our reading of the Koran introduced some of the rules to live by. This reading and many to follow continue with these laws to live by, and today's topic is that pleasant topic of what to do with murderers, the needy, slaves and importantly how to write a will and some of the important aspects related to will writing.

As with most Koran reading we start of with some Allah stuff, where we get told that the idea of facing East is not as important as the actual prayer. That is ritual is not important, but rather the actions one takes to be faithful are important. My guess is that man modern day Muslims do not adhere to this after all why would we be getting beheading's and the like for cartoonists drawing a silly picture.
Piety is not to turn your faces to the east or the west; rather, piety is [personified by] those who have faith in Allah and the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets
Importantly here again we should see that we cannot only believe in Allah, we also have to believe in angels, the Koran and the prophets to truly be a Muslim. This does not necessarily mean that we have to worship the angels and book, but we surely have to believe in them. I just wish that at some time the Koran would give some evidence for this belief that we have to maintain.

As in the last post we get told that believers should give to the needy and get rid of slavery.
and who give their wealth, for the love of Him, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller and the beggar, and for [the freeing of] the slaves,
So does this happen in Islam? Well the simple answer is no, as statistics show that Islamic countries have high rates of poverty, or their poverty rate is not reported. Poverty rates in Islamic countries (Iraq and Afghanistan not given as they have war) Saudi Arabia, 33 %, Indonesia, 12 %, Pakistan, 21 %, Yemen, 34 %, Turkey, 18 %, Tunisia, 15 %, Libya, Iran, Lebanon, not reported. And what about population in slavery? Qatar, 1.3 %, Pakistan, 1.1 %, U.A.E., 1 %, Saudi Arabia, 0.3 %. Granted these values may not be the highest, but they are high when one considers what the Koran teaches. But not to worry those that have hardship will be saved by Allah, because Islam will prevail.
maintain the prayer and give the zakāt, and those who fulfill their covenants, when they pledge themselves, and those who are patient in stress and distress, and in the heat of battle. They are the ones who are true [to their covenant], and it is they who are the Godwary

Modern Incidence of Slavery.(Source)

So, what to do with murderers? Well simply put the murderer should pay for their crimes with death. Additionally, there should be no one that has to pay the penalty like other family members, which makes a lot of sense.
Retribution is prescribed for you regarding the slain: freeman for freeman, slave for slave, and female for female
However, if a person whose family member has been killed want they can accept blood money from one of their brothers instead. Blood money is the concept of paying off the aggrieved so that they do not place the charge of murder on you. Naturally, this only works for males, as the Koran is clear when it mentions brothers only can be forgiven for these crimes.
But if one is granted any extenuation by his brother, let the follow up [for the blood-money] be honourable, and let the payment to him be with kindness. That is a remission from your Lord and a mercy; and should anyone transgress after that, there shall be a painful punishment for him.
Naturally, this paying of blood money is only acceptable one time by the all loving Allah, as thereafter the murderer can not be forgiven by the all merciful god. So remember if you are a Muslim you only have one free murder.

The Koran also asserts that the death penalty works as a deterrent.
There is life for you in retribution, O you who possess intellects! Maybe you will be Godwary!
Naturally this is bollocks, as states with death penalties have higher murder rates than states without death penalties. Although, violent crime does track death penalty support. So perhaps the Koran is correct on the use of the death penalty as a deterrent?

Next up the Koran looks at laws surrounding the writing of wills, and it strongly recommends that assets of a dead person should be equally divided amongst parents, spouse, children and other family.
Prescribed for you, when death approaches any of you and he leaves behind any property, is that he make a bequest for his parents and relatives, in an honourable manner, —an obligation on the Godwary.
To be fair, this is a great idea as it avoids unnecessary family arguments after a death. However, the Koran is not going to maintain this idea of equality forever as we will see when we get to Sura 4.

Next we see that wills should not be changed by a person that takes down or witnesses a will. If a person has to do this, they will be punished by Allah. This is rather righteous of Allah, but the next verse blows my mind as it then allows the family to contest the will of a dead person if they feel the taker of the will (or the will) is lying to them. For contesting a will their is no punishment from Allah. In other words, a dead persons words should not be changed, but a dead persons words do not have to be believed even if they are unchanged.
And should anyone alter it after hearing it, its sin shall indeed lie on those who alter it. Indeed Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing 
But should someone, fearing deviance or sin on the testator’s behalf, set things right between them, there is no sin upon him. Indeed Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful.

On that head scratching moment, I will see you next week.

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The version of the Koran I am reading is the John Meadows Rodwell translation. An online version can be found at the al-quran.info website
Additionally, for commentary I am utilizing the commentary of Maulana Muhammad Ali which is available at muslim.org/english-quran/quran.htm