By Zakir Naik
Question: All religions basically teach followers to do good deeds. Why should one follow only Islam? Can he not follow any of the religions of the world?
Major Difference Between Islam and most other Religions
All religions basically exhort mankind to be righteous and eschew evil. But Islam goes beyond that. It guides us towards practical ways of achieving righteousness and eliminating evil from our individual and collective lives.
Islam takes into account human nature and the complexities of human society. Islam is guidance from the Creator Himself. Therefore, Islam is also called the Deen-ul-Fitrah (the natural religion of Man). For example, Islam commands us to shun robbery and also prescribes method of eliminating robbery.
All major religions teach that theft is an evil act. Islam teaches the same. So what is the difference between Islam and the other religions? The difference lies in the fact that Islam, besides teaching that robbing is evil, shows a practical way of creating a social structure in which people will not rob.
System of Zakat
Islam prescribes a system of Zakat (obligatory annual charity). Islamic law prescribes that every person who has a saving that exceeds the nisaab level i.e. more than 85 grams of gold, should give 2.5% of that saving every lunar year in charity. If every rich person in the world were to give Zakat sincerely, poverty will Inshallah be eradicated from this world. Not a single human being would die of hunger.
Islam prescribes chopping off the hands of the convicted robber.
The Qur’an says: “As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power, full of wisdom.” [ Al-Qur’an 5:38]
The non-Muslims may say, “Chopping off the hands in this 20th century is barbaric and Islam is a barbaric and ruthless religion!”
For an answer look at America is supposed to be one of the most advanced countries in the world. It has one of the highest crime rates in the world. Suppose the Islamic shariah is implemented in America i.e. every rich person gives Zakat (2.5% of his savings in charity above 85 grams of gold every lunar year), and every convicted robber has his or her hands chopped off as a punishment. Then the rate of theft and robbery in America it will decrease. Moreover the existence of such a stringent law would discourage many a potential robber.
I agree that the amount of theft that takes place in the world today is so tremendous that if you chop off the hands of all the thieves, there will be tens of thousands of people whose hands will be chopped off. The point here is that the moment you implement this law the rate of theft will decline immediately. The potential robber would give it a serious thought before jeopardising his limbs.
The mere thought of the punishment itself will discourage a majority of the robbers. Hence only a few persons’ hands would be chopped off but millions would live peacefully without fear of being robbed. The Islamic Shariah is therefore practical, and achieves results.
Islam enjoins hijab and prescribes capital punishment for a convicted rapist.
a. Islam prescribes methods of eliminating molestation and rape. All major religions declare that molestation and rape of women are grave sins. Islam teaches the same. What then is the difference between Islam and the other religions?
The difference lies in the fact that Islam does not merely preach respect for women, or abhor molestation and rape as serious crimes, but also gives clear guidance as to how society can eliminate such crimes. It suggests a social structure and certain social norms:
Hijab for Men
Islam has a system of hijaab. The Qur’an first mentions hijaab for the men and then for the women. Hijaab for men is mentioned in the following verse:
“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.” [Al-Qur’an 24:30]
The moment a man looks at a woman and if any brazen thought comes to his mind, he should lower his gaze.
Hijaab for women
Hijab for women is mentioned in the following verse:
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons” [Al-Qur’an 24:31]
The extent of hijab for a woman is that her complete body should be covered. The only part that can be seen, are the face and the hands up to the wrists. If they wish to cover, they can even cover these parts of the body. However some Islamic scholars insist that even the face should be covered.
Hijab prevents molestation
The reason why Allah has prescribed Hijab for women is given in the Qur’an in the following verse of Surah Al-Ahzab:
“O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.” [Al-Qur’an 33:59]
The Qur’an says that Hijab has been prescribed for women so that they are recognised as modest women and this would prevent them from being molested.
Example of twin sisters
Suppose two sisters who are twins and who are equally beautiful, walk down a street. One of them is wearing the Islamic Hijab i.e. the complete body is covered except for the face and the hands up to the wrists, and the other twin sister is wearing mini skirt or shorts.
Around the corner there is a hooligan who is waiting for an opportunity to tease a girl. Whom will he tease? The girl wearing the Hijab or the girl wearing the mini skirt or shorts? Dresses that expose more than they conceal, are an indirect temptation to the opposite sex for teasing, molestation and rape. The Qur’an rightly says the hijab prevents women from being molested.
Capital punishment for rapist
The Islamic shariah prescribes capital punishment for a convicted rapist. The non-Muslim may be horrified at such a stringent punishment in this age. I have asked a common question to hundreds of non-Muslim men. Suppose God-forbid, some one rapes your wife, your mother or your sister and you are made the judge, and the rapist is brought in front of you. What punishment would you give him? All of them said, “we would put him to death.” Some went to the extent of saying, “we would torture him to death”. So if your wife or your mother or your sister is raped, you want the rapist to be put to death. But if someone else’s wife or mother or sister is raped, capital punishment is a barbaric step?
Islam forbids and prohibits indecency, lewdness and nudity
The United States of America is supposed to be one of the most advanced countries of the world. An F.B.I report in the year 1990 says that 1,02,555 cases of rape were reported. It further says that only 16% of the cases of rapes are reported. Thus, in order to know the actual number of rapes that took place in 1990, the reported figure should be multiplied by 6.25. We get a total of 6,40,968 rape cases that took place in the year 1990 alone. If the total is divided by 365 the number of days in a year, we get an average of 1,756 rape incidents everyday.
Later another report said that an average of 1900 cases of rape are committed in U.S.A every day.
According to National Crime Victimization Survey Bureau of Justice Statistics (U. S. Dept. of Justice) in 1996 alone 3,07,000 cases of rape were reported. Only 31% of the actual cases of rape were reported. Thus, 3,07,000 X 3.226 = 9,90,322 rapes took place in 1996. That is, an average of 2,713 cases of rape took place everyday in America in 1996. Every 32 seconds one rape is taking place in America. Imagine, how many rapes may have taken place in America since the time you have started reading this article.
The FBI report that out of the rape cases that were reported only 10% of the rapist were arrested, that is only 1.6% of the actual rapes committed. Out of those arrested, 50% were let free before the trial.
This would mean that only 0.8% of the rapists faced a trial. In other words if a person commits 125 rapes the chances that he will get a punishment for rape is only once. Many would consider this a good gamble. And the report says that of those people who faced trial 50% received sentences of less than a year’s imprisonment though the American law says rape carries a seven year sentence of imprisonment. For a rapist, the judge is lenient to first time offenders. Suppose a person commits 125 rapes and the chances of being convicted is only once, and 50% of the time the judge will grant leniency and give a sentence of less than a year!
Results achieved when Islamic Shariah is Implemented
Suppose the Islamic shariah is implemented in America. Whenever a man looks at a woman he lowers his gaze. Every woman wears the Hijab, that is the complete body is covered except the face and the hands up to the wrists. And nudity and pornography in any manner, form or media is completely prohibited. The rate of rape in USA will decrease. Islamic Shariah gets results. Islam is the best way of life because its teachings are not empty rhetoric but provide practical solutions for the problems of mankind. Islam achieves results both at the individual and collective levels. Islam is the best way of life because it is a practical, universal religion not confined to any ethnic group or nationality.