The Jews and Christians are very familiar with the Ten Commandments. I had published a post as to why Muslims believe the Ten Commandments are very Islamic as well as a set of Ten powerful lessons in one chapter in the Qur’an. Recently I came across another set of ten verses that have been dubbed ‘The Ten Moral Commandments” in the Qur’an by Solomon Nigosian, a historian and a research associate at the Victoria College, University of Toronto, that revolve around theology, moral and ethical values.
The Ten Commandments appear twice in the Torah-in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. It is important to point out that there are no universally accepted parallels in Islam to the Ten Commandments and this is but one view of a set of Commandments in the Qur’an. Just like the Hebrew Bible, the Qur’an does not limit the Commandments to ten. Like the Hebrew Bible, there are numerous additional Commandments that are spread throughout the Qur’an.
Though not as widely known (or accepted), Solomon Nigosian in his book, Islam: Its History, Teachings and Practices, makes a reference to a set of ten moral commandments in the 17th chapter (Surah Isra) of the Qur’an which may be regarded as the “Islamic Commandments”, though I have modified them slightly.
The chapter starts with references to Prophet Muhammad’s night journey(Isra/Miraj) to the heaven during his life time, and then quickly turn to a set of commands.
- Worship only God: Just like the Hebrew Bible, the set of commands starts with worshipping One God and no one else. Do not associate with God any other god, lest you sit down despised, neglected. 17:22
- Be kind to your parents:As is the case elsewhere in the Bible, respect for the parents is mentioned side by side with the command to make no partners with One God, thus highlighting the importance of kindness to the parents. Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: “My Lord! bestow on them your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” 17:23-24. The last part of verse 24 is part of my own daily prayers that I ask for my deceased parents.
- Be charitable, be kind and don’t be wasteful:Not only charitable giving is a command, but if you cannot help, turn away with kindness. And give to the near of kin his due and (to) the needy and the wayfarer, and do not squander wastefully. Surely the squanderers are the fellows of the evil ones and the evil one is ever ungrateful to his Lord. And if you turn away from them to seek mercy from your Lord, which you hope for, speak to them a gentle word. 17:26-28
- Do not kill your children fearing poverty: Killing the children was not an uncommon tradition in the age of ignorance or Jahiliah-the period of time in Arabia before the dawn of Islam . And do not kill your children for fear of poverty; We give them sustenance and yourselves (too); surely to kill them is a great sin. 17:31
- Do not commit adultery, do not even think about it: Just like the Ten Commandments, adultery is prohibited but the believers are not to even get close to it. And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way. 17:32
- Do not kill unjustly:This is another commandment that is shared with the ‘Ten Commandments’. It does not mean that an individual could take it upon himself/herself to kill for “just reasons”. Islam allows capital punishment and this “killing” implies capital punishment by the judiciary, as well as during wars. And do not kill any one whom God has forbidden, except for a just cause (in the course of justice), and whoever is slain unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority, so let him not exceed the just limits in slaying; surely he is aided. 17:33
- Caring for the orphans- do not steal their property:Care for the orphans is repeatedly emphasized and if one is a guardian of an orphan, their property is to be handled with utmost honesty. And draw not near to the property of the orphan except in a goodly way till he attains his maturity and fulfill the promise; surely (every) promise shall be questioned about. 17:34
- Be honest in business:The verbiage refers to the old times when the marketplace used to have measures and weights (and is still applicable in many situations). Give full measure when you measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight: that is the most fitting and the most advantageous in the final determination. 17:35
- Do not be arrogant- be humble:This is in line with repeated commands to be humble and not be boastful. And do not go about in the land exultingly, for you cannot cut through the earth nor reach the mountains in height. 17:37
- Worship God only: The set of commandments end how it started- by reminding of the grave sin to associate partners with God. These are among the (precepts of) wisdom, which your Lord has revealed to you. Do not associate with God any other god. 17:39
If they seem redundant, the Qur’an acknowledges this right after this set of verses:
And certainly We have repeated (warnings) in this Qur’an that they may be mindful… 17:41
How many of these commandments do you find in common with the 613 Jewish Mitzvot?