Ten Commandments in the Quran (part 1 of 3): A Quick
Description: A review of what are the Ten Commandments and
their place in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths.By C. Mofty (© 2012 IslamReligion.com)Published on 19 Mar 2012 - Last modified on 01 Apr 2012
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A Summary of the Meanings of
Reading the title, some people might think of the ‘The Ten
Commandments,’ one of the most financially
successful movies and rated as one of the
best ten ever. Or the title might stir the
memories of the national debate of putting ‘The Ten Commandments’ on public
property and use in public schools that ended in the Supreme Court in 2005.
Leaving aside the movies and the
media, basic facts on Ten Commandments are little known. That is why in three
article we will explore what are the Ten Commandments? Who follows them? What is
their relevance to (modern) American life? What solutions, if any, do they
provide for today’s challenges?
Let us start with the basics. The
Ten Commandments have their origin in the Jewish religion, but they are also
found in the Christian Bibles. It is said to be inscribed on two tablets that
were given by God to Moses. In the Bible, they are recorded in Exodus 20:2-17
and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. The Exodus list is more commonly accepted by Christians.
Encyclopedia Britannica describes them to be a “list of religious precepts
that…were divinely revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai and were engraved on two
tablets of stone.”
“Judaism teaches that the first
tablet, containing the first five declarations, identifies duties regarding our
relationship with God, while the second tablet, containing the last five
declarations, identifies duties regarding our relationship with other people.” Catholics believe, “The Ten
Commandments are precepts bearing on the fundamental obligations of religion and
morality and embodying the revealed expression of the Creator's will in relation
to man's whole duty to God and to his fellow-creatures.” The Hebrew, Protestant, and
Catholic versions differ. That there are different versions of the Ten
Commandments is not a well-known fact.
What place does the Biblical
version hold in modern society? Jews are careful not to publicly over emphasize
them so as not to create the impression that Judaism has only these ten
commandments and no others. Christian theologians, on the other hand, consider
them to be the moral law of God to guide society, a standard of sorts to measure
the health of the society. As a result, what place, if any, should these
commandments hold in modern Western, secular societies is a hotly debated
subject. Should they be part of public schooling? Can they be displayed in
public? The issues have been debated even by the Supreme Court of the US.
Despite the attention, most commandments are simply ignored by the society.
Secularists even consider the Biblical version to be intolerant.
Great emphasis is placed on these
commandments in the Islamic faith: three verses in the Quran, the sacred book of
Islam, speak of them. Prophet Muhammad’s companions emphasized their centrality.
The Quran speaks of them in Surah
Anaam, 6:151-153 and Surah Isra’, 17:23-39. Surah Isra’, 17:23-39 is like a commentary on the
commandments listed in Surah Anaam. Some scholars call them the “verses of the
ten commandments” simply because they speak of ten significant commandments to
be observed by a Muslim. The Quran does not directly state that these are the
same commandments that were given to Moses.
Ibn Mas’ud, a famous companion of
Prophet Muhammad said:
“Whoever wishes to ascertain the
will of Prophet Muhammad on which the Prophet has put his seal, let him read the
Statement of God, and then he recited the three verses.”
The Prophet of Islam himself
“Who among you will give me his
pledge to do three things,” he then recited the verse 6:151 and continued,
“Whoever fulfills (this pledge), then his reward will be with God, but whoever
fell into shortcomings and God punishes him for it in this life, then that will
be his recompense. Whoever God delays (his reckoning) until the Hereafter, then
his matter is with God. If He wills, He will punish him, and if He wills, He
will forgive him.''
In summary, in the Islamic view,
these commandments contain what God wills for the life of all people. It has
five orders and a similar number of prohibitions that define the relationship of
man and his Creator, man’s obligations to his family, and commandments that
order his social life. What follows are the ten commandments of Quran and their
relevance to modern life.
It must be clarified that Islamic teachings do not look favorably at
portraying prophets of God in images or the screen.
 "Ten Commandments."
Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia
Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 10 Jan. 2012.
 The Ten Commandments as Public
Ritual. Contributors: Derek H. Davis - author. Journal Title: Journal of Church
and State. Volume: 44. Issue: 2. Publication Year: 2002. Page Number:
 Hakim said, "Its chain is Sahih
and they did not record it.''
Ten Commandments in the Quran (part 2 of 3): Commandments
Description: First five commandments are part of God’s rulebook
guiding us through today’s world.By C. Mofty (© 2012
IslamReligion.com)Published on 26 Mar 2012 - Last
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> The Holy Quran >
A Summary of the Meanings of
First Commandment: Join not anything in worship with
The first commandment is the most
important and easiest one. It is meant for the whole human race, the most
severe in punishment, yet it is a commandment from which people have strayed far
away. Ignoring the first prohibition is what leads to all other evils. It
ruins all worship and works which depend on it. Idolatry, known as Shirk
in Arabic, is more than serving idols. It is believing in a god besides the One
True God who alone deserves worship and service. Prohibiting idolatry is to
affirm its opposite: proper belief in and worship of God. Proper belief in God
is the cornerstone of Islamic faith and all other commands and prohibitions rely
on it. If this command is not kept, there is little point in keeping the
Second Commandment: Be good and dutiful to
Given the often tense relation
between the generations, this commandment is particularly relevant to our
times. Most kids these days are angry. They are very angry at their parents
and their childhood. Maybe they were hurt when they were vulnerable. Parents
are imperfect. Many people think their parents do not deserve any respect, yet
God commands to be kind to them. They are not to be spoken harshly or
mistreated. Instead, they are to be taken care of and shown the best
Parents are so important
that that they are placed right after duty to God!
At the same time, we are supposed
to honor, not worship, the parents. God comes before parents. God, the
Creator, is to be thanked for what we have, His matchless gifts to everyone of
us. After God, we owe our existence to our parents who brought us in this
life. They are not only to be treated fairly, but favor must be shown to them.
They are to be treated kindly by the way we speak to them, the way we act
towards them, and to financially support them, if need be.
Third Commandment: Kill not your children because of
The ancient Arabs would kill
their children out of fear of poverty. But, who would kill their own
children who are so susceptible and vulnerable in an age of civilization? Yearly
around 750,000 children are reported missing in the United States, around 2,000
every day. Around 100 children are abducted
and murdered in the U.S. each year. About 100-200 children are killed
in Britain per year. The killers are mostly parents.
According to the Society for the Prevention of Infanticide, “Today, infanticide
is still most commonly seen in areas of severe poverty.”
Forth Commandment: Come not near to “shameful” sins
whether committed openly or secretly
This commandment deals with
sexual conduct to protect the family structure.
What are “shameful” sins? Islam
teaches that they are adultery, fornication, incest, and homosexuality.
Violation of the family unit is a crime against God and humanity.
Unfortunately, these sins have become so commonplace that it has altered
society’s perception of it.
In modern times, society has
developed new expressions that soften the sin of adultery. Many are too coarse
to repeat, but ones that are not include: fooling around, sleeping around,
flings, and affairs. These phases create a notion that adultery is
guilt-free and hurts no one. Some people even suggest that it’s just a
recreational activity like playing ball or going to the movies! The truth is
that these acts bring God’s extreme displeasure. Such sins undermine human
society and laws regulating sexual behavior are part of every viable civilized
How prevalent is adultery? “More
than one-third of men and one-quarter of women admit having had at least one
extramarital sexual experience.”
An article in a 1997 issue of
Newsweek magazine noted that various surveys suggest that as many as 30 percent
of male Protestant ministers have had sexual relationships with women other than
The Quran lays down several steps
to curb moral decadence spread by “shameful” sins:
Institution of marriage.
Emphasis on dress code for women.
Avoiding temptations by lowering the gaze.
Prohibition to enter others people’s houses
Fifth Commandment: Kill not anyone whom God has
Islam views the human body as a
structure built by God that no one has the right to destroy. Human life is
respected and protected as belonging to God. Elsewhere, the Quran states,
“On account of (his deed), We
decreed to the Children of Israel that if anyone kills a person - unless in
retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land - it is as if he
kills all mankind, while if any saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of
all mankind.” (5:32)
Islamic law protects the lives
a non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim country
non-Muslims who have peace treaties with Muslim
any non-Muslim who has taken temporary residence in
a Muslim country.
At the same time, taking life is
not always an evil deed. Shedding of human blood by another is strictly
prohibited unless it is legislated by God such as the killing of a murderer,
 Samuel Janus and Cynthia Janus,
The Janus Report on Sexual Behavior (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1993),
 Kenneth Woodward, “Sex, Morality
and the Protestant Minister,” Newsweek (28 July 1997),
Ten Commandments in the Quran (part 3 of 3): Commandments
Description: Moral guidance for today’s world dealing with
orphans, fairness, justice, fulfilling God’s Covenant, and walking on God’s
Path.By C. Mofty (© 2012
IslamReligion.com)Published on 02 Apr 2012 - Last
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> The Holy Quran >
A Summary of the Meanings of
Sixth Commandment: Come not near to the orphan’s
property, except to improve it, until he (or she) attains the age of full
Divine wisdom dictated that the religion of Islam be
delivered to humanity at the hands of an orphan, someone who God raised to
convey His final message to humanity. Quite naturally, orphans are more than
mere shadows in Islam.
Islamic Law defines an orphan to
be a child that who is deprived of the benefits of parenting by death of the
Much like the Arab society before
Islam, orphans do not fare much better in the US today.
Today there are estimated over
132 million orphans in the world. Over 25 million American children (more than
one in three) are being raised in a family without a father. Over 50% of youth in shelters and
on the streets reported that their parents either told them to leave or knew
they were leaving but did not care. As many as 2.8 million children live on the
streets, a third of whom are lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving
home. 1 in 8 youth under the age of 18 will leave home and become homeless in
need of services. In 2007, 513,000 orphaned children lived outside of the home
in substitutive/foster care. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization
Act of 2005 cited the Congressional finding that 100,000-300,000 children in the
United States are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation at any time. A University of Pennsylvania
study estimates nearly 300,000 children in the United States are at risk of
being sexually exploited for commercial uses.
In the US, the word ‘orphan’ is
rarely used. According to Dr. Francine Cournos, author of City of One: A
Memoir, “today’s orphans in the United States are foster care children.” The
term foster children is often used for children in foster homes, group homes,
Twenty two verses of the Muslim
scripture emphasize taking care of the orphans. Islam protected the orphans
from being neglected and legislated rights for them. One of those rights,
formulated as a commandment, is to spend money for their benefit. Today, in the
US, that would mean, for example, that the foster parents should spend the
$420/month (that is the national average) they receive per child for the welfare
of the child in the best possible manner.
Seventh Commandment: Give full measure and full
weight with justice
The commandment has to do with
fairness and justice in all matters, financial and otherwise. Fair dealing with
fellow human beings is God’s command. The big question is how you can stand by
the principle of fair dealing, especially in business, when it seems so
advantageous not to. Why should you be fair in an unfair world? The simple
answer: it’s God’s command. God wants us to be ethical and play fairly. You
must first accept the basic commandment and moral principle of fair and honest
practices. Widespread economic and racial inequalities, unfair lending
practices, and lack of affordable housing makes one wonder, what justice and
whose justice? The answer is justice according to God’s rules. The only way to
solve them is to fulfill God’s command and give others their dues.
Eight Commandment: Whenever you speak, say the truth
even if a near relative is concerned
The commandment is not limited to
fairness in speech, it includes behavior. God requires us to treat others
fairly, including the relatives. If a parent or a friend makes a mistake,
should we say that he is in error? Yes, knowing fully well that it is not a
license to be rude and insulting, but a matter of fairness. In a similar vein,
favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism are unethical. Islam commands its followers
to be ethical and just in the face of conflicting emotions like love and hatred
for the other. A Muslim is required to speak the truth and be honest without
getting influences by the relatives.
Ninth Commandment: Fulfill the Covenant of God
In general, fulfilling covenants
and keeping pledges is one of the foundations of Islam. It ensures trust,
maintains justice, and brings equality in society.
In specific, a Muslim is required
to keep his covenant with God. The basic principle of Islam is that God
commands and forbids, hence God is to be obeyed. The ‘Covenant of God’ is the
promise made to God that acknowledges this basic principle. As a consequence,
God rewards and punishes.
A Muslim is supposed to fulfill
pledges and keep promises; it is an indication of loyalty to his word and to
God. Negligence in this matter indicates hypocrisy. Aptly, God ends with an
“This is what He commands you to
do, so that you may bear in mind.”
So, if you have not already made
a promise to God to obey Him, then now is the time to do so!
Tenth Commandment: And, indeed, this is My Straight
Path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, for they will separate you
away from His Path. This He has ordained for you that you may become
The last commandment is the most
comprehensive, combining in itself the entire religion. God basically tells us
that this is My ‘Straight Path’, you must follow it. The ‘Straight Path’ of God
is His religion that he sent us through His prophets, completing it with His
final message which He sent through Prophet Muhammad. Every human being is
required to follow this final message of Islam and leave all other ‘paths.’ All
other paths, without exception, lead a person away from God and that amounts to
destruction. The other “paths” are ancient religions that have been corrupted
or cancelled as well as misleading ideologies and philosophies. Sticking
closely to God’s “Straight Path” keeps one protected from slipping or losing
Thus we conclude ten commandments
from God that are relevant and applicable to our times, and provide the best
framework to develop the spiritual side of human beings.
Parts of This Article
Commandments in the Quran (part 1 of 3): A Quick Introduction
Commandments in the Quran (part 2 of 3): Commandments I-V
Commandments in the Quran (part 3 of 3): Commandments VI-X
View all parts together