Ten Commandments - Islamic Perspective
Dr. Maher Hathout, April 2, 2006

In terms of values, the United States of America has defined itself as Judeo-Christian.

There is a reluctance to add Islam to this Judeo-Christian tradition because of two reasons.

1. Western religion vs. Eastern religion

Islam is considered as an Eastern religion whereas Judaism and Christianity are considered as Western even though Jesus (PBUH) was not born in Paris and Moses (PBUH) was not born in New York.

2. The Ten Commandments

There is a notion that only Jews and Christians believe in the Ten Commandments.

In my opinion the above two issues may indicate racism.

Let us discuss the Ten Commandments in the light of the Bible and the Quran. Though the Ten Commandments depicted in both these scriptures are not identical but there is certainly some over lap.

Exodus Chapter 20

1. And God spake all these words, saying,
2. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

When God refers to Himself as "jealous" God, it is about oneness of God and not associating partners with Him.

6. And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

8. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work:
10. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, not thy cattle, not thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it

We, Muslims do not subscribe to Sabbath day as we do not believe that God needed a day off.

12. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13. Thou shalt not kill.
14. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15. Thou shalt not steal.
16. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
17. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his .... any thing that is thy neighbor's.

The Ten Commandments mentioned in the Quran are:

Say: "Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from": Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to shameful deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom. (Quran 6:151)

1. No association of any thing with God.
2. Be kind to your parents. 'ihsan' in Arabic means to offer perfection in goodness and kindness. Even if one is in disagreement with their parents, show kindness towards them. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that be kind to your parents even if the parents are non-believers. We are expected to keep good relationship with our parents during this life. This shows the importance of parents because it is discussed immediately after God.
3. Do not let your poverty kill your children. This mentions about abortion done due to financial hardship. God mentions that He would provide sustenance for you and your children.
4. Do not come close to shameful deeds. In Islam, we are expected to oversee ourselves; it is not like the attitude of jumping the lights on a highway unless there is police officer around.
5. Do not kill any one except in due process in implementing justice.

These are the admonitions from God.

And come not nigh to the orphan's property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice;- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear;- whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfill the covenant of Allah. thus doth He command you, that ye may remember. (Quran 6:152)

6. Do not come close to the property of the orphan except to improve it until the orphan reaches maturity & is capable of handling his/her own affairs The orphan is the one who is deprived of the support of his/her parents who died when he/she was young.
7. In all types of transactions and not just limited to opinions, judgments, etiquettes and dealings, God expects us to measure in weight or size with full justice.
8. When we speak, be just to the extent that even if it is against oneself.
9. Keep one's promise to covenant with God.

Verily, this is My way, leading straight: follow it: follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from His (great) path: thus doth He command you. that ye may be righteous. (Quran 6:153)

10. Follow straight path, follow the direct command of God without any deviation.

Excerpts from the sunday lecture addressed by Dr. Maher Hathout, Sr. Advisor, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) at the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles on April 2, 2006.