Under which category do the penal laws of the Qur'an fall? Are they oriented towards the individual or towards the society ?


The vision of the Qur'an as regards the matters such as individual, society and the like is totally different from that of the materialistic ideologies. This is evident also in its penal laws. Islam is never in consonance with the Freudian school of thought which sees in man nothing but a mere puppet that could never break free of the strangulating influences of the circumstances of his birth and environment. The Marxian view that it is economic change alone which determines all feelings of self and values is also alien to Islam. The outlook of capitalism, too, which holds that the full light of personality can shine forth only if those born free are also allowed to live their lives in complete freedom,is also rejected by Islam. However, Islam recognizes the fact that wealth, circumstances and environment all have their effect on the personality of men. But the person, as such, isnever created by them. The individual feeling of self and the capacity to decide his stand in differing circumstances are the prerogative of the soul. Indeed, this has been the divine grace endowed upon man, and man alone. For it is this very soul that enables him to distinguish between good and evil and to decide his own choice between the two.

It is the individuals who constitute a society. It is, moreover, the divine laws which seek to purify the individual. It is certain, then, that the society which is made up of individuals who imbibe, within themselves, the moral laws will be one in which peace and goodness reigns. The individual is obliged to obey these laws. For it is only through this that a self-purification becomes possible. Even so, there will be, in every society, at least some who try to deviate from the moral code. If such people are not stopped, it might spread and spread in evil becoming rampant in the society ,thereby,leading to a state of anarchy and chaos. The laws of the Shariah are meant to prevent such a perpetuation of the evil. 

The very objective of the penal laws in the Qur'an is to maintain the individual and society in a state of constant purity. Islam does not envisage a view whereby the individual may be sacrificed for the society or the society for the individual. Nevertheless, the capitalistic outlook which does not tolerate even the slightest encroachment of the individual and the communist view which holds that even the most basic urges of the individual ought to be sacrificed for the society are both alien to Islam. The vision of Islam, on the other hand, holds that it is never a mutually clashing relationship which must exist between the individual and society. It is values that necessarily binds them together harmoniously. The penal laws of the Qur'an serve to purify the individual and the society by way of protecting these values. Thus, they are centered neither on the individual nor on the society.