A case of ship with 300 people was presented by Imam al-Ghazali (450-505 A.H./ 1058-1111 A.D.) in his book on the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence called “al-Mustasfa Min ‘lm al-Usul.” In this case, he asked the question,
Three hundred people were in a boat sailing on the sea. They realized that their safety was at risk, and the lives of the majority could only be saved by throwing 10 people overboard. Would it be morally right to kill 10 people in order to save 290?
Islamic Law is based on Qur’an and Sunnah (Hadith) or the Islamic legislative system (Shari’ah) and is not based on personal desires or benefits. Therefore all the decisions are to be made on the basis of Islamic rules and regulations.
Imam al-Ghazali wrote, on the basis of Shari’ah, it is morally wrong to kill some people, so that we can save others. He has given following reasons for this:
1. Universality: The benefit in this case is, not on the universal level but it is, the benefit of a small group of people, who are going to use others as means to their end.
2. Necessity: The benefit of those people on the boat is not necessary to a degree to break another necessity and kill humans.
3. Certainty: We are not certain that killing those people is going to save the rest. What if they killed them and after that they faced another problem at sea, should they kill another 10 people to save the rest? This is morally unjustifiable and becomes out of control.
Islam tells that the life of every single human is precious and unique.
Allah commanded Muslims in the Qur’an that killing is prohibited, and to kill one soul is as if you killed the entire human race and to save one soul is as if you saved the entire human race.
Book: Mirror of Realization Author: Mashhad Al-Allaf.