Dr. Zia H Shah’s interview by Voice of Islam: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?


Every human life is precious and sacred and killing an innocent is like triggering a genocide. (Al Quran 5:32/33)


To learn more about the Voice of Islam radio, please click here

For the sake of reference I have included the transcript of the first question below.

1.   Can you describe the difference between subjective and objective moral values?

Humans are one of 5000 mammalian species on the planet earth and share 99% of their genetic code with our nearest relatives chimpanzees.

But unlike a goat, a sheep, a cow, a buffalo or a camel, human life has infinite value and cannot be sacrificed willy nilly.

In history many a dictators have tried to define the human worth of their enemies, in terms of their own political agenda and started aggressive and preemptive wars, with little consideration to the lives lost.  They have tried to define human morality as regards the sacredness of each and every human life in their own subjective understanding and terms.

But I believe that human worth is not defined by humans rather by All Knowing, All Loving God of Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, who revealed in the holy Quran in Surah Maidah that human life is precious and sacred and taking an innocent life is like triggering a genocide.  This is what we mean by objective morality. In other words it is not a human invention but a gift from all knowing God.

It is only through Divine law that we come to know the absolute worth of human life.  Dr.  Andrew Conway Ivy was appointed by the American Medical Association as its representative at the 1946 Nuremberg Medical Trial against the Nazi doctors.  He wrote, “Only in a moral world, a world of responsibility, can man be free and live as a human being should. Men are truly equal and free only as creatures of God, because only as the children of God and only in the sight of God and ultimate moral law are men truly equal.”  In the Nuremberg trial he struggled with the question that if man-made law is the sole source of basic human rights, why condemn the Nazi assault on Jews, Gypsies, Poles, and political enemies; and having been shaken by this perplexing trial he concluded:

“If God and the ultimate moral law are denied, there can be no absolute argument against slavery, against ‘might makes right’ and man’s greedy exploitation of man. If human beings have no absolute intrinsic value, no absolute intrinsic freedom of decision, no absolute liberty, no absolute duties, they possess only extrinsic value and may be used as chattels, slaves or serfs by those who have the intelligence and power.”[1]

In view of this objective morality, I believe the only Just wars are the defensive wars.  When polished human conscience finds preemptive wars as unjust then obviously taking of innocent lives through terrorism for any cause or any reason is terribly against the objective morality given to us by the All Loving God of the Abrahamic faiths.  The Quranic verse about the sanctity of human life actually says that God had given the same teaching to the Israelites, a subtle hint that the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims share the same objective morality, when we genuinely understand the Divine message in the proper context of our times.


1. The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe. Edited by John Clover Monsma. GP Putnam’s sons, New Yrok, published in 1958. Page 240.

Additional reading and viewing

Clare Daly an Irish MEP: Afghani Blood is As Holy As Ukranian

A Gem, A Quranic Verse: Is the Ukrainian Blood Holier Than the Middle Eastern?

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