Regarding the Utilitarianism, I'm referring to Sharia punishments. I'm not sure how correct an interpretation of your Prophet's message such types of jurisprudence hold but it seems to me that punishments like stoning and hand severing are a little extreme. However, I wonder if such extremes have merit in there long-term dissuasion from the committal of immoral acts. Correct me if I'm wrong about this understanding of Sharia.
well if you just read it or hear it by word of mouth then it DOES seem like a severe Punishment, and it sounds Cruel.... but if you read in the Context that how Islam teaches and explains about such Punishment it makes clear that... whenever a Westerner Hears about Shariah Law, they have this mindset, and it is a fact that Media has created such a mind set, that Shariah is a Harsh Law, Shariah is Very Strict and rather than providing Justice it provides Injustice.... the Ordinary Westerner thinks according to what Media tells and then forms a mind set just like yours, for which Media is to be blamed and therefore i advise you to study and read about Islam to get right knowledge..... a question to you .... How could a Western Media, who is not Muslim and does not have knowledge on Islam be able to say that Shariah Law is dangerous ? and How does Western leaders who have not at all knowledge of Islam can say that Shariah is Harsh ?
You have to be a Muslim 1st, and then have knowledge of Quran and Sunnah to know what is right and what is wrong.... giving your viewpoints just because you OWN the stage , doesn't mean your right!
So this is how western Opinion is created in the Western World... but there are many Smart Westerners who don't fall for Media Propaganda...
any ways... so i'll try explaining 2 points Stoning and Severing Hands
1st of all in Islam spiritual and physical, both needs are to be taken care of in a True Islamic Society, as Physical is connected to Spiritual and if there is no providing security and well being of physical then it cannot be a True Islamic Society, and every one cannot enjoy security and well being and no spiritual progress. A True Islamic society is where every one is given justice and if some class is more privileged than others, while others have to suffer then there cannot be happiness.
In an Islamic Society where a class of people are able to do whatever they want and another class, or majority of people suffer because of their uneven distribution of wealth, then poverty begins to breed crime. Poverty can be a big hindrance towards spiritual progress. Such a society where a rich class can exploit the ones below them, is bound to suffer , have increased rate of crime, and definitely move away from God consciousness. It was this because of which Muhammad (Saw) said...
"Poverty may well turn in to a denial of the truth (kufr)."
So the Legislation to create a Islamic Society which will be at harmony within it self has to be provided Following...every man woman and child
1. Should have enough to eat and wear
2. An adequate Home.
3. Equal opportunities and facilities for education.
4. Free medical care in health and sickness.
5. A resultant of these rights is the right to productive work and make profit while of working age and of good health, and a provision (by the community or state) of adequate nourishment, shelter etc in cases of disability resulting from illness, widowhood, enforced unemployment, old age, or under age.
The whole Scheme to provide such a Social Security System, is laid down in the injunctions of Sunnah and Verses of Quran.... and 2nd Caliph Umar (r.a)
who succeeded Prophet Muhammad (saw) after his death, brought this legislation in to action and so his Rule is considered the Most Just since the inception of Islam in Arabia.
It is against Such a Just Social Security System, that is any one tries to Steal after all the ameneties are available for the Benefit of all citizens of the Islamic Society, or is led by "temptation" to steal and the person steals at the expense of other members of the society, then the Punishment is to be enforced! But if the Social Security is not provided in the full sense of the word, in the society then the person might be tempted to steal and therefore a punishment of such sort cannot be enforced rather lider forms of punishment will be enforced.
A good example is also during the time of Caliph Umar (r.a) there was a time when Famine occurred and the punishment of Cutting the hands was waived off.
So in short cutting off of hands is only applicable in a fully functioning Social Security Scheme and NOT otherwise!
This should be taught by the Western Media before maligning such Punishment ! ... how many people do you see in Iran or Saudi Arabia, whose hands are cut off ? You have to go yourself there and witness and not rely on BBC and CNN bro! they lie!
And about stoning... its is not in the Quran however, we have Traditions in the Prophet's teachings in which he did give Punishment for stoning to death. That was done to a married woman who already was married, and had committed fornication, and so stoning to death is for ONLY those married persons who commit fornication while they are married. Also the lady to whom punishment was given, was guilty and came herself and wanted to get punishment, because she was satisfied that if she would get punishment Allah (swt) would forgive her, and because she confessed infront of every one, the Prophet had no choice but to give her, and she willingly accepted it, as that is the Punishment for married couples!
In order to put a stop to such crime which can lead to other forms of immorality in the society like Prostitution and making money for sex, there is a prescribed punishment, HOWEVER even that is NOT to be given unless all the rights are provided in the Society under a Perfect Social Security Scheme. Because may be a lady had to commit in case of Poverty (not the lady to whom punishment was given was punished for such crime) ? So its not just like how you hear in the Western Media...
So if you would like to i can explain flogging which is to be given to those, men and women who are UNmarried... and that is also done to prevent immorality in the society, which can prevail if this punishment is waived. A good example is the abortion that 14-16 and 17 years old get in to in Europe and North America as soon as they enter high School. One after another abortion and the exploitation of young minds is leading towards the moral collapse in Western Society....so illegal sexual intercourse leads a society towards decadence!
As for Materialism, I see a large part of this coming out of the West simply because the West has control over much of the media and industry and therefore corporations in the West have the most to gain from the promotion of consumerism. At the same time, Materialism has always existed in all cultures to a varying extent. My Muslim friends have often said that, despite the religious warnings of Materialism, embedded some Muslim cultures resides a contest of wealth flaunting between different families.
I do agree with you regarding Muslims also falling for Materialism and trying to flaunt and show off, which is against Islam and teachings of Quran, and so they should refrain and if they don't then they will definitely be responsible for their actions. Every Muslim is NOT guided and follows Islam perfectly, just like how every Christian does not TRULY follow teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him)...
well do ask if you have more Questions :)