What is called life in Europe is a process from birth to death.
This is different in Islam. The European comprehension of life is the path of the body, i.e. the path of matter, which also does not end with the death of the body. The path of the body continues with its decomposition, its transformation back to earthly material, its destiny in the tomb, the resurrection of the body, which bears witness to the actions and intentions of the soul in earthly life on the Day of Judgment. In Islam, however, the concept of life is not bound to the body. It is linked only to the soul.
Here, however, our linguistic expressiveness is limited. Islam uses two words regarding the soul. One is Ruh (روح ,(the other is Nafs (نفس .(Ruh can be translated as a life force, an instinct that makes the body work, and a Nafs is the consciousness with which we take decisions on our destiny. The Ruh is wrapped in the body and the Nafs is wrapped in the Ruh. When our teeth hurt, we do not feel the pain of the body, but the pain of the Ruh. The body does not feel, it is a dead substance. The Ruh feels physical pains and loads. The Nafs feels spiritual pain and since it is embedded in the Ruh, the spiritual pain amplifies the physical torment of the Ruh. The same is true the other way around. The contentment of the soul alleviates Ruth’s trouble when it is suffering.
The concept of life in Islam is linked to the Nafs. And this has an earthly and an afterlife stage. So, this world and the afterlife together is the life. There is a worldly life-affirmation in Islam! It has not only an earthly but also an afterlife part that makes us responsible in making decisions. After all, a worldly joy of life cannot risk the happiness in the afterlife. At the same time, it is unacceptable and unjustifiable from the point of view of Islam that the earthly life should be sacrificed for the afterlife! Suicide outrages thus lead to the suffering of hell and not to the pleasures of the heaven. Because the soul is eternal, it does not die, so suffering is also eternal. The search for earthly happiness and prosperity without compromising the afterlife is an item which explains the sense of most of the terms used by Sharia.
The legal system in the culture of “white man” imposes sanctions on crimes that have already been committed. However, by the time a person gets to commit a deed, the Nafs goes through several phases. Under secular law the Nafs is not punishable unless the intention is embodied in deeds. If there is no awareness of afterlife and reckoning, there is no powerful deterrent for Nafs in decisionmaking, except an earthly sanction, which makes one to reconsider whether is worth to commit a sin or not. Under Sharia, the very fact that this kind of consideration arises is a sin.
Make no mistake, Sharia also imposes punishment after the acts committed. This is the public section. But in addition, there is a non-public part, based only on the account between the individual and God, which has more than one phase and much stronger deterrent effect than the promise of a sanction for committing a physical act.