Islam indeed is a religion with well-defined do's and don't's, based on four or five categories of restrictions and flexibilities. "Wajib" is a must, prescribed by Allah in the Quran. " Sunat" is something that is preferred and strongly recommended. It is what the Prophet (PBUH) had done and, therefore, praiseworthy to emulate. "Haram" is what is categorically prohibited and a sin to violate the restriction. "Mubah" is what is an obvious necessity like eating and drinking, also known in Malay as "Harus" ( a must). Finally there's the uncertain or controversial category called " ". You are advised to keep away from such things such as when you are in doubt as to whether certain action is permitted or not.
But Islam has one other category of flexibility that is most practical and human. It is called "dharuri" or "dharurat" as the Malays put it. It allows you to eat and drink what is otherwise "Haram" in times of emergency and a person has no choice if he or she were to survive. The Muslim is even allowed to do do things that would otherwise be strictly prohibited, when life and limbs are endangered. A Muslim is strictly prohibited from putting his life in danger intentionally, such as trying to or committing suicide.
But, Allah imposed all the restrictions for certain reason which modern science is just beginning to appreciate. The Islamic Banking system for example is just beginning to be appreciated after the weaknesses of the capitalist and profit-centered western system begins to show its ugly face.
Happy Hari Raya Haji to all.