In the aftermath of the massacre in Paris, one verse in particular from the Quran was posted online again and again, and it is the same verse President Obama quoted in his famous speech in Cairo. And it is a verse that, apparently, makes clear that what the Islamic terrorists did in France was a direct violation of the Quran and therefore not Islamic at all.
But is that what the verse really says?
Not at all.
In fact, the verse has been wrenched out of context – there is no excuse for a Muslim to do this, let alone for the president of the United States to do so while speaking to a Muslim audience in Egypt – and it must be quoted in part rather than in full to continue the subterfuge.
To quote President Obama’s words in Cairo, “The Holy Quran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.”
To quote it more fully (but still leaving out the beginning of the verse), the Quran says in 5:32, “whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them [meaning the children of Israel] with clear proofs.”
What, then, is the problem? Is there an issue with the translation from the Arabic?
That is not the issue at all. The issue is cutting out one critically important part of the verse and then pulling the verse completely out of its context.
The verse begins with these words: “Because of that [referring back to Cain killing his brother Abel, described in the previous verses], We [meaning Allah] decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. …”
Did you catch that?
This is something Allah decreed for the children of Israel, not for Muslims.
Allah’s decree for Muslims is found in the very next verses: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment, Except for those who return [repenting] before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (5:33-34).
So, if Allah’s enemies will repent and become Muslims, they will be spared. If not, they will be killed or mutilated or exiled.
Have you seen any of this recently?
As a former Muslim from Jordan posted on my Facebook page (in his imperfect English), “every thing that isis do you can read it and see it in quran and in the story of mohamad. … I was a muslim but now I am not because islam is worst than cancer.”
To put this in its larger context, vv. 27-31 of chapter five in the Quran recount Cain’s killing of his brother Abel, and the beginning words of v. 32, “Because of that” refer back to Cain’s murderous act, an act in keeping with Israel’s guilty ways.
So, it was “because of that” that Allah decreed for Israel “that whoever killed an innocent person, it is as if he killed the whole world, and whoever saves one, it is as if he saved the whole world.”
But, to repeat, he did not decree this for Muslims.
Instead, his counsel to Muslims was, “So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds” (47:4).
What makes the misrepresentation of 5:32 all the more blatant is that the beautiful part of the verse is taken from the Mishnah, an authoritative body of Jewish teaching completed around 220 A.D. There it says, “whoever destroys a single Israelite soul is deemed by Scripture as if he had destroyed a whole world. And whoever saves a single Israelite soul is deemed by Scripture as if he had saved a whole world” (Sanhedrin 4:5).
And what did the rabbis base this on? It was the account of Cain’s killing of Abel in Genesis 4 – the very incident the Quran referred to – where the Hebrew in Genesis 4:10 refers to Abel’s bloods (plural) crying out from the ground, as if Cain not only killed him but all his potential, future descendants.
This means that Muhammad must have previously learned about this account from his Jewish teachers, after which it gets incorporated into the Quran as if it were by divine revelation.
And so, the powerful call to preserve life comes from traditional Jewish sources, not the Quran, and even within the Quran, is was given to Israel, not the Muslims.
Their job was to kill and subjugate the enemies of the faith.
Thankfully, many others have exposed the frequent misuse of Quran 5:32, but with the recent uptick in the misquotation of this verse, I felt it was important to set the record straight yet again.
Let the truth be told.