Thursday, May 6, 2010

Quran 5:32, Nazam, and Neglecting Context

Nazam is a regular on our blog and an active proponent for Islam in the UK. I met Nazam this past summer in London; he's very congenial and I really like the guy.

All affability aside, he has struck a nerve that I simply cannot ignore. In the comment thread of a recent post, he refers to the would-be Times Square bomber and the man who initially pointed out the danger to the police. Nazam said this:
Just a little quote from the Quran, the holy book of the Muslims.

“…if any one killed a person, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind…” - The Holy Quran (Chapter Five, Verse 32).

Just think who gets the reward, Fahad, the allege bomber or Aliou Niasse? =)
What bothers me is Nazam has ripped 5:32 out of context, and being a Muslim apologist, he probably knows it full well. In fact, 5:32 is the most ripped-out-of-context verse of the Qur'an in the West. Muslims (and even news organizations) often refer to this verse in order to show that Islam teaches murder is wrong and saving lives is the prescribed action for all people.

But this is absolutely not what this verse says. In fact, it says almost the exact opposite: that Muslims can kill those who are their enemies! The only way you can conclude as Nazam has concluded is to ignore the verses that immediately follow 5:32, as well as to ignore parts of the verse itself.

Here is 5:32 in its context, with all words included (emphasis mine):
On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
Salient points:

1 - It explicitly states that this was a commandment to the Children of Israel, i.e. the Jews! This is not a commandment to all people, and it certainly should not be misused as if this is Allah's command to Muhammad's people.

2 - Even if this were a command to the Muslims, there's still an escape clause: "unless it be for murder or spreading mischief in the land." If someone is "spreading mischief", he can still be killed. Now let's think for a moment. The would-be Times Square bomber considers Americans to be spreading mischief in Palestine and around the world (practically all Muslims I know think this, even the ones who are American citizens). Accordingly, even if this verse were to apply to someone like Faisal Shahzad, he would still be justified in his slaughter.

As if this weren't obvious enough from the verse itself, the Qur'an further expounds this point in the very next verse. 5:33 says
The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.
This verse is referring to the Muslims, not the Jews anymore, as we can tell in the shift from past tense to present tense. And here, the punishment for mischief is clearly prescribed: execution, crucifixion, mutilation, or at the least, exile. This is the command given to the Muslims. Quite clearly, it does not teach what the Muslims proclaim it teaches; in fact, it teaches almost the exact opposite.

It is undeniably clear that, in order to make Islam seem peaceful, Nazam and many other Muslims rip this verse out of its context, take words out of the very verse itself, changing the entire message for something else. I wonder if they know they are guilty of Surah 5:13. In any case, we should not let ourselves (or anyone who might be interested) be deceived by the popular Muslim interpretation of these verses.

11 comments:

Odo said...

Hello Nazam, you said,

“We were all American. That was the point!”

No my brother that is not the point. The point is that anyone in the world would go alert the authorities if they saw a burning car in the middle of a populated city. I don't care if they are cannibals, anyone and everyone not only should, but it would be their duty to do so simply out of the fact that there is a burning car in the middle of a populated city!

I cannot believe a connection was made here, and it's even stranger to me that Surah 5:32 popped up.

For this reason was man created alone, to teach thee that whosever destroys a single soul of Israel [of Israel is absent in some texts], scripture imputes (guilt) to him as though he had Destroyed a Complete World; and whosever preserves a single soul of Israel, scripture ascribes (merit) to him as though he had Preserved a Complete World [since all mankind originated from one man]. – Babylonian Talmud, Mishnah Sanhedrin 37a

Check out the above verse which originated over 300 years prior to Islam in a man-made book, don't you find it a little strange that Muhammad is pulling stuff from manmade material?

Nazam, rethink fulfillment of the Law.

GreekAsianPanda said...

Again? A Muslim is quoting 5:32 again??? I really have to wonder how they get away with doing that so often.

And thanks for pointing out that passage from the Babylonian Talmud, Odo. I had been looking for that quote but couldn't find it.

Ilena said...

again muslims with their double standards.

Nazam said...

Thanks Nabeel, I honestly like you as well and only have good memories of our time together. It was cool to traveling back home on London transport.

I'll try to give my response later as it's quite overwhelming when you have serveral people all at once wanting to respond to you, that plus I have a life outside of the internet to live.

Sepher Shalom said...

For me, the really enlightening thing is not that this verse was taken out of context (I expect that by now), it is that it seems to be the only thing in the Quran Muslims can come up with as a response when terrorists kill.

Tafsir Al-Jalalayn: (5:32) Because of that, which Cain did, We decreed for the Children of Israel that whoever slays a soul for other than a soul, slain, or for, other than, corruption, committed, in the land, in the way of unbelief, fornication or waylaying and the like, it shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoever saves the life of one, by refraining from slaying, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind — Ibn ‘Abbās said [that the above is meant] in the sense of violating and protecting its [a soul’s] sanctity [respectively]. Our messengers have already come to them, that is, to the Children of Israel, with clear proofs, miracles, but after that many of them still commit excesses in the land, overstepping the bounds through disbelief, killing and the like.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs: (5:32) (For that) because Cain wrongfully killed Abel (cause We decreed for the Children of Israel) in the Torah (that whosoever killeth a human being for other than man slaughter) i.e. premeditatedly (or corruption in the earth) or because of idolatry, (it shall be as if be had killed all mankind) Hell will be decreed for him for premeditatedly and wrongfully killing a human being, as though he killed all mankind, (and whoso saveth the life of one) whoever abstains from killing a person, (it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind) Paradise will be decreed for him for sparing one soul, as though he spared the lives of all mankind. (Our messengers came unto them) i.e. the Children of Israel (of old with clear proofs) with commands, prohibitions and signs, (but afterwards lo! many of them) the Children of Israel (became) after the messengers (prodigals in the earth) ascribing partners to Allah.

Tafsir Maududi: (5:32) [32] That was why We prescribed this for the children of Israel:53 "He who killed any person, unless it be a person guilty of manslaughter, or of spreading chaos in the land, should be looked upon as though he had slain all mankind, and he who saved one life should be regarded as though he had saved the lives of all mankind."54 But the majority of them went on committing excesses in the land even after Our Messengers came to them one after the other with clear directions.

David Wood said...

Hi Nazam,

Since Nabeel and I like you, we'll post your response as a blog post if you want.

minoria said...

The whole theme is 5:32-34:(by ARBERRY,a non-Muslim):

"Therefore We prescribed for the Children of Israel that whoso slays a soul not to retaliate for a soul slain, nor for corruption done in the land, shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoso gives life to a soul, shall be as if he has given life to mankind altogether. Our Messengers have already come to them with the clear signs; then many of them thereafter commit excesses in the earth.

This is the recompense of those who fight against God and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement,
except for such as repent, before you have power over them. So know you that God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate."

THE PROBLEM
What is "to fight against Allah and his prophet"?
A LITERAL fight?Or is what WE are doing,criticism of the Koran and Mohammed,also part of the fight against Islam?
If so then "to repent" means we have to give up our FREEDOM of SPEECH?I find the idea contra-natura.

Odo said...

Hello Greek Asian Panda,

You are most welcome, and in case you do not know, there is a little search widget on this site. If you type in 'Talmud' or anything else you want a quick reference to from the Answering Muslims team, it will bring up all of the blog posts relating to your inquiry.

Also, if the Talmudic sources used by Muhammad are of a special interest to you, there is a great book called Judaism in Islam: Biblical and Talmudic Backgrounds of the Koran and its Commentaries by Abraham I Katsh, which was actually recommended to me by a blogger from this site.

Ok, bye for now.

Joel Madden said...

It's such a pity that one person misinterpretes the verse taken from Quran and everyone else blindly accepts it. In verse 5:32 it is reffered to Muslims where it says (children of Israel) because at that time Muslims used to live in the land of Israel and the Jew religion did not even exist at that time. the verse followed by that 5:33 the ones who wage war against God and his apostles simply mean declaring war against the Muslims and therefore allowing Muslims to defend themselves and execute, crucify, cut the hands, exile and so on.

Julie K said...

Islam's Prophet Muhammad wasn't even born until the 7th Century or thereabouts.

Judaism, Christianity, then Islam in that order.FACT: The Bible was written 500 years before the Quaran.

Islam attempts to make itself look older in order to deny the Jews of their rightful land. They do this by prohibiting meaningful achaelogical digs in and around the Temple Mount. Islam cannot afford to have Israel's previous role on the Mount known for fear that public opinion would turn against them and they lose control of it.

bogere robert said...

How can you post deliberate untruths here....knowing that anyone with a simple and basic understanding of islam can debunk these lies?

For the record...Islam considers Adam to be the first muslim....not mohammed....Abel...Abraham...Jesus...Jacob and his children.. David...Moses...Noah....Solomon....John the Baptist...were all muslims...99.9% of the prophets of Islam are propbably jews....thats why only a stupid muslim can say he hates jews...when he.MUST believe in and love those (jewish) prophets....

It follows that an injunction to THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL IS AN INJUNCTION TO MUSLIMS....THERE IS NOTHING GOD TOLD OR COMMANDED TO ANY PEOPLE AT ANY TIME THAT IS SINFUL OR EVIL FOR MUSLIMS....

If indeed muslims were commanded to kill jews or other "non-muslims"....how do you explain the fact that jews have existed side by side with muslims throughout Arabia or even in Iran....juxtaposed against the persecution of jews in Europe? In Islam.....you are not allowed even to sharpen a knife when the animal you are going to slaughter is watching.....such is the regard for life!!! How then can you say we are allowed to disregard "non muslim" life.....