“...whoever kills a person, it is as if he had killed all mankind. And whoever saves one it is as if he had saved all mankind... ”
This short article discusses verse 5:32 in the Quran, which Muslims commonly quote when debating critics of Islam. Muslim intellectuals and Imams, as well as Western apologists, often quote this verse as evidence to support their false claims that Islam is a religion of peace. The verse is anything but peaceful and shames, not only the Quran, but Islam in general and all those who quote it.
Sooner or later, some readers with interest in Islamic issues, might come across Muslims (or Westerners) who quote verse 5:32 to spread the lies that Islam is a religion of peace, in which case the explanation in this article might come handy.
I watched on youtube a number of debates involving highly respected intellectuals who did not notice the Islamic trap in the verse. Examples of the debates I watched is the one between Tony Blair (a Muslim apologist) and the late Christopher Hitchens. The verse was also quoted by Muslims debating Douglas Murray and A Hirsi. More recently, Robert Spencer debated an Imam on BBC radio. The Imam quoted the verse but Spencer did not spot its weakness, which surprised me. Any way, all those critics of Islam did well in their debates despite missing an opportunity to expose Islam even further.
This is how the Muslims and Muslim apologists quote the verse:
“whoever kills a person it is as if he had killed mankind ( or humanity) entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind ( or humanity) entirely.”
This is the verse in Arabic:
And this is the translation (The relevant part emphasized):
Q. 5: 32 “Because of that, We 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. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors”.
The underlined part is normally missed by those who quote the verse and appears as an extra explanation to make the point. Muslims understand the verse as a decree from Allah that: “whoever kills a person it is as if he had killed all mankind, and whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved all mankind . Indeed, with a meaning like that, the verse does look humane and peaceful.
However, the verse makes two exceptions from the decree, which are made clear in the underlined part, which is normally missed or overlooked- “Unless for a soul or for doing corruption in the land.”
The first exception: If the killing has been for revenge ( killing for revenge is allowed!)
Second exception: If the killing has been because the person killed has committed corruption (Arabic fasad).
The Arabic word “Fasad” is translated as corruption. The Islamic understanding of fasad is committing practices or activities that are considered to be un-Islamic.
Un-Islamic activities include things like:
- Drinking alcohol,
- Eating pork,
- Denying that Mohammed was a prophet,
- Denying that Allah is God,
- Believing that Jesus was crucified,
- Teaching non Islamic ideas (like evolution),
- Listening to music,
- Making/watching films,
- Not complying with Islamic dress code,
- Celebrating Christmas,
- Mixed parties... etc
If you think of it, you will find that “Fasad” actually describes what is largely considered as a normal lifestyle in the non-Muslim World. Therefore, according to the verse 5:32, killing non-Muslims is OK, and has been excluded from the above decree.
In short, verse 5:32 prohibits killing Muslims (only) unless for revenge.
And that is the most peaceful verse in the Quran!
Verse 5:32 starts with: “because of that, we decreed upon the children of Israel...” suggesting that the decree was to the Jews, not Muslims, which may tempt some to use this part to invalidate the verse. However, Muslims would argue that the decree was to the Jews when they were Muslims, therefore applies to also to all Muslims.