Friday 16 December 2022

Slaying an innocent soul is like slaying all mankind

The post today is specially dedicated in the memory of those countless people killed for not fault of theirs around the world the world. The motive behind these killing may be personal, religious or defending the so-called self-interests, but the end result is that poor and innocent people get killed. Those who organize these killings or are back stage, may never know the grief and void their heinous acts leave behind, leaving mothers mourning. 
This post today is specially dedicated to those innocent students whose school was attacked by a group of religiously motivated fanatics on this day, 16 December 2014, in Peshawar Pakistan. The killers stormed into the school and killed over 150 innocent school children mercilessly by spraying bullets from their automatic weapons. The gory incident till to date makes one shiver of the barbarism of the killers. This post is also dedicated to martyrs of a mosque in New Zealand on 15 March 2019. I wonder if such heartless killers and their masters have ever had sound sleep for their inhuman acts, for which no sane human or religion would subscribe to.

This post is also dedicated to millions of innocent people who died due foreign aggression in their countries and specially those who have been struggling for independence, like people of Indian held Kashmir, Palestine and countries tried to be captured like the Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

The 32nd verse, which is about the Decree of Allah regarding the killing of a human being,  commes right after the verses 27-31 that carry the story of Adam's two sons (Abel and Cain). The purpose of mentioning this particular incident is to reproach the Jews subtly for the plot they had hatched to assassinate the Prophet (peace be on him) and some of his illustrious Companions see (n. 30) above. The resemblance between the two incidents is evident. God honoured some of the illiterate people of Arabia and disregarded the ancient People of the Book because the former were pious while the latter were not. But rather than reflect upon the causes of their rejection by God, and do something to overcome the failings which had led to that rejection, the Israelites were seized by the same fit of arrogant ignorance and folly which had once seized the criminal son of Adam, and resolved to kill those whose good deeds had been accepted by God. It was obvious that such acts would contribute nothing towards their acceptance by God. They would rather earn them an even greater degree of God's disapproval.

However, the 32nd verse is not to be restricted to one community only. Its universal applicability stands good even today and killing of innocent people can and should never be justified:

مِنۡ اَجۡلِ ذٰ لِكَ​ ۛ ۚ كَتَبۡنَا عَلٰى بَنِىۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِيۡلَ اَنَّهٗ مَنۡ قَتَلَ نَفۡسًۢا بِغَيۡرِ نَفۡسٍ اَوۡ فَسَادٍ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ فَكَاَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيۡعًا ؕ وَمَنۡ اَحۡيَاهَا فَكَاَنَّمَاۤ اَحۡيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيۡعًا ​ؕ وَلَـقَدۡ جَآءَتۡهُمۡ رُسُلُنَا بِالۡبَيِّنٰتِ ثُمَّ اِنَّ كَثِيۡرًا مِّنۡهُمۡ بَعۡدَ ذٰ لِكَ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ لَمُسۡرِفُوۡنَ‏ 
(5:32) Therefore We ordained for the Children of Israel that he who slays a soul unless it be (in punishment) for murder or for spreading mischief on earth shall be as if he had slain all mankind; and he who saves a life shall be as if he had given life to all mankind. And indeed, again and again did Our Messengers come to them with clear directives; yet many of them continued to commit excesses on earth.
That is, "Allah enjoined the Israelites to refrain from murder because they were showing the same murderous symptoms as had been shown by the cruel son of Adam. That is why such strict checks on murder were applied." But the pity is that these precious instructions are not found in the present Bible. The Talmud, however, says, "To him who kills a single individual of Israel, it shall be reckoned as if he had slain the whole race and he who preserves a single individual of Israel, according to the Book of Allah, he preserves the whole world." It also says that a judge of the Israelites in a case of murder would warn the witness saying, "To him who kills a single individual of Israel, it shall be reckoned as if he has slain the whole race." 

54This is to emphasize the sanctity of human life: it is essential for the preservation of human life that everyone should regard the life of the other as sacred and help to protect it. The one who takes the life of another without right does not commit injustice to that one alone, but also proves that he has no feeling for the sanctity of human life and of mercy for others. Hence, he is most surely the enemy of the whole human race, for if every individual suffered from the same kind of hard-heartedness, the whole human race would come to an end. On the contrary, if one helps to preserve a single human life, he is indeed a helper of all mankind for he possesses those qualities upon which the survival of the whole human race depends. 

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  Human Beings Should Respect the Sanctity of Other Human Beings

Allah says, because the son of Adam killed his brother in transgression and aggression, (كَتَبْنَا عَلَى بَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ We ordained for the Children of Israel...) meaning, We legislated for them and informed them,

(أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْساً بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِى الاٌّرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً وَمَنْ أَحْيَـهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.) The Ayah states, whoever kills a soul without justification -- such as in retaliation for murder or for causing mischief on earth -- will be as if he has killed all mankind, because there is no difference between one life and another.

(وَمَنْ أَحْيَـهَا and if anyone saved a life...) by preventing its blood from being shed and believing in its sanctity, then all people will have been saved from him, so,

(فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.) Al-A`mash and others said that Abu Salih said that Abu Hurayrah said, "I entered on `Uthman when he was under siege in his house and said, `I came to give you, my support. Now, it is good to fight (defending you) O Leader of the Faithful!' He said, `O Abu Hurayrah! Does it please you that you kill all people, including me' I said, `No.' He said, `If you kill one man, it is as if you killed all people. Therefore, go back with my permission for you to leave. May you receive your reward and be saved from the burden.' So I went back and did not fight.' `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "It is as Allah has stated,

(مَن قَتَلَ نَفْساً بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِى الاٌّرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً وَمَنْ أَحْيَـهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.) Saving life in this case occurs by not killing a soul that Allah has forbidden. So, this is the meaning of saving the life of all mankind, for whoever forbids killing a soul without justification, the lives of all people will be saved from him.'' Similar was said by Mujahid;

(And if anyone saved a life...) means, he refrains from killing a soul. Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said that Allah's statement,

(فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً it would be as if he killed all mankind. .) means, "Whoever kills one soul that Allah has forbidden killing, is just like he who kills all mankind.'' Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "He who allows himself to shed the blood of a Muslim, is like he who allows shedding the blood of all people. He who forbids shedding the blood of one Muslim, is like he who forbids shedding the blood of all people.'' In addition, 

Ibn Jurayj said that Al-A`raj said that Mujahid commented on the Ayah, (فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً it would be as if he killed all mankind,) "He who kills a believing soul intentionally, Allah makes the Fire of Hell his abode, He will become angry with him, and curse him, and has prepared a tremendous punishment for him, equal to if he had killed all people, his punishment will still be the same.'' 

Ibn Jurayj said that Mujahid said that the Ayah, (وَمَنْ أَحْيَـهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.) means, "He who does not kill anyone, then the lives of people are safe from him.''

Warning Those who Commit Mischief: Allah said, (وَلَقَدْ جَآءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالّبَيِّنَـتِAnd indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with Al-Bayyinat,) meaning, clear evidences, signs and proofs,

(ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيراً مِّنْهُمْ بَعْدَ ذلِكَ فِى الاٌّرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits in the land!) This Ayah chastises and criticizes those who commit the prohibitions, after knowing that they are prohibited from indulging in them. The Jews of Al-Madinah, such as Banu Qurayzah, An-Nadir and Qaynuqa`, used to fight along with either Khazraj or Aws, when war would erupt between them during the time of Jahiliyyah. When these wars would end, the Jews would ransom those who were captured and pay the blood money for those who were killed. Allah criticized them for this practice in Surat Al-Baqarah,

﴿وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَـقَكُمْ لاَ تَسْفِكُونَ دِمَآءِكُمْ وَلاَ تُخْرِجُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ مِّن دِيَـرِكُمْ ثُمَّ أَقْرَرْتُمْ وَأَنتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ - ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ هَـؤُلاَءِ تَقْتُلُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَتُخْرِجُونَ فَرِيقًا مِّنكُم مِّن دِيَـرِهِمْ تَظَـهَرُونَ علَيْهِم بِالإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَنِ وَإِن يَأْتُوكُمْ أُسَـرَى تُفَـدُوهُمْ وَهُوَ مُحَرَّمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ إِخْرَاجُهُمْ أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَـبِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ فَمَا جَزَآءُ مَن يَفْعَلُ ذلِكَ مِنكُمْ إِلاَّ خِزْىٌ فِي الْحَيَوةِ الدُّنْيَا وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَى أَشَدِّ الّعَذَابِ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَـفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ ﴾
(And (remember) when We took your covenant (saying): Shed not your (people's) blood, nor turn out your own people from their dwellings. Then, (this) you ratified and (to this) you bear witness. After this, it is you who kill one another and drive out a party of your own from their homes, assist (their enemies) against them, in sin and transgression. And if they come to you as captives, you ransom them, although their expulsion was forbidden to you. Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.) [2:84-85]

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
This moral truth is among those to which the first sentence of verse {15} of this surah alludes [(5:15) People of the Book! Now Our Messenger has come to you: he makes clear to you a good many things of the Book which you were wont to conceal, and also passes over many things...], and its succinct formulation fully explains the reason why the story of Cain and Abel is mentioned in this context. The expression "We have ordained unto the children of Israel" does not, of course, detract from the universal validity of this moral: it refers merely to its earliest enunciation.

(And, indeed, there came unto them) I.e., to the followers of the Bible, both the Jews and the Christians.

(Our apostles with all evidence of the truth: yet, behold, notwithstanding all this, many of them go on committing all manner of excesses on earth) The present participle la-musrifun indicates their "continuously committing excesses" (i.e., crimes), and is best rendered as "they go on committing" them. In view of the preceding passages, these "excesses" obviously refer to crimes of violence and, in particular, to the ruthless killing of human beings.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
The story of Cain is referred to in a few graphic details in order to tell the story of Israel. Israel rebelled against Allah, slew and insulted righteous men who did them no harm but on the contrary came in all humility. When Allah withdrew His favour from Israel because of its sins and bestowed it on brother nation, the jealousy of Israel plunged it deeper into sin. To kill or seek to kill an individual because he represents an ideal is to kill all who uphold the ideal. On the other hand, to save an individual life in the same circumstances is to save a whole community. What could be stronger condemnation of individual assassination and revenge?

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This law has always existed in the sharī‘ah of the prophets of God. The Jews are referred here merely to highlight their callousness and unruliness. This does not mean that this law is specific to the Israelites. Thus, the directive which was given to Noah (sws) in this regard is mentioned in the following words in the Bible:
… And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind. (Genesis, 9:5-6)
This law shall be explained later at the end of this section of verses. The real philosophy of qiṣāṣ has been alluded to here to explain the gravity of killing someone. Consequently, the duties and responsibilities which this type of murder imposes on us as Muslims can be summed up in the following words of Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī:
  • Firstly, every occurrence of murder should create tumult and commotion in the nation. If qiṣāṣ is not taken from the criminal responsible for it, everyone will feel that he no longer has the protection of the law he formerly had. The law is the protector of all and if it has been violated, merely a single person has not been slain, but the lives of all are in danger.
  • Secondly, to search for the murderer is not just the responsibility of the heirs of the murdered person, but is that of the whole nation as it is not that just one life has been taken – rather all the lives have been taken.
  • Thirdly, if a person finds someone in danger, he should not ignore the situation thinking that he should not interfere in someone else’s affairs; rather he should defend and protect him as much as he can, even if he has to endure difficulties; for a person who defends an aggrieved and oppressed person, in fact, defends humanity of which he himself is a part.
  • Fourthly, a person who hides someone’s murder, or bears false evidence in favour of the murderer or stands surety for him, or gives refuge to him or legally pleads for him, or intentionally excuses him, in fact, does so for the murder of his own self, his father, his brother, and his son because the murderer of one is the murderer of all.
  • Fifthly, to help the government or the heirs of the slain person in taking qiṣāṣ is like giving a life to the slain person because, according to the Qur’ān, there is life in qiṣāṣ. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 2, 503)
This verse very clearly states that if a state and the law it follows want to punish a person by death, then it can only be given in the two cases referred to by the verse. Except for these cases, it cannot be meted out for any other crime.

(.. Our messengers came to them with very clear signs; however, in spite of this, there are many among them who transgress in the land) Ie., they have been transgressing bounds before and are doing so now as well and in spite of the fact that the messengers of God have conclusively communicated the truth to them, they are not ready to give up their attitude of rebelliousness and spreading anarchy – an attitude they have always adopted.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
This type of person exists and aggression is committed against peaceful and good- natured people who harbour neither grudges nor ill-feelings towards others. A reminder and a warning may achieve nothing with those who have an evil nature. Adopting a peaceful attitude may not be sufficient to prevent aggression. For all this, the ghastly crime of killing one person is considered so grave and so sordid that it is equated with the crime of killing all mankind. On the other hand, efforts to prevent killing and to spare the life of one person are considered a great action, equal to saving all mankind. The law given to the Children of Israel included this principle which equates the life of any human being with every life. The right to live is applicable to all. Hence, killing one person is an aggression against the right to live in which all people stand equal. Similarly, preventing murder and sparing the life of one person, either through defending the would-be victim or inflicting the death penalty on the killer in order to prevent the murder of another, is to save the basic right of life applicable to all.

It should be clarified here that this rule applies to people in the land of Islam, whether Muslim or not, as long as they are living under the rule and protection of the Islamic authority. As for those who are in a land hostile to Islam, neither their lives nor their properties are protected unless they have concluded a peace treaty with the land of Islam. This legislative rule should be well remembered. We should also remember that the land of Islam is that in which the rule of Islam prevails and Islamic law is implemented. The hostile land is that which does not implement Islamic law.

God has decreed this principle for the Children of Israel, because at that time, they were the recipients of Divine revelation and, as such, they represented the land of Islam as long as they implemented the law of the Torah in its fullness, without any distortion. But the Children of Israel exceeded their limits after God’s messengers came to them with clear proof of the truth. Ever since the time of the Prophet Muĥammad (peace be upon him) many of them continue to commit excesses of all sorts. The Qur’ān records against them these excesses as well as the fact that they have no argument to justify their errors: “Our [i.e. God’s] messengers brought them clear evidence of the truth, but despite all this, many of them continue to commit all manner of excesses on earth.”

What excess is greater than distorting or ignoring God’s law? This explained, we need to point out that God has made the perpetration of corruption on earth similar to murder: the perpetrator is put to death because he has forfeited his right to live. The security of the Muslim community in the land of Islam and maintaining law and order within the system which gives the Muslim community the sense of peace and security are essential in the same way as the safety of individuals, if not more. Indeed, the safety of individuals cannot be guaranteed unless the security of the community is achieved. There is also the added reason of protecting this distinguished type of community and providing for it all guarantees of stability and continuity so that its people may carry on with their promotion of a better standard of human life. It is perhaps appropriate to mention here that this community provides to all mankind the guarantees necessary for the promotion of life, helps everything good to flourish and repels all evil. Its prime purpose is prevention, but it also administers the proper remedy for what could not be prevented. It removes every cause tempting human being to lean towards evil and aggression. When it has done all this, anyone who threatens the security of this community is an evil element and should be removed unless he returns to his senses.

Now you may listen to the following short clipped video to explanation of the aforesaid Ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4  | 5 | 6

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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What a sad day in history of Pakistan. Not one 2 tragedies happpening on the same date.
How can we forgive ourselves especially those who wear Khaki n it happens right in the middle of a Military Cantonment. No one resigned, no one took responsibility n no one from the administration punished. This is who we?are?as a nation.
But ask those parents, spouses or brothers sisters who lost their loved ones in this massacre. Our hearts bleed, so many years have passed but our wounds are still fresh n the country is still directionless. The ship is sinking, no law n order, no foreign exchange, PM doesn't know what to do but no one care.
Our humble prayers are with all the parents n spouse's n brothers n sisters who lost loved ones. May Almighty Allah bless all Shaheeds of APS the best place of Jannah tul Firdous Aameen

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