Friday, March 18, 2016

The Importance of Putting Quran 5:32 Back in Context

This letter appears in today's National Post:

True Muslims

Re: ‘Allah Told Me To Come Here And Kill People,’ March 16. 
Ayanle Hassan Ali is alleged to have stabbed two members of the Canadian Armed Forces in a federal building, claiming, “Allah told me to do this.” Funny because as a practising Muslim, here’s what I’ve constantly heard Allah has been telling us: “Loyalty to your country is part of faith.” And “Whosoever killed a person – unless it be for killing a person …  it is as if he had killed all of mankind.” The only difference is what I’ve been told is authentic, but what Ayanle has been told is perhaps only mental instability. 
Mirza Masroor Ahmad, caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, perfectly said it when he met Justin Trudeau in 2012, “Islam is an open religion which teaches mutual respect and so if you are a true Muslim you should be willing and able to integrate in any part of the world.”
Jari Qudrat, Toronto.
 Here's the letter I sent in response:
After learning that Ayanle Hassan Ali had attacked Canadian soldiers because, as he understood it, Allah had commanded him to do so, I knew it was only a matter of time before someone trotted out those lines in the Quran about how killing one person is like killing the entire world. I was also fairly certain that whoever mentioned this verse--arguably the Quaranic verse most often most quoted in the West--would extract it from its context, jettisoning the words that come before and after it, thereby distorting the words as they appear in the holy text.
Letter-writer Jari Qudrat, "a practising Muslim," shows us how it's done. For, in citing the line "Whosever killed a person--unless it be for killing a is as if he had killed all of mankind," he neglects to mention that A) these words have their origin in the Jewish Mishnah and B) the full verse (5:32) reads as follows:
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.
In other words, Allah is explaining that the Jews, and only the Jews, are supposed to avoid the killing. Muslims, on the other hand, not so much. And, as if to underscore this difference, in the very next verse (5:33) Allah sets out the heavy-duty penalties for non-believers who dare to oppose Islam:
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.
Now, there are plenty of Muslims who heed the line as Qudrat has quoted--or rather, misquoted--it. At the same time, however, it is worrisome when peaceful Muslims claim that their quotation fragment is the "authentic teaching" and that the violent actions of other "practising Muslims," including Ayanle Hassan Ali, are entirely at odds with Islamic doctrine. It is far better, I think, to quote the lines correctly--and disavow them--than to pretend they say something that, obviously, they do not.


Harold said...

My letter to the editor in response to a letter by an Ahmadi Muslim insisting that Islam is a religion of peace.
Ahmadi Muslims in the minority
Letter to the editor, National Post, Dec. 12, 2015
Re: Canary In The Coal Mine, letters to the editor, Dec. 10. After a jihadist attack, an Ahmadi Muslim insists that Islam is a “religion of peace” and extremists are committing inhumane actions in the name of Islam. The Ahmadi Muslim community is a very small group of Muslims, with about 10 million to 20 million adherents worldwide out of 1.6 billion Muslims. They claim to be following the “true Islam,” which is based on peace with others.
The problem is that to Sunni Muslims, Ahmadis are not Muslims, their mosques have been destroyed and their followers killed. In 1974, the Pakistan government introduced a constitutional amendment that declared them to be non-Muslims. Since 1984, they are prohibited from calling themselves Muslims or referring to their faith as Islam. The Saudi government has officially banned Ahmadis from making the hajj.
So although the Ahmadi Muslims preach peace and love and call for dialogue and understanding with non-Muslims, they are considered a fringe group by the majority Sunni community. The Ahmadis do not represent the majority of Muslims and therefore cannot speak for Islam. Too bad for non-Muslims.
Harold Pomerantz, Dundas, Ont.
- See more at:

scaramouche said...

Good letter, Harold. The Ahmadis' peace 'n' love shtick is okay as far as it goes, but as you pointed out, we'd be awfully foolish to believe that the Ahmadi way of seeing things is mainstream in Islam.

Earl said...

Both of your letters "nail it".

Ahmadis, Sufis (kinda-sorta), Dervishes, Ismailis- they may wrap themselves in the folds of Islam, but to any lettered (or unlettered)Sunni or Shi'ite they are blasphemers and khufr.

/notice how Haroon now has a Mohammedan-apologist successor at The Red Star, an "[Islamic] legal scholar", no less...?