Penny Starr of CNSNews.com has reported that the second day of this past week’s White House summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” was initiated by an unidentified “Muslim prayer” exclusively: “no other religious text was presented during the portion of the event that was open to the press.”
Imam Sheikh Sa’ad Musse Roble, president of the World Peace Organization in Minneapolis, recited a “verse from the Koran” in Arabic. An English translation of the verse was read next by Imam Abdisalam Adam of the Islamic Civil Society of America. Adam stated:
In translation, those verses of the Koran mean “Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption in the land, it’s as if he has slain mankind entirely, and whoever saves one life, it’s as if he has saved mankind entirely.”
Imam Roble had recited Koran 5:32 (i.e., the 5th sura, or chapter, and 32nd verse) in Arabic, in its entirety (see video here).
The full (academic Arberry) translation is as follows:
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.
And the very next verse, Koran 5:33, “prescribed” what fate “the Children of Israel,” the Jews, deserve for continuing to “commit excesses” by refusing Islamic teachings:
This is the recompense of those who fight against Allah 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.
Perhaps the most misleading and degrading element of this whitewash occurring at the White House summit is that the wonderful sounding words selectively extracted from Koran 5:32 are attributed to the Koran, when they in fact come from a preexisting Jewish text (Mishnah, IV Division 5):
Thus was created a single man, to teach us that every person who loses a single soul, it shall be written about him as if he has lost the entire world, and every person who sustains a single soul, it shall be written about him as if he has sustained the entire world.
The Koranic commentary of Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), and the modern commentaries of Maududi and Usmani confirm and validate the anti-Jewish attitudes expressed in Koran 5:32–33. Ibn Kathir (in Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol. 3, 2000, p. 160) stated:
This Ayah chastises and criticizes those who commit the prohibitions, after knowing that they are prohibited from indulging in them. [Like] [t]he Jews of Al-Madinah, such as Banu Qurayzah, An- Nadir, and Qaynuqa [Jewish tribes ultimately attacked, expropriated, expelled, and even massacred by Muhammad].
Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1979) was a profoundly influential 20th century Islamic scholar, political philosopher, journalist, and Muslim revival leader in India and Pakistan. Maududi (from Towards Understanding the Qur’an, vol. 2, pp. 155–56) makes a contextual reference to Koran 5:30–31 as well:
Allah honored 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 Allah, and do something to overcome the failings which led to that rejection, the Israelites were seized by the same fit of arrogance and folly which had once seized the criminal son of Adam [verses 5:30–31], and resolved to kill those whose good deeds had been accepted by Allah.
It was obvious that such acts would contribute nothing towards their acceptance by Allah. They would rather earn them an even greater degree of Allah’s disapproval. Since the same qualities which had been displayed by the wrongdoing son of Adam were manifest in the Children of Israel, Allah strongly urged them not to kill human beings and couched his command in forceful terms. The “land” (in verse 5:33) signifies either the country or territory wherein the responsibility of establishing law and order has been undertaken by an Islamic state. The expression “to wage war [fight] against Allah and His Messenger” denotes war against the righteous order established by the Islamic state.
Shabbir Ahmad Usmani (1886-1949) was a respected theologian, writer, orator, and politician, with particular expertise in the study and interpretation of the Koran, and the traditions of Muhammad, or hadith. Usmani’s magnum opus was his Koranic commentary, Tafsir-e-Usmani, which drew upon some 14 prior commentaries. Here is Usmani’s gloss on Koran 5:32-33, from Tafsir-e-Usmani (p. 469):
The Jews especially committed great excesses in the world. They shed the blood of their own people and even killed the Prophets without right. Today also they have been constantly making plots of the worst type against the Holy Prophet and the Muslims. They do not understand this simple logic … what a terrible and abominable crime it would be before Allah to pursue for the murder of the most perfect and the grandest Prophet of Allah and the party of his Followers that is the most pious and most accepted people in the history of mankind.
To fight against the Messengers of Allah is to fight against Allah himself…That is why in the ensuing verse [verse 5:33] the punishment of those people, in this world, and in the other world, is described, who fight against Allah and His Messenger, or make mischief and spread corruption variously on the Earth, and thus become those who commit all kinds of excess…
The supposedly noble, selectively translated sentiments of the first verse, Koran 5:32 — taken from a Jewish source — are entirely undercut by the second intimately related verse, Koran 5:33, which becomes a bloodthirsty menacing by Muhammad of the Jews.
Far from abjuring violence, these verses aggressively insist that any who oppose the Muslim prophet — such as the Jews — will be killed, crucified, or mutilated and banished. And they were: the Muslim sources, “tallied” by Maimonides, estimate that Muhammad killed 24,000 Jews in his jihad campaigns against them.
(Special thanks to oral Arabic translator “RitaMalik” for assistance.)