Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Social Media Lies After the Paris Attacks - #2

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, it has been common to see people on social media quoting the following verse from the Qur'an (screenshot from The Telegraph):

But does this verse really prove that the Paris attacks were un-Islamic?

Here is the entire verse, accompanied by the immediately following verse, which provides much-needed context:

For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel [i.e. the Jews] that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth. 
The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom. (5:32-33)

There are a few things to note immediately:

1) The word "innocent" as depicted in the tweet in the above screenshot is not in the actual Qur'anic text at all, and is a fabrication, while the actual text makes a specific exception to the rule in the case of "manslaughter or corruption in the earth" (which I'll get back to in a minute).

2) The full verse notes that these relatively noble-sounding sentiments were actually a Jewish teaching - and indeed, the phrasing of this verse is plagiarised directly from the Jewish Talmud.

3) The immediately following verse, which is NEVER quoted on social media, gives the passage an entirely different meaning that is most certainly not peaceful.

It is also important to understand what this Qur'anic passage means when it urges punishment for spreading “corruption in the earth” and waging “war upon Allah and his messenger”. The classical Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir (d.1373) sums up the orthodox view of what this means: “oppose and contradict, and it includes disbelief, blocking roads and spreading fear in the fairways.” He also relates that three of Muhammad's close companions – al-Suddi, Ibn Abbas and Ibn Mas'ud – agree that it means “disbelief and acts of disobedience.”

Another scholar, the important modern Muslim thinker Maududi (d.1979) writes: “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 against Allah and His Messenger' denotes war against the righteous order established by the Islamic state.”

Certainly the French were "waging war" against the Islamic State in a very literal sense, and thus in their eyes deserved death in line with verse 5:33. But even if they had not been, early Muslim commentaries make clear that mere disbelief in Islam is also sufficient to merit the brutal punishment mandated in this verse.

Far from codemning what happened in Paris at the weekend, this commonly-cited Qur'anic verse actually condones and encourages it.

But you will not find that out in the mainstream media.

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