“…if anyone killed a person, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind…”
Have you heard this quote? It is from the Koran (5:32). It seems like a straightforward quote, and Muslim apologists use it all the time to illustrate that the Muslims beheading people or blowing up non-Muslims are going against the teachings of Islam. This is misleading. And anyone who knows the Koran and Islam knows it is misleading.
Given that Muslims often respond to violent quotes from the Koran by saying they are quoted out of context, it is ironic that one of their mainstay "positive" Koranic quotes is itself taken out of context.
When Muslims (and news organizations) use this quote, they're trying to convey the idea that in Islam, murder is wrong and saving lives is good. But that's not the meaning of the passage. In fact, it's really the opposite of what the verse conveys.
This is the whole verse (5:32): "On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone 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 anyone 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, this was a commandment to the "Children of Israel" (Jews). This is not a commandment to all people. It is definitely not a commandment to Muslims, so using it as a quote from the Koran showing how peaceful Islam is definitely qualifies as misleading.
And even if this were a commandment to Muslims, it has the qualification, "unless it be for murder or spreading mischief in the land." So according to this verse, someone "spreading mischief" can be killed.
That's bad enough. But the very next verse of the Koran (5:33) goes even further. It says: "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."
This explains that the correct punishment for mischief is execution, crucifixion, etc. This is a command given to Muslims from the Almighty Himself.
As you can see, this adds up to a much different message than the one so often misleadingly quoted. The fact that Muslims must take a passage out of context in order to get a semi-nice quote out of the Koran tells you something about the Koran. I've read the Koran twice, and I can tell you from personal experience that there is no "kindness toward all people" in the entire book.
I believe that simply sharing the information above wherever that quote is used — this, all by itself — would go a long way to opening peoples' eyes to not only the true nature of Islam, but to the effort being made to deceive us about Islam.
For more information about this passage, check out the excellent site, Answering Muslims.
Also, Robert Spencer has some good information about this passage: Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 5.
The article above is also posted on Inquiry Into Islam here.
Watch a video about this: David Wood on the Qur’an and the Siege of Paris.