Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Verse That Killed The Entire Fatwa

One Koranic verse that I have often heard quoted which gives me much comfort and hope for the future of Islam is “Whoever kills a person it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind."

This Koranic verse was quoted in the recent Fatwa condemning suicide bombing which was released by the Fiqh Council and endorsed by CAIR. This verse was, I'm sure, the reason many of us were initially impressed by the Fatwa.

The verse, as it stands, really is very beautiful. It reminds me of the New Testament passage where when Jesus tells the crowd, "Love your neighbor," the Pharisee asks Christ, "Who is my neighbor?" in the hopes that he would get a complex answer which would mitigate the saying. But instead, Christ turns it around on him by relating the story of the Good Samaritan; the point being that we don't choose who our neighbors are, and it is our responsibility to be good neighbors to all those around us, no matter what race or creed.

Of course, the legitimacy of the Fatwa unraveled as we learned of the terrorists ties of many of the twenty signatories. But, now comes information that it seems there is reason to fear the use of this verse itself. From Ilana Mercer in Front Page Magazine:

Prompted by Dr. Daniel Pipes, I examined the context of the passage in The Meaning of the Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, only to find that the FCNA has “decontextualized” it. The Qur’an actually says the following:

“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 Messenger
With Clear Signs, yet,
Even after that, many
Of them continued to commit
Excess in the land.”

The verse apparently concerns the dread-Jew. At the very least it’s fair to say this Quranic ayah is considerably less humanistic and universal than the Council claims. “Spreading mischief,” whatever that entails, qualifies as a reason to slay a person. Unjust killing is clearly not too circumscribed an activity. The Fatwa finesses the original words—and their context.

Devoid of the killing component, the Talmudic version simply and unequivocally states that, “To save one life is like saving the world." Contrary to the Quranic Ayah, it doesn’t whittle down humanity.

The real issue here is this: whatever ancient Jewish or Church teachings may have preached, the modern nation-states dominated by Jews and Christians (believers and non-believers) follow the rule of enlightened Western law. It’s indeed possible there are sadistic Americans and Israelis who’d like to put apostates and blasphemers to death, genitally mutilate little girls, amputate the hands of thieves, beat their wives with impunity, stone women for committing adultery (the definition of which includes rape) and homosexuals for sodomy, or consider the testimony of a non-Jewish or Christian male to be worth half that of a Jewish or Christian male (women witnesses are similarly weighted in Islam). But they can’t. Or if they did, they’d be punished. Western law won’t countenance such cruelty.

Not so the law in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, or in other Muslim countries where the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (Shari’a) are law. Yet the Fiqh Council assures us that the Qur'an embraces humanity. Even more ironic: in the process of persuasion, the Islamic community’s professed front men find the need to fib about what the Qur’an really says.