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Monday, September 17, 2007

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 5, "The Table," verses 1-60

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

Of special note is Verse 32; three translations cited below (emphasis added):

YUSUFALI: 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 messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

PICKTHAL: For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel 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.

SHAKIR: For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our messengers came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land.

Spencer tells us how this verse is often taken out of context:

Never mentioned by the President or any of the others who quote this verse as if it condemns Islamic jihadist violence are several important facts: it comes within the context of a warning to the Jews, and is not presented as a universal principle; it contains the important exception "unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land," and it is followed by v. 33, which specifies the punishment for that mischief: "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, 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."

Punishing "mischief" is at the root of jihadist violence, so these verses give them justification, not condemnation.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

Update: Originally titled as Sura 4, "The Women" - correction is now in place.

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