Assalaamu alaikum [Peace be to you],
The God almighty said in his final testament:
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَٰلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا ۚ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنْهُم بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فِي الْأَرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ
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 humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole humanity. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear proofs, yet, even after that, many of them, throughout the land, were transgressors..
Translation of 5:32
Some missionaries claim that this above verse proves that prophet Mohammed -peace be upon him- made up the Qur`an using Jewish sources.
Is that true? let's reflect on this verse and learn a little about it:
In reality the verse, like all other passages of the Qur'an, is a miracle in knowledge and goodness. It gives human life a value not given anywhere else and it provides a powerful evidence that the Qur'an continues, corrects, completes and perfects earlier revelations. Let us study the verse phrase by phrase to see how this is so.
“On that account” This refers back to the story in the previous verses of the two sons of Adam -may peace be upon him-, one of whom is called Qabeel in Arabic (Cain in English), murdered the other, Habeel (called Abel). This was the first human death and probably the first known murder in history.
“We ordained for the Children of Israel” After this first murder in history God prohibited the killing of a human being, which shows that God generally gives laws after they have become necessary. The prohibition must have been done soon after the murder but the Qur`an takes us many ages forward in time to the time of the Children of Israel. This is because the verse is revealed in the context of Islamic message directed towards the people of the book. Many verses that precede and many verses that follow 5:32 concern the Jews and Christians. Indeed most of this Surah (chapter) is about them and even its name al-Ma'idah (The Table) is derived from a story about the Prophet Jesus -peace be upon him- that appears in this chapter. The words “We ordained for the Children of Israel” may also reflect the fact that the particular form of the prohibition of murder mentioned in the verse found its first expression, albeit an imperfect one (see below), in the Israelite tradition.
“if any one slew a person … it would be as if he slew the whole humanity: and if any one saved a person, it would be as if he saved the whole humanity”.
This is part of what was ordained for the Children of Israel. It is natural to ask where in the Israeli writings the principle equating the killing/saving of one person with the killing/saving the whole humanity is found. The principle is not found in the Bible but we do find it in the Talmud, a collection of Rabbinical legal and exegetical opinions considered by Jews almost as sacred as the Bible itself. The tradition is found in two versions, one is somewhat universal and the other is ethnocentric.
The universalist version, which is rather late, reads:
… For thus we find in the case of Cain, who killed his brother, that it is written: 'The bloods of your brother cry unto Me' (Genesis 4:10). It is not said here blood in the singular, but bloods in the plural, that is, his own blood and the blood of his seed. Therefore was Adam created alone, to teach us that whoever destroys a single life, the Scriptures considers it as if he destroyed a whole race (or world). And whoever saves a single life, the Scriptures considers it as if he saved a whole race (or world). (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4.5)
Here we find a principle similar to the one given in the Qur`an, although the Qur`an takes it to new heights. As in the Qur`an, so also in the above Talmudic passage the principle is connected with the story of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain.
The second version, which is ethnocentric is earlier. It is found in the Babylonian Talmud:
"Therefore was man created singly, to teach that whoever destroys a single life from Isreal is considered by Scripture as if he had destroyed an entire world and that whoever preserves a single life from Israel is considered by Scripture as if he had preserved an entire world."
Here the words “from Israel” gives to the passage the ethnocentric meaning that a single Israeli life is so valuable that destroying/saving it is tentamount to destroying/saving an entire world.
Which of the two versions is original?
We will study more about that in the next part, in sha'Allah [God willing].
To be continued...
IN THE DRAWING:
The verse 5:32 written in Farsi (Nastaligh) script.
the part in red is مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا
"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 humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole humanity."
If I am right, it's from the God Almighty. If I'm wrong, it's from me, myself and I.