Note what Mehdi Hasan leaves out of his Qur’an quotation. “The Muslim faith does not turn men to terror: The two suspects in the Woolwich killing were violating the doctrine of their own holy book,” by Mehdi Hasan in the Telegraph, May 23 (thanks to JH):
‘Whosoever killeth a human being”¦” says the Koran, in the 32nd verse of its fifth chapter, “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.”
Thus, the two supposedly Muslim men suspected of killing and mutilating an unarmed, off-duty soldier in the middle of a London street, while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great”), were violating the injunction of their own holy book. Perversely, it was the non-Muslim Cub Scout leader who, in trying to save the soldier’s life, and standing up to his alleged attackers, was acting in accordance with Koranic principles. Let’s be clear: Islam doesn’t permit the killing of innocents. Jihad is permissible only in self-defence and if sanctioned by a legitimate government. To quote from our Prime Minister’s pitch-perfect statement outside No 10, Wednesday”s barbarism was “a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country”.
Yes, let’s be clear. Qur’an 5:32 actually says this:
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.
Hasan quoted it thusly: “Whosoever killeth a human being…it shall be as if he had killed all mankind.” Notice what he left out: “for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth.” So the Qur’an is saying only that killing a human being for something other than manslaughter or “corruption in the earth” is as if one had killed all mankind.
But what if someone does commit “corruption in the earth”? The Qur’an goes on: “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.” (Qur’an 5:33)
Now we see why Mehdi Hasan left that part out of his Qur’an quote.
So it is permissible — indeed, commanded — to kill those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after “corruption in the land.” Islam doesn’t permit the killing of innocents, but this victim was a British soldier. He was, in the view of his killer, making war upon Allah and his messenger and spreading corruption in the land by fighting in Afghanistan. In that case, the killer’s jihad was defensive, and Hasan’s words about it being only permissible if sanctioned by a legitimate government are simply false in terms of Islamic law.
To be sure, only the state authority can declare offensive jihad. A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy, stipulates that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians…until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh “˜Ali Salman, a Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)…while remaining in their ancestral religions.” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).
Of course, there is no caliph today, and upon this fact hinges the oft-repeated claim that people like the London murderer are waging jihad illegitimately, as no state authority has authorized their jihad. But he and others like him explain their actions in terms of defensive jihad, which needs no state authority to call it, and becomes “obligatory for everyone” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.3) if a Muslim land is attacked. The end of the defensive jihad, however, is not peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals: ‘Umdat al-Salik specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until “the final descent of Jesus.” After that, “nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent” (o9.8).
Surely Mehdi Hasan knows all this. So why is he misleading people in the pages of the Telegraph?