Let’s Talk About “If You Kill One Human, It’s As If You Killed All of Humanity”

Note: I have also created a video version of this article.  You can find the video here.


Within the past week alone there has been an atrocious wave of attacks from Islamic extremists.  Every time an attack occurs from Islamic Extremists, pacifist “moderate” Muslims have predictable responses:

  • This has nothing to do with Islam. They’re not real Muslims.  They just claim to be.
  • Islam is a religion of peace
  • 1.7 Billion Muslims aren’t terrorists, don’t judge all of Muslim population with the actions of a few. (#notallMuslims)
  • Well look at Christianity and the Crusades…
  • Quran says if you kill one human being it is as if you’ve attacked all of humanity, how can extremists justify their actions from the Quran?


We’ll focus on the last one for now.  People tend to use this verse dishonestly and don’t include the entire context.  Ironic: apologists always say “look at context” but cherry pick the verses for their own pacifist sensibilities.


The Verse

Let’s look at what the Quran verse says:

Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors. (Quran 5:32)

Notice how there’s an exception to this rule: murder and corruption in the land.



Let’s look at the two verses after:

Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,  (Quran 5:33)
Except for those who return [repenting] before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Quran 5:34)

These two verses add that there are penalty for enemies of Islam and those who cause corruption in the lands.  If those who are charged with such crimes repent before they are apprehended however, they are forgiven.


5:32 Tafseer

The following are various Tafseers (exegesis/interpretation) on this one phrase.  (Note: I’m focusing on how each exegesis defines corruption)

  • Ibn Kathir describes mischief and corruption as disbelief, murder, idolatry, waging war etc.  He includes disbelief, and being a contrarian to Islamic society as a part of “waging war.”
  • Tafseer Al-Jalalayn says “other than, corruption, committed, in the land, in the way of unbelief, fornication or waylaying and the like.”
  • Tafseer Ibn Abbas says  i.e. premeditatedly (or corruption in the earth) or because of idolatry.


“Corruption In The Land”

The tricky part is how one defines corruption. A progressive/moderate Muslim may look at this phrase and think it’s morally feasible because of their personal definition of corruption.  However, to understand the attacks of Islamic Extremists one must understand Islam’s fundamental definition of “corruption”:

  • Narrated Abdullah: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.”  (Sahih Al Bukhari 6878)
  • Narrated Ubadah Bin As-Samit: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Take from me. For Allah has a way made for them : For the married person who commits adultery with a married person is one hundred lashes, then stoning. And for the virgin who commits adultery with a virgin is one hundred lashes and banishment for a year.”  (Jami al-Tirmidhi 1434)
  • Abu Huraira reported that he heard Muhammad saying: “When the slave-woman of any of you commits adultery and this (offence of hers) becomes clear, she should be flogged (as the prescribed) punishment, but hurl no reproach at her. If she commits adultery again, she should (again be punished) by flogging, but hurl no reproach upon her. If she commits fornication for the third time and it becomes clear, then he should sell her, even if only for a rope of hair.”  (Sahih Muslim 1703)
  • Abu Huraira reported Muhammed saying: The child is to be attributed to one on whose bed he is born, and for a fornicator there is stoning.  (Sahih Muslim 1458)
  • Narrated Abdullah: “I asked the Messenger of Allah [SAW], which sin is most grievous?” He said: “Shirk, setting up a rival to Allah, committing adultery with your neighbor’s wife, and killing your child for fear of poverty, and that he may eat with you.” Then ‘Abdullah recited the Verse: “And those who invoke not any other Ilah (god) along with Allah.”  (Sunan an-Nasai 4015)
  • Narrated by Ubaidullah Bin Abi Bakr: “I heard Anas say: ‘The Messenger of Allah [SAW] said: The major sins are: Associating others with Allah (Shirk), disobeying one’s parents, killing a soul (murder) and speaking falsely.'”  (Sunan an-Nasa’i 4010)

It’s clear from these Hadiths that Muhammed had a clear definition for corruption: Fornication/adultery, apostasy, idolatry/shirk, stealing, (unjustifed) murder among many others I did not list here.  In the first one he even made murdering apostates, murderers, and adulterers justifiable.


The Islamic Extremist Perspective

Let’s holistically examine the essence of Quran 5:32’s exception for murder of those who spread “corruption/mischief in the land” being just, and the definition of injustice/corruption/moral degradation in the eyes of Militant Islamic Fundamentalism. An extremist can see the widespread acceptance of fornication, apostasy/atheism, and even idolatry as a sign of moral degradation/corruption in the lands.With this absolute certainty in the divinity of these scriptures, they deem it justifiable and even necessary to carry out the attacks they do to fight for Allah’s moral cause.

Do I agree with them?  No.  Many, if not most Muslims don’t condone this worldview/behavior as well.  All I ask is: moving forward, let’s be more honest about the Islam in Islamic militancy.


What do you think? Feel free to comment below. Don’t forget to follow me at:


Twitter @secularbrownie



6 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About “If You Kill One Human, It’s As If You Killed All of Humanity”

  1. Thank you. It’s clear to me that the religion has violent roots. I don’t have much knowledge of this religion, but it seems to me that those who belong to it and claim it to be a religion of peace are in some kind of serious denial. Ironically, in terms of numbers, those are the very ones suffering most and making noises to blame the West for insufficient regret for their plight. When we point to their religion, they object and call us names (Islamophobe or racist).


  2. how about an analysis on the very next verse which you conveniently left out?
    Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,


  3. Hadith are not the initial source of jurisprudence in Islam and many have been fabricated. The first source of any law is the Quran and not the Hadith. Infact, there are hadiths which contradict Quran and can be ignored altogether. Just like the hadith of punishments of fornicators mentioned in your blog, because there is a punishment mentioned in Quran for fornication, married or virgins, and it consists only of lashes and nothing else. Also in Quran its mentioned that there is no compulsion in religion https://quran.com/2/256. Only recently have these hadiths mysteriously appeared and taken over islamic thought process and hence we see stuff like ISIS etc. Historically speaking, Egypt, Syria and Palestine among others came into the fold of the Islamic Empire and to this day we find Christians and even Jews who lived peacefully under Islamic rule. And also the same verse covers apostasy. Choice of religion per say has no punishment decreed in this world. The Hereafter is another matter and the Law on that day is decreed by the Almighty, so you need to dial there for it. The actual issue wasn’t apostasy during the time of the Prophet SAW, instead it was traitorship. And indeed, even during current world of modern thinking, traitorship still carries capital punishment even in the most elitist of modern countries.

    The only example of this Quranic Ayah found in the life of the Prophet Muhammad SAW is when there were some outlaws living beyond the boundaries of the capital and looting and plundering wealth of the travelers and farmers living on the periphery. They used to loot people, skewer their eyes etc and they got the harshest punishments ever given by the Prophet SAW during lifetime as far as my knowledge is concerned.


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