The Corner

Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery, But . . .

As a cornerstone of the case that Islam is the religion of peace, the Koranic sura which Andy cited, 5:32 (“The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.”), has more problems than the mere fact that it is entirely contradicted by the following verse (i.e., the one promising execution, crucifiction, or decapitation to those who oppose Allah and his messenger).

It is one of the suras that comes straight from another religion. Not that they teach this in Al Azhar, but the original occurance of the line is found in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 4:5. You know, the book in which the ancient rabbis interpret Jewish law. It reads:                        

 שכל המאבד נפש אחד מישראל מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו איבד עולם מלא וכל המקיים נפש אחת מישראל מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו קיים עולם מלא

The translation is, “Anyone who destroys (kills) one soul of Israel is viewed as having annihilated an entire world. Anyone who saves or sustains one (soul) of Israel is viewed as sustaining an entire world.” It’s pretty culture-specific, but the possibility of extrapolating the larger notion about the meaning of murder to other tribes is there. 

The Talmud was compiled in the late 2nd century, so we know it precedes the Koran, which was written half a millenium later. Not that there is anything wrong with borrowing wisdom, of course.

It is only a little ironic that, in this Reuters survey of reactions to Obama’s speech from Islamic leaders, that is the line that got the most positive response. And the matter of Israelis who putatively don’t want to negotiate with Palestinians remained the major grievance. 


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