Killing: The Gravest Sin In Islam:  A Muslim cannot take any innocent life of a human being of any Faith, in any circumstance

By Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi

(Translated from Urdu by Ghulam Rasool Dehlavi)

Holy Quran: “Do not take life which God has made inviolate” (Al-Isra) Ulema (Islamic scholars) interpreted this verse that “the blood of a peace-loving non-Muslim is equal to that of Muslims. A Muslim cannot take life of any human being of any Faith, in any circumstances……

Today human lives are killed on larger scale. People are commonly murdered on little trifles, even a trivial matter leads to the killing of many innocent lives, and particularly money appears to be the root cause to this evil. Every single day, we come across numerous instances of how a person is stabbed to death for only some thousand rupees, how a husband chokes his wife to death just on some baseless suspicion or personal quarrel, how an infidel wife develops a relationship with some stranger, then chalks out a plan together with him to murder her husband.

Such acts of killing and robbery take place every day due to some vested interests. It is not confined to some individuals only, but even different groups, tribes and castes clash with each other resulting into the killing of many people. The situation gets from bad to worse and more devastating when countries launch war against each other in order to fulfill their vested interests, hatching conspiracies to create civil war-like situations there. Thus, human blood flows like water everywhere. These incidents of public killing and slaughtering show how insignificant and cheap human lives have become today.

On the contrary, Islam has set great value upon every human life. According to Islam, killing a single life is akin to killing all humankind. Therefore, Islam made every possible effort to protect human lives. In order to safeguard human lives, it ensures the protection of both Muslims and non-Muslims living in an Islamic state. Islam teaches us to save human life and not to destroy it. Allah, the Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “Do not take life which God has made inviolate” (Al-Isra) Many Ulema (Islamic clergies) have interpreted this verse stating that “the blood of a peace-loving non-Muslim is equal to that of Muslims. Therefore, if a Muslim takes life of an innocent and peace-loving non-Muslim, he shall be sentenced to the Qisas (penalty) just as if he killed a Muslim. It implies that Islam sees no difference between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to the protection of their lives. Just as a Muslim life should be protected, in the same way a non-Muslim must be assured of the safety of his life.

Islam left no stone unturned to stop the acts of killing and war that shatter peace and cause continued bloodshed. What happens today in general, is that when a person is assassinated, his family too gears up to repeat the same crime by taking his revenge. Getting provoked by it, the murdered person’s family also gets ready to avenge. Thus, a fierce fight goes on and on. In such incidents of bloodshed, not only common people are found slaughtered, but normal life is also disturbed badly. As a result, both the families live in constant scare and remain frightened and apprehensive that they may not lose any of their relatives all of sudden. So, we arrive at the conclusion that act of killing always brings devastating results, that is precisely why Islam strictly forbids it. Islam does not want anyone to be trapped in such a turbulent situation.

Islam lays due emphasis on both the Huqooqullah ( human rights) and Huqooq al-Ibad (God’s rights) According to Islam, both must be fulfilled by us. On the Day of Judgment, everyone will be held accountable for discharge of his or her duties towards the rights of God. Those who fulfil them properly will be well-rewarded and, on the contrary, those who fail to do so will be severely punished. However, those believers who have firm belief in Allah may expect forgiveness from His court. For Allah is the Most Merciful and the Most Gracious.

As for the Huqooq al-Ibad (Rights of Human beings) they will not be forgiven unless the victim himself forgives. Keeping this in view, the rights of human beings are highly significant. In fact, Huqooq al-Ibadincludes the rights of all human beings, whether they are parents, neighbours, relatives, friends, local people or any other human being. The circle of Huqooq al-Ibad is very large in Islam that includes rights of both the Muslims and non-Muslims. Although some people enjoy more rights and some others have less, there is no way out without fulfilling their particular rights. Turning a blind eye to them will incur the wrath of Allah.

Since Islam keeps in view all humankind, it urges its followers to fulfil not only the rights of their relatives or Muslims, but of the entire Mankind. Of these general rights, the most important is the right to life and safety. It implies that life, be it of a Muslim or a non-Muslim, must be protected at any cost. In fact human life is highly valued by Allah, the Almighty. Furthermore, human life is created by none other than Allah, hence no one else should be permitted to take it. Even one cannot be allowed to take his own life. The value of human life can be realized through this Quranic verse: “whoever killed a human being-except as a punishment for murder or for spreading corruption in the land-shall be regarded as having killed all humankind” (Al-Ma’idah). Now let us meditate on this verse! It states explicitly that killing a single life is akin to killing all human lives, meaning that if you kill a single human being, it is just as if you killed all humankind.

In order to know how heinous crime it is to kill a human being, we should refer to this prophetic saying: “ The first thing that man will be held accountable for, on the Day of judgement, is Salah, and among the rights of human beings the claims of murder will be judged first”  One more Hadith associates the act of killing with grave sins: “The greatest of great sins is to associate someone with Allah, then comes killing of a human life, then to disobey the parents, then to tell a lie”. In this Hadith, killing has been regarded as the greatest sin after Shirk (associating someone with Allah). It proves that Shirk is indeed the greatest sin, and killing is in the top of the list of those bigger sins that come after Shirk.

In order to protect human lives, Islam not only adopts moral code of conduct but also makes use of punishment aiming to put an end to the incidents of killing. That is why a murderer is sentenced to severe punishment in Islam, that is, he too should be killed, except in those cases in which the heirs of the murdered person forgive in lieu of some compensation. In other words, if a person kills a human being, he too will be killed as retribution. To a casual observer, it appears to be a very severe punishment, as it is criticized by many biased people, but ultimately this law proves really fruitful for humankind and ensures the protection of many human lives, maintaining peace and safety. It is an open secret that the countries that have not imposed such rules and laws are now facing an alarming increase in the acts of killing. On the contrary, where there is such Islamic punishment given to the murderers, there is considerable decline in the incidents of killing. It seems as if the protection of human life depends on the very hard punishment. Yet, it is surprising enough that Islam, despite such Herculean efforts to protect human beings, is denounced today and considered as an extremist and outdated religion, while its teachings are harbinger of peace and safety.

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