Value of the Human Soul and the Prohibition of Bloodshed in Islam

By Editorial Staff
Value of the Human Soul and the Prohibition of Bloodshed in Islam

Islam considers bloodshed of people as a heinous major sin whose doer is penalized with eternal residence in the Hellfire where he will be subjected to great torment.

When Almighty Allah created Adam (peace be upon him), Allah commanded Angels as well as Iblis (Satan) to prostrate before Adam. It was a great honoring to Adam, the new creature who excels other creatures. Iblis (Satan) refused to follow the orders of God claiming superiority over Adam. The Qur’an reads,

[Allah] said, “O Iblis, what prevented you from prostrating to that which I created with My hands? Were you arrogant [then], or were you [already] among the haughty?” He said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.” (Sad 38:75-76)

In this verse, God tells Iblis that He has created Adam with His Own Honorable Hands which implies how dear to God Adam (i.e. man) is. It is a special honor that God bestows upon man more than other creatures, including Angels and the Jinn. The verse also illustrates that God loves his dear creature, i.e. man, and deems his dignity and life more sacred than anything else. In another verse, God stresses his honoring of Adam over other creatures saying,

And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them to much of what We have created, with [definite] preference. (Al-Israa’ 17:70)

This verse also tells us that Almighty Allah has given humans, referred to by Adam and his offspring, special honor, esteem and preference over much of His creatures. The above verse does not refer to humans in any religious, cultural or racial context, nor does it assign this honoring to certain doctrine without the other. It is general and involves the whole offspring of Adam until the Day of Judgment.

The same concept is further asserted by the actions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who shows full respect to people regardless of their religion. `Abdur-Rahman ibn Abu Layla narrated that Sahl ibn Hunayf and Qays ibn Sa`d were sitting in the city of Al-Qadisiya. A funeral procession passed in front of them and they stood up. They were told that funeral procession was f one of the inhabitants of the land i.e. of a non-believer, under the protection of Muslims. They said, “A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, “Is it not a living being (soul)?” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Moreover, Islam strictly prohibited any kind of encroachment against the human soul and life. Islam considers bloodshed of people as a heinous major sin whose doer is penalized with eternal residence in the Hellfire where he will be subjected to great torment. Almighty Allah says,

But whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment. (An-Nisaa’ 4:93)

The Qur’an also considered killing a person as an aggression against the whole humanity. It reads,

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. (Al-Ma’idah 5:32)

The prohibition of bloodshed in Islam is not confined to Muslims without others. Rather, the people of other religions, classed as Mu`ahid (a person who has a pledge of protection with Muslims) must be defended and protected. `Abdullah ibn `Amr narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever killed a Mu`ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not (even) smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling). (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Also, the Qur’an prohibits killing any person, except through the legal ways,

And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.” (Al-An`am 6:151)

This command is general involving the souls of Muslims and non-Muslims on an equal terms because justice in Islam is not to be parted. Imam Al-Qurtubi (a great Muslim scholar of the Qur’an Exegesis) comments on this verse saying, “This verse is clear in forbidding killing souls, whether it is of a Muslim or a Mu`ahid (non-Muslims) except through the rights, which entails its killing.” (Al-Jami` li-ahkam Al-Qur’an p. 7/1332)

This clear stance of Islam rejects any aggression against the human soul, even by half a word. It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever supports the killing of a believer, even with half a word, he will meet Allah (Glory be to Him) with (the words) written between his eyes, ‘He has no hope of the mercy of Allah.” (Ibn Majah)

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