The Islam page on RationalWiki seems to be in a state where it's simultaneously edited by people who have a pro-Islam bias and people who have an anti-Islam bias. It's current form has a section entitled "Muslims apologetic obfuscation", and quotes the Qur'an:

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.
Qur'an 5:32

RationalWiki then writes:

So [the] Qur'an is referring to a verse in Jewish scripture, which is not the same as ordaining something to Muslims.

My opinion is that this is an obtuse interpretation, but let's give this some consideration.

Question: Is there a concrete reason that Qur'an 5:32 applies to modern-day Muslims, and not only to the "Children of Israel"?

I've read various news articles quoting scholars quote this ayah as applying to all Muslims (perhaps after some terrorist atrocity). I'm also aware that there's other verses that prohibit specific kinds of murder (4:93 and 6:151).

  • Is your question about if the ruling applies to modern-day Muslims? Why did you specify "modern-day" and not Muslims since the time of the Prophet (for instance)? The story is about the sons of Adam. The ordinance started during the time of Bani Israel with the Torah; prior to that, this ordinance was not revealed. The reason Banu Israel was mentioned is that they had the most killing among themselves. Is your question about applicability today is that "modern-day Muslims" kill a lot as Banu Israel did in the past?
    – III-AK-III
    Mar 12, 2018 at 9:22
  • Or is your question about whether the ordinance applies to "modern-day Muslims" (which is the case, but not just modern-day and not just Muslims)? The ruling applies to Bani Israel and to all others at all times (rule: what counts is the general meaning of the words, not the specific reason for revelation), same as Banu Israel being the reason that Allah ordained food to become stale with time; it started during the time of Bani Israel, because of them, but it applies to all at all times.
    – III-AK-III
    Mar 12, 2018 at 9:24
  • I'm motivated by the Rational Wiki quote, which cases doubt that 5:32 applies now (hence, "modern-day"). I recognize the same justification would likely apply to any other time period after that verse is revealed. Mar 12, 2018 at 9:32

1 Answer 1


Firstly, the prohibition of murder is also ordained directly for the Muslims:

ولا تقتلوا النفس التي حرم الله إلا بالحق

And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right.

Quran 17:33

Secondly, regarding whether a law from the Shariah of the previous nations is applicable to us, such a law will fall into one of the following cases:

  • An alleged law in the previous scriptures which is not attested to in the Quran or Sunnah, but we only know of it through the books or scholars of the Jews and Christians. There is consensus that such a law is not applicable to us.

  • A law in the previous scriptures which is attested to in the Quran or Sunnah, and it is also explicitly ordained for us. There is consensus that this law will be applicable to us. Examples of this include the commands to observe Salah, Zakah, Sawm, Jihad etc. (2:83, 2:183, 2:246).

  • A law in the previous scriptures which is attested to in the Quran or Sunnah, but the Quran or Sunnah abrogate that law. There is consensus that such a law is not applicable to us. Examples of this include the observation of the Sabbath (16:124) and the prohibition of Chelev (6:145-146).

  • A law in the previous scriptures that is attested to in the Quran or Sunnah, however the Quran and Sunnah do not explicitly ordain it for us, nor is there an indication that it has been abrogated. In this case the view of the majority is that such a law is applicable to us.

    The evidence that it is effective includes the general meaning of the verses:

    شرع لكم من الدين ما وصى به نوحا والذي أوحينا إليك وما وصينا به إبراهيم وموسى وعيسى

    He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus

    Quran 42:13

    أولئك الذين هدى الله فبهداهم اقتده

    Those are the ones whom Allah has guided, so from their guidance take an example.

    Quran 6:90

    ثم أوحينا إليك أن اتبع ملة إبراهيم

    Then We revealed to you, [O Muhammad], to follow the religion of Abraham

    Quran 16:123

    Additionally it is evidenced from the Sunnah. For example the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ cited verse 20:14 as evidence, while that verse is recounting what Allah spoke to Moses عليه السلام , and is not directly addressed to him:

    من نسي الصلاة فليصلها إذا ذكرها فإن الله قال أقم الصلاة لذكري

    When anyone forgets the prayer, he should observe it when he remembers it, for Allah has said: "And observe the prayer for remembrance of Me" (20:14).

    Bukhari and Muslim

    Several lessons and laws in Islam are derived from the Quranic references to the previous Prophets and their nations. For example the etiquette of hospitality from Abraham serving of his guests (11:69), the permission of bounty from the story of Joseph (12:72), rulings on Nikah and Ijarah from the marriage of Moses (28:27), rulings on Qisas from the revelation in the Torah (5:45) etc.


  • Is there really consensus on the first case? I read somewhere that imam Malik held the opinion that whatever was shari'a for earlier nations also is for us unless there's a text declaring it void. In fact I only knew thst the Malikis were approving shari'a of earlier nations.
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 21, 2021 at 18:58
  • 1
    @Medi1Saif That is what the linked sources say. If it was not then we would be expected to study the Torah and Gospel and derive laws from it, which is not the case. The stance of Imam Malik that you read might have been on the fourth point, however it is also possible that it is an outlier and if you find it please share it.
    – UmH
    Jan 22, 2021 at 5:10

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