I had a misunderstanding of some verses of the Quran. In 4:93 it is said that whoever kills a believer will be severely punished.

And whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell—where they will stay indefinitely. Allah will be displeased with them, condemn them, and will prepare for them a tremendous punishmen.4:93

But we know that according to 49:14, not every Muslim is a believer.

˹Some of˺ the nomadic Arabs say, “We believe.” Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “You have not believed. But say, ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His Messenger ˹wholeheartedly˺, He will not discount anything from ˹the reward of˺ your deeds. Allah is truly All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”49:14

I even read that it takes a lot of effort to achieve the degree of a believer, because faith must enter the heart.

Therefore, my question is: why is the word believer used in 4:93, and not Muslim? Does it make sense?

2 Answers 2


The very next verse commands people not to assume anything about someone who claims Islam except that he is a believer:

O you who have believed, when you go forth [to fight] in the cause of Allah, investigate; and do not say to one who gives you [a greeting of] peace "You are not a believer," aspiring for the goods of worldly life; for with Allah are many acquisitions. You [yourselves] were like that before; then Allah conferred His favor upon you, so investigate. Indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted. (4:94)

So, it is clear there is no distinction in murder between Muslims and believers when we are not allowed to make such a distinction in the first place. Allah explicitly commands us to assume people are believers.

The above verse 3:94 was revealed in the following context:

Ibn 'Abbas said, "A man from Bani Sulaym, who was tending a flock of sheep, passed by some of the Companions of the Prophet and said Salam to them. They said (to each other), 'He only said Salam to protect himself from us.' Then they attacked him and killed him. They brought his sheep to the Prophet, and this Ayah was revealed." (Musnad Ahmad)

Plenty of other similar incidents are narrated:

Usama ibn Zaid narrated: God’s Messenger sent us to some people of Juhaina, and I attacked one of them and was about to spear him when he said, “There is no god but God.” I then speared him and killed him, after which I went and told the Prophet. He said, “Did you kill him when he had testified that there is no god but God?” I replied, “Messenger of God, he did that only as a means to escape death.” He asked, “Did you split his heart (to see his true motives)??”* (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)

The reason Allah would use the label "believer" in this verse when forbidding murder rather than Muslim is to emphasize the gravity of killing them. When you forbid something, you would use the highest words applicable so that it shows people how evil the deed is.

A general rule is that the distinction of Iman and Islam is something only Allah can decide, and it is not for humans to determine. We are to assume Muslims are believers.

The usage of Iman in the Quran and Sunnah is not simple, and it requires its own question and topic.

But, to put it simply, it is not uniform such that one can always assume Iman is a higher level than Islam.

There are several times Iman is considered more than Islam, several times they are used synonymously, and several times Iman is considered less than Islam.


Not every Muslim is a believer. Is the same as saying not every human is homo-sapien. A Muslim that is not firm about his beliefs or correct beliefs is not a Muslim/believer, he is a Munafiq/hypocrite.

Muslim means the one who summits to Allah(obdient to Allah). One is obdient to Allah if he has sound Faith.

In 49:14 :

The Arabs/bedouins are refered/class first so it does not apply to a general audience.

Killing a Muslim is the same as killing a believer.

Even after the negative mark my point still holds. Reffering to [3:102]:

O believers! Be mindful of Allah in the way He deserves, and do not die except in ˹a state of full˺ submission ˹to Him˺.

If you are still confused:

the Bedouins who had become Muslims, seeing the increasing power of Islam, thinking that they would not only remain safe from any attack by the Muslims but would also gain materially from the Islamic conquests. These people had not embraced Islam sincerely but had professed faith only verbally in order to be counted among the Muslims, and their inner state became exposed whenever they would come before the Prophet (peace be upon him) with different sorts of demands and would enumerate and mention their rights as if they had done him a great favor by accepting Islam.

I think reading further more is self explains.

  • The Qur'an also says to die in a form of full summition. And the question why is it believer and not Muslim is rather foolish.
    – AbduRahman
    Sep 1, 2022 at 23:16
  • Saying that it doesn't say (x quality of a believer) so it doesn't apply to ( x) is wrong. Summition to Allah is the quality of a believer.
    – AbduRahman
    Sep 1, 2022 at 23:17
  • It is first classified as "some of the Arabs say "so it wouldn't apply to a general audience
    – AbduRahman
    Sep 1, 2022 at 23:19

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