Ten years after his (PBUH) migration (Hijra) to Medina, Prophet Muhammad went back to Mecca to perform the fifth pillar of Islam, and so many people attended it with him (PBUH). So, it was a great opportunity to highlight the main foundations of the religion to that large crowd of people.
On the 9th of Dhu Al-Hijjah, he (PBUH) delivered his most famous sermon known as the “Farwell Sermon” in which he (PBUH) projected the most important and essential pillars of the religion of Islam, starting with praising Allah, the Almighty, informing people of the sanctity of Mecca, the month of Dhu Al-Hijjah, and people’s bloods, properties, and honors.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “O People! Lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore, listen carefully to what I am saying and take these words to those who could not be present here today. O People! Just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your LORD, and that he will indeed reckon your deeds.”
With these luminous words of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we can start this article to ascertain how Islam sanctifies people’s lives and blood.
Islam instructs that man’s life is the most sanctified thing in this life, to the extent that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated clearly that the Muslim blood’s sanctity is holier in the Sight of Allah than the Sacred House, a fact which is proved by the Qur‘an and the real practice of the Prophet (PBUH).
The Qur‘an contains several verses proving this point and stressing that it is not permissible to kill Muslims or non-Muslims alike, without any legal reason approved by the Shari‘ah.
- In the Chapter of An-Nisa’, Allah, Glorified is He, says: “And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement.” (The Qur‘an, 4:93);
- In the Chapter of Al-Ma’ida, He, the Almighty, says: “On account of [his deed], We decreed to the children of Israel that if anyone kills a person – unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land – it is as if he kills all mankind, while if any saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind.” (The Quran, 5:32);
- In the Chapter of Al-Furqan, He, the Almighty, records the characteristics and features of His true believers, stating that one of these characteristics is that “And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay the soul, which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice …” (The Qur‘an, 25:68)
These verses undoubtedly affirm that man’s blood, under Islam, cannot be shed unless there is a legal reason approved by the Shari‘ah, and which is shown in the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). In this regard, Imam Ibn Kathir, in his Tafsir Al-Qur’an Al-‘Azim, quotes Mujahid who said: “Whoever slays a soul for no legal reason (approved by the Shari‘ah), it is as if he had killed all mankind, since he will eternally abide in the Fire.”
But, what is the position of the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) on this point?
The Sunnah of the Prophet, the second source of legislation in Islam, takes the very same position like the Quran. In so many Hadiths, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stresses the sanctity of people’s blood. His (PBUH) statement in the Farewell Sermon is a case in point.
- Also, he (PBUH) showed that the sanctity of man’s blood is even holier and greater than the entire life, saying: “The extinction of the whole world is less significant before Allah than killing a Muslim man." (An-Nasa’i)
- Emphasizing the fact that unlawful killing of a Muslim is the most serious sin ever in the world, he (PBUH) said: “'If the inhabitants of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth all took part in shedding the blood of a believer, then Allah would cast them (all) in the Fire." (Al-Tirmidhi)
- Maintaining the fact that this ruling on the sanctity of bloods is not restricted to Muslims only, he (PBUH) said: “The first son of Adam takes a share of the guilt of every one who murders another wrongfully because he was the initiator of committing murder." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim); and “A faithful believer remains at liberty regarding his religion unless he kills somebody unlawfully."
In brief, we can conclude that those who kill innocent people in the name of Islam are but criminals who act upon their own whims and accords, and that man’s life under Islam is totally protected and sanctified unless he violates this sanctity by committing any of its nullifiers shown in the Sunnah of the Prophet and which is the liability of the judiciary to decide on.