“Maim and crucify infidels if they criticize Islam” 5:33

Non-believers believe the Qur’an is full of evil and oppression and promotes terrorism. This is because they do not understand the Qur’an’s context as they read like they do with the bible. I recently received a question in my WhatsApp inbox “My Muslim brother, you claim Islam is a religion of peace, how do you answer this?” He sent me a list of Qur’anic verses which he and others believe the Qur’an is evil.

This article is my answer to the Christian friend and I hope it shall be helpful to Muslim brothers and sister who encounter the same questions.

Qur’an 5:33 “Maim and crucify infidels if they criticize Islam”

Frankly speaking, I did not find this kind of translation “maim and crucify infidels if they criticize Islam” in any of the translations of the Qur’an from 5:33. Even the verse that comes before 33, it says:

5:32 “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.”

Why then should the next verse encourage maiming and crucifying innocent critics of Islam? This translation is false. This is what the Qur’an says:

5:33. Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment”

So, where did they get that translation from? Because even when we look at the explanation (tafsir) of that verse, there is nothing like “maim and crucify infidels if they criticize Islam”. The explanation says:

إِنَّمَا جَزَاء الَّذِينَ يُحَارِبُونَ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَسْعَوْنَ فِي الَارْضِ فَسَادًا أَن يُقَتَّلُواْ أَوْ يُصَلَّبُواْ أَوْ تُقَطَّعَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُم مِّنْ خِلفٍ أَوْ يُنفَوْاْ مِنَ الَارْضِ

Translation: “The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land.”

Explanation (Tafsir): “Wage war” mentioned here means oppose and contradict, and it includes disbelief, blocking roads and spreading fear in the fairways. Mischief in the land refers to various types of evil.

Ibn Jarir recorded that Ikrimah and Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that “the verse:

إِنَّمَا جَزَاء الَّذِينَ يُحَارِبُونَ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ

(The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger) until,

أَنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

 (Allah is Of-Forgiving, Most Merciful),

“Was revealed about the idolaters, therefore, the verse decrees that, whoever among them repents before you apprehend them; then you have no right to punish them. This verse does not save a Muslim from punishment if he kills, causes mischief in the land or wages war against Allah and His Messenger and then joins rank with the disbelievers, before the Muslims are able to catch him. He will still be liable for punishment for the crimes he committed.”

Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i recorded that Ikrimah said that Ibn Abbas said that the verse:

إِنَّمَا جَزَاء الَّذِينَ يُحَارِبُونَ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَسْعَوْنَ فِي الَارْضِ فَسَادًا

 (The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land…),

“Was revealed concerning the idolators, those among them who repent before being apprehended, they will still be liable for punishment for the crimes they committed.”

The correct opinion is that this verse is general in meaning and includes the idolaters and all others who commit the types of crimes the Ayah mentioned.