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Submission (Islam) and Bin Laden's death

Capital Punishment, when is it justified?

Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda, was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan. Bin Laden was best known as the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks which killed close to 3,000 innocent people. Over his lifetime, he was likely responsible for the deaths of many others.

Terrorism has no place in Submission (Islam) or any religion of God, and the Quran condemns the killing and oppression of innocents in the strongest language. Killing in the name of God is particularly abhorred as Islam preaches absolute freedom of religion.

Grossness of Murder

[Quran 5:32] ... anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people. Our messengers went to them with clear proofs and revelations, but most of them, after all this, are still transgressing.


[Quran 17:33] You shall not kill any person―for GOD has made life sacred―except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder, he will be helped.

The Major Commandments

[Quran 6:151] Say, "Come let me tell you what your Lord has really prohibited for you: You shall not set up idols besides Him. You shall honor your parents. You shall not kill your children from fear of poverty―we provide for you and for them. You shall not commit gross sins, obvious or hidden. You shall not kill―GOD has made life sacred―except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you, that you may understand."

While the Quran generally discourages capital punishment (2:178), murder is one of the few instances in which capital punishment is permitted. The verse after 5:32, we see an explanation of when capital punishment may be permitted.

Capital Punishment: When is it Justified?

[Quran 5:33] The just retribution for those who fight GOD and His messenger, and commit horrendous crimes, is to be killed, or crucified, or to have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or to be banished from the land. This is to humiliate them in this life, then they suffer a far worse retribution in the Hereafter.

For those who commit gross offenses, capital punishment in this case provides justice and sets an example to deter future murders. Of course, the punishment in Hell in the Hereafter is far worse, beyond what we can imagine.

The Quran makes it clear, there is no excuse for murder and taking the life of an innocent person. Submitters to God (Muslims), particularly loathe terrorism, and do not condone murder or oppression of any kind (Quran 2:217). Many righteous people, including God's messengers have been killed for their religious beliefs (Quran 2:87, 85:4-8). The Messiah, Jesus, is the most well-known example of a prophet of God being tortured and executed because of the message he preached. In the not too distant past, Rashad Khalifa, God's messenger of the Covenant, was martyred for his teachings in one of the earliest acts of so-called "Islamic terrorism" in the USA. The killers reportedly had ties to Al-Qaida.

While killing a murderer does not bring the victims back or undo the original crime, it is permitted by God under certain circumstances if the Law of Equivalenceance is upheld.

Discouraging Capital Punishment*

[Quran 2:178] O you who believe, equivalence is the law decreed for you when dealing with murder―the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female. If one is pardoned by the victim's kin, an appreciative response is in order, and an equitable compensation shall be paid. This is an alleviation from your Lord and mercy. Anyone who transgresses beyond this incurs a painful retribution.

[Quran 2:179] Equivalence is a life saving law for you, O you who possess intelligence, that you may be righteous.

*2:178 The Quran clearly discourages capital punishment. Every kind of excuse is provided to spare lives, including the life of the murderer. The victim's kin may find it better, under certain circumstances, to spare the life of the murderer in exchange for an equitable compensation. Also capital punishment 

To conclude, while capital punishment is discouraged in Quran, in certain cases it serves justice. When an individual who fights God and His messenger, and commits horrendous crimes is involved, God tells us in Quran 5:33 that capital punishment is justified. Thus, the operation to kill Bin Laden, is not against God's law in Quran, and it is in the cause of justice from a Submission-related (Islamic) perspective.

For more information on what Submission (Islam) says on terrorism and unjustified aggression, please visit our page on Terrorism.

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