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Does the Koran allow retaliation?

The Koran and the Bible hold similar and different views on retaliation.

O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. And for him who is forgiven somewhat by his (injured) brother, prosecution according to usage and payment unto him in kindness. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. He who transgresseth after this will have a painful doom. Surah 2:178

The Koran says that if someone is murdered, then someone of equal value must be murdered as repayment. The Bible holds a similar view.

But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. Exodus 21:23-25

To keep order in their society, the Old Testament told its followers that whatever was done to one person, that same thing should be done back to the offender. Equality of retribution. A person needs to understand the consequences before they commit a crime. This hopefully deters future offenses.

What is not clear from the Koran account is whose life is taken in return for the life taken. The Bible supports capital punishment according to this Old Testament law. The Koran supports retaliation. If a woman is murdered, than any woman could be murdered from the offending party – not only the person who committed the murder. This is called retaliation.

The Bible calls for justice. The crime and the re-payment must match equally. But justice is not retaliation. Retaliation is an emotional revenge, similar to the mindset of a murderer. “I’ll get you for you did to me!” The person is usually not seeking justice, but death.

While Jesus certainly understood justice, he understood mercy even more.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:38-48

In the New Testament, Jesus appears to be teaching a counter standard, but he is not saying “eye for an eye” is wrong. What he is saying is “eye for an eye” is fine, but what about mercy and compassion? Justice is permissible, but not necessary. He’s asking that we try forgiveness first. Jesus calls his followers to serve the offenders. He wants us to pray and love our enemies. The most effective retaliation, Jesus said, is love.

Hurtful people challenge our love for others. Jesus says these are ideal opportunities to show the extent of God’s grace and compassion.

The Koran applauds the retaliation theory, but says the “mercy” is in the best retaliation—Allah showing his love through our revenge. There are no verses in the Koran that tell us to love our enemies.