Harsh Islamic Pnushments

Question

Islamic punishments like, for example, chopping hands off for stealing and capital punishment for murder sound unfair to many. Can these punishments be awarded and executed nowadays when everything is defined by the value of acknowledged human rights, it is often maintained? Many western countries already hold them to be unethical. Instead of these extreme punishments that were exercised during the remote past, now stress is laid on lighter version of punishment for any social crime. My question is: is it against the commandmant of Allah to replace the strict punishemtns prescribed in the law with the lighter ones even when the offender is a professional?


Answer

The Islamic punishments on a few crimes are the part of the Shari'ah we have to follow. For example the punishment of cutting the hands of the thief is universal as is the capital punishment for murder.

However, they are the maximum punishments and not minimum. It means that they are to be given to the perpetrators of the crime in consummate form. If there are any attennuating circumstances that should be used. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said: "Avoid implementing the punishments if there is any doubt." This encourages the judge to try to avoid sentencing the criminal if there are any flaws in the case and the proceeding or evidence. The condtions of the offender and the circumstances in which the crime has been committed is also studied and considered in this regard.

Another important point to notice is that the Qur'an says that the adulterer and the adltereress are flogged a hundered times. But if the criminals are slave girls then their punshment is half. This shows that that the Sharia'h also gives importance to the training and circumstances of the persons involved.

These and other facts teach us that every instance of crime has to be individually studied and the punishment has to be given only to those who do not deserve any leniency. When a criminal is not to be punished by for example cutting hand the lesser penalities will be decided by the state through legislation. However, in case of consummate criminals who do not deserve any lenience it would not be possible for us to mitigate the punishment on the name of equality. The Shari'ah does not allow that. Besides we cannot consider the rights of the criminals only and ignore the rights of the society wich they rampage.

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