Saturday, January 25, 2014


The penal laws of Islam are called ‘Hudud’ in the Hadith and Fiqh. This word is the plural of Hadd, which means prevention, hindrance, restraint, prohibition, and hence a restrictive ordinance or statute of God, respecting things lawful and unlawful.
Punishments are divided into two classes, one of which is called 1)Hadd and the other 2) Ta'zir.
The Hadd is a measure of punishment defined by the Qur'an and the Sunnah. In Ta'zir, the court, is allowed to use its discretion in regard to the form and measure in which such punishment is to be inflicted.

Punishments by way of Hadd are of the following forms: death by stoning, amputation of a limb or limbs, flogging by one hundred or eighty strokes. They are prescribed respectively for the following offences: adultery committed by married persons, theft, highway robbery, drunkenness and slander imputing unchastity to women.

The punishments described above are the maximum punishments for the above mentioned crimes. These can be reduced keeping in view the circumstances in which the crimes were committed, the nature of the evidence, and the motive of the criminal with which he committed the crime.

Let's see what the Hadiths say about sins and their punishments in general:

Narrated by Abu Huraira
Allah's Apostle said, "When an adulterer commits illegal sexual intercourse, then he is not a believer at the time he is doing it; and when somebody drinks an alcoholic drink, then he is not believer at the time of drinking, and when a thief steals, he is not a believer at the time when he is stealing; and when a robber robs and the people look at him, then he is not a believer at the time of doing it."

Reference : Sahih Bukhari Volume 8, Book 81, Number 763

Let us discuss the various punishments prescribed in Quran for various crimes / sins


The punishment for theft for a man and woman is – Cutting off of hands!

{[As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they earned [i.e. committed] as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.}[Quran 5:38].

Sahih Muslim

'A'isha reported that she heard Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: The hand of the thief may not be cut off but for a quarter of a dinar and upwards.
Jaibir reported that a woman from the tribe of Makhzum committed theft. She was brought to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) and she sought refuge (intercession) from Umm Salama, the wife of Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him). Thereupon Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: By Allah, even if she were Fatima, I would have her hand cut off. And thus her hand was cut off.


The [Unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse — lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion [i.e. law] of Allaah, if you should believe in Allaah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.}[Quran 24:2].

When an unmarried man and unmarried woman commit fornication/ adultery / zina and it is proved by witnesses / self confession or pregnancy, then both are to be lashed 100 times and banished/ exhiled for a year.

If a married male commits adultery with a female married to another man and the same is proved by witnesses or self confession, then both of them are entitled to 100 lashes and and have to be stoned to death

'Ubada b. as-Samit reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Receive (teaching) from me, receive (teaching) from me. Allah has ordained a way for those (women). When an unmarried male commits adultery with an unmarried female (they should receive) one hundred lashes and banishment for one year. And in case of married male committing adultery with a married female, they shall receive one hundred lashes and be stoned to death.

Many confuse this with Rape and end up unduly/ unjustly punishing a woman alongwith man for an act of violence against her.


Some people seem to confuse Islamic law by equating rape to sex outside of marriage (adultery or fornication). However, throughout Islamic history there have been scholars who classified rape as a form of terrorism (hiraba). There have also been specific examples in Islamic history which can shed light on how early Muslims handled this crime and its punishment.
Examples from Early Islamic History
During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, a rapist was punished based on only the testimony of the victim. Wa'il ibn Hujr reported that a womam publicly identified a man who had raped her. The people caught the man and brought him to the Prophet Muhammad. He told the woman to go, that she was not to be blamed, and ordered that the man be put to death.

In another case, a woman brought her infant to the mosque and publicly spoke about the rape that had resulted in her pregnancy. When confronted, the accused admitted the crime to the  who ordered his punishment. The woman was not punished.
Rape : Adultery or Terrorism?
It is incorrect to say that rape is merely a subcategory of adultery or fornication. In the well-known Islamic legal book, "Fiqh-us-Sunnah," rape is included in a definition of hiraba (terrorism or crimes of violence): "A single person or group of people causing public disruption, killing, forcibly taking property or money, attacking or raping women, killing cattle, or disrupting agriculture." This distinction is important when discussing the evidence required to prove the crime.

Other Points of Views and Fatwas on Rape Punishment
 Ibn `Abdul-Barr (may Allah bless his soul) said :
The scholars are unanimously agreed that the rapist is to be subjected to the hadd punishment if there is clear evidence against him that he deserves the hadd punishment, or if he admits to that. Otherwise, he is to be punished (that is, if there is no proof that the hadd punishment for zina may be carried out against him because he does not confess and there are not four witnesses, then the judge may punish him and stipulate a punishment that will deter him and others like him). There is no punishment for the woman if it is true that he forced her and overpowered her. (Al-Istidhkaar, 7/146). 
In addition, the rapist is subject to the hadd punishment for zina, even if the rape was not carried out at knifepoint or gunpoint. If the use of a weapon was threatened, then he is a muharib, and is to be subjected to the hadd punishment described in the verse in which Allah says  (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 from opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter) (Al-Ma’idah 5:33). 
So the judge has the choice of the four punishments mentioned in this verse and may choose whichever he thinks is most suitable to attain the objective, which is to spread peace and security in society, and ward off evildoers and aggressors.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
A raped woman is a victim that must be treated with honor and kindness. She is not required to produce four witnesses to prove the crime done against her, nor is she punished for the crime done against her. 

A woman who has been raped cannot be asked to produce witnesses; her claim shall be accepted unless there are tangible grounds to prove otherwise. To insist that she provide witnesses is akin to inflicting further pain on her. If anyone refutes her claim of innocence, the onus is on him to provide evidence, and she may simply deny the claim by making a solemn oath, thus clearing herself in public. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The onus to provide evidence falls on the one who makes a claim, and the one who denies (the same) can absolve himself or herself by making a solemn oath to the contrary.” 


This law is there to avoid people from falsely accusing others of zina / fornication/ adultery.

{And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses — lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from   them testimony ever after.}[Quran 24:4]
Many a times, a woman apart from becoming a victim of rape or sexual assault, often has people accusing her only for bringing on the crime on herself. Some doubt her own chastity and behavior. Some comment on her clothing and some on her actions. But rape can happen to anyone. Even a well clad female. Also some men try to put the blame on her to avoid themselves from being punished.
To dissuade such people, it is ordained that if anyone is proved of having slandering a woman’s chastity without witnesses or proof, then such a person is himself / herself entitled to 2 punishments :
     1)  80 lashes
      2)  The person’s testimony should never ever be accepted.


"...If anyone kills a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all people. And if anyone saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all people" (Qur'an 5:32).

"...Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, so that you may learn wisdom" (Quran 6:151).

Punishment and retribution

{And whoever is killed unjustly — We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life.}[Quran 17:33].

Islam is against killing of the innocents.

The Prophet Mohammed SAS said, "The first cases to be decided among the people (on the Day of Resurrection) will be those of blood-shed."

Hadith Sahih Bukhari (law ordained by quoting the Quran) :

The law of Qisas (i.e. equality in punishment) was prescribed for the children of Israel, but the Diya (i.e.blood money was not ordained for them). So Allah said to this Nation (i.e. Muslims): "O you who believe! The law of Al-Qisas (i.e. equality in punishment) is prescribed for you in cases of murder: The free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if the relatives (or one of them) of the killed (person) forgive their brother (i.e. the killers something of Qisas (i.e. not to kill the killer by accepting blood money in the case of intentional murder)...then the relatives (of the killed person) should demand blood-money in a reasonable manner and the killer must pay with handsome gratitude. This is an allevitation and a Mercy from your Lord, (in comparison to what was prescribed for the nations before you). So after this, whoever transgresses the limits (i.e. to kill the killer after taking the blood-money) shall have a painful torment." (Quran 2 :178)

The Qur'an legislates the death penalty for murder, although forgiveness and compassion are strongly encouraged.

Islam has prescribed two ways in which murder / killings can be handled

1) Capital Punishment
2) Foregiveness in lieu of Blood Money (compensation to the victim’s family)

The murder victim's family is given a choice to either insist on the death penalty, or to pardon the perpetrator and accept monetary compensation for their loss

Here again, the point to be noted is that when Punishment is given, the criminal is cleansed of his sins (Allah knows best), but when a pardon is sought through blood money, the balancing of the sin committed is done through another ways.
a) In forgiveness, the victim’s family’s status is raised in front of the Almighty.
b) The sins of the forgiver are burdened on the murderer.

This is best explained through the following narration from Sahih Muslim Book 16 Hadith Number 4164.

These are some of the major Punishments prescribed in Quran and Hadiths for some of the bigger sins.

Some of us, and many non- Muslims will find the punishments too harsh. But all laws and punishments are made with the intention to avoid the Crime from taking place (if all punishments are implemented justly)

When doubts are raised in our minds about the kind of punishments ordained by the Almighty, reflect on these verses of Surah Al Maidah :

5:98 Know that Allah is Severe in punishment and that Allah is also Most Forgiving and ever Merciful. 

5:101 O ye who believe! ask not about things which, if revealed to you, would cause you trouble, though if you ask about them while the Qur'án is being sent down they will be revealed to you. Allah has left them out on purpose. And Allah is Most Forgiving and Forbearing. 

We will discuss the smaller punishments for other behaviours / sins in another topic, Insha Allah.

Sources :
Sahih Muslim
Sahih Bukhari

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