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Punishments: Three Important Considerations
Islamic Punishments
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Three Important Considerations

In the administration of various punishments, the following three aspects should necessarily be taken into consideration.

Firstly, these punishments can only be administered in an Islamic State under a properly instituted government. The reason for this condition is that the surahs in which these punishments have been mentioned were revealed in Medinah where an Islamic state had been established under the rule of the Prophet (sws). Consequently, if a group or person who is not at the helm of affairs in a country, he has no right to administer these punishments. The words `amputate the hands' and `flog [the criminal]' of these verses are addressed to the rulers of the Muslims; no one else can be regarded as their addressees. Abu Bakr Jassaas writes in his "Ahkaam-ul-Quran":

"Any learned person who comes across these words, immediately understands that the rulers of an Islamic State are its addressees and not the common Muslims. Consequently, the implied words, for example, are: `the rulers should amputate their hands' and `these rulers should flog them'." (Vol 3, Pg 283)

Secondly, these punishments shall be administered not only to the Muslim subjects of an Islamic State, but also to its non-Muslim ones. The way the Quran has mentioned them leaves no room for differentiating between the two. Consequently, it is a known historical fact that the Prophet (sws) as well as the Rightly Guided Caliphs gave these punishments to the non-Muslims as well. This is part of the public law of Islam and no one can be shown any leniance in this regard.

Thirdly, in accordance with the Quranic injunction `Allah does not burden a soul beyond his capacity' (2:286), the punishment of flogging a criminal cannot be given to the handicapped. The Prophet (sws), therefore, did not allow a criminal guilty of fornication to be punished with a hundred stripes because of old age and ordered that his body be hit by a hundred twigs just once as a symbolic manifestation of the punishment:

"The Prophet ordered that he should be struck with a hundred twigs just once." (Abu Daud, Kitaab-ul-Hadood)


(Adapted from Ghamidi's "Mizan")

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