The reasons for capital punishment in Islam

Discussion in 'Misconceptions About Islam' started by Abu Sarah, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. Abu Sarah
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    The reasons for capital punishment in Islam

    Praise be to Allaah.

    Capital punishment applies in the case of a person who meets any of the following conditions:

    1 – The apostate. The apostate is one who disbelieves after being a Muslim, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever changes his religion, execute him.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6524.

    2 – The married adulterer. The punishment in this case is to be stoned to death.

    Al-muhsan or the married person here means one who got married and had intercourse with his wife in the vagina, in a legitimate marriage in which both parties are free, of sound mind and adults. If a married man or woman commits adultery, then they are to be stoned to death, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Learn from me. Allaah has given them a way out. If an unmarried person commits fornication with an unmarried person, (the punishment is) one hundred lashes and exile for one year. If a married person commits adultery with a married person, (the punishment is) one hundred lashes and stoning.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1690).

    And al-Bukhaari (2725) and Muslim (1698) narrated from Abu Hurayrah and Zayd ibn Khaalid al-Juhani (may Allaah be pleased with them) that they said: “Two men from among the Bedouin came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, I adjure you by Allaah to judge me according to the Book of Allaah.’ The other disputant – who was smarter – said: ‘Yes, judge between us according to the Book of Allaah and give me permission to speak first.’

    The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Speak.’

    He said, ‘My son was employed by this man, and he committed adultery with his wife. I was told that the punishment for my son would be stoning, but that he could be ransomed for one hundred sheep and their offspring. I asked the people of knowledge and they told me that the punishment for my son would be one hundred lashes and exile for one year, and that this woman would be stoned.’

    The Messenger of Allaah (S) said: ‘By the One in Whose hand is my soul, I will judge between you according to the Book of Allaah. The offspring and sheep will be returned (i.e., there is no ransom), and your son is to be given one hundred lashes and exiled for one year. O Unays [who was one of the Sahaabah], go tomorrow to that woman and if she admits (this crime) then stone her.’ So he went to her the next day and she admitted it, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) issued orders that she be stoned.

    3 – The murderer (one who kills deliberately). He is to be killed in retaliation (qisaas) unless the victim’s next of kin let him off or agree to accept the diyah (blood money), because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “O you who believe! Al-Qisaas (the Law of Equality in punishment) is prescribed for you in case of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives) of the killed against blood money, then adhering to it with fairness and payment of the blood money to the heir should be made in fairness. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. So after this whoever transgresses the limits (i.e. kills the killer after taking the blood money), he shall have a painful torment”

    [al-Baqarah 2:178]

    “And there is (a saving of) life for you in Al-Qisaas (the Law of Equality in punishment), O men of understanding, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)”

    [al-Baqarah 2:179]

    And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It is not permissible (to shed) the blood of a Muslim who bears witness that there is no god but Allaah and that I am the Messenger of Allaah, except in three cases: a married adulterer, a soul for a soul, or one who leaves the religion and splits from the jamaa’ah.”

    Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6484; Muslim, 1676).

    4 – Bandits, i.e., al-muhaarib, the one who wages war against Allaah and His Messenger. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “The recompense of those who wage war against Allaah 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-Maa'idah 5:33]

    5 – Spies. The spy is the one who spies on the Muslims and transmits information to their enemies.

    The evidence for that is the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (3007) and Muslim (2494) which says that Haatib ibn Abi Balta’ah wrote to some of the mushrikeen in Makkah telling them some information about the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “O Haatib, what is this?” He said, “O Messenger of Allaah, do not hasten to judge me. I was a man closely connected to Quraysh, but I did not belong to this tribe, while the other Muhaajireen with you had their relatives in Makkah who would protect their families and property. So I wanted to make up for my lack of blood ties to them by doing them a favor so that they might protect my family. I did not do this because of disbelief or apostasy nor out of preferring kufr (disbelief) to Islam.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “He has told you the truth.” ‘Umar said, “O Messenger of Allaah! Let me chop off the head of this hypocrite!” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “He was present at the battle of Badr, and you do not know, perhaps Allaah looked at the people of Badr and said, ‘Do whatever you like, for I have forgiven you.’”

    The point in this hadeeth is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) agreed with ‘Umar that Haatib deserved to be executed for this action, but the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told him that there was a reason why he should not be killed, which is that he was one of those who was present at the battle of Badr.

    Ibn al-Qayyim said in Zaad al-Ma’aad (2/115) concerning the hadeeth of Haatib ibn Abi Balta’ah:

    This was quoted as evidence by those who do not think that the Muslim spy should be killed, such as al-Shaafa’i, Ahmad and Abu Haneefah (may Allaah have mercy on them). And it was quoted as evidence by those who think that the spy should be killed, such as Maalik and Ibn ‘Aqeel among the companions of Ahmad, and others. They said: This is because the reason for not killing him was that he had been present at Badr. If being Muslim was the reason for not killing him, he would not have given a reason that is more specific, which is the fact that he had been present at Badr.

    And he said elsewhere in Zaad al-Ma’aad (3/422):

    The correct view is that execution of a spy depends on the opinion of the ruler; if executing him is in the Muslims’ interests, he should be executed, but if letting him live serves a greater interest, then he should be allowed to live. And Allaah knows best.

    The above also includes the one who does not pray, the one who practices witchcraft, and the heretic, because they come under the heading of “the one who leaves his religion and splits from the jamaa’ah.”

    With regard to the conditions of implementing this punishment, there are many. Each crime has its own specific conditions, details of which may be found in the books of fiqh.

    The wisdom behind executing the apostate and the married adulterer

    With regard to The wisdom behind that, “However, I find it difficult to comprehend how a man can be sentenced to death for speaking. I would have thought that we as humans do not have that right to make those decisions, only god can” – what you say is correct, because no-one has the right to condemn another person to death without evidence from the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

    The ruling of execution because of a word that somebody utters is what the Muslim scholars call al-riddah (apostasy). What is apostasy and what constitutes apostasy? What is the ruling on the apostate (al-murtadd)?

    1 – Riddah (apostasy) refers to when a Muslim becomes a disbeliever by saying a clear statement to that effect, or by uttering words which imply that (i.e., which imply kufr or disbelief), or he does something that implies that (i.e., an action which implies kufr or disbelief).

    2 – What constitutes apostasy

    The matters which constitute apostasy are divided into four categories:

    (a) Apostasy in beliefs, such as associating others with Allaah, denying Him, or denying an attribute which is proven to be one of His attributes, or by affirming that Allaah has a son. Whoever believes that is an apostate and a disbeliever.

    (b) Apostasy in words, such as insulting Allaah or the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

    (c) Apostasy in actions, such as throwing the Qur’an into a filthy place, because doing that shows disrespect towards the words of Allaah, so it is a sign that one does not believe. Other such actions include prostrating to an idol or to the sun or moon.

    (d) Apostasy by omission, such as not doing any of the rituals of Islam, or turning away from following it altogether.

    3 – What is the ruling on the apostate?

    If a Muslim apostatizes and meets the conditions of apostasy – i.e., he is of sound mind, an adult and does that of his own free will – then his blood may be shed with impunity. He is to be executed by the Muslim ruler or by his deputy – such as the qaadi or judge, and he is not to not be washed (after death, in preparation for burial), the funeral prayer is not to be offered for him and he is not to be buried with the Muslims.

    The evidence that the apostate is to be executed is the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Whoever changes his religion, execute him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2794). What is meant by religion here is Islam (i.e., whoever changes from Islam to another religion).

    The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim who bears witness that there is no god except Allaah and that I am His Messenger, except in one of three cases: a soul for a soul (i.e., in the case of murder); a married man who commits adultery; and one who leaves his religion and splits form the jamaa’ah (main group of Muslims).” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6878; Muslim, 1676)

    See al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, 22/180.

    Thus it will be clear to you that execution of the apostate is something that is commanded by Allaah, when he commanded us to obey the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority”

    [al-Nisa’ 4:59]

    And the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has commanded us to execute the apostate as in the hadeeth quoted above: “Whoever changes his religion, execute him.”

    It may need some time for you to be convinced about this matter, and for you to think about it. Perhaps you think that if a person follows the truth and enters into it and embraces the one true religion which Allaah has enjoined, then we allow him to leave it quite easily whenever he wants and to utter the words of kufr (disbelief) that put him outside of Islam, so he can reject Allaah, His Messenger, His Books and His religion, and there is no punishment as deterrent, how will that affect him and others who enter the religion?

    Do you not see that this would make the one true religion, that everyone should follow, like a shop or store which a person can enter when he wants and leave when he wants, and it may encourage others to forsake the truth.

    Moreover, this is not someone who has never known the truth and practiced it and worshipped in accordance with it; rather this is a person who has known the truth, and practiced the religion and done the rituals of worship, so the punishment is no greater than he deserves. Moreover, such strong rulings as this are only applied to such a person whose life is no longer considered to be useful, because he knew the truth and followed the religion, then he left it and forsook it. What soul can be more evil than the soul of such a person?

    In conclusion, the answer is that Allaah is the One Who revealed this religion and enjoined it. He is the One Who ruled that the one who enters it and then leaves it is to be executed. This ruling does not come from the Muslims’ ideas or suggestions. As this is the case, then we must follow the ruling of Allaah so long as we are content to accept Him as our Lord and God.
  2. rightpath_357
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    rightpath_357 Junior Member

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    JazakAllah Khair for sharing sis- though I didn't really like reading about punishments, it makes it clear what is to give punishment for and how fairly. :)

    Salam!!!!!!! :D
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    Jazak'Allaah khair..thanks for sharing. A very imformative read and good for all to know
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    nyerekareem abdur-rahman

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    it's important to keep in mind that the accused, would be offered an opportunity to make tawbah for the accusation of riddah before a judge. i think one thing people have to keep in mind that although the death penalty is allowed in certain cases, the death penalty is the maximum punishment, but mercy can be shown. in other words it's at the judge's discretion whether or not that person should be executed. also we really have to stress that this punishment cannot be performed by the common muslim. the presentation almost seemed as if anyone that knows someone that left islam has the right to execute that person. really, the majority of muslim majority nations are not ruling under the shari'a and really have no authority to perform these judgements.
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    Assalaamu alaikum,

    I was looking for this topic...subhana'Allaah and here its posted with simpilicity and great information!!!! aaahh, I just LOVE TTI:D

    Alhamdulillaah....

    oh yea......jazaka'Allaah khair for sharing!!!! It's of GREAT help!
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    :salam2:

    While it is clear the error of apostacy will result in ultimate punishment from Allah for those who do not repent, there is some controversy among scholars based on study of Quran and Sunnah whether or not this error constitutes capital punishment. There are many who have concluded that in every single case presented in hadith where punishment has been meted out, riddah involved treason or rebellion, not simply a divergence of belief.

    The following is an example of how the Prophet dealt with solely apostasy:
    A bedouin gave the Pledge of allegiance to Allah's Apostle for Islam. Then the bedouin got fever at Medina, came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Cancel my Pledge," But Allah's Apostle refused. Then he came to him (again) and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Cancel my Pledge." But the Prophet refused. Then he came to him (again) and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Cancel my Pledge." But the Prophet refused. The bedouin finally went out (of Medina) whereupon Allah's Apostle said, "Medina is like a pair of bellows (furnace): It expels its impurities and brightens and clears its good. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, #318]
    As Dr. M. E. Subhani explained in his book:
    “This was an open case of apostasy. But the Prophet neither punished the Bedouin nor asked anyone to do it. He allowed him to leave Madina. Nobody harmed him.” [Apostasy in Islam (New Delhi, India: Global Media Publications, 2005), pp. 23-24.]

    Some other opinions of note to consider on the topic:

    1. Dr. Tariq Ramadan
    [Swiss Muslim Academic and Scholar]

    "Q What about apostasy? What happens if you are born and educated a Muslim but then say: I have now decided that Islam is not for me. Would you accept that someone born into a Muslim family has a right to say that they no longer believe, and that families and communities must respect that?

    A) I have been criticized about this in many countries. My view is the same as that of Sufyan Al-Thawri, an 8th-century scholar of Islam, who argued that the Koran does not prescribe death for someone because he or she is changing religion. Neither did the Prophet himself ever perform such an act. Many around the Prophet changed religions. But he never did anything against them. There was an early Muslim, Ubaydallah ibn Jahsh, who went with the first emigrants from Mecca to Abyssinia. He converted to Christianity and stayed, but remained close to Muslims. He divorced his wife, but he was not killed." [Interview: Tariq Ramadan]

    2. Subhi Mahmassani
    [An Islamic scholar and jurist from Lebanon; author of The Philosophy of Jurisprudence in Islam, 1961]

    Mahmassani has observed that the death penalty was meant to apply, not to simple acts of apostasy from Islam, but when apostasy was linked to an act of political betrayal of the community .The Prophet never killed anyone solely for apostasy. This being the case, the death penalty was not meant to apply to a simple change of faith but to punish acts such as treason, joining forces with the enemy and sedition. [Arkan Huquq al-Insan fi l-Islam (Bases of Human Rights in Islam), Beirut: Dar al-‘Ilm li-l-Malayin, 1979, cited in Kamali, as above]

    3. Dr. Hassan Turabi
    [Sudanese Islamic leader and intellectual]

    "Q) You believe that apostasy should not be punishable by death. There has been a recent case of an Afghan who was about to be killed for apostasy but was saved under the pretense of mental illness. The case was recognized internationally as Italy wants to grant him asylum.

    A) There are too many Quranic verses to recite (regarding this). We are ordered to debate with Christians and Jews except those who are unjust. We believe in their prophets who are our prophets too. We believe in their books even if some distortion took place. We are ordered to treat them cordially." [Interview with al-Sharq al-Awsat]

    "To be punishable [as a capital offence] apostasy has to be more than just intellectual apostasy. It would have to translate into not only sedition but actually insurrection against society.” [quoted in Globalization and the Muslim World: Sub-Saharan Africa in a Comparative Context]

    http://apostasyandislam.blogspot.com/

    Allahu Alam

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