"O you who believe! Prescribed for you is Al-Qisas (legal retribution)"

This past week a number of executions were carried out here in Madeenah, the City of the Prophet (SAW). I had the opportunity of witnessing a number of them. On Wednesday, the 2nd of May 2007, corresponding to the 15th of Rabee' II 1428 A.H. at 10:00 AM four individuals were beheaded by sword for the crime of murder before my own eyes.

The issue of Al-Hudood, or the legislated punishments of Allah that we find in our Sharee'ah, has always been something accepted by Muslims throughout the centuries. It is only in recent times that this issue has become an area of debate amongst Muslims. The reason for this is because many Muslims have distanced themselves from the true teachings of Islam, and have become influenced by Western concepts that are in direct conflict with Islam. It is because of this that our state of affairs have become corrupted. However, it is sad to see that many Muslims see this corruption as being a result of our adherence to the Deen, so they distance themselves from the Deen and from judging between themselves according to the Sharee'ah. They think that what the Ummah has been afflicted with of humiliation and backwardness, economically, militarily, etc. is as a result of applying the rulings of the Sharee'ah in this day and age. However, the reality witnesses to the opposite, and that is that the corruption we see is as a result of our violation of the Sharee'ah and not applying it in our time, and if we were to abide by the Sharee'ah and apply it we would see how Allah would lift this affliction from us and cause His Deen to manifest over all other religions and ideologies, as Allah says:

"It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all other religions." [As-Saff 61:9]

It is unfortunate to find people today who attribute themselves to Islam calling for an end to these legislated punishments of Allah, imitating Western slogans such as calling these punishments barbaric, uncivilized, and against human rights. Why don't these people wake up and see the reality? We don't have to go too far to expose the falsehood of such slogans. For if we were to simply compare the crime rate of those countries where man-made laws are implemented, with those countries where the legislated punishments of Allah are applied we would see a world of difference between the two. Take for example America, the so called land of freedom and democracy, it has the highest crime rate in the world, a country where murder, rape, drug use, and other such crimes are so rampant that one does not feel safe living there anymore. Take on the other hand, a Muslim country that establishes the legislated punishments of Allah, you will never find such crimes widespread in such societies. Furthermore, if we were to look at those societies in which man-made laws are implemented, we will find that they have never been successful in providing their citizens with safety and security. On the other hand if we were to look at those societies in which the legislated punishments of Allah are applied, we will find that they have always been successful in providing their citizens with safety and security.

So in brief, if we as Muslims were to return back to Allah and His Messenger (SAW), and judge between ourselves according to the Sharee'ah, our state of affairs would improve. Part of that includes establishing the legislated punishments of Allah in the Muslim lands. Ibn 'Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: "The establishment of one of Allah's legislated punishments is better than fourty nights of rain in the land of Allah." [Ibn Majah and Nasa'i]

One of such legislated punishments is the death penalty. There is a consensus among the scholars of Islam that the one who intentionally kills a Muslim deserves to be executed. Only when the victim's family pardons the person who murdered their relative, the death penalty for the murderer is warded off. The proof for this is Allah's saying:

"O you who believe! Prescribed for you is Al-Qisas (legal retribution) in the case of the murdered: 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 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. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment. And in Al-Qisas (legal retribution) there is a saving of life for you, O people of understanding, that you may become righteous." [Al-Baqarah 2:178,179]

The second proof is what Ibn Mas'ud narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: "Shedding the blood of a Muslim who testifies that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, is impermissible except in three cases: the married adulterer, a life for a life, and the one who turns away from his religion and abandons the Jama'ah (the community of the Believers)." [Bukhari and Muslim]

Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree reported Qatadah as saying commenting on the verse:

"And in Al-Qisas (legal retribution) there is a saving of life for you."

"Allah made this Qisas life, an exemplary punishment, and a lesson for the foolish and ignorant among mankind. How many a people were on the point of committing evil, had it not been for fear of Al-Qisas, they would have fallen into it. However Allah withheld them from each other through Al-Qisas. Never has Allah prescribed a matter except that in it was goodness in both the Dunya and the Akhirah, and never has Allah forbidden a matter except that in it was corruption in both the Dunya and the Deen. Allah knows best that which is more appropriate for His creation." [Tafseer at-Tabaree 2/156]

Ibn Katheer says commenting on the same verse:

"And in Al-Qisas (legal retribution) there is a saving of life for you."

"Allah says: and in legislating Al-Qisas for you – that is killing the murderer – is great wisdom for you. It is the conservation of blood and the preservation of it, because if the murderer was to know that he would be killed he would refrain from his action. So in that there is life for the souls." [Tafseer Ibn Katheer 1/357]

From the above, we can see that it is binding upon every Muslim to believe in the rulings of the Sharee'ah without any hesitation, and if there is something that you may reject outright from the start, such as execution for the murderer, then contemplate over it until the wisdom and benefit of the ruling becomes clear to you. This is why Allah said after mentioning that in Al-Qisas there is life for us:

"O people of understanding."

This goes to show that only those who contemplate, think, and try to understand are the ones who will see the true significance of such rulings as Al-Qisas.

Ibn Al-Qayyim says: "So if it were not for Al-Qisas the world would be in chaos, and the people would be killed by one another, both by way of initiation and retaliation." Then he went on to say: "So the shedding of blood by killing the murderer is in reality a means of preventing the shedding of blood. It is well known that impurity is not cleansed by impurity, so the crime is impurity and Al-Qisas is purity. If it was necessary to kill the murderer or the one who deserves to be killed, then his death by the sword is most beneficial for him for both his present life and his next life. Furthermore, death by the sword is the fastest and quickest of deaths, and the least painful. So his death with it is a benefit for him, the relatives of the killed, and the general people. [I'lam al-Muwaqqi'een 3/350,351]

So we can see that the legislated punishments of Allah as prescribed in our Sharee'ah, are not meant to be barbaric, uncivilized, and against human rights as the enemies of Islam may claim, rather there are many wisdoms and benefits behind these legislated punishments, of them:

1. Deterring the criminal from ever committing the crime again, and deterring others from committing the same crime when they witness the outcome of such acts.
2. Expiation for the criminal, because if an individual commits a crime then gets punished for it in this life Allah expiates him for that crime, and will not punish him for it in the hereafter.
3. A remedy for the anger of the one who was wronged by the criminal, or the family of the one who was wronged, when they see the criminal being brought to justice.
4. Retaliation won't take place, because the one who was wronged, or his family, won't consider retaliation since justice already took place.
5. Equality of the crime and the punishment for that crime, because every legislated punishment in the Sharee'ah is in conformity with the particular crime that was committed, as Allah says:

"O you who believe! Prescribed for you is Al-Qisas (legal retribution) in the case of the murdered: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female." [Al-Baqarah 2:178]

And Allah says:

"And we ordained for them therein: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is Al-Qisas (legal retribution)." [Al-Ma'idah 5:45]

So from the above one can easily conclude that there is no injustice in the legislated punishments of Allah, rather the real injustice is in leaving the criminal without punishing him with these legislated punishments of Allah!

Madeenah, Saudi Arabia
16th of Rabee Al-Akhir 1428