Capital punishments in Islam: Part 3

Read Previous prats of this series of articles:- Part OnePart Two 

| by Dr S.L.M Rifai

(November 01, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The argument for and against the capital punishment has been vigorously debated by many people of different faith and ideology in the West and East. It can be said there are three schools of the thought on the issue of punishment system in Islamic law. The first group supports the application of capital punishment and secondly group vehemently opposes the Islamic system of punishment. Whereas, the third group partially agrees with first group that Islamic punishment system is viable and applicable today yet, sets some strict conditions and limitations for the application of Islamic punishment saying today’s socio-economic and religious and political milieus do not permit implementation of Islamic system of punishment in our modern world. These are the major treads and different of points of view about the application of Islamic punishment today in Muslim world.

The advocates of Islamic punishment too agree that Islamic punishment in some cases is severe and harsh. Yet, they say that it is divine punishments no one has the right and authority to change what was revealed by divine revelation......
Let us now examine these three different points of view about the application of Islamic punishments today. Some Muslim scholars and Islamic cleric argue that Islamic punishments should be applied and implemented today without any delay and hesitation. They argue that Islamic religion is a complete way of life and matters of religion should be taken into consideration in totality. No part of religion can be neglected and ignored at any time and any place. They argue that Islamic punishment should be implemented strictly and immediately in Muslim countries as part of Islamic identity, manifestation of Islamic faith and Islamic way of life. Application and implementation of Islamic punishment according to this group is a precondition to become a true Islamic society and in another word until and unless Muslim countries apply Islamic punishments these countries and nations cannot be described as true Islamic countries. Therefore, what makes Muslim nation fully Islamic according to this argument is mere application of Islamic punishments.

That is why we noticed that when Taliban took over the Afghanistan defeating the former Afghanistan ruling parties they immediately and strictly applied Islamic punishment in Afghanistan sometime by flogging, stoning and lashing the people for the different types of crimes and offence. Saudi Government also demands strict and immediate application of Islamic punishment to boast that Saudi is an Islamic country that follows the religion of Islam word for word without any omission or addition. They argue that divine law is to be obeyed and implemented on earth and if any one violates divine laws he or she must be punished according to divine laws: Moreover, law enforcement authorities should enforce the Islamic punishment system on people willingly or unwilling, Whether people like it or not. This is they argue what Almighty God wanted from them to do on earth. Without such enforcement Muslim nations cannot be described as an Islamic state.

They further argue that application and Implementation of Islamic punishment laws in the past has been successful in the Islamic history and Islamic punishment system had been in application for the fourteen hundred years in many parts of Muslim world. Moreover they contend that crime rates in Muslim countries are comparatively less than Non-Muslim countries. For instance, in Saudi, crimes such as robberies, rape, fraud, and murder rates are dramatically less than any other countries in the world. While in every second some women are being raped and some people are murdered in the western nations, the statistics on crimes tell us this is not the case in Saudi and some other Muslim countries. Then what could be the reason for the reduction of crime in Saudi and other Muslim countries except implementation of Islamic punishment system. They argue that the Islamic punishment system is the best deterrent system that really prevents people from committing crimes in a real sense. It is psychologically and morally more effective than any other punishment system in the world.

The advocates of Islamic punishment too agree that Islamic punishment in some cases is severe and harsh. Yet, they say that it is divine punishments no one has the right and authority to change what was revealed by divine revelation. Moreover, Islamic punishment is harsh and that is why it works more effectively than any other punishment system in the world. It may seem that public beheading in Saudi is an act of inhuman and barbaric for a modern man yet, as it is the best deterrent mechanism it works perfectly in Saudi and Muslim countries. Contrary to this, a serial killer in the western nations could escape from the grip of punishment in the western nations. For instance, maximum penalty in England a murder gets is the life sentence in prison. This life sentence may be reduced to 10 years or less depending on the characteristic and good behaviors of murderers. Sometimes, they are released within a short period of time in jail. These convicted criminals have second chances and opportunities to commit crimes in the western nations because of the leniency in punishments. That is why we notice increased numbers of repetitive offenders in these nations, whereas, in Saudi we do not see such serial killers or repetitive criminals. Moreover, Islamic punishment leaves some social stigma in the minds and hearts of criminals and their relatives. This social stigma prevents many people from committing crimes in the society.

The advocates for the strict application of Islamic punishment argue that those who oppose divine prescription of punishment lack faith in divine Instructions. They argue that Almighty Allah would not have revealed some laws that are impossible to apply on earth and that are of inhuman in nature of punishment. Moreover, they say if someone commits a crime intentionally and deliberately he or she should pay the price for that accordingly. It is the justice to accept the crime and accede to punishment prescribed by God. If someone reject or object to divine punishment it can be described as an act of disbelief according to the advocates of Islamic punishment. Therefore, it is not a simple matter to blindly and outwardly criticize Islamic punishment without understanding religion of Islam comprehensively. That is why advocates always argue that the opponents for the applications of Islamic punishment laws do not rightly and comprehensively understand the religion of Islam. Consequently this ignorance leads them to make stanch criticisms of Islamic punishment laws. Moreover, they argue that some Christian missionaries and western secularist agents do not understand nature of Islamic religion. That is why they make such stanch criticism of Islamic punishment under western influence. Yet, Islamic punishment system is more suitable and viable for the prevention and deterrent of crimes and offence according to this group.

Arguments of advocates seem solid and sound in terms of crime reduction in Muslim countries. Yet, human rights violations, torture, political murders, discriminations and prejudice are reported more in Saudi than any other Muslim countries today. Therefore, one could argue that Saudi authorities use Islamic punishment for their political gains and needs rather than implementing Islamic punishment in any comprehensive and meaningful ways. The impartiality in application of punishment law is more apparent Saudi than any other Muslim countries.