Qur'anic Roots of the Shari'a, 7
PUNISHMENTS OF ISLAM
Observations on Qur'anic Roots
of Muslim Criminal Law and on its Application
by the Muslim Schools of Jurisprudence
All Rights reserved
033 - Version 19.6.2003
English Title: The Severe Punishments of Islam
German Title: Die harten Strafen des Islam
Weirton, WV 26062 USA
The Qur'an contains 37 verses that speak about exemplary punishments for disturbing the peace, for robbery, murder, bodily injury, theft, adultery, rape and suspicion of adultery. Out of these verses and with reference to Muhammad's life (Sunna) the five schools of jurisprudence have developed a pre-medieval system of criminal law.
The Islamic lawyers have placed different values on crimes than is done in Europe. Pre-marital relations and adultery are considered to be more severe than murder or theft. Bodily injury and paying blood money are handled in more detail than murder or falling away from Islam. Whoever wants to travel in Islamic countries should get "oriented" beforehand and should know the Muslim perspective on law if he does not want to cause harm or experience it himself.
Islam does not understand itself to be a religion of grace, love and selflessness, but rather is based on the law of the Shari'a. Islam does not want to sharpen one's conscience or to secure forgiveness of sins, but rather wants to enforce a law that is based on retribution.
Islam can reach its full force only when it is both religion and state at the same time. Islamic law requires an authoritative body that can enforce the law. Islam in its full form must be a state religion or a religious state. The Qur'an inspires Islamic fundamentalists to claim that praying, fasting, donating, pilgrimages and fighting for Allah is not the whole Islam. This will only be realized when Islamic verdicts and sentences are executed strictly.
Islam is based on the fear of God and punishments. Some Muslims call the law of retribution (qisas) the actual Shari'a or its main element. The Qur'an states: The punishment (qisas) is your life! (Sura al-Baqara 2:129)
Islamic schools of law have divided the various punishments into three categories:
I. Severe Punishments (hudud)
The severe punishments are listed in detail in the Qur'an as Allah's revelation and are considered to be an unavoidable duty. These punish attacks on Islam as well as pre-marital sex, adultery, rape, slander and theft.
II. Punishments of Retribution (qisas)
The punishments of retribution are applied to murder, homicide, accidents, as well as bodily injury. They allow either actual retribution for the crime or paying blood money as a substitute penalty.
III. Disciplinary Measures (ta'zir)
Disciplinary measures are not described in the Qur'an and were left to the discretion of judges in earlier times. Today Islamic countries fix set punishments for these crimes also. Such punishments are generally not discussed by the schools of jurisprudence.
IV. Special Cases
Falling away from Islam or drinking alcoholic drinks are placed in one of the above three categories by the various schools.
The Qur'an deals first and foremost with the severe punishments and the law of retribution. Pedantic lawyers, however, make it difficult to prove that an actual crime was committed and push arguments for leniency through, so that the severer punishments cannot be applied lightly. But the fundamentalists in Algeria, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Chechnia believe that they are bound to apply Allah's law without mercy.
I. Severe Punishments (hudud)
1. The Punishments of Disturbing the Peace (hiraba)
Strangely enough, there is only one verse in the Qur'an that comments on the sensitive issues of inciting to riot or the overthrow of government. It is only mentioned in connection with Pharaoh and his magicians, who believed in the Lord of Moses and Aaron, according to the Qur'an (Sura al-A'raf 7:120-124):
The punishment (jaza') of those who wage war against Allah and his messengers, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment ('adhab) is theirs in the Hereafter (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:33).
The Arabic term hiraba can mean any attack by an individual or a group against the authority of an Islamic state, since Islam considers itself to be not only a religion but also a political community. This term includes the planning, preparation and execution of attempts to overthrow the government. Attacks against honored personages, spreading fear and terror or even robbery are included in this paragraph. Extremists call even a verbal attack against Allah war against Islam. In Pakistan critical statements about Muhammad, the Qur'an, the Islamic faith and the Shari'a are considered to be blasphemy, punishable by death.
The Qur'an also states that tempting a Muslim to fall away from Islam is more serious a crime than murder (Sura al-Baqara 2:191,193,217 et al.)! With that, evangelistic services fall under the category of an attack against Allah (hiraba)!
As soon as two reliable Muslim witnesses testify to one of the above mentioned actions, the judge has the following possible punishments at his disposal, according to his own decision:
a) The execution of the agitator. This can be carried out by shooting, hanging, beheading, or by terrorists dragging the agitator behind a moving vehicle until he dies. Fundamentalists occasionally hack the condemned person to pieces, as happened several times in Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria.
b) The crucifixion of the guilty. In Iran someone who is crucified is not nailed to the cross, but rather tied to it (§ 195). He may not stay on the cross longer than three days. If he has not died by then, he will be taken down and set free. The Qur'an denies the crucifixion of Jesus vehemently (Sura al-Nisa' 4:157) but it commands the crucifixion of people who fight against Allah!
c) Cutting off the right hand and left foot of the criminal is another option available to the judge as a punishment. The punished criminal acts as deterrent to other dissatisfied people.
d) Banishment from an Islamic country is a punishment applied especially to foreigners whose embassies intercede energetically for the release of a suspected or sentenced criminal.
e) A severe punishment in hell for eternity awaits anyone who opposes Allah and Muhammad, or who tries to undermine an Islamic state.
2. Punishments for Adultery and Pre-Marital Relations
Many Islamic jurists consider sexual purity before marriage and fidelity within marriage to be the most important topic of the Shari'a, since this applies to every Muslim. The punishments for adultery, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism and soliciting are draconian and meant to act as deterrents.
The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, - flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment (Sura al-Nur 24:2).
This Sura determines that men and women are to be punished equally. In some Islamic countries men are to stand while being flogged, but the women sit. The men are stripped of their clothing and only their genitals remain covered. The women remain clothed. Their heads, faces and genitals are not to be touched. The flogging may not take place when the weather is very cold or very hot (§ 96).
Whoever has to suffer this torture will have damaged nerves in his back and pain in his spinal disks for the rest of his life. The flogging must take place before Islamic eyewitnesses. Clemency is out!
Slave women only receive half of the flogging that a free woman gets if adultery has been proved (Sura al-Nisa' 4:25).
In Iran, someone with an incurable disease can be struck only once with a bundle of 100 switches so that Allah's requirement of 100 lashes with a whip would stand (§ 94)!
The Qur'an contains even more conditions for the punishment of adulterers:
If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, Take the evidence of four (reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way (Sura al-Nisa' 4:15).
Many Muslim girls and women suspected of having a love affair or pre-marital relations are quietly and without due process of law locked in a room without food or drink until they die of thirst or starve to death. Sometimes the mother or a sympathetic relative leaves the door unlocked at night so that the girl can flee to friends or to liberal relatives. In fanatical families the person accused of adultery is sometimes killed by the eldest brother and buried unnoticed.
In view of some men there is an ambiguous verse in the Qur'an that allows various interpretations:
If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful (Sura al-Nisa' 4:16).
Some Muslims interpret this verse as another kind of punishment for adulterers, others see it as a command to plague homosexuals in the name of Allah until they desist from their perverse behavior. The Qur'an knows of no spiritual renewal of sinners, rather it tries to keep the transgressor from committing more crimes by means of punishment and threats.
Punishments for Adultery and Pre-Marital Relations in the Shari'a
Islamic jurists have developed a system of deterrence from the above mentioned verses so that no Muslims would dare to be involved in pre-marital relations, adultery, homosexuality or lesbianism. The various schools of law have added a tradition of Muhammad's passed on by Umar b. al-Khattab, which states that all married adulterers must be stoned.
Based on these sources the following punishments have been laid down for sexual offences in Iran:
a) Execution of an Adulterer
This is to be carried out when someone has sexual relations with a relative, with whom it has been forbidden in the Qur'an (especially one of the father's wives!) (Sura al-Nisa' 4:22-23).
When a non-Muslim (Jew, Christian, animist or atheist) sleeps with a Muslim woman. (All sex tourists to Muslim countries should take note of this!)
In a case of rape (§ 82).
Both partners in a homosexual relationship are to be put to death if both are adults and of sound mind (§ 109-112).
The judge chooses the mode of execution after evaluating the condemned person (§ 110). This can be either shooting, hanging, beheading or some other form of execution.
b) Stoning the Adulterer and Adulteress
This should take place if one (or both) are married (muhsin) and have a fertile, healthy spouse (§ 83).
When an old man or an old woman have had sexual relations outside of their marriage they must be flogged before they are stoned (§ 94).
The stoning is done by burying the adulterer up to his waist and the adulteress up to her bosom (§ 102).
In stoning, the stones should not be too big so that the person may not die too quickly, but not so small that they do not kill the person (§ 104).
If the guilty person is executed on his own confession, the judge must throw the first stone. But if eyewitnesses turned him in, the eyewitnesses must throw the first stones, followed by the judge (§ 99).
Pregnant or nursing women who have committed adultery are not to be stoned until their child is born and weaned (§ 91).
If a husband or wife commit adultery while travelling or in prison then they are not to be stoned (§ 86).
Flogging takes place in Iran for forbidden sexual relations:
- An unmarried man and an unmarried woman are flogged 100 times (§ 88).
- 100 lashes of the whip are for two men who have fondled one another sexually without having intercourse (§ 121).
- The punishment for lesbian lovers is also 100 lashes of the whip for each partner (§ 129).
- Two men who lie naked under a cover without a good reason receive fewer than 100 lashes of the whip (§ 123). The same applies to women (§ 134).
- Whoever solicits two people to have disallowed sexual relations, and who is accused of soliciting will receive 75 lashes of the whip (§ 135-138).
- Two boys who are not of age receive less than 74 lashes of the whip for having homosexual relations (§ 74).
- When a man kisses another man passionately, he is to receive less than 60 lashes with a whip (§ 124).
The Difficulties of Finding Evidence of Adultery
This miserable list of legal hypocrisy and contortions in Islam could be continued indefinitely. But in his own harem Muhammad himself had to endure the fact that such laws opened the door to every malicious rumor.
His favorite wife Aisha, still a teenager, was left behind by her caravan and remained alone in the desert. A young man who rode by from Medina took her along after some hours (or days) and returned her to Muhammad. Immediately there were rumors of adultery in Medina. Muhammad sent his tearful wife back to her father Abu Bakr - until Allah revealed to him that adultery, pre-marital relations, homosexuality and lesbianism could only be proven by a confession repeated four times by the guilty parties (§ 68) or by four eye-witnesses whose testimony must agree in detail. Otherwise the suspect could not be condemned (§ 74).
Based on this special revelation, legal experts of the Shari'a developed a system to thwart the proving of a punishable sexual offence:
In case the one(s) who confessed took back their confession and four witnesses were not forthcoming, the hadd punishment can be revoked (§ 71).
If the man (or woman) retreats his (or her) deed before the witnesses have testified, the Hadd punishment can be revoked (§ 72).
Only when four male Muslim witnesses are able to describe the adulterous or offensive act in detail, can the guilty parties be condemned (Sura al-Nur 24:4; § 74).
If no four Muslim male eyewitnesses are to be found, two women and three men can testify. If necessary, two men and four women will do, but if there are not at least two men to testify, women alone cannot testify to a crime (§ 73-76).
It remains a mystery why non-Muslim women convert to Islam when they are legally discriminated against as eyewitnesses and also in matters of inheritance.
But the real danger that hurts a prosecutor or slanderer is that: If he cannot bring the required four eyewitnesses, he himself will receive 80 lashes with a whip (§ 140; Sura al-Nur 24:4).
If only one witness contradicts the others in his testimony, then all four receive 80 lashes (§ 76 and 78).
Because of these difficulties, it is almost impossible to prove adultery by means of four witnesses. All witnesses are in danger of being flogged because of one flaw in their testimonies. Apart from this, it is impossible to observe an action like this closely and to describe it in detail to pedantic lawyers.
With these regulations Muhammad took his severe laws against adultery maybe from personal reasons to absurd lengths and made them worthless. His laws are inhumanly severe but can seldom be enforced due to flawed evidence.
The punishments for unproven slander go deep within the life of the Muslim:
If a father tells his son: "You are not my child" and cannot prove it, then he is to receive 80 lashes with a whip.
If someone claims that the son of a certain man is not his legitimate child and cannot find four witnesses to this, then he is to be flogged (§ 142).
Any suspicion of adultery or the hint of homosexuality without four eyewitnesses leads to the flogging of the slanderer (§ 143).
Whoever claims that a certain girl is no longer a virgin and who cannot produce four witnesses to prove this is to receive 74 lashes with a whip (§ 145).
Flogging a man or woman for slander or false testimony is to be done when they are clothed and with only mild lashes (§ 155).
But if a husband accuses one of his wives of adultery and cannot produce four witnesses, he must swear four times that he is telling the truth and curse himself if lying.
His wife can escape the capital punishment that she is threatened with by swearing four times that she did not commit adultery and curse herself if her husband is telling the truth (Sura al-Nur 24,6-9; § 161).
This explosion of swearing as implied in the cursory ceremony will sever the marriage without the man or woman being punished. But a severe punishment in hell waits whoever slanders his innocent wife (Sura al-Nur 24:9).
Critical Questions to the Legislation for Adultery in Islam
The Qur'an allows a temporary marriage (mut'a, Sura al-Nisa' 4:24). Sunni Muslims reject this Qur'anic right (in theory), but the Shiites practice it. This kind of agreement - say when travelling based on an agreed upon sum of money is nothing but legalized adultery.
The Qur'an reveals a curious expression about the exchange of wives (Suras al-Nisa' 4:20-21; al-Tahrim 66:5 et al.). This regulation is interpreted to mean divorcing the wives and exchanging them with their friends' wives through a legal marriage. Reports on the behavior of some oil sheiks, however, describe this shameful practice differently.
One of the main problems in Islam is the basic right of every Muslim man to have up to four wives at the same time (Sura al-Nisa' 4:3). From the Christian understanding, this polygamy is nothing but legal continuous adultery. Muslims claim that Muhammad had recognized that no man could love several wives equally, so he actually intended men to be monogamous (Sura al-Nisa' 4:3,129).
Muslim men also have the right to marry an unlimited number of slave women along with the free women who are their wives (Suras al-Nisa' 4:3,24,25,36; al-Nahl 16:71; al-Mu'minun 23:6; al-Nur 24:32,33,58; al-Rum 30:28; al-Ahzab 33:50 [twice]; al-Ma'arij 70:30 et al.). This legalized adultery is again practiced in the Sudan a thousand times over. It is difficult to imagine the despair and misery of the slavery that is hidden within this "revelation."
Muhammad commanded his followers not to force young, attractive teenage slaves into prostitution against their will, in order to profit from them. But when this would happen, then Allah is forgiving and merciful (Sura al-Nur 24:33)! Do Muslims then have the right to go to a prostitute without being punished?
Muhammad himself surprised the wife of his adopted son Zaid in her apartment when she was not fully dressed and married her afterwards. When this strange act raised amazed questioning he revealed: Allah is the one who influences hearts! Allah had married Muhammad to Zainab according to a preordained plan after his adopted son Zaid had received from her what he wanted and released her legally (Sura al-Ahzab 33:37-52).
Muhammad summarized his hard and yet superficial concept of sexual behavior in a verse of the Qur'an: Allah created man "weak." He allowed these marriage regulations in order to make it easier for man (Sura al-Nisa' 4:28).
The Law of Jesus for Punishing Adultery
Jesus position on the Muslims' sexual regulations can be found in the answer that he gave the pious Jews of his time (John 8:1-12). They brought him an adulteress who had been caught in the act, so that he could condemn her. But Jesus answered after some minutes of silence: Stone her as the Law of Moses demands! But he made this condition: The one among you who is completely without sin may throw the first stone! Then they all left quietly including his followers!
Jesus did not lessen the punishment required in the Old Testament, nor did he make it difficult to produce evidence, as did Muhammad, rather he exposed the immorality of all men. Our Lord judges not only our deeds but also our intentions! This becomes clear in his basic law (the Sermon on the Mount):
Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-30).
Jesus wants to lead us to the point where we are broken and live in an attitude of repentance. He wants to free each of us from the spirit of judgement and hypocrisy (Matthew 7:1-5) and lead us to want to help and save the guilty.
Jesus was the only one in Jerusalem that day entitled to throw the first stone, for he was without sin. But he did not, rather took the sins of the adulteress on himself and died in her place under the judgement of God. But he told the woman: Go and sin no more! That is his answer to us and to all Muslims (John 8:1-12).
3. The Punishment for Theft
There is only one verse in the Qur'an that determines the punishment for theft:
As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: Allah is Exalted in power. But if the thief repents after his crime, and amends his conduct, Allah turns to him in forgiveness; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. Do you not know that to Allah (alone) belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth? He punishes whom He pleases, and He forgives whom He pleases: and Allah hath power over all things (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:38-40).
The Qur'an does not specify what exactly constitutes theft, nor how large an amount should be stolen for the thieves' hands to be cut off. These definitions were fixed by the Islamic schools of law according to Medinan practice, and they differ among themselves considerably.
With this hadd law Muhammad's traditions have in part nullified even the Qur'anic verse in question! Most legal experts demand the cutting off of the right hand as the punishment for the first theft and the cutting off of the left foot as the punishment for the second, while the Qur'an only mentions cutting off the hands!
Al-Tabari still represents the Qur'anic command in his interpretation of this verse, while al-Jalalayn already inserts the position of the legal experts into his commentary. He goes even further and requires that the left hand be cut off for the third theft and the right foot for the fourth.
The development of this law and the regulations for its execution show that the Qur'an does not have the final word on the formulation of the Shari'a, but rather the consensus does the agreement of the Muslim jurists and scholars of law. They gave preference to a later tradition of Muhammad's over the only Qur'anic verse on this punishment!
According to the Qur'an punishment for theft is an act of retribution and revenge by Allah, the owner and ruler of the universe. The punishment should be a warning to others not to steal. With this warning law and fear show themselves to be the actual driving forces behind Islam and its culture. Evil should be overcome by evil. The unlimited love of God and renewal of the senses out of gratitude for his grace and forgiveness are foreign to Islam. In Islam evil is not overcome by good.
The punishment for theft is praised as a mark of Allah's wisdom in the Qur'an. But his affection for the thief is only shown after the punishment has been carried out, when his hand or foot has already been cut off. The law of Islam must be fulfilled before an uncertain forgiveness can be expected.
Muslim legal experts have recognized that this hadd law should not be enforced at all times and in all places. If everyone who has stolen would have a hand cut off the first time and a foot the second time, who would still have all his limbs? Who would be in a position to work, care for the crippled and feed his family? This law would be catastrophic in developing countries where 20 to 50% of the workforce is unemployed!
Making it Difficult to Prove a Theft
For these reasons the legal experts in many Islamic countries have set difficult conditions for defining theft. The criminal law books of Iran contain conditions that contradict the laws of other Islamic schools of law. The hadd punishment for theft can only be carried out in Iran when the following conditions are met:
The thief should have been of legal age and emotionally stable when he committed the crime. He must have stolen without being compelled or forced to do so.
The thief must have known beforehand that the stolen property belonged to someone else and that taking it away was a crime.
The owner of the stolen property should have kept it in a place whose security measures were comparable with the value of the stolen goods. The thief must have broken into this secure place alone or with the help of others.
The value of the stolen goods must be equal at least to the value of 0.2 grams of gold.
The theft should not have occurred during a famine.
If the stolen goods are returned after the theft (before the testimony by witnesses), the hadd punishment no longer applies (§ 198).
The theft must be testified to by two Muslim men of good reputation or by the thief repeating his confession twice before the judge.
The thief can be arrested for theft only if he was caught stealing and observed by two people. An Arabic saying to this effect: "Stealing is not a sin, but being caught is!" Another one says: Stealing from Christians is tolerable (halal!); because the concurring testimonies of two Muslim friends in favor of the thief make the testimony of the Christian invalid.
If the thief confesses the crime once to the judge and then returns the stolen property the hadd punishment does not apply (§ 199).
The thief can be punished only, if the owner of the property sues him and refuses to forgive him (where there is no accuser, there is no judge). But if the thief regrets his theft ahead of two eyewitnesses bringing proof, the hadd punishment does not apply (§ 200).
The stolen property cannot be state property or property of a religious foundation, since there is no private owner then (§ 198).
The inhuman punishment of hacked off limbs have almost been banned into the realm of the impossible in Iran by pedantic lawyers. But in other Islamic countries the law is enforced without care for any severed parts. A magazine in the Sudan printed the picture of about 25 young men who were holding up the stumps of their amputated limbs. A half dozen of them lay on the ground in front of them because they had a foot as well as a hand cut off. In a TV program in Iraq beaming young men with cut off limbs were shown who testified that Allah had now forgiven them. They are happy that their sin has been atoned for by cutting off their limbs!
Iran also put a limit on the way of amputation of limbs. Its criminal code states:
With the first theft only four fingers of the hand can be cut off, so that six fingers and the two palms remain.
With the second theft only the front half of the foot can be cut off, so that part of the arch and the heel remain and he can still limp (§ 201).
This practice contradicts the other Islamic schools of law, which demand that the entire hand up to the wrist is amputated and with the second theft the foot is amputated up to the ankle.
Whoever contemplates these horrifying punishments understands why most Islamic countries do not leave the formulating and execution of criminal law to the Muftis and Mullahs; rather they forbid the Hadd punishments or use them occasionally as a deterrent. Islamic countries in which the whole Shari'a has been implemented claim to be carrying out the whole law of Allah faithfully.
Local battles for the legalization and execution of the Shari'a in the different Islamic countries have not ended yet. The majority of Muslims are against falling back to Middle Age standards. Basic human rights are in constant disagreement with the Shari'a of Islam! That is why liberal Muslim states allow the leaders of the mosque to have responsibility only for the duties of worship and of everyday life, but keep the right to formulate and execute martial and criminal law for themselves. They are trying to find a compromise between European-American laws and Islamic law. But the Muslim fundamentalists are determined to sacrifice their lives, so that the law of Allah is carried out to the letter.
1. Retribution or Revenge is Predestined
All criminal acts and traffic accidents that cause bodily injury or death fall under the law of retribution. As soon as blood flows deeds are punished differently from the usual criminal penalties. Here the ancient Semitic thinking breaks through, that the soul of a man is in his blood, which cries to heaven for atonement when it has been shed. The answer of the Qur'an to this is clear:
O you who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman (Sura al-Baqara 2:178a).
The punishments for murder, homicide and bodily injury are not intended to rehabilitate the criminal but to exact retribution and revenge as commanded by Allah. So acts of revenge are not just emotional reactions or acts of defending the clan's honor but are rather understood to be a duty that was predestined from eternity, which must be fulfilled. Anyone who does not atone for blood-guilt becomes guilty himself as in Moses' words: There is no remission without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22)! Forgiveness without atonement would be a sin because the law demands retribution!
A living person from the clan of the murderer, with the same social standing as the victims must be killed for every person whom he had killed. A free, healthy man for a free, healthy man, a male slave who is the property of the person who killed the slave, a free or enslaved woman for a free or enslaved woman. (The discrimination against free woman in the Qur'an becomes clear again in the fact that a free woman is mentioned together with enslaved women and only after the slave men.)
Muhammad summarized the importance of retribution for his religious community in the basic law:
Retribution (al-qisas) is life for you (Sura al-Baqara 2:179).
The fear of revenge should force the clans to live together in peace. The law of retribution is one of the most important elements of peace, protection and security among the Islamic clans. Most Muslims are no solitary individuals separated from their families, rather members of a clan that has welded itself together to a "we" through the law of retribution in order to survive. Everyone has care for others, whether he wants to or not.
2. An Eye for an Eye, a Tooth for a Tooth
The Qur'an commands retribution in exactly the same measure as an individual or a group has been harmed. Pain and suffering may not be greater in the act of revenge as in the previous wounding or murder, nor may they be less than with the accident or the homicide. The basic law of retribution (al-qisas) is, "Exact and equal" to the crime! The retribution must be carried out at once, not in parts:
The prohibited month for the prohibited month, - and so for all things prohibited, - there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves (Sura al-Baqara 2,194b).
If you punish them successively do not punish them more than they have harmed you (Sura al-Nahl 16,126).
The recompense (punishment) for an injury is an injury equal to it (Sura al-Shura 42,40).
The Hypocrites deceive Allah and he deceives them! (Sura al-Nisa' 4,142).
These and similar verses developed a code of honor for punishments of retribution in Islam. No one should punish another more, more severely or more disgracefully than what happened to him, his clan or his people. But reality, dominated by emotions, often looks different. Muslims practice cruelty in every form, as by other people, as soon as their blood boils. The law calls them to be sober, restrained and to use only the same degree of force that they endured but not less!
Unfortunately a chain of retribution has developed from this religious duty in many Islamic countries, so that feuding clans battle each other, hate or refuse to talk to each other for decades or centuries.
In a Lebanese mountain village Muslim boys went to a Protestant school and promised each other never to take part in the medieval nonsense of clan revenge. But when the great feast of the end of Ramadan approached the uncle of one of the two boys, whose father had been killed in an accident, challenged his nephew, "How will you celebrate the feast when your father has not been avenged?" The boy hurried home, took a gun, aimed and shot the father of his friend, who was sitting on his balcony and talking with friends. The avenger got on his motorcycle and raced to the police station, turned himself in and confessed the murder to be a matter of honor, asked for protective custody and was put in jail for two years. When he was released after two years, his friend was standing at the prison gate. He pulled out his revolver and shot his father's killer: point of honor, act of revenge! When he is released after two or three years, the same will happen to him!
The vengeful chains of hate divide village communities and people in the Near East with deep, invisible chasms. An act of revenge can be carried out even after 20 years. It seems unavoidable unless all members of both clans come to an agreement about blood money. Most Christians in the Orient and the Occident do not appreciate the kind of peaceful life of forgiveness Christ has freed them to enjoy.
3. The Command against Killing Muslims!
Anyone who reads the Qur'an will find several passages that forbid Muslims to kill Muslims. Some of these verses, which lawyers of the Shari'a have chosen to define the punishments of retribution, read as follows:
Never should a believer kill a believer except by mistake: ... (Sura al-Nisa' 4,92a).
If a man kills a believer intentionally, his punishment will be Hell, to abide therein forever: The wrath and the curse of Allah rests upon him, dreadful penalty is prepared for him (Sura al-Nisa' 4:93).
Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful! If any do that in rancor and injustice, - soon shall We cast them into the fire: and easy it is for Allah (Sura al-Nisa' 4:29-30).
We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:32). The pre-meditative murder is an outlaw. Anyone who meets him should kill him immediately.
Do not kill a soul which Allah has forbidden except for just cause. If anyone is slain by mistake, we have given his heir authority (over the killer) but let him not exceed bounds (in taking revenge); for he is helped (by Allah)... (Sura al-Isra' 17:33). (See also: Sura al-An'am 6:151c).
Kill not your own children for fear of poverty: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Truly the killing of them is a great sin (Sura al-Isra' 17:31). (See also: Sura al-An'am 6:151b).
This verse includes the abortion of unwanted children. Its unspoken goal is the growth of the world Muslim population through the surplus of births.
Lawyers of the Islamic schools of law have developed a catalogue of rights, duties and punishments from these verses, which include pre-meditated murder, murder under compulsion, negligent homicide and justifiable homicide by a blood avenger or in a Holy War (§ 204). Individual paragraphs from the criminal codex of Iran illustrate the modern fixing of Islamic law.
After a pre-meditated homicide the blood avengers can be authorized by the imam to kill the murderer or the one who caused the accident (§ 205).
If a Muslim man kills a Muslim woman intentionally, one from the woman's clan with the right to avenge her blood must pay the woman's murderer half of the blood money that is paid for a man in advance (because women in Islam are legally worth only half as much as a man, but the murderer who should be killed is worth twice as much as the woman who was killed; § 209)!
If several Muslims together kill a Muslim, the man with the right to avenge can obtain the right to kill all the people involved in the murder, but must first pay a part of the blood money because his revenge is more (costly) than their murder of one person (§ 212 and 213).
A pre-meditated murder can have judgement passed by the confession of the murderer or the testimony of two eyewitnesses (§ 232 and 237).
In suspected cases of pre-meditated murder that could not be proven yet, the deed will be continued by 50 sworn oaths. The ones swearing the oaths must be related to the prosecutor and be grown men. If there are fewer than 50 men who are allowed to swear, every one of them can swear more than one oath, until there are 50 altogether. But if no man from the prosecutor's clan is present, then the prosecutor himself can swear 50 oaths, even if the prosecutor is a woman (§ 248).
A pre-meditated murder is subject to retribution. But this can be changed into a payment of blood money, which may be higher or lower than the price of a man, with the agreement of the avenger and the murderer.
4. The Killing of Non-Muslims
Anyone who ponders on the Qur'an verses mentioned already, and the laws derived from them will find that the command against killing applies to Muslims only. But how are Jews, Christians, animists and unbelievers protected in Islamic lands? For Jews and Christians who live in Islamic countries, who are under the protection of Islam (Ahl al-Dhimmah), there is a kind of guarantee for their life and property. But as soon as they become involved in a conflict, an accident or are suspected of murder, the testimony of two Muslim witnesses annuls the testimony of all Jews and Christians, even if they are obviously right. A Muslim who kills a Jew or Christian is most often not sentenced to death, in the worst case there is a symbolic fine. The discrimination against the Jews, Christians and other minorities in the Islamic everyday life is depressing, even though special regulations theoretically guarantee them personal freedom.
The situation of animists, idol-worshippers, pagans, unbelievers or tribal religions as found in great numbers in Africa or Asia is different. The unrestricted command of Allah, which appears five times in the Qur'an applies to them:
Kill them wherever you find them (Suras al-Baqara 2:191 [twice]; al-Nisa' 4:89,91; al-Tawba 9:5).
Allah's command to kill does not belong to criminal law but to martial law of Islam. Killing the unbelievers appears, in the end, to be an act of revenge because animists have not voluntarily accepted Islam. But as soon as they accept Islam they also live under the laws of protection of Islamic criminal law.
If Shari'a is introduced partially or completely in Nigeria or other West African countries, it would mean that the 40% Christian population will be discriminated against. It is possible that the slave trade would develop again or that the 20% Animist population of West Africa would be killed. It would mean that the areas south of the Sahara Desert would be forced to decide between Islam and death, since this is the only option available to animists according to the Qur'an. Wise Muslims will try and hinder the fundamentalists so that the Shari'a may only be introduced one step at a time, so that there may not be a wave of protest from the USA and Europe.
5. Retribution for Injury and for Lost Limbs
Retribution and blood vengeance not only refers to the death of the victim but also to the wounding of a person, whether intentional or by accident. As soon as blood flows the retribution must take place.
We ordained therein for them: "Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal." But if anyone omits the retaliation (by accepting blood money) it will be an atonement for himself (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:45).
In line with this basic law the Iranian criminal law prescribes:
Whenever someone's limb is cut off deliberately or someone is injured deliberately or through negligence he may obtain the right from the ruler to demand the exact same injury of the one who caused it as retribution.
The limbs to be amputated must be exactly the same in condition, importance and position as the limb amputated originally. The retribution may not lead to the death for the one who caused the original injury. The act of revenge should not be more painful than the punishment (§ 272).
If the driver of a car hits a pedestrian who then must have a leg amputated, the injured person may require that the corresponding leg of the driver be also amputated. But if the driver's leg has gangrene, then that wound must heal first before his leg is amputated.
A wound that is to be made as an act of retribution must be in the same position and of the same size as the previous injury, as well as of the same depth. Sometimes the edges of the original wound must be measured so that the avenger does not make a larger or smaller wound (§ 276 and 279).
Since heat or cold can cause a wound to get infected, the retribution can only take place at moderate temperatures. The person who caused the original injury may not experience more pain than what he caused through his deed (§ 281 and 282).
If an one-eyed man riding a bicycle injures a pedestrian so that he loses an eye, the injured pedestrian has the right to require that the remaining eye of the one-eyed man be taken out (§ 283).
If a Muslim cuts off part of the ear of another Muslim, who immediately has the part re-attached, the right to retribution remains (§ 287).
If someone ruins someone else's nose the injured person may demand retribution even if the one who injured him has no sense of smell (§ 289).
If someone cuts off someone else's tongue or lips the retribution must be the same in position and degree (§ 290).
If a Muslim breaks off someone else's tooth (in part or whole) the retribution must be of the same nature (§ 291).
This list of horrors could be continued from Sunnite schools of law. It corresponds to the Islamic understanding of the commandment: eye for eye, tooth for tooth!
6. Paying Blood Money Instead of Retribution
Thank God that Muhammad already recognized that earthly mercy will find ways both to fulfil the law and to circumvent it. Muhammad was a businessman and had adopted the ancient Semite regulation on blood money in Islam, and he called it "Allah's mercy" for Muslims.
Never should a believer kill a believer; but (if it so happens) by mistake, (compensation is due): If one kills a believer, it is ordained that he should free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the deceased's family, unless they remit it freely.
If the deceased belonged to a people at war with you, and he was a believer, the freeing of a believing slave (is enough).
If he belonged to a people with whom you have treaty of Mutual alliance, compensation should be paid to his family, and a believing slave be freed.
For those who find this beyond their means, (is prescribed) a fast for two consecutive months. This will be his repentance (allowed) by Allah. Allah knows everything he is wise (Sura al-Nisa' 4:93).
These verses refer to blood money and to ransom that the one who caused the injury must pay the family for an unintentional injury or an unintentional death (§ 295).
In some cases even with a pre-meditated murder or injury the retribution could be taken out in the form of blood money, if the family of the killed or injured person agree in writing. But if even a single member of the clan does not agree, the agreement is void and the act of retribution must take place (§ 257).
The amount of blood money to be paid for an adult male is similar with Shiites and Sunnis. The clan involved may choose between several possibilities of payment. For a healthy male Muslim the following should be paid:
100 spotless and healthy camels that are not underfed or
200 unblemished and healthy cows that are not underfed;
1000 unblemished and healthy sheep;
200 perfect Yemenite robes;
1000 authentic dinars, each containing 3.6 grams of gold (§ 297).
The blood money for a woman in the case of pre-meditated or negligent homicide is half of the blood money of a man (§ 300). This regulation shows another act of inequity against women under the law.
The blood money for Jews or Christians who were killed should be one third of the blood money of a Muslim man. But whether or not it is ever paid is another question!
If someone is not able to pay the blood money, his clan must pay for him. This includes especially the parents of the one who caused the injury and his relatives on his father's side according to their rights to inherit (§ 307).
If a doctor causes the death of a patient in his care he is liable even if the patient gave a verbal consent for the treatment (§ 310).
If someone carrying a load, bumps into another person and that one is injured or dies, the bearer or his clan are liable for the blood money (§ 324). The clan is the final guarantor for the payment of the blood money.
7. The Amount of Blood Money to be Paid
The full amount must be paid in the following cases:
If a man's hair or beard is removed in such a way that it cannot grow back (§ 368);
if both a man's healthy eyes are destroyed (§ 375);
if a man's entire nose or both nostrils are cut off (§ 380);
if both ears are cut off (§ 386);
if both lips or a healthy tongue are cut off (§ 391 and 396);
if a tooth is removed or the visible part broken off (§ 408 and 410) (as in a traffic accident)!
if a man's neck is crooked as the result of an injury (§ 412);
if both of a man's jaws are broken (§ 415);
if both hands are amputated at the wrists without reason (§ 418);
if someone loses ten fingers or ten toes in an accident (§ 424);
if the spine is severed and the legs are lamed (§ 430 and 432);
if both testicles are cut off at the same time (§ 435);
if both collarbones are broken (§ 438);
if the hearing of both ears (§ 449), the sight of both eyes (§ 457) and the sense of smell are destroyed (§ 462).
The above-mentioned injuries on a woman require half the payment for a healthy Muslim man (§ 301). If the injured person is a Christian or Jew, then only 33 percent of the full amount need be paid.
8. Special Cases
A third of the blood money must be paid:
When a man's beard does not grow back because of a medical treatment or injury (§ 368c).
Half of the blood money must be paid when the lower eyelids of the eyes (because of an accident or during a medical treatment) must be removed. A third must be paid for the upper eyelids (§ 379).
If one nostril is destroyed one third of the blood money must be paid (§ 384), for cutting off the tip of the nose, half of the blood money must be paid (§ 385).
If the earlobes are cut off one third of the full amount must be paid for one ear lobe, even if the injured person has it re-attached (§ 287 and 388).
If the baby tooth of a child is knocked out so that the permanent tooth does not grow, the full amount of blood money must be paid. But if the permanent tooth grows then the blood money for a broken baby tooth is one camel (§ 409).
If the bone of an arm or foot is broken the blood money is one fifth of the value of the bone (§ 442).
The following payments must be made for head or facial injuries:
for an abrasion that does not bleed - one camel;
for an abrasion that causes minor damage to the flesh two camels;
for a deep flesh wound three camels;
for a wound that goes to the bone four camels;
for a wound to the flesh and the bone five camels;
for an act that breaks the top of the bone even if there is no visible wound ten camels;
for an injury that can only be treated by setting the bone fifteen camels;
for a head injury that goes beneath the skull one third of the blood money or 33 camels;
for an injury of the stomach, chest, back or the side due to an object one third of the full amount;
if the object that caused the injury pierces and comes out on the other side, two thirds of the full amount must be paid. This includes the bullet of a gun (§ 482);
if a fetus is killed the full amount of blood money must be paid for a boy; half of the amount for a girl and one fourth for a hermaphrodite (§ 487/6).
If a woman aborts her pregnancy and the fetus dies or is aborted, she must pay blood money to the father based on the stage of development of the fetus, but does not receive damages herself (§ 489).
This list of injuries and damages can be read in detail in Iranian criminal law. Anyone who causes a traffic accident, attacks someone physically during a quarrel, acts negligently must pay horrendous amounts of blood money. If the payment is not made, an act of retribution could take place, which may not exceed the original wound in size, pain or consequences.
9. Retribution and Revenge Cancelled through Jesus Christ
Our Lord and Savior broke and overcame the compulsion to retribution finally. He said,
You have heard it said (Exodus 21:24): 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist evil, rather, if someone strikes you on the right cheek, then offer him the left as well (Matthew 5:38-39).
You have heard it said (Leviticus 19:18): 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you: Love your enemies; bless those who curse you; do good to those who hate you; pray for those who insult and persecute you, and you will be children of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:43-45).
Jesus Christ not only strictly forbade any revenge or retribution, but also took all evil upon himself and overcame it through his faith, love and hope in his sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus died in place of all sinners and criminals. He fulfilled all of the law's demands for atonement, bloodshed and retribution. The judgement for every act of injustice was carried out on him. He is our substitute - but also our enemy's substitute! He has pacified God's wrath, suffered our punishment and paid our debt. His blood is our ransom. Ever since we are free of the compulsion for revenge and retribution.
We have the right and duty to forgive all our enemies every misdeed. We should love them as Jesus loves them and us equally.
Peter came and said: LORD, how often must I forgive my brother who has sinned against me? Is seven times enough? Jesus said to him: I say to you: Not seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). (See also: Luke 17:4; Ephesians 4:32).
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6,14-15).
The Apostle Paul testifies: Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19-21).
We thank the Lord Jesus Christ that he has freed us from the urge to revenge and retribution and has given us the privilege to forgive completely and the strength to love our enemies!
In the Qur'an there is a special development of criminal law for drinking wine. At the beginning, Muhammad testified that wine contained both bad and good:
They ask thee concerning wine and gambling (maisar). Say: 'In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit' (Sura al-Baqara 2,219).
Later Muhammad forbade drunken Muslims to take part in the official prayers:
O you who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until you can understand all that you say (Sura al-Nisa' 4,43).
In the end, Muhammad categorically forbade any kind of wine drinking:
O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination, - of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that you may prosper. Satan's plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will you not then abstain? (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:90-91).
The Islamic experts on the law in the different schools of Shari'a have developed various laws from these three Qur'an verses. Iranian law contains the following clauses:
The drinking of intoxicating drinks in lesser or greater amounts, whether they are intoxicating or not, whether they are pure or mixed, will be punished by a hadd punishment. Wine and beer are also forbidden.
The drinker must confess twice to having drank wine or two Muslims in good standing, whose testimonies agree in place and time, must testify that he drank wine.
The punishment for drinking is the same for men and women, 80 lashes with the whip. Non-Muslims are only punished with 80 lashes when they drink intoxicating drinks in public.
The whipping only takes place when the drinker is sober again.
Anyone who is repeatedly sentenced for drinking must be killed after the third sentence.
But if the drinker shows remorse for drinking alcohol before the eyewitnesses testify against him, he will not be whipped!
The Qur'an is not clear in its statements about the punishment of a Muslim who leaves Islam. The Hanbalites quote seven Qur'anic verses to support their laws, the Shafi'ites only one and the Hanafites and Malakites do not quote any! This means that the Qur'anic legal basis for the sentencing of a convert is weak.
1. Some Qur'anic Definitions of Falling Away:
Those who reject Faith, and die rejecting, - on them is Allah's curse, and the curse of angels, and of all mankind; they will abide therein: Their penalty will not be lightened, nor will respite be their (lot) (Sura al-Baqara 2:161-162).
And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the hereafter; they will be companions of the fire and will abide therein (Sura al-Baqara 2:217c).
Those who believe, then reject faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject faith, and go on increasing in unbelief, - Allah will not forgive them nor guide them nor guide them on the way (Sura al-Nisa' 4:137).
Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from unbelief), their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already a warning for them; (Sura al-Anfal 8:38).
Make you no excuses: you have rejected faith after you had accepted it. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others among you, for that they are in sin (Sura al-Tawba 9:66).
Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, - except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in faith - but such as open their breast to unbelief, on them is wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful penalty (Sura al-Nahl 16:106).
They are those who deny the signs of their Lord and the fact of their having to meet Him (in the hereafter): vain will be their works, nor shall We, on the Day of Judgment, give them any weight (Sura al-Kahf 18:105). (Shafi'ites)
But it has already been revealed to thee, - as it was to those before thee, - "If you were to join (gods with Allah), truly fruitless will be your work (in life), and you will surely be in the ranks of those who lose (all spiritual good)" (Sura al-Zumar 39:65).
When one reads these eight verses from the Qur'an that have been chosen by the members of the Hanbalite school of law, as well as other Qur'anic verses, he will find the following principles:
Allah has cursed those who fell away. His wrath rests on them (Sura al-Baqara 2:161; Al 'Imran 3:87; al-Nahl 16:106 et al.).
Their good deeds will be worthless at the last judgement (Sura al-Baqara 2:217; al-Kahf 18:105; al-Zumar 39:65 et al.).
Allah will no more forgive them or give them guidance unless they return to Islam (Suras Al 'Imran 3:89-90; al-Nisa' 4:137; al-Anfal 8:38 et al.).
Their punishment in hell is waiting for them (Suras al-Baqara 2:162,217; Al 'Imran 3:88; al-Nahl 16:106 et al.).
The Qur'an states once:
Hypocrisy in the form of denying Islam is allowed in crisis (Sura al-Nahl 16:106).
The one who fell away will die a natural death (Sura al-Baqara 2:217c).
A certain people who fell away and fought against Muhammad are punished in this life already (Sura al-Tawba 9:66).
Nowhere does the Qur'an state that someone who fell away from Islam must be tried, sentenced and executed! There is no legal basis for such a sentence in the Qur'an.
2. Questionable Hadiths
Since there were no clear cases in the Qur'an where Muslims who fell away were convicted, the Islamic experts on the law tried to find reasons to judge them in the traditions (hadiths) of Muhammad. They found two weak and unreliable hadiths.
The first one comes from 'Auza'I who claimed that Muhammad said: Killing a Muslim man was illegal except in three cases: because of adultery, in a case of retribution (soul for soul) and when he leaves his religion or religious community.
The second weak tradition comes from 'Ikrima Maula b. Abbas who claimed that Muhammad had stated: "Kill the one who changes his religion!"
3. The Definition of Apostasy
The experts of the four schools of law have compiled long lists based on these two hadiths and the Qur'an verses mentioned above, in which they try to define who has fallen away from Islam and how he is to be sentenced and punished.
Any Muslim will be considered as having fallen away when he declares that there are other gods besides Allah (like the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). Whoever confesses this as a Muslim has not only left Islam, but also committed the greatest blasphemy. This applies also to a Muslim who claims that Allah was created like any material or substance or that he has a certain form.
Whoever doubts the Qur'an or part of it or even one of its 78'090 word forms as a Muslim, or deliberately soils or burns a Qur'an, or lays it on dirty ground, or reads it with dirty fingers will be considered to have fallen away.
Every Muslim that testifies to a new prophet after Muhammad, curses Muhammad, speaks disparagingly about him, attributes a physical weakness or illness to him, or publicly casts doubt on his high level of knowledge or wisdom has fallen away.
Every Muslim who casts doubt on the laws of the Shari'a according to the four orthodox schools, rejects one of the laws, which has been agreed to unanimously by the four schools, or declares something that has been allowed as forbidden and declares something that has been forbidden as allowed is seen as an apostate.
Whoever mocks the angels as messengers of Allah, doubts their message or ridicules them whoever testifies to the possibility of a migration of souls or claims that the world will exist forever and with that denies the resurrection of the dead will be considered to be an apostate.
The various schools of law have long lists that are relative to that time and give countless definitions of who exactly has fallen away and how he is to be sentenced.
4. The Conviction and Execution of the Convert
All four schools of law agree that an apostate from Islam, be he free or slave, can only be convicted if he admits his final rejection of Islam before the judge, or if two reliable Muslim witnesses testify to this fact.
Since in many Islamic countries falling away from Islam is considered to be high treason against the Islamic community (umma) and the Islamic state, there is, according to Islamic law, no need to give the apostate a waiting period to change his mind before his execution. But since the pattern of the six articles of faith in Islam and the diversity of the Islamic law (Shari'a) with its regulations of worship and everyday life offer countless opportunities for questionings and doubts, almost all members of the schools of law agree to give the convicted person, be he free or slave, three days in which to repent and return to Islam. In these days he is again to be taught the basics of Islam.
Any convert who regrets falling away and confesses the Islamic confession of faith again is to be released immediately.
If he, as a responsible adult, remains firm in his position, he is to be beheaded by the state. But whoever was diagnosed as emotionally disturbed cannot be convicted.
Since most liberal Islamic governments today refuse to carry out this questionable law of the Shari'a, fanatics of the Islamic brotherhoods or conservative family members secretly execute known converts. These quiet executions only affect a small number of converts, because the family ties often prove to be stronger than religious fanaticism.
Children of converts are given to their Muslim mothers after the convert has been convicted. She also has the right to divorce her apostate husband.
If the apostasy of a Muslim is confirmed officially by an Islamic judge, according to most of the schools of law he loses all his property to his heirs or to the state. He also loses his rights to inherit. Should he return to Islam before his execution and his repentance is accepted, he can have all his rights restored as if he had never converted from Islam.
The conviction of a convert or a hypocrite makes their good works invalid in eternity. Apostate Muslims can only expect eternal punishment and suffering at the final judgement. Any good that they ever did for Allah, Islam or themselves will be considered nullified by their conversion. They are counted as firewood in hell. If an apostate confesses Islam before his execution he must repeat the pilgrimage to Mecca.
5. The Conviction of Muslim Women who Fall Away from Islam
Malikites, Shafi'ites and Hanbalites are of the opinion that a Muslim woman or a Muslim girl, be she free or slave, who willingly denies Islam, should be treated like a Muslim man who has left Islam. If she does not repent after thinking it over for three days and return to Islam, she should be beheaded and disinherited.
But the Hanafites write that a confessing Muslim woman, free or slave, who rejects Islam should not be killed. Muhammad forbade the killing of women and children. But she should be locked up and given 39 lashes with a whip every day until she returns to Islam. She has no other choice than to confess Islam quickly or to be deprived of food and drink and whipped until she dies. She will be broken and returned to Islam willingly or by force.
In liberal Islamic countries an apostate Muslim woman will be divorced from her husband and cast away without any means of support. Her children belong to her husband. Her own family generally won't protect her anymore. Fanatical brothers may threaten her with death, since she appears to be ruining their business.
6. The Punishment for an Apostate Child
A minor can be a recognized Muslim since Ali b. Abi Talib was declared to be a Muslim by Muhammad at the age of five.
The Hanafites say that a child who leaves Islam should not be killed, rather forced to accept Islam again. As soon as he reaches physical and spiritual maturity and continues to insist on his apostasy he is to be locked up. Any marriage plans are to be cancelled. He loses all his property and his inheritance.
The Shafi'ites emphasize that a child must obey his parents and must be forced to accept Islam again. Whoever is born a Muslim should remain a Muslim forever.
Countless children in Islamic countries who have learned to think liberally through modern schools, books, films and internet are going through hell, as do their conservative or liberal parents in the confrontation between the freedom of the West and the law of Islam. The fanaticism of Islamic fundamentalists is a desperate attempt to keep the traditions of Islam safe from the secularism of the West.
7. The Punishment of the Hypocrites (zandaqa)
A non-Muslim who dresses, speaks and acts like a Muslim, but only does this as a means to do business or in an evangelistic outreach, without believing it in his heart, is to be killed immediately. He need not be given time to repent and come to his senses. He has only the chance to confess Islam immediately and completely and to reject his previous religion forever. Otherwise he will be killed. Contextualizing evangelists are called Christian wolves in Muslim sheep's clothing who deceive unknowing Muslims. The Qur'an states explicitly that leading someone to fall away from Islam is worse than murder (Suras al-Baqara 2:191,193,217; al-Anfal 8:39 et al.).
8. The Law and the Gospel
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
The Apostle Paul states in his letters that the Law of Moses or Muhammad cannot improve, change or save people (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16 et al.). At first, laws appear to bring order and help. But in the end, the law will condemn any who cannot keep it fully (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10 et al.).
The Law of Moses is good and holy (Romans 7:12). Muhammad took many details from it, so that some suspect that Islam is a Jewish sect, and the law of Muhammad is a variation of the law of the Torah.
Whoever begins to set up his own righteousness by keeping the law and remains honest with himself will be broken by it. A law condemns everyone who cannot keep it completely. The law of the Creator judges us all and brings us nothing but death and a vanishing God (Deuteronomy 27:26).
But Jesus brought a new law. He did not abolish the old law; rather he fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17-18). He said:
Love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34).
He made his own love the standard for our love. Jesus himself is our new law, just as Muhammad became the standard for all Muslims through the Sunna (his life). It is not two religions that oppose each other in Islam and Christianity, or two systems of law, but two figures. Muhammad, however, will be measured by Christ's standard just as we all will be. Jesus taught:
Be merciful, holy and perfect, just as your Father in heaven is merciful, holy and perfect (Leviticus 19:2; Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36).
We ought all to be broken before the holiness of Christ's love. Out of love, he already reconciled us on the cross with God and his law. He justified us freely (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). The Lord Jesus, the incarnate love of God, took the curse of the law upon himself and freed us for the law of his love. The cleansing of our conscience from all our sins gives us the right to receive his Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; Romans 5:1, 5 et al.)
Without the cross of Christ, the Holy Spirit could not have descended into the followers of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the power of God that drives us to fulfil the law of the love of Christ (Romans 8:1-14). Jesus not only revealed a new law, but also gave us the right and the power to live in his law. The spirit of Christ is our life, our peace and our comfort. Islam knows no Holy Spirit who enters into the Muslims. Muhammad denied the crucifixion of Christ (Sura al-Nisa' 4:157) and with that prepared himself and all Muslims for eternal damnation, as he says clearly in the Qur'an that all Muslims must enter hell (Sura Maryam 19:71-72)!
By nature, Christians are no better than Muslims. But Jesus changed them as Muhammad testified in astonishment in the Qur'an: They love their enemies, they are not proud and follow Jesus closely (Suras Al 'Imran 3:55; al-Ma'ida 5:46,82; al-Hadid 57:27 et al.). Muhammad recognized the real miracle of Christ but did not understand its purpose. He saw that Jesus could change egoists into loving people, impure people into holy servants and selfish people into generous saints, not through a fear-instilling law, but through the Spirit of life who comes from the heart of Jesus. Following Jesus is showing gratitude for Golgotha (1 John 4:19).
Anyone who studies the criminal law of Islam, its basis and its goals will become depressed and sad, because it is a desperate attempt to control man's evil through laws. But this is fruitless, leads to self-deception and enhances guilt. The Crucified One alone is the answer to Islam, as we read:
For God so loved the world
That He gave His only begotten Son,
That whoever believes in Him
Should not perish but have everlasting life
Paul, the apostle to the nations, testifies to the fulfillment of this promise: The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5b).
The apostle John summarizes these truths in a statement of his experience: God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16).
Q U I Z
If you have studied this booklet carefully, you can easily answer the following questions. Whoever answers 90 percent of all questions in the different booklets of this series correctly, can obtain a certificate from our center on
As an encouragement for his/her future services for Christ. It will be appreciated if you include the Qur'anic references in your answers.
1. How many verses in the Qur'an clarify punishments for crimes?
2. Why can't Islam relinquish the punishment of criminals?
3. What is the difference between Islamic punishments for crimes in general and punishments for crimes involving the shedding of blood?
4. What are the punishments for disturbing peace?
5. Why is tempting a Muslim to fall away from Islam considered to be a crime more serious than murder?
6. What crime can be punished with crucifixion in Islam?
7. Which verse in the Qur'an states that every man or woman guilty of adultery or fornication should be flogged either of them with 100 stripes?
8. In which cases should an adulterous person be executed?
9. When should the adulterer and the adulteress be stoned?
10. In which cases are 100 stripes prescribed in the penal law of Iran?
11. Why and how does the Qur'an make it difficult to find evidence for adultery?
12. What happens if the accuser cannot prove his accusations against an adulterer?
13. How many Muslim women are necessary to replace one male Muslim eyewitness in a case of adultery?
14. What is the only escape for a wife if her husband accuses her of adultery?
15. What happens if somebody claims that a son is not the legitimate child of a Muslim man while not being able to bring four eyewitnesses for his allegations?
16. What does it mean that the Shiites allow temporary marriage? (Sura al-Nisa' 4:24)
17. Why does the Bible consider polygamy to be adultery, including the additional marriage to slave girls besides a legal wife?
18. Why did Jesus not punish the adulteress that was brought to him by having her stoned immediately?
19. Which is the only verse in the Qur'an that claims that both hands should be cut off as a punishment for stealing?
20. How does the Shari'a contradict and partly annul this verse of the Qur'an?
21. How did the Muslim jurists make it difficult to prove a theft?
22. What should be the value of the stolen goods so that the punishment of the Qur'an must be executed?
23. How many eyewitnesses should there be to prove a theft, so that the thief must be sentenced?
24. How did Iran put a limit on the punishment of amputating a hand or a foot?
25. Why do many Muslims say that stealing is no sin but being caught is the actual sin?
26. When will the testimony of a Christian eyewitness be invalid and totally rejected, and what can this mean?
27. What is the basic principle in executing retribution?
28. Why did Muhammad say that retribution is life for you? (Sura al-Baqara 2:179)
29. How is retribution considered to be predestined in Islam?
30. Why is it absolutely forbidden to kill a Muslim, except in the case of murder?
31. Which verses describe the duty of the person entitled to execute revenge?
32. What is the difference if a non-Muslim is killed? How should this crime be punished?
33. What does Sura al-Ma'ida 5:45 command and which escape from revenge does it allow?
34. Which regulation of the Iranian code of punishment appears to you to be most ridiculous?
35. What is the meaning of blood money in the punishment laws of Islam? (Sura al-Nisa' 4,92)
36. What is the value of the blood money for an adult Muslim killed by accident?
37. Why is the value of the blood money for a Muslim woman killed only half the blood money for a man?
38. What does it mean that the blood money for a Jew or a Christian is only one third the value of the blood money for a Muslim man?
39. Who has to pay the blood money if the guilty person cannot afford it?
40. Why is it difficult for a surgeon if his patient dies during an operation or gets a permanent damage from it?
41. Which cases seem to you most ridiculous in which only half of the blood money has to be paid?
42. In which cases only a third of the blood money should be paid for injuring a Muslim?
43. How did Jesus overcome the law of retribution?
44. How often should we daily forgive our disturbing brother his faults?
45. How does the Qur'an show that the drinking of wine and alcoholic beverages are considered as criminal acts even though Muhammad in the beginning allowed such drinking?
46. Why should a convert from Islam be killed even though the Qur'an does not demand his killing?
47. What are the main punishments for a convert as described in the Qur'an?
48. What are the pre-requisites for sentencing a Muslim convert to death?
49. How should Muslim women who left Islam be treated?
50. What is the punishment for a Muslim minor if he leaves Islam?
51. How should hypocrites be punished if they pretend to be Muslims as a means to attain certain aims (for example in extreme forms of contextualisation)?
52. What are the differences between the Law of Moses and the law of Christ and the law of Muhammad?
53. Which Islamic punishments were executed in your country, openly or under cover?
Every participant in this quiz is allowed to use any book at his disposition and to ask any trustworthy person known to him when answering these questions. We wait for your written answers including your full address on the papers or in your e-mail. We pray for you to Jesus, the living Lord, that He will call, send, guide, strengthen, protect and be with you every day of your life!
Yours in His service,
Servants of the Lord
Send your replies to:
Weirton, WV 26062
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 All numbers preceded by the paragraph symbol (§) in this text refer to the codex of Islamic criminal law in Iran of July 30, 1991.