Contemporary Issues Part 12 (Theft – Murder – Adultery)
Channel: Bilal Philips
Series: Bilal Philips - Contemporary Issues
Episode Transcript ©
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Bismillah R Rahman r Rahim, the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful. I'd like to welcome you, the viewers to our series, contemporary issues, in which we continue to look at the variety of issues which face the Muslim world today, you know, which are part of the the thoughts of the world in general, where the non Muslim world looks at the Muslim world and questions, the practices. In our previous segment, we began looking at criminal justice, the criminal justice system in Islam, we looked at the issues of murder and how Islam treats it and addresses it.
In this In this segment, we're going to be looking at theft, the issue of what to do when somebody steals Muslims are noted for chopping off hands, or oftentimes in the immediate, they will say, hacking off hands as if Muslims will take a saw a hacksaw and, you know, saw off people's hands. Of course, it's not done in this way. But this is the media hype, to give the impression of savagery amongst Muslims, that this is how they deal with the crimes.
The fact is, yes, according to Islamic law is mentioned in the fifth chapter of the Quran, verse 38. A law says there as for thieves, both male and female cut off their hands, as recompense for their deeds, and an exemplary punishment from a law.
This is there, we have no doubt about it. Islam prescribes the amputation of the right hand of a person who steals.
But there are conditions,
there are conditions is not just applied, you know, to anybody, under any circumstance at any time.
On for, at one point, we have to start off with the issue of the times, if there are times of starvation, famine, you know, there is some kind of tragedy in the society, people are in a state of desperation, when a person steals under these circumstances, you know, just to survive, then the law is not going to be applied, the law will be suspended during those periods. Secondly, you know, if, if a a worker stole from his boss who withheld his pay, for example, then again, the law will not be applied, because he's stealing what is really his
third, thirdly, if what he takes is considered to be public property, you know, person steals, for example, the fittings or rugs from a mosque or public transport something like this, it's wrong. punishment will be applied on that individual, but not cutting off the hand of the seat, because he had a part of that being public property he had a right in it, part of it was, is he shared in that right?
if the value of what is taken was less than 10 their hands, you know, then they're not going to cut off the hand for it. And if the item stolen, was not in its proper place, that is, if something was left accidentally, and a person makes ablution washes their hands whilst preparing for apparently leave their watch somewhere and somebody snatched it, then they won't apply there, because there's temptation issue of temptation. You know, but we've got meaning that the law is applied really, for the person who is the professional criminal, the pickpocket, because there is no temptation in picking the pocket, this is something a person has to train himself for, you know, or herself. So
hands will be cut for that type of crime person breaks into a home or robs a bank. I mean, this is not something things out of place, temptation is there, no. But what we find is that
when the the law is applied, you find the society that the rate of theft drops drastically, as it did in Saudi Arabia, when it was applied, as it did in the Sudan when it was applied. And it creates a sense of, of security within the society, you know, where people are not obliged to latch up all their doors and put on burglar alarms and all these kinds of things that is common in in Western societies today. You know, where people live in fear of, of break ins, you know, everybody's home on the block, everybody you know, is experiencing this.
Now, one point should also be mentioned is that when the hand is cut off, it's not sawn off again by a hacksaw, but it is amputated.
person who repeats the crime, then the left foot is removed at the ankle.
The left foot is removed at the ankle again, not sawn off, but amputated. You know, and
if a person you know, continues,
crime, even after all of that, then the law does permit his execution. Because this is obviously a criminal who cannot be reformed, there's no chance to stop this individually thing is to put him down again, a wild animal who just you know, is the danger to the society and just no way of controlling it. So that individual is, life is taken for the protection of the society and the security of the society as a whole. And as I said, I mean, the punishment of course, it may seem very harsh, but it carries with it as Islamic punishments carry with them, deterrent value, the idea of losing one's hand
and is something which will cause the person to think, think twice, you know, you go to jail for a year or six months or whatever, for stealing, you know, people are willing to take the chance but to lose your hand
or lose your foot. These these situations will cause a person to think more than once before committing such crimes. Now, another area of criminal punishment is that for adultery and fornication,
where Islam prescribes for adultery, stoning to death, for fornication 100 lashes, and one point to note is that these are the application of these laws, whether it is cutting off the hand of the thief, or whether it is executing the murder, or starting to stoning to death, a fornicator
or 100 lashes.
For one who was not married, was involved in illicit sexual relations.
These are done publicly. You know, the law prescribes that people from the believers should be present to observe it,
not trying to tainment it's not the ideas not for entertainment of the public. But for them to see a laws laws in application. And this, the sight of it helps to, to enforce or to reinforce in the minds of the people, you know, that God's laws are being applied. And we should avoid these kinds of crimes.
And Western law used to be applied that way also.
It used to be applied publicly, you know, the criminal was executed publicly. However, when it shifted to
punishment than inside of a dungeon inside of a prison, nobody sees it is only a statistic in the paper, so and so's executed for this crime, then it doesn't have that deterrent effect, that it would if it were done publicly, of course, it still has some.
But the impact is not as great and this is why this is a condition for the application of Islamic law that it'd be done publicly.
Now, when we come to the issues of fornication, or adultery,
and the West attitude towards Islamic application of these laws, they look at this as being maybe outmoded. And how to do this in these times. The reason for this is that there has been a change in moral standards of the in the West, you know, where the President himself of the country, you know, presidents of these countries, I mean, I may be known for adultery and fornication, the society accepts it elects them knowingly. When you go back 20 years ago, 30 years ago, it was inconceivable, you know, that a president in these countries are prime ministers, you know, could be enacted or could become head of state, knowing that they were involved in these kind of things. However, in our
times with the change in, in the morality of the society, this has become acceptable, it's become a norm. So naturally, in a society where adultery and fornication have become norms, they're accepted, nobody questions it, you know, it causes the breakup of marriages and things like this. However, as long as it's been decriminalized, it's no longer a crime.
Because it's consenting adults, consenting adults are involved in it. And you know, that's the, this is the principle which governs the rightness and wrongness of sexual relations. As long as this as they say, it's between consenting adults, then really the society has no business to punish them or to be involved, to punish them or to get involved in their affairs is on the basis of religion. Its religion, which says no, that shouldn't take place, etc. And according to Western systems now, there are secular
Which means that religion has no place to play in the application of law. So with this kind of an attitude, where you know, we are evolved beings, our great grandparents were monkeys. Well,
monkeys don't have any problems in fornication. We don't even see issues of adultery, because they don't get married. So why should we be making all of this? I mean, it's something which we have introduced, we're really only animals anyway. So no big deal. So the idea now that of punishing somebody for this, this is something abhorrent. In many Western systems, I'm not saying that every single individual in the West holds his views. In fact, there are many people in the Western world very much saddened, sickened by the changes in the moralities of the society. But I'm not talking about the system. And as it is portrayed through the media, and through the international political
systems, whether it is through the UN or whatever, these attitudes are being promoted, especially promoted in the Muslim world, where there is a resistance to this kind of thinking and this kind of approach to life.
However, when we go back to the actual application of this law within the Muslim system, we have to recognize that this application is not just across the board, you know, somebody's accusing somebody of fornication or adultery, and all of a sudden the law is being applied? No, no, no. Islamic law requires that there be four witnesses for the application of this law, whether it's lashing, because it's fornication, people are not married, or it's stoning to death, in the case of adultery, where people are having in this sex were married,
these laws are not applied. Unless there are four witnesses, for people who have seen them in the act. And for reliable witnesses, not just anybody pulled out of the woodwork, you can pay him some money. And you know, for people who are known to be Justin righteous people in the society, you know, they're not known to be corrupt and disturbing.
So, without those four witnesses, the law cannot be applied. And because of that, the number of cases of people stoned to death. And, you know, last for adultery very few, over the last 1400 years of application of Islamic law, from the time of the Prophet mega businessman Parliament till today, very, very few cases, they can be counted, you know, within the 10s and the 20s. Why? Because the evidence for it is very difficult to establish.
what is the evidence, the evidence has to be a confession, people confess,
they're caught in the contrast,
gives birth to a baby.
She becomes pregnant, her husband is away. He's out of the country. He's been out of the country for the last nine months, and she's delivering a baby, you know,
the science. So where there's clear evidence, you know, then the law will be applied. But accusation is not sufficient. You know, the woman, for example, who, you know, she is caught, she's pregnant, she points the finger and says he did it. They're not going to question him, did you do it? If he said, No, they cannot apply the law.
Why? Because she could be pointing at somebody who doesn't like, maybe it's not that person at all. But you know, the person who was involved who she loves, she wants to save him, but there's somebody she'd like to get back. And so she says, He did it. And in fact, he did. So this kind of accusation is not acceptable. In fact, from Islamic law, perspective, if you accuse somebody and you don't have these witnesses, then you are lashed at lashes publicly. So it's considered very serious sexual slander, slander, somebody saying that they've committed adultery, or the committed fornication is very, very serious. If you don't have the evidence. And according to Islamic law, you have to be
Now, in the case where a husband or wife catch each other in the act, they don't have the evidence, then they can raise their case before the court and their marriage can be dissolved on the basis of it.
Right. But the law will not be applied of punishment to either party, unless the evidence is there, unless there's a there's a confession, there's a pregnancy or witnesses.
So, basically, the law is a deterrent. As you said, it's rarely applied, but it's a deterrent, something to discourage people. And as a result of that, you find that the rate is quite low.
in Muslim countries in general, I mean, when we go back and we look at
public displays of affection, which have become a norm in Western societies where people hold hands, they, they kiss and, and hug each other publicly in the society and you know, I mean, you go to a park, etc, in the West, I mean, you don't know what you could we find it happening there you go there with your family, sometimes it's very embarrassing.
Because this has become a norm, people don't feel anything wrong with it, you know, shaking the hands of your guests, female guests, the man is man comes with his wife shaking her hand, even kissing the wife of somebody else, is considered part of normal social etiquette in the West. Whereas from Islamic perspective, this is discouraged, is discouraged, strongly discouraged. Why? Because these kinds of interactions can lead to
corruption, you know, and we have people especially people getting together, you know, in states where they're involving using alcohol for this, it's very easy for the, the limits to be broken. There's a case a few months back, you know, of a couple of men and women, they met each other, they're flying to,
to from London, from New York to London, they never, they didn't know each other, this, they happen to be sitting next to each other in business class, you know, they have a few drinks. Next thing, you know, they're involved in, these activities cover themselves are blank, and people around them are saying, stop, stop, you know, the stewardesses are coming, stop, stop, don't do this. So, they went on through
Of course, when they arrived, they were arrested, but something like this, you know, public, you know, sexual intercourse in public in front of people. I mean, this happens, I mean this, because of this relaxation, this moral decadence, which has spread, and where these kind of practices, and although maybe objected to in this instance, but people are going to movies and watching this, I mean, this is the movies are promoting this, this is, you know, fornication, adultery is the norm for movie goers today. So if people are constantly bombarded with this as being a norm, the movie stars are doing it, you know, and they're, they're portraying people from all walks of life.
Common people, normal people, but everybody seems to be involved in one way or another in fornication or adultery. And this is what the movie is telling us, then, naturally, people will be encouraged in their personal lives to be involved in such practices and activities.
So Islam looks at this, the family structure has been very important, as in the case of theft and the cutting off the hands of the thief, security of the society is looked at as very important. In fact, the thief who is involved in armed robbery according to Islamic law, that person can be executed. When you take out weapons against the society, there's danger because it created creating a major security threat. In those circumstances, such people may be executed, rape, you know, weapons are taken out and people are forced its death.
Just to keep this kind of harm from the society and maintain a level of security. Similarly, for the sake of the family, protection of the family, family is the core of the society once that breaks down, you're finished. So in order to protect that family, the laws are very strong. Islam encourages,
you know, marriage early, it permits polygamy, you know, all of the things that are there, divorce is not inaccessible. So where people have problems, etc, these things can be worked out, there are other options for them. So beyond that, now, any kind of illicit sex from a designer perspective is considered a grave crime. And as such, the punishment is very, very grave.
And I should mention, as we close that the punishment for adultery is not something which Islam introduced, meaning the Prophet Mohammed Salim introduced it. This is found in Mosaic Law. So it's been around. It's not something newly introduced Islam, revived it, brought it back to the forefront, and established Dennis kept it alive until today, where in other societies it has been lost. The idea is now considered outmoded.
Without their views, I'd like to thank you for being with us in this segment of our program, contemporary issues. I hope that some light has been shed on these issues for you, that you can better understand the Islamic stance with regards to these issues, and how they are relevant today, and how society still will benefit from it.
will continue to benefit from it until the last day. With that, dear viewers I'd like to bid you farewell salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato.