Islamic Laws

Opposition to the Penal and Criminal laws of Islam

By: Ayatullah Professor Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi
Some writers express their protest to us, arguing that Islam has issued orders in relation to the faithless that one should deal with them strictly and harshly, and not with the Islamic state’s own citizens. They forget that Islam has set in its penal code severe punishments or penalties for certain crimes, violations and offenses when committed by Muslim citizens. Regarding a thief, for instance, Islam has commanded that his hand be amputated. Regarding adultery or fornication [zina] and other indecent acts, it has commanded that the guilty be punished.
For example, the fornicator must receive a hundred lashes. In some cases, it has set the penalty of execution for some acts of indecency. In reality, the penalties set by Islam for these types of crimes are very harsh and unbearable. It must not be lost sight of that Islam has set difficult conditions to prove some crimes against chastity, like zina. On account of these difficult conditions, these crimes can rarely be proven and the punishments implemented.
The existence of religious punishments and ordinances prompts the enemies of Islam to use them as a tool and weapon against Islam, claiming that Islam violates human rights, acts violently in implementing its penal laws, and disregards human dignity. Yes, the enemies and pretentious human rights activists assert that the amputation of the hand of a Muslim who has committed theft is an inhuman and violent act and is repugnant to human dignity because the person whose hand is amputated is deprived of an important body limb for the rest of his life and is known in society as a thief.
On the contrary, in their alleged defense of Islam some people say that those penal laws are related to a specific time in the past, and today there are better ways to maintain security and prevent theft and other crimes, and there is no need for a thief’s hand to be amputated. If there were really better ways of maintaining security and preventing crimes, a crime should not be committed every 15 minutes in America, as it actually does, and there should be no need for a number of policemen to be stationed in high schools.
Those who say with utmost impudence that the Islamic penal laws are abrogated, because they are violent and related to 1,400 years ago and accepted by no one, seem to have forgotten that the Imam branded as apostates [murtaddin] those who called the bill on retaliation [qisas] inhuman and demonstrated against it, saying that their spouses were haram for them, their blood permissible to be shed, and their properties transferrable to their Muslim legatees?
Yes, the American human rights activists condemn and present as inhuman and harsh the penal laws of Islam. We would like to tell them that we acknowledge that in some cases the penal laws of Islam are severe. At the same time, we defend the severe laws of Islam and are willing to face the well-planned conspiracies against them. We do not accept these laws to have been abrogated for we firmly believe that “Whatever Muhammad (s) declared halal shall be halal till the Day of Resurrection and whatever Muhammad (s) declared haram shall be haram till the Day of Resurrection.”
We staged a revolution in order to implement the laws and ordinances of Islam. In fact, the Shah also used to say: “What I am saying is in accordance with the spirit of Islam and the clerics are reactionary and in error!” The laws and decrees mentioned in the Qur’an or promulgated by Islam must be implemented—the same Islam for whose sovereignty its beloved children offered their blood in the past, and are ready to sacrifice their lives for its sake today; the same Islam presented by the Supreme Leader, saying: “Pristine Islam is the very Book and Sunnah.
The divine laws and decrees must be inferred from these two magnificent sacred sources by using the appropriate method and way of ijtihad. Those who do not accept this Islam have basically not accepted Islam because we have no Islam other than this one.”
Violent measures not confined to the domain of penal and criminal laws
One of the writers had written in his article published in a newspaper that the cases of hudud and ta‘zirat and the violent actions permitted in Islam are related to penal laws. We also accept that the laws Islam has set for criminals, violators and offenders are more or less severe. But the violence under discussion which we condemn is not related to the penal laws of Islam.
Essentially, the penal laws of Islam have not been the subject of discussion on violence. He has asserted that I am discussing matters not related to my topic. Some newspapers have headlines saying that I am speaking outside the scope of my topic! Let me say that the subject of my discussion is the cultural deviations in our society. It is written in the same newspapers that the murder of the Doyen of the Martyrs (‘a) was the repercussion of his grandfather’s harshness in the Battle of Badr! O judge and lawyer who writes in the newspaper about me, tell me: What does the one who has expressed such an opinion about the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (‘a) mean by violence and what type of violence does he negate? I am talking about the same cases, instances and topics discussed in society.
I am talking about the instances of exploitation of concepts like violence, freedom and moderation. For example, they have said: “The Battle of Badr was an instance of violence; hence, Islam is a religion of violence!” Do you still say I have gone off the topic?
One can easily argue: “We deny those insinuations and exploitations. We do not regard Islam as a religion of violence. Our question is: Can the people also act violently, enter the scenes of action and resort to physical measures beyond the framework of official police function? “Do you regard the Islamic Revolution as violent or not? Those who can remember the event that happened in Tehran on September 8, 1978 (Shahrivar 17, 1357 AHS) know what our dear youth and heroic people did against the Pahlavi regime.[80]
Were the demonstrations and actions of people against the Pahlavi regime violent or not? Were they appropriate or not? Did Islam allow those actions and movements or not? If Islam did not allow them, then the revolution becomes illegal because Islam is devoid of violence and it does not permit violent actions! Similarly, were the sacred blows rendered by the late Nawwab Safawi[81] and other members of the Fada’iyan-e Islam to the Pahlavi regime appropriate and proper, or inappropriate and improper? It was on the basis of their valuable revolutionary actions that their names are immortalized in our country and held in high esteem and regard, and nowadays, some streets in Tehran and other cities are named after them. The same question also applies to the dear brothers of the Coalition of Islamic Societies [Hay’at-ha-ye I’tilaf-e Islami], viz. Martyr Muhammad Bukhara’i and his dear colleagues who sent to hell the henchman premier of the Shah.[82]
One can say that they should not have acted violently. They should have peacefully formed an official party and sat on the negotiating table with the Shah’s regime and presented their demands and stances. But would anyone have listened to them. If the regime had really listened to them, they would not have been forced to resort to violent actions. When they saw that nobody was listening to their legitimate demands, they had no option but to resort to violence.
That judge might say: “I condemn those violent actions. They should have behaved with utmost sobriety, patience, fortitude, and composure, and pursued solving their problems and securing their demands!” Let me ask: “Did you silence and stop those violent groups who poured into the streets after Tir 18, 1378 AHS, staged riots, set mosques on fire, destroyed public and private property, removed headscarves of women, and chanted anti-Islamic slogans with smiles, flattery and embrace? Or, was it not our own beloved basijis who came to the scene, risked their lives, faced dangers, and stopped the rioters? It is indeed regrettable that no one ever recognized and appreciated what they did. They came to the scene for the sake of God, to defend Islam and the Revolution, and God will abundantly recompense them.
That gentleman might still say: “We condemn the actions of the basijis in suppressing and dispersing the seditionists, rioters and foreign mercenaries. No confrontation with them should have taken place. They were free to express their views and stage a protest.” According to the Americans, those who staged the uprising, poured into the streets, and burned mosques were freedom-lovers. So, they had the right to say that they wanted freedom and not religion! Exactly what that gentleman said in his speech, ‘people have the right to demonstrate even against God!’
If he says, “When they sensed that the government would not listen to them if they openly said that they did not want Islam or religion, they were forced to vandalize public and private property, set mosques on fire and chant anti-Islamic slogans in order to be heard; so, their action was justifiable but not that of those who stopped them,” we will tell him, “So, finally, you also permit violence, because you have to endorse one of the two actions: either you have to say that the action of those who poured into the streets, burned mosques, and chanted slogans against Islam and the system was justifiable, though violent or, you have to say that the action of the basijis, the masses and the disciplinary forces in stopping the rioters was appropriate and justifiable, though violent. Now, which violence do you deem permissible?
We do not support or encourage opportunists who change their stances and principles. For us the criterion is the architect of the revolution, His Eminence Imam Khomeini (q). We learned from him the sublime laws and government of Islam. He said: “If the hizbullahi youth and people witness propaganda, articles, books, and magazines repugnant to Islam, public decency and national interest, they must report them to the appropriate authorities that are duty-bound to attend to such things.
But if the concerned authorities fail to act and check these deviations and sinister propaganda by legal means, then there is no other option but for the religious people and youth themselves to take preventive measures, and, incumbent upon every Muslim to take action.
When the apostate Salman Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses in which he insulted the Holy Apostle (s) and ascribed many abominable and unscrupulous things to the Qur’an and the Apostle (s), Imam Khomeini issued the death sentence for him and declared it incumbent upon every Muslim to kill him whenever he had access to Rushdie. Indisputably, the said religious edict [fatwa] and decree [hukm] was not confined to the Imam only as other fuqaha also issued the same edict and Muslim countries endorsed it.
Now, the question is: Was the edict of the Imam not violent? It is clear that the Imam also regarded permissible and even exigent a violent action against a person who presumptuously insults the essentials of religion and indisputable principles of Islam, who intends to plot and render a blow to Islam and cast aspersion against Islamic sanctities, and the Imam described such person as an apostate who, the Quran says, must be executed.
Islam and the need to answer all academic objections under all circumstances
Of course, if a person has no intention of hatching a plot and rendering a blow, but a question regarding the essence of religion and the essentials and laws of Islam, he may raise it and one must listen to him with utmost respect and answer him logically and rationally. It is because Islam is the religion of logic and based on argument and proof. It wants the Muslims, the ‘ulama’ in particular, to answer questions and objections under all circumstances with utmost composure, forbearance and openness, by the use of sound logic and rational and textual proofs to prove the truthfulness of Islam.
As such, the Qur’an even says that if at the time of battle one of the enemy’s army raises a white flag and comes to the Muslims to search the truthfulness of Islam and ask a question, the Muslims are duty-bound to provide him with escorts and guards for his protection, to listen to him with utmost kindness and benevolence, and convey the truth to him by presenting reasons, proof and evidence. Thereafter, while providing him with escorts and guards he should be sent to his original place even if it is in the midst of the enemy’s army:
وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ كَلاَمَ اللّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ

“If any of the polytheists seeks asylum from you, grant him asylum until he hears the Word of Allah. Then convey him to his place of safety.”[83]
The Qur’an says that even if the person who came to research and ask questions did not accept Islam and become a Muslim, he must still be provided escorts to return to his place of safety. No one should hinder him because he has come in the first place to ask questions. His safety must be guaranteed and his questions answered. Where in the world and in which school of thought is such sublime humane treatment enjoined?
However, if out of contumacy and plot to topple the Islamic system, a person raises objections casts doubt upon the beliefs, principles and values to which the Muslims are strongly attached, he must be dealt with. He is different from one who has questions and doubts and sincerely wants to pose his question and get an answer.
Confronting the conspiracies and reaction of foreigners
One must not sit idly vis-à-vis the extensive cultural and propaganda activities of the enemies of Islam and their mercenary agents from within that target the religious principles, values and beliefs of the people. They have certainly hatched an extensive plot through activities carried out under the garb of cultural exchange, but their agents write in newspapers that there is no conspiracy in the offing, and claiming that it exists is nothing but an illusion. However, the unfolding of recent disturbances and trends in line with the same activities and cultural policies of the enemy revealed to the people the truth behind the existence of a conspiracy.
Those actions and demonstrations against the Islamic system, attack on government establishments, and riots and disturbances indicated that there was a serious conspiracy behind the event against the Islamic system, already confirmed by the Supreme Leader. It was on account of this reality that when the devoted children of this heroic nation put a stop to the rioters, rascals and rogues and extinguished the fire of sedition, a wave of support for them and condemnation of the Islamic system swept across the West. Many members of the American legislative body even demanded the official condemnation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and enactment of a law against it because the Islamic state confronted foreign mercenaries and agents and did not allow the rioters to do what they wanted!
In different parts of the world strikes and skirmishes take place everyday and some people get killed or wounded. On a daily basis, we witness the Zionist regime firing on Muslims who are clamoring for their rights, killing some of them. Even in some regimes supported by America, hundreds of people are killed by their respective regimes. Yet, no one condemns them and says that the crackdown on them is against freedom. Instead, those regimes are fully supported and it is claimed that those killed people revolted against legitimate governments who had the right to defend themselves.
But when a hue and cry was raised in Iran and someone was suspiciously killed in a university and the killer could not be identified—as expected, he might be one of the enemy’s infiltrating agents and the rioters themselves—or another person was incidentally killed on the scene, and also, when a number of rioters and rogues poured into the streets, burned mosques and violated the chastity of people and were confronted by the revolutionary forces, a great reaction was seen in the Western countries, America in particular, and our government was condemned for its alleged opposition to freedom and democracy. It was claimed that the demonstrators were in pursuit of freedom and the grant of their rights but Iran had suppressed them. As a result, apart from condemning the Iranian state, they attempted to enact a law to campaign against the Islamic state of Iran!
The Qur’an and the need to repudiate and be inimical to its enemies
We can conclude that firstly, Islam describes God as having the attributes of both mercy and wrath. His mercy being greater prevails over His wrath but it does not mean that His mercy negates His wrath. In fact, on account of their persistence in sins some communities earn the anger of God and they incur His wrath and punishment.
Secondly, Islam has severe and harsh decrees against the enemies and opponents of Islam, and it enjoins Muslims to openly express abhorrence for the enemies of God. It is appropriate for friends to study Surah al-Mumtahanah in which Muslim behavior toward the polytheists and faithless has been described and those who plan to befriend the enemies of God are rebuked, and God warns us of secretly reconciling with the enemies of Islam and establishing friendship with them.
In the said surah, God commands the Muslims to learn a lesson from Ibrahim (Abraham) (‘a) and his companions and make his attitude toward the polytheists and enemies of God as the model, and not smile at the enemies, hypocrites, and the enemy’s open and secret agents who are determined to annihilate Islam and the Muslims!
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا عَدُوِّي وَعَدُوَّكُمْ أَوْلِيَاء تُلْقُونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَقَدْ كَفَرُوا بِمَا جَاءَكُم مٍنَ الْحَقِّ يُخْرِجُونَ الرَّسُولَ وَإِيَّاكُمْ أَن تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ رَبِّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ خَرَجْتُمْ جِهَادًا فِي سَبِيلِي وَابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِي تُسِرُّونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ بِمَا أَخْفَيْتُمْ وَمَا أَعْلَنتُمْ وَمَن يَفْعَلْهُ مِنكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاءَ السَّبِيلِ

“O you who have faith! Do not take My enemy and your enemy for friends, [secretly] offering them affection (for they have certainly defied whatever has come to you of the truth, expelling the Apostle and you, because you have faith in Allah, your Lord) if you have set out for jihad in My way and to seek My pleasure. You secretly nourish affection for them, while I know well whatever you hide and whatever you disclose, and whoever among you does that has certainly strayed from the right way.”[84]
قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ إِذْ قَالُوا لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَاء مِنكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةُ وَالْبَغْضَاءُ أَبَدًا حَتَّى تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ…

“There is certainly a good exemplar for you in Abraham and those who are with him, when they said to their people, ‘Indeed we repudiate you and whatever you worship besides Allah. We disavow you, and between you and us there has appeared enmity and hate for ever, unless you come to have faith in Allah alone…”[85]
They tell us, “Talk about life and do not chant the slogan, ‘Death to America’ anymore.” Never! The slogan “Death to America” must be chanted and moreover, like Ibrahim (‘a), we have to tell them, “So long as you do not submit humbly to the truth, bow down meekly to God, desist from hegemony and arrogance, stop from treading your way, end up plundering the resources of people around the world, and discontinue your crackdown on free nations, there is enmity between us and you.
While they have plundered wealth and resources of our country and other countries, brought enormous losses to us, rendered a blow to our honor and dignity, and killed a number of our beloved ones, how can we befriend and express affection for them? Are the hundreds of experiences in the world not enough for us to realize that they do not think of anything but dominance and their interests, and that we should not be deceived again by them?
Thus, Islam and the Qur’an command us to openly disavow and repudiate the enemy. If we follow this Islam or Qur’an, how can we dare to say that one must smile at everyone and be kind to all?

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