Monday, March 31, 2008

Amputation for Thievery

According to Shariah law, the punishment for thievery is amputation. This is mandated by Koran 5:38:

Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have earned—as an exemplary punishment from Allah: Allah is almighty and wise. 

The amputation, designed to deter and curb theft, typically takes place in a public area with a large audience. Hand are amputated at the wrist and feet are amputated at the ankle.

Mohammed instituted this tradition so that the community would witness the implementation of Islamic law and become aware of the consequences for violating it.

In the Reliance of the Traveler, a classic manual of sacred Islamic law written by Ahman Ibn Naqib Al Misri in the 1300’s, the penalty for theft is explained as follows:

A person's right hand is amputated, whether he is a Muslim, non-Muslim subject of the Islamic state, or someone who has left Islam, when he: a) has reached puberty; b) is sane; c) is acting voluntarily; d) and steals at least a quarter of a dinar...If a person steals a second time, his left foot is amputated; if a third time, then his left hand; and if he steals again, then his right foot. If he steals a fifth time, he is disciplined. If he does not have a right hand, then his left foot is amputated. If he has a right hand but loses it after the theft but before he has been punished for it, then nothing is amputated. After amputation, the limb is cauterized with hot oil.

From the Hadith, Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4396:

A thief was brought to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! Then he said: Cut off his hand. So his (right) hand was cut off. He was brought a second time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! Then he said: Cut off his foot. So his (left) foot was cut off. He was brought a third time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! So he said: Cut off his hand. (So his (left) hand was cut off.) He was brought a fourth time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! So he said: Cut off his foot. So his (right) foot was cut off. He was brought a fifth time and he said: Kill him. So we took him away and killed him. We then dragged him and cast him into a well and threw stones over him.

From 1996-2001 in Afghanistan, during the reign of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, strict Shariah law was enforced, including public amputations. Thousands of Taliban soldiers and Afghan citizens watched such proceedings in Kabul Stadium to shouts of “Allah Hu Akbar.” Teams of masked surgeons anaesthetized limbs before chopping off the hands and feet of alleged robbers. Severed limbs were purposely left on the ground for spectators to examine.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Menstruation and the Shariah

The Sahih Bukhari Hadith contains the Shariah Code related to menstruation. In Chapter 6, the Book of Menstruation, of Sahih Bukhari, it is written:

The words of Allah, “They will ask you about menstruation. Say, ‘It is an impurity, so keep apart from women during menstruation and do not approach tem until they have purified themselves. But once they have purified themselves, then go to them in the way that Allah has enjoined on you.’ Allah loves those who turn back from wrongdoing and He loves those who purify themselves.” (2:222)

In Islam, the faith or practice of women is viewed as deficient due to the existence of menstruation, which is interpreted as evidence of female immorality.

In the Hadith, menstruation is associated with a bad odor and specific garments must be worn during this time of a woman’s monthly cycle. The time period before as well as during menstruation are seen as times of increased mental and psychological stress that temporarily compromise the legal competence of women.

During the period of menses, women are prohibited from doing the following:

- To touch the Koran
- To enter the mosque
- To offer prayers
- To circle the Kabah during Haj
- To fast
- To have sexual intercourse
- To be divorced by their husbands.

Menstruating women may recite the Koran from memory or listen to broadcasts of prayer. They may pray from a copy of the Koran without touching it.

Women must take a purification bath immediately following menstruation and then offer prayers. Any missed prayers and fasts during Ramadan must be compensated at another time of the year.

Previous Topics of the Week:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Women's Dress In Islam (3/10/08)

The Koran instructs Muslim women to dress modestly and cover their hair and bodies. The following verse (Koran 24:31) expresses this requirement:

“And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their
ornaments except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no
sense of shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.”

The Koran refers to the veil as being a separation between men and women (Verse 33:53):
“And when ye ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts.”

Muslim female dress has been the subject of much scholarly debate. For the most part, the agreed upon requirements for women are that they should cover their bodies and not call attention to themselves when in the presence of a member of the opposite sex who is not a close relative. In some Muslim countries and communities, women are required to cover everything except their eyes. In most Muslim cultures, all body parts except the hands and face must be covered.

Here are some examples of Muslim clothing for women:

  • Niqab - A veil that covers the face and head but has a slit for the eyes.

  • Burka – A garment that covers the entire body with a grill-covered eye slit.

  • Hijab - A large scarf that covers the hair.

  • Chador – A traditional full length outer garment that covers the head and body and allows for the display of the face.

  • Abaya – A full length outer garment, usually black, which covers from the head to the feet with an opening for the eyes.