Should Laws Like Cutting Thieves’ Hands Apply Today?

02 January, 2017
Q Should laws like cutting off the hand of the thief still be applied today?


Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:


Aisha Khaja: Dr. Shabir, the question that we have today is someone’s asking– are hadd punishments, like cutting the hands of thieves, still applicable today.

Dr. Shabir Ally: My answer will be controversial because many people would think automatically, yeah. That’s the law of God written in the Quran. It must apply for all time. But it’s not so simple. For example, jizya is mentioned in the Quran.

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Yet, we read that when Jesus (on whom be peace) comes back, he will abolish the jizya. Now, how could he abolish something that God has already stated? But naturally the time and place makes a difference as to what rules are applied.

Now, when one thinks about the cutting of the hands, one thinks this is the Divine wisdom here and this is what must be applied. And God knows what He’s saying, and this is for all time and all places.

But when one reads the commentaries on the Quran, like, for example, ibn Kathir’s commentary, one finds out that, in fact, cutting the hands for thieves was a practice already before Islam. And the Quran just simply ratified that practice.

So, it means that that was a suitable for the time and place. That’s what the human wisdom actually arrived at even before the Quranic revelation and […]

Aisha Khaja: So, that was the practice that they did?
Dr. Shabir Ally: That’s right. And it would seem that in modern times, when there is so much concern with preserving the human body–even replacing a hand and even doing transplants of the human hand–now that it would be out of place to apply such a ruling.

Naturally, we need deterrence and we need to call people to what is good, but there are other ways of doing that.

I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

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