Misconceptions regarding Islāmic Penal Code & distancing myself from ISIS

Having taken a neutral stance pending further information on ISIS, I would like to place on record that I now do not regard this group as worthy of the Muslims’ allegiance, especially when such allegiance implies sacrifice of wealth, abode and life. I do however maintain what I had previously stated:

  1. Khilāfah is an important institution of Islām.
  2. Muslims have neglected this institution.
  3. That discussion on Khilāfah has been renewed is a good development in itself.
  4. Whether ISIS is good and sincere or not, Allāh often uses evil people to achieve a good end, which is not clear to His slaves during the course of bad seeming events.

Why am I negative towards them?

  1. Takfīr – ISIS declaring people of Sunnī belief to be unbelievers is not just unsettling in itself, but their justifications are so broad (e.g. anyone who supports the forces of disbelief is a disbeliever himself) that if applied, I cannot imagine that there are more than 100,000 Muslims left in the world. In fact I would venture to say that in time, a diseased mind of Takfīr turns against itself, and eventually there will be members of ISIS accused of apostasy.
  2. To date the victims of ISIS appear to be more Sunnī than Rawāfiḍ.
  3. Syria has been the home of extremely learned and pious personalities for centuries and remains so to this day. ISIS has had media channels to communicate its views, but neither through ISIS channels nor through other means, have the broader Muslim community learnt the name of a single reliable and learned person who has sworn allegiance to them.
  4. The glamorous Hollywood style videos and amazing Arabic calligraphy at their disposal, whilst not evidence in itself, lends credence to Snowdon’s accusations of the leadership being a MOSSAD plant.
  5. The vicious means of execution, even if the sentence were justified, is at odds with a religion which teaches humane slaughter of animals and prohibits the mutilation of dead enemy combatants.
  6. How is it that an organisation which claims sufficient scholastic capacity to proclaim the Khilāfah does not have any understanding of the sublime war conventions of Islām?
  7. Again, even if the sentences were justified, why is it, and why with such frequency do these atrocities have to be so broadcasted to make Islām appear as barbaric and hostile as possible?
  8. In addition to lack of scholars, it is reliably reported that the populace are not at ease with ISIS rule.
  9. ISIS expects global Muslim support, but consulted with nobody in proclaiming Khilāfah. So typical of autocratic regimes in Muslim countries and autocratic organisations in non-Muslim countries though!

All the above has or can be detailed by others. Instead, I now wish to discuss the application of Ḥudūd – the Islāmic Penal code, which even sincere Muslims misunderstand.

How “trigger-happy” are we supposed to be with penalties?

Amongst the “blessings” which we have enjoyed for the past century from the Saudi regime is the understanding that the primary function of the Islāmic state is to chop off hands and heads. This is the first image conjured in the minds of not just westerners, but Muslims as well. So for example when Pakistān at times discussed introducing Islāmic Law, the first topic of discussion, based on the Saudi example, was the penal code. Forget Islamic social services, education, health, finance, banking, foreign affairs, etc. Let’s initiate the Islāmic state with chopping off some hands.

I do not deny such penalties. To deny a single verse of the Qurān is apostasy. I deny the wrong implementation and the ignoring of the spirit of the Sunnah of Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم .

(On a lighter note, I often say that the Qurān decreed crucifixion for highway robbers but today we instead stop at their little offices and pay them tolls)

The penalties are there in the background of a society whose moral education has been attended to. They are only implemented as a last resort and are not the first and frequent recourse of the state. Al-Imām at-Tirmiẓi records the following Ḥadīth, discarded in practice by both the Saudis and ISIS:

عن عروة عن عائشة قالت قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ادرءوا الحدود عن المسلمين ما استطعتم فإن كان له مخرج فخلوا سبيله فإن الإمام أن يخطئ في العفو خير من أن يخطئ في العقوبة

Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Avert the penalties from the Muslims as far as you are able to. If there is a way out for him then let him go. It is better for the leader to err on the side of pardon than to err in punishment.”

I would hope that this clarifies the issue to those who had not understood the Sunnah in this matter. If an example is needed, then look at the example of our Master, Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم , not ISIS and the CIA regime which rules Makkah. I shall not comment after the Ḥadīth because it should be obvious how the above instruction was implemented to avert the penalty as far as possible. Many other issues such as the self-righteous attitudes of many Muslims can also be addressed from the following Ḥadīth, but that is not the topic for today.

حدثنا عبد الله بن بريدة عن أبيه أن ماعز بن مالك الأسلمي أتى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال يا رسول الله إني قد ظلمت نفسي وزنيت وإني أريد أن تطهرني فرده فلما كان من الغد أتاه فقال يا رسول الله إني قد زنيت فرده الثانية فأرسل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى قومه فقال أتعلمون بعقله بأسا تنكرون منه شيئا فقالوا ما نعلمه إلا وفي العقل من صالحينا فيما نرى فأتاه الثالثة فأرسل إليهم أيضا فسأل عنه فأخبروه أنه لا بأس به ولا بعقله فلما كان الرابعة حفر له حفرة ثم أمر به فرجم قال فجاءت الغامدية فقالت يا رسول الله إني قد زنيت فطهرني وإنه ردها فلما كان الغد قالت يا رسول الله لم تردني لعلك أن تردني كما رددت ماعزا فوالله إني لحبلى قال إما لا فاذهبي حتى تلدي فلما ولدت أتته بالصبي في خرقة قالت هذا قد ولدته قال اذهبي فأرضعيه حتى تفطميه فلما فطمته أتته بالصبي في يده كسرة خبز فقالت هذا يا نبي الله قد فطمته وقد أكل الطعام فدفع الصبي إلى رجل من المسلمين ثم أمر بها فحفر لها إلى صدرها وأمر الناس فرجموها فيقبل خالد بن الوليد بحجر فرمى رأسها فتنضح الدم على وجه خالد فسبها فسمع نبي الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سبه إياها فقال مهلا يا خالد فوالذي نفسي بيده لقد تابت توبة لو تابها صاحب مكس لغفر له ثم أمر بها فصلى عليها ودفنت

Al-Imām Muslim records that Buraydah (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated:

Mā‘iz bin Mālik al-Aslamī came to Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم and said, “O Messenger of Allāh! I have indeed wronged myself. I have committed adultery and wish for you to purify me.”

He made him leave but he returned the next day and said, “O Messenger of Allāh! I definitely committed adultery.” Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم chased him away a second time. He summoned his tribe and asked, “Do you know of any problem with his mind? Is there something you find reprehensible in him?”

They replied, “We do not know of any evil in him, and as far as his mind goes he is amongst our sound ones as far as we can see.”

He then came a third time. So he summoned the tribe and questioned them again about him. They again informed him that there was no issue with him or his sanity.

It was only when he came the fourth time that a hole was dug and he gave the command and he was stoned to death.

(The Ḥadīth continues that a woman then came and a similar incident ensued where Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم refused to stone her despite her insistence. Other narrations mention how he tried to dissuade Mā‘iz, “Perhaps you only touched her.” May Allāh be pleased with both these repentant Companions).

سليمان الكندي
Twitter: @sulayman_Kindi

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