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Death Penalty in Light of Quran and Sunnah

Islam is a religion of peace and love. it ensures the safety of life for every human being on the earth.


Holy Quran says:

 if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidences, and signs, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits (e.g. by doing oppression unjustly and exceeding beyond the limits set by Allâh by committing the major sins) in the land!. (Al-Ma'idah 5:32)

 However in case of serious crimes capital punishment should be given after free and fair judicial procedure.The crimes in which capital punishment is proved from either Quran or sunnah of Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam are as follows:

1 Killing without any reason
2 Sexual intercourse and  done by married people /homosexuality done by any one
3 Violence on earth like robbery, gang rape and raising voice against Allah swt and His Rasool salal laho alieh wasalam
4 Blasphemy
5 Apostasy

The detail of all these points is as follows:

1 Killing without any reason or authority:
No one can kill any person in personal capacity.It is the authority of state to punish any criminal so no body can take law in his hands.So whenever a person kills an innocent person he should be killed for his criminal activity.

Quran says:

O you who believe! Al-Qisâs (the Law of Equality in punishment) is prescribed for you in case of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives, etc.) of the killed against blood money, then adhering to it with fairness and payment of the blood money, to the heir should be made in fairness. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. So after this whoever transgresses the limits (i.e. kills the killer after taking the blood money), he shall have a painful torment. (Al-Baqarah 2:178)

O you who believe! Al-Qisâs (the Law of Equality in punishment) is prescribed for you in case of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives, etc.) of the killed against blood money, then adhering to it with fairness and payment of the blood money, to the heir should be made in fairness. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. So after this whoever transgresses the limits (i.e. kills the killer after taking the blood money), he shall have a painful torment. (Al-Baqarah 2:178)

So it is clear from the above mentioned verses of Quran that a person who kills another person should be killed due to his crime.

2 Sexual Intercourse done by married people/homosexuality done by any one:
. Allah swt has blessed human beings with a number of abilities and potentials. One of these potential is reproductive power .The purpose of this power was to maintain human societies on this globe and to develop families based on the love affection and mercy.

Allah swt says:

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect. (Ar-Rum 30:21)

Unluckily this ability has been abused by human beings to seek pleasure unacceptable by both Allah and humanity.The situation has not been limited to misuse of this power .Many people have been trying to legalize extramarital acts like zina and sodomy in Muslim lands and different articles are being written in English news papers in favour of homosexuality . It is being written in these articles that only religious fanatics are raising voice against sexual and moral crimes where as in reality there is no ruling in Religious scriptures and Quran about these acts.

Allah swt and His Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam have recommended immediate marriages after puberty and allowed polygamy to keep human beings in discipline but there is no room for moral corruption of any kind .and Allah and His Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam have always condemned extra marital relationships.

On one instance Allah swt says:

And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a Fâhishah [i.e. anything that transgresses its limits (a great sin)], and an evil way (that leads one to Hell unless Allâh forgives him). (Al-Isra 17:32)

This violation and abuse is not only limited to zina or fornication .Allah swt has condemned all kind of extramarital activities like homosexuality and masturbation

Allah swt says:

And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts) Except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then, they are free from blame; But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors; (Al-Mu'minun 23:5-7)

The phrase “Whoever seeks beyond that” includes every kind of extramarital activities.

Allah swt has condemned heinous act of homosexuality on many occasions and tribe of Sodom was eliminated for this heinous and even wife of Lot aliehis salam was hit by torment of Allah swt because she was favouring this wrong act.

Here is one of those instances mentioned in Holy Quran:

The prople of Lout (Lot) (those dwelt in the towns of Sodom in Palestine) belied the Messengers When their brother Lout (Lot) said to them: "Will you not fear Allâh and obey Him? "Verily! I am a trustworthy Messenger to you. "So fear Allâh, keep your duty to Him, and obey me. "No reward do I ask of you for it (my Message of Islâmic Monotheism), my reward is only from the Lord of the 'Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists). "Go you in unto the males of the 'Alamîn (mankind) "And leave those whom Allâh has created for you to be your wives? Nay, you are a trespassing people!" They said: "If you cease not. O Lout (Lot)! Verily, you will be one of those who are driven out!" He said: "I am, indeed, of those who disapprove with severe anger and fury your (this evil) action (of sodomy). "My Lord! Save me and my family from what they do." So We saved him and his family, all, Except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind. Then afterward We destroyed the others. And We rained on them a rain (of torment). And how evil was the rain of those who had been warned. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers. (Ash-Shu'ara 26:160-174)

Allah swt has declared severe penalties against adulterers and those committing homosexual acts

Allah swt says:

The woman and the man guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allâh, if you believe in Allâh and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. (This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime but if married persons commit it, the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allâh's Law). (An-Nur 24:2)

On another instance Allah swt says:

And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them. And as for the two who are guilty of indecency from among you, give them both a punishment; then if they repent and amend, turn aside from them; surely Allah is oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful. (An-Nisa 4:15)

But in case of married people

Rasool sala laho aliehi wasalam said : "Learn this from me. Allah opens some way for them, both in the case of a married man and a married woman and that of an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. For the married, one hundred lashes and stoning, and for the unmarried one hundred lashes and exile for a year. (Muslim vol. 3, p. 911, no. 4192)

There are some other hadiths highlighting this death penalty in case of married people:

Sayyidina Ibn Abbas reported that Prophet asked M’iz ibn Maalik (RA) “Is what I haveheard about you true? He asked, What is it that has reached you about me? He said, “Ihave heard that you have committed adultery with a girl of such-and such tribe”. He said “Yes” and testified four times. So, he ordered to stone him to death.

(Muslim ,no 16931,  Tirmidhi,book 17,chapter 4,no 1432)

Sayyidina Jabir (RA), narrated about a man who came to the Prophet (SAW) from thetribe Aslam. He confessed having committed adultery. The Prophet (SAW) turned away from him . He again made a confession, but the Prophet (SAW) turned away from him till the man had testified against himself four times. The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Are you afflicted with madness?” He said, “No”He asked “Are you married?’ He answered, “Yes”so, the Prophet gave an order (about him) and he was being stoned at the place of eid prayers. When the stones struck him, he fled. The people caught hold of him and stoned him to death. The Prophet (SAW) spoke a good word about him, but did not offer his (funeral) salah.

(Bukhari ,no 5270 , Muslim,no 1691,   Tirmidhi,book 17,chapter 5,no 1434)

Sayyidina Umar ibn Khattab narrated: Surely Allah sent Muhammad with the truth and revealed to him the Book. And in that which He revealed is the verse of rajm. So Allah’s Messenger (SAW) inflicted this punishment and, after him, we inflicted it. But I fear that a time will come upon the people when one who has to say might say, “We do not find rajm, in the Book of Allah.” Perhaps they might go astray by neglecting a fard that Allah has revealed. Know’ If a married person commits adultery, he has to be stoned to death provided there are witnesses, or he confeses himself, or pregnancy makes it known.

(Bukhari,no 6829, Muslim,no 1691 Tirmidhi,book 17,chapter 7,no 1437)

 Ubaydullah ibn Abdullah reported that he heard from Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah (RA) Zayd ibn Khalid (RA) and Shibl that they were with the Prophet Two men came to him,quarreling with one another. One of them stood before him and said, “I adjure you by Allah, 0 Messenger of Allah! Decide between us according to the Book of Allah His contender also uttered, he being more intelligent than the other” 0 Messenger of Allah do judge between us by Allah s Book and permit me to speak, My son was a labourer with him and committed adultery with his wife. I was informed that my son would attract the punishment of stoning to death, so by way of ransom, I gave a hundred sheep and emanicpated a slave, thereafter, I met some scholars and they told me that my son would be awarded a hundred lashes and exiled for a year while this man’s wife would be stoned to death.’ So, Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “By Him in whose Hand is my soul. I will surely judge between you by Allah’s Book. The hundred sheep and the slave are returnable to you. Your son will be awarded a hundred lashes and exiled for a year. And, O Unays go to the wife of this man tomorrow morning. If she confesses then stone her.” He went to her the next day. She confessed and he stoned her to death.

(Bukhari, no 6842, Muslim,no 1697,  Tirmidhi,book 17,chapter 8 ,no 1438)

Sayyidina Ubadah ibn Samit (RA) reported that Allah’s Mesenger said, “Listen to me and bear this well in your mind. Allah has provided a way for those women. Thus, if an adulteress is married then a hundred lashes are given to her and then stoning to death.If she is unmarried then (the punishment) is hundred lashes and exile for a year.

(Muslim, no 15690 , Tirmidhi,book 17,chapter 8 ,no 1439)

Sayyidina lmran ibn Husayn narrated that a woman of Juhayrah confessed before the Prophet (SAW) that she had committed adultery. She said that she was pregnant. The Prophet (SAW) summoned her guardian and said (to him), “Look after her well, and when she delivers her child, in form me’. So he did that. The Prophet s’ gave a command and her garments were bound to her body. Then he ordered that she should be stoned to death. That was done to her. Then he prayed over her. Sayyidina Umar ibn Khattab (RA) said to him, “0 Messenger of Allah! you punished her with rajm then prayed over he” He said, She had repented a repentance which if it were divided over seventy people of Madinah that would have been enough for them. And do you find anything better than what she has spent of her life for Allah?”

(Muslim,no 1696 , Tirmidhi,book 17,chapter 9 ,no 1440)

It should be born in mind that these punishments are not to eliminate sinners but these are basically atonement for sinners .It is clearly mentioned in hadith:

Sayyidina Ubadah ibn Samit (RA) narrated: We were sitting with the Prophet He said, ‘Pledge to me that you will not associate anything with Allah, you will not steal and will not commit fornication,” and he recited to them a verse (of the Qur’an). He said. “He among you who is faithful to it, his reward is with Allah. And if anyone commits a sin and is punished for that then that is his atonement. And if anyone commits a sin and Allah conceals it for him then it is up to Allah, if He will, He may punish him, if he will, He may forgive him.

(Muslim, no 1709 , Tirmidhi,book 17,chapter 12 ,no 1444)

 And  similarly highlighting the punishment of sexual crimes on another instance Allah swt says:

And the two persons among you who commit illegal sexual intercourse, punish them both. And if they repent (promise Allâh that they will never repeat, i.e. commit illegal sexual intercourse and other similar sins) and do righteous good deeds, leave them alone. Surely, Allâh is Ever the One Who accepts repentance, (and He is) Most Merciful. (An-Nisa 4:16)

And yet on another instance Allah swt says:

Verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allâh knows and you know not. (An-Nur 24:19)

This verse clearly indicates that all those involved in illegal sexual acts deserve severe punishments.

According to hadiths of Holy prophet people who are involved in sodomy whether married or unmarried deserve death penalty.

Muhammad salal laho aliehi wasalam said : "Whoever you find committing the sin of the people of Lut, kill them, both the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.(Sunan Al Tirmidhi)

 These acts have also been condemned in Bible on different occasions Some of these instances are as follow:

You shall not commit adultery.(Exodus 20:14,New International Version )

But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself." (Proverbs 6:32, New International Version)

Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. (Leviticus 18:22, New International Version)

The punishment of these wrong act has been mentioned in Bible in the following way:

"If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die." (Deuteronomy 22:22 , New International Version)

"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." (Leviticus 20:10 , New International Version)

And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.( Leviticus 21:9 ,New International Version)

If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:13, New International version)

3  Violence on earth like robbery, gang rape and raising voice against Allah swt and His Rasool salal laho alieh wasalam:
Allah swt does not like violence and mischief on earth and always condemn mischief on earth .

One one instance He says:

And do not do mischief on the earth, after it has been set in order, and invoke Him with fear and hope; Surely, Allâh's Mercy is (ever) near unto the good­doers. (Al-A'raf 7:56)

On another instance He says:

And to (the people of) Madyan (Midian), (We sent) their brother Shu'aib. He said: "O my people! Worship Allâh! You have no other Ilâh (God) but Him. [Lâ ilâha ill-Allâh (none has the right to be worshipped but Allâh)]." Verily, a clear proof (sign) from your Lord has come unto you; so give full measure and full weight and wrong not men in their things, and do not mischief on the earth after it has been set in order, that will be better for you, if you are believers. (Al-A'raf 7:85)
For all those crimes which lead to mass violence and mischief on land death like gang rape ,robbery and  rebel against Allah swt and His Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam death penalty has been assigned .

Allah swt says in Holy Quran:

The recompense of those who wage war against Allâh and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter. (Al-Ma'idah 5:33)

4 Blasphemy   :
One of the heinous crimes against which death penalty has been assigned is Blasphemy  which means insulting any prophet of Allah swt including last prophet of Allah swt Muhammad salal laho aliehi wasalam. .Any person whether Muslim or non Muslim involved in blasphemy also deserves capital punishment.

Allah swt has revealed in the Holy Quran the incidence of two friends in Surah Furqan.

Allah swt says:

And (remember) the Day when the Zâlim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say: "Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger ( Muhammad SAW). "Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend!  "He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur'ân) after it had come to me. And Shaitân (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need." (Al-Furqan 25:27-29)

The following incident has been narrated in asbab an nazool by waheedi  about these verses :

(On the day when the wrong-doer gnaweth his hands…) [25:27]. ‘Ata’ al-Khurasani reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “Ubayy ibn Khalaf used to go to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, keep his company and listen to his speech without believing in him. ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu‘ayt, then, rebuked him for doing so, and so this verse was revealed about it”. Said al-Sha‘bi: “ ‘Uqbah [ibn Abi Mu‘ayt] was a friend of Umayyah ibn Khalaf. When ‘Uqbah embraced Islam, Umayyah said to him: ‘I do not want to ever see you if you follow Muhammad’. ‘Uqbah disbelieved again and renounced Islam to please his friend, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. Other commentators of the Qur’an said: “Ubayy ibn Khalaf and ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu‘ayt were allies. It was the habit of ‘Uqbah, upon returning from a travel, to invite the nobles of his people to eat with him. ‘Uqbah also used to keep the company of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. He returned one day from one of his travels, made some food and invited people and the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, to eat. When the food was placed before the invitees, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said to him: ‘I will not eat your food until you bear witness that there is no deity except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah’. ‘Uqbah said: ‘I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’, upon which the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, ate from his food. Ubayy was absent on that occasion. But when he was informed of what had happened, he said to ‘Uqbah: ‘You have renounced the religion of your forefathers?’ ‘Uqbah said: ‘By Allah, I did not. I had a man in my house who refused to eat my food unless I bore witness to him and I was ashamed to let him leave my house without him eating, and so I bore witness to him and he ate my food’. Ubayy said to him: ‘I will never be happy with you until you go to him, spit on his face and step on his neck’. ‘Uqbah did just that, and the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said to him: ‘If I ever meet out of Mecca, I will behead you’. ‘Uqbah was later killed while in captivity at Badr. As for Ubayy ibn Khalaf, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, killed him in a duel at Uhud. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed about ‘Uqbah and Ubayy this verse”. Said al-Dahhak: “When ‘Uqbah spat on the face of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, his spit split into two and flew back on ‘Uqbah’s face. This caused both his cheeks to burn and the scars resulting from this burning remained visible until he died”.
This is thus clearly proved from Holy Quran that punishment of blasphemy is death in Islam.

During the time period of Holy Prophet salal laho aliei wasalam. Some of the people who were killed due to this crime are :

Kaab bin Ashraf
Abu Rafay yahoodee
Asma bint Marwan
A maid servant of a blind companion of Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam

5 Apostasy:

Apostasy is a major crime which has been condemned by Allah swt in Holy Quran .

Allah swt says :

And whosoever of you turns back from his religion and dies as a disbeliever, then his deeds will be lost in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will be the dwellers of the Fire. They will abide therein forever." (Al-Baqarah 2:217)

So whenever a person turns back from his deen and becomes an apostate he is also killed after free and fair judicial trial.
This is proved from the following hadith:

 Sayyidina Ikrimah (RA) reported that Sayyidina Ali sentenced those who had apostatised from Islam to be burnt down. When Sayyidina Ibn Abbas (RA) learnt of it, he said, “If I was there then I would have had them killed because Allah’s Messenger (SAW) had said,“He who changes his religion should be killed, I would not burn him because Allah’s Messenger (SAW) had said, ‘ Do not punish with Allah’s punishment.” When Sayyidina Ali learnt of it, he said, “Ibn Abbas (RA), has spoken the truth.”

(Bukhari,no 3017 , Tirmidhi,book 17,chapter 25 ,no 1463)

Conclusion:

So it can be easily concluded from the abovementioned discussion:
1 Islam does not support capital punishment in general
 2 In serious crimes like:
a Killing without any reason
b  Sexual intercourse and  done by married people /homosexuality done by any 1
 c Violence on earth like robbery, gang rape and raising voice against Allah swt and His Rasool salal laho alieh wasalam
d Blasphemy
e Apostasy
Islam recommends capital punishment
3 Capital punishment can be given after free and fair judicial trial in presence of witnesses
4 Capital punishment can be given by state/ruling authority.
5 No one has the right to give capital punishment except state.
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