I once read a story about a Muslim woman who spoke about her former hatred of Islamic law throughout her youth, which she considered brutal and barbaric.
In her adolescence she lacked commitment to prayer, and she hated Islam excessively because of these laws, which led to her reluctance to read the Qur’an. She also joined groups denouncing the provisions of Islamic law and demanding its abolition.
Until one day, she was exposed to an incident that shook her entity, and changed her convictions along with her life completely.
This lady said:
I was on a road trip with my mother, father and brother, from one city to another, about 6 hours away by car. I was very happy with this trip, until we were exposed to bandits. The fear almost stopped my heart.
They stabbed my father and stole all his money. They quarreled with my brother until they beat him. My mother fainted from the horror that happened.
As I was trembling in fear, I heard the bandits discussing my rape. I resorted to God and begged Him to find me a way out, until a car loaded with four young men appeared. They looked righteous.
They stopped their car and came down with lightening speed to save me.
They caught the bandits and reported them to the security. They called the ambulance as well to help my father, mother and brother, As for me, I lost consciousness from the shock.
The lady continued:
When I woke up, I found myself in the hospital. I asked about my family and about my father in particular, who had been stabbed in front of my eyes. They informed me of his death.
The news came to me like a thunderbolt. I asked about the bandits, and they told me that they are in prison awaiting trial.
I then shouted at everyone, “Just prison?” They were not killed like how they killed my father? They were not tortured, like how they tortured us?
Then she said:
Suddenly I remembered the error I made in being hostile towards God’s provisions, and I realized my grave mistake.
Comment on the Story:
The Islamic law is a set of penalties put as a deterrent to punish those who intend to corrupt the community. As evidence to this, these penalties aren’t implemented on unintended killing or stealing during a famine and extreme need. It’s to protect society. In addition, some of these penalties are already in man-made law such as the death penalty.
They are basically to protect society. Therefore, its cruelty is one of the interests that religion provides to society, which members of society should rejoice in, because its presence is a mercy for people, and security will be achieved by it.
Only criminals, bandits and corrupters on earth will object to these penalties because they fear for themselves.
Let’s imagine together a mayor of a village declaring publicly: Your rights are reserved. Your money is under our strict guard. Whoever approaches it as a thief or a murderer, we will cut off his hand and end his life. You are in our eyes; your life is dear to us, and your money is safe.
Now, what can we call the ruler of this village? Can we call him barbaric?
Those who challenge Islamic punishments have considered the interest of the criminal and forgotten the interest of society. They pity the offender and neglect the victim. They overemphasize the punishment and diminish the severity of the crime.
If they compared between the punishment and the crime, they would certainly come out with the wisdom behind these penalties and their compatibility with these kinds of crimes.
When we recall the act of a thief walking in darkness, breaking the lock, raising the weapon and terrifying people, violating the sanctity of homes with the intention of killing those who resist him, then we would realize the great wisdom of the Islamic law’s harshness.
“…and your Lord does injustice to no one..” [Al-Kahf:49]
Islam provided sufficient means of education and prevention to keep criminals away from crime.
Moreover, Islam never requires to apply them until it makes sure that the individual who committed the crime committed it without justification or the suspicion of compulsion. Him falling into it after all this is evidence of his corruption and perversion, and his entitlement to painful deterrent punishments.
Islam worked on distributing wealth equitably, and specified in the rich’s wealth a portion for the poor. It also requires the husband and relatives to care about their families and the poor, and commanded the hospitality of the guest and kindness to the neighbour. In addition, it made the state responsible for ensuring its members by providing them with full sufficiency in the necessary needs of food, clothing, housing and others, so that they live a decent life.
It also guarantees its members to open the doors of decent work for those who are able to enable each able to work according to his capacity, and to create equal opportunities for all.
Imagine that you went home and found your whole family murdered by a person. Then that person was arrested and put in prison for a specific period of time eating and enjoying the prison facilities that you yourself are funding through the taxes you are paying.
How would you tolerate this?! You will probably either end up going insane or falling into addiction to forget your pain. If this same situation happened in a country practicing the Islamic legislation, the case will be completely different. The murderer will be brought in front of the family of the murdered, and they will take the decision whether to take revenge through retribution, which is justice itself, or to pay the “Deyaa”, which is the money that the murderer must pay on intentional killing to the family of the murdered, or to give pardon, which is much favored as mentioned in Sura Taghabun – 14.
But if you pardon (them) and overlook, and forgive (their faults), then verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. 
Every student of Islamic law realizes that the Islamic penalties are only an educational and preventive method rather than an act of revenge or a desire to get them implemented.
One of the general principles in Islam, with regard to the execution of prescribed penalties on the crime, is that:
- Attentiveness must be taken, and avoid suspicions that make the judge’s conscience uncomfortable with the execution of prescribed penalties, according to the saying of the Messenger of God: “Avoid the penalties which are based on suspicions.”
- Whoever has sinned while only God knew about his sin, and did not speak about his sin to people, there is no prescribed penalties on him; it is not an ethic of Islam to spy on people’s sins.
- In the case of executing prescribed penalty for adultery based one of the sinners confessing, and not based on the testimony of the four witnesses, there is no prescribed penalty on the second party who did not confess his guilt.
- The victim’s forgiveness suspends applying the penalty.
“…But if something of a murderer’s guilt is remitted by his brother this should be adhered to in fairness, and payment be made in a goodly manner. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord… ” [Al-Baqara 178].
- No penalty is imposed on the coerced.
The Prophet said:
Verily, God has overlooked for my nation their honest mistakes, forgetfulness, and what they are forced into doing. Narrated by Ibn Majah and al-Bayhaqi.
- The availability of witnesses is essential in imposing the punishment for adultery, along with other punishments. For example, Islam does not initiate punishment until the act of indecency is proven through the testimony of four witnesses. Yet the presence of four witnesses is rare except if the perpetrator has openly committed it, and thus deserves this severe punishment, knowing that committing an act of adultery is a major sin, whether secretly or openly.
The mercy of God manifests in His laws and commandments, which are mere goodness and mercy to the creations regarding the providence of guidance and preservation of their religion.
In addition, regarding the preservation of:
- Themselves, and their bodies.
- Their minds and thoughts.
- Their honorship and kinship.
- Their offspring.
- Their money and properties.
All laws and rules related to those previously mentioned five essentials were merely sent as a mercy to people in order to safeguard and protect them from corruption and aggression, along with breaking the ice between people.
In addition, to keep them away from hardships and difficulties, and to preserve everyone’s rights in order to be able to live in a healthy secure and happy society/environment, as the right of having a healthy society is one of the life rights pillars.
The Islamic approach must be taken as a whole. The Islamic penalties cannot be applied in isolation from the teachings of Islam with regard to the economic and social curriculum.
It is people’s distance from the correct teachings of religion that may push some to commit crimes. And here are the major crimes afflicting many countries that do not apply Islamic law, with all the capabilities and technical progress provided to them.
There are 6348 verses in the Qur’an, while the verses of penalties are no more than ten, and have been put by One Who is Wise and Well-acquainted with all things. Would you leave reading, enjoying, and practicing this system which considered unique by many non-Muslims, just because you don’t know the wisdom of ten verses?!