PUNISHMENT AND CENSURE IN ISLAM
Wise people have agreed that punishments should end or reduce crime and if they are not severe on the criminal, it is the innocent victims who pay. Islam law contains a codified system of punishment (hudud) as a deterrent to maintain peace and protect society from corruption. A society where crimes spread is threatened to be ruined because it has lost the essential aspect of humanity.
Islamic law doesn’t encourage or promote punishment. On the contrary, it is the last resort in Islam. Its main focus is limiting or eliminating the causes and means of crime. It first aims to cultivate a society which believes in Allah, fears Him, expects His mercy, and excels in its achievements where its members believe that they will stand before Allah and be asked about what they did in this world. Fear of the police, courts and prison are not enough to stop crime because they can be avoided, evaded and escaped. There should be ethical principles and internal controls to prevent people from committing crimes. True belief in divine law is the best deterrent.
Islam promotes tolerance by encouraging the relatives of a murdered or mutilated person to forgive the killer with the right to compensation of blood money. The relatives of the killer may help each other and collect this compensation; however, if the relatives of the deceased person insist on retribution, the judge must enforce capital punishment.
Islam strengthens the bond between man, the creation and Allah, the creator through worship, which purifies his soul and knowledge, which corrects his manners. Awareness of this relationship brings emotions of love, hope and fear which manifest as modesty, obedience, and the cessation of everything that makes Allah angry.
Islam strengthens the bonds of love, brotherhood and solidarity in society among faithful people. It encourages the Muslim to greet his brother by saying “asalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” (Peace on you and the mercy and blessings of Allah). It also encourages him to shake his hand, smile in his face, and ask about his wellbeing. Muslims should have mercy on the youth and respect for the elders. .
Islamic law requires rich Muslims to give a minor part of their savings to the poor. Having access to resources protects the poor from being spiteful towards the rich and committing crimes. The Prophet Mohammad said that Allah will aid His servant as long as His servant is aiding his brother.
Islam encourages maintaining familial bonds and mutual support between its members because the home is the first place of learning and developing character.
In Islam, acquiring knowledge and education is highly respected. It is an equalizer in society. All Muslims are to be treated equally, however, those who know the Quran are given special consideration for leading of the prayers, leadership, or even places of burial. Crime is a consequence of ignorance and knowledge is the cure.
Islam forbids the causes of animosity amongst people, such as ridicule, backbiting, slander, and deception. It even prohibits proposing for marriage to a person that has already been proposed to until it has been rejected. It encourages forgiveness but does not deny victims’ families the right to retribution. The laws of punishment are in place, but the criteria for establishing guilt are quite stringent. Forgiveness begets forgiveness and punishment is expiation for crime. Without a just penal system, the world would be rotten and people would be corrupted. The difference is clear between countries which enforce Islamic punishments and those that don’t.
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, “And there is life for you in Al Qisas (the laws of punishment), O people of understanding, that you may have taqwa (God-conscious)’’ (2:179)
The law of Islamic punishment embodies the principle of equality. Allah says, “And we ordained therein for them a life for life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and wounds - equal for equal. But, if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be an expiation for him. And whosoever does not judge by that which Allah has revealed, then they are the oppressors” (5:45)
People, regardless of their origins, positions, and social status are the same before Allah with respect to his penal code. This maintains social order, human respect, and the insurance of the right of man to live in peace without worry about his life, his money, and his honor, so he can contribute to society by working and producing.
A Muslim culprit has all of the rights that he should such as a proper burial and distribution of his assets in a fair way as well as social services for his family. He should not be abused physically or verbally. The people who witness the execution or hear about it ask Allah to forgive the culprit and strengthen the family of the victim.
Punishing criminals is necessary to maintain order in society. However, those criminals who are not punished by other humans will still bear the burdens of their sins and answer to Allah and the ones that they have wronged in the next life. We need divine guidance as to what the correct punishments are and the ways to establish guilt and implement them. This is found in Islam as it was in all of the past true religions.