Can a person be executed for the sake of the world order?

The Details of the Question

Can a person be executed for the sake of the world order? For which crimes is execution for the sake of the world order valid? Can a person who steals bread be executed for the sake of the world order? Can the person to be executed for the sake of the world order be an ordinary person or a person of high rank?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- Firstly, the crimes whose penalties were determined in the Sari'ah of Islam like fornication and theft cannot be punished in a different way. That is, a thief cannot be killed. However, some crimes whose penalties were not determined can be punished by “tazir”. This penalty is determined by the judge based on his own thought.

Tazir penalties from flogging 30-40 times to capital punishment can be given for the world/state/country order. However, such a determination needs to be made by an assembly of consultation. Otherwise, personal thoughts can cause a lot of oppression especially today, when taqwa lacks. 

- Nobody can be executed only for the sake of the world order according to pure justice. For, according to pure/real justice, “right” is right whether small or big. No right can be violated for the sake of a big right unless the owner of the right gives consent.

However, when pure justice cannot be applied, relative justice is applied. Relative justice is not real justice but it can be applied to prevent other evil deeds when there is no solution.

For instance, if there are 99 murderers and one innocent person on a ship, that ship cannot be scuttled according to pure justice. The rights of that one innocent person need to be taken into consideration.

Similarly, a believer who is used as a shield by the enemy in a castle cannot be killed. That castle cannot be bombed. However, if hundreds of believers are likely to die if the castle is not bombed, relative justice is applied and the castle is bombed even if that believer's life is risked. Thus, a big mischief is prevented. That believer becomes a martyr if he dies. 

- It will be useful to see what Badiuzzaman Said Nursi writes regarding the issue:

“Pure justice and relative justice may be explained like this: according to the allusive meaning of the verse, "If anyone slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would he as if he slew the whole people", the rights of an innocent man cannot be cancelled for the sake of all the people. A single individual may not be sacrificed for the good of all. In the view of Almighty God’s compassion, right is right, there is no difference between great and small. The small may not be annulled for the great. Without his consent, the life and rights of an individual may not be sacrificed for the good of the community. If he consents to sacrifice them in the name of patriotism, that is a different matter.” (Mektubat (Letters), 53 - 54)

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