In Islam, fornication is punished by stoning and theft is punished by amputating the arm. These decrees are regarded as barbarism in the modern age. What is your answer regarding the issue?

Details of the Question
In Islam, fornication is punished by stoning and theft is punished by amputating the arm. These decrees are regarded as barbarism in the modern age. What is your answer regarding the issue?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- What we need to do as Muslims is to surrender to and to obey the orders of Allah and His Messenger.

- It is known that in the modern legal system, fornication is not a crime. Is it possible for a sane person who has the concept of honor, whether he is a believer or not, to tolerate that fornication is not a crime when it is related to his/her relatives?

- We should state it clearly that decrees like stoning in Islam are severe deterring penalties. One of the common purposes of the humanity and all heavenly religions is to ensure the continuation of the generation. Fornication is a mean and illegitimate way that degenerates and confuses generations in terms of various legal and human criteria. Fornication is a severe crime and an attractive mechanism of committing crimes for naughty souls. We cannot expect Islam, which is a universal religion, not to take a deterrent measure to prevent such a mean crime.   

- Along with this deterrent measure, it is remarkable that four witnesses are necessary for the determination of the crime of fornication because it is almost impossible for four witnesses to see two people committing fornication. Furthermore, if a person who says he has seen two people committing fornication is not confirmed by three more people, he is given eighty lashes. It means nobody should speak about it recklessly.

As a matter of fact, almost all of the incidents of stoning that took place during the time of the Prophet were applied as a result of the confession of the criminals in order to get rid of the guilty conscience. In fact, the Prophet (pbuh) pretended not to hear the confessors in order to protect them from being stoned; he tried all means like investigating whether the confessor was sane or not, whether it was really fornication or preliminary deeds, etc; however, he had to apply the punishment when they confessed insistently.

- The decree of the Quran regarding the amputation of the hand of the thief is, so to speak, a contemporary decree because there were no age in which there were so many thieves, bandits, snatchers, muggers, etc. Everybody except thieves agrees that the superficial penalties for theft are not deterrent at all.    

- The number of the cases of the amputation of the hand in the first three centuries of the Islamic history, when this punishment was applied fairly, was only six. (Ismail al-Fahrani, “ash-Shariatu bayna’s-salihin wa’l-Murjifin” al-Ahram, 17 January, 2011)

At the moment, in every city of the world, at least one or more heads, not hands, are cut off, property owners are killed cruelly along with money and goods that are stolen due to these crimes. This age needs more than all of the other ages to stop this crime through a deterrent deed.  

-It is necessary to listen to the following determination of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi:

“One time in the desert, a man was the guest of a nomad who was one of the people of reality. He saw that the desert-dwellers did not concern themselves with guarding their belongings. His host had even left some money openly in the corner of the room.

The guest asked him, “Aren’t you frightened of thieves, just throwing your belongings in the corner like that?

His host answered, “We do not have any thieves here.

The guest said, “We put our money in safes and lock them, but it is still frequently stolen.

His host told him, “We cut off the hands of thieves as a Divine command and on account of the justice of the Shari‘a.

Whereupon the guest exclaimed, “Then most of you must be lacking a hand!

His host told him: “I am fifty years old, and yet in my whole life I have only seen one person.

To sum up:When the punishments are carried out in the name of the Divine commands and dominical justice, both the spirit, and the intellect, and the conscience, and man’s innate subtle faculties are affected and influenced. It is for this reason that the execution of a punishment once in fifty years is more effective than your imprisoning numerous people every day...” (Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, Hutbe-i Şâmiye (Damascus Sermon), Envar, p. 75-78)

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