Islam aims to create an egalitarian society by bridging the gap between the rich and the poor. Islam is based on the principles of justice, tolerance, peace; equality and fraternity. The concept of zakaah in Islam is also meant to bring about equality in the society.
Prophet Mohammad (saw)’ said, ‘The Most Merciful shows mercy towards those who show mercy towards others. Show mercy towards those on earth so that the Creator will show Mercy towards you’.
The Islamic Law is also based on the high ideals of mercy and compassion. The primary goal of the Islamic Law is mercy or the benefit of the society.
The critics of the Shariah try to show that the Islamic Law is cruel and harsh. The law on robbery, i.e. amputation of the hands of the thief has been much criticized as being too stringent. They claim that the Islamic law does not pay heed to the motive of the theft. The thief would not have necessarily stolen something out of mischief. He could have stolen out of necessity too. So amputating a man’s hand who is on the brink of poverty and who tries to steal food to satiate his hunger is sheer cruelty and gross injustice. However, the stringent Islamic laws are meant to deter crime in the society. After all who would like to live in a society with a high crime rate?
As far as the criticism of amputating the hands of a thief is concerned the critics very conveniently forget to mention the incident in which a thief was caught stealing during a famine. On Hazrat Umar (ra)’s command the thief was left scot-free on the grounds that he had stolen in order to protect him self from starvation.
Allah (swt) has shown Mercy and Forgiveness towards those who repent for their sins. The strict laws are meant only for those criminals who do not repent for their sins. Such compulsive criminals can not only rob innocent people of their wealth but also rob them of their sense of security and peace of mind.
Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran:
“(As for) the thief, male or female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent (punishment) from Allah. And Allah is Exalted in Might and in Wisdom. But whoever repents after his wrong doing and reforms indeed, Allah will turn to him in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful”. (TMQ- 5: 38& 39)
Here I would also like to mention about a hadith which echoes the Forgiving nature of Allah (swt):
Ibn Masud narrates that Prophet Mohammad (saw) said, ‘Allah is more delighted by the repentance of His servant than one of you would be, who suddenly finds his camel laden with supplies after losing it in barren land’. (Al-Bukhari#6308)
Thus, this discussion shows that there is no room for doubt about the soundness and practicality of the Islamic Law. Moreover, it becomes amply clear that the arguments pertaining to the harshness of the Islamic Law do not hold any water.
Keep Me In Your Prayers.