In the past, I was watching one of your lectures where you mentioned the narrations from Anas bin Malik (May Allah revile him) that state that the Prophet Muhammad (sawa) cut off people’s hands and feet and the put nails through their eyes. The non-Muslims who oppose Islam, always like to use these narrations because they want to show to the world that the Prophet (sawa) was a torturer (I seek refuge in Allah from this).
I found a hadith in Al-Kafi which also mentions a similar story; for example, it states that the Prophet (sawa) applied the punishment to these people by having their hands and feet cut. Do you accept this hadith, O Sheikh? Because maybe the Bakriyah will say
how do you want to use the narrations from our books against us and you also have that the Prophet (sawa) cut people’s hands and feet?
And the Christians and Jews who oppose Islam may say:
How is your Prophet a prophet of mercy when he cut people’s hands and feet; isn’t this type of penalty like torture?!
I have studied the Islamic legal penal system Sheikh, but I want to find the best answer for discussing with non-Muslims because these narrations are available in the English language and are used against us.
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
There is a difference between torture, and the fixed Islamic legal penalties. The first is negated by us and not the second. For that reason, we say that the Prophet did not put nails in people’s eyes because this is an example of torture which is unjustified. As for cutting their hands and feet – if this is true – then this penalty has been mentioned in the Book of Allah, and the purpose of the fixed legal penalties is to be a deterrent. The mistake is that some people fail to pay attention to this point. The relativity of the deterrence depends on the situations and societies of the people and their crisis; what may be a deterrent to some people, may not be a deterrent to others, and what may be a deterrent in this time, may not be a deterrent at another time, and so on.
In a safe and simple society, such as an island of quiet islands, financial fines may be sufficient to deter the commission and perpetuation of crimes. In a complex society where chaos prevails and crime is spread, such punishment is insufficient and must be tightened to achieve deterrence. Thus, in Iceland, for instance, the death penalty may not be necessary for example, however, as for a country such as Somalia, it is foolish to imagine that crimes can be stopped there without a harsh deterrering penalty such as execution.
And sometimes execution itself is not a sufficient deterrent, as today, we see that this punishment is not enough to deter the barbarians from joining ISIS because they fight to the death or commit suicide missions, and they see nothing wrong in being killed anyway, whether they are shot in the head, hanged or even given the electric shock. Therefore, there must be a type of capital punishment that serves as a deterrent. It is possible that here, the penalty can be imposed by cutting off hands and feet, so that the barbarians will be deterred and will not join ISIS.
In general, the inability to achieve adequate deterrence for serious and dangerous crimes, is a threat to humanity, especially if these crimes are transformed into a continuous series and a comprehensive terrorist phenomenon. If we assume that by applying (the Islamic penalty), we will save the lives of thousands of innocent people and spare them pain in return for causing the suffering of a few of those who are already guilty, then intellect should accept this. Otherwise, will humanity remain in the inability to deter terrorists and criminals on the pretext that we do not want to hurt them?! Does humanity want to allow the suffering of thousands of innocent people, on the pretext that we do not want the terrorists to be punished?!
The noble Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, lived in a social environment dominated by terrorism, criminality, lawlessness and chaos. He did everything in his power to transform it into a secure and peaceful environment governed by law. This goal could not have been achieved without making harsher punishments. Nevertheless, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him & his purified progeny) always forgave the criminals, but in the framework of wisdom, in which they would be psychologically deterred from continuing their crimes for a while. The killing of the Arenin – if true – was an application of the necessary fixed legal penalty, that is, the necessary deterrent. It is narrated that they have killed innocent Muslims, and there are reports that they tortured the Muslim shepherd in the same way: cutting off his hands and legs. This was of utmost despicability from these criminals, that they rewarded those who were good to them with such abuse, and bit the hand that was extended to them in charity.
Penalties such as cutting off hands and legs at that time were necessary to reconcile these criminals with the society and the environment in which they lived, especially if it was retribution for their crimes. However, as for blinding the eyes with nails, even in relation to that environment, this can only be regarded as a kind of unjustified or sadistic torture. It is as if the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his Family) did not want to achieve the goal of deterrence but just torture. Of course, he is far above that, and for that reason, our Imams (peace be upon them) removed this false image from him.
We say all of this based on the assumption of the reliability of the narration regarding this matter. Otherwise, the discussion for us from our narrations is large as it is originally quoted from the book of Aban, son of Othman, in Al-Maghāzī and what he narrated from Abu Saleh from Ibn Abbas, and what he narrates from Abu Saleh from Abu Abdillah al-Sadiq (peace be upon him). If we return to the sources of our opponents we find this narration reported from Ibn Abbas like in the book of Nīl al-Awtār, by Shawkānī, volume 7, page 197. Therefore, it is assumed that the occurrence of confusion has taken place in the chains of the narrations in the book of Aban, as well as a confusion between the individual Abu Saleh Bazan who narrates from Ibn Abbas, and Abu Saleh Al-Ajlan who narrates from Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him). Examples of this are many in the old books, as is not unknown.
Furthermore, such a narration that is in common to what the ‘Sunnis’ have narrated, and its theme circling Anas, son of Malik, is not of the strength to resist the Shi’a narration that was reported by al-Saduq with his chain of narrators, of Imam al-Baqir (peace be upon him), and which rejects Anas and denies that the Prophet (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his Family) legalized torture. If, however, that Shi’a narration refers to the incident of the Arenin or Bani Dhubba, rejecting such things would be accurate.
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib