And (as for) the male thief and the female thief, cut off (from the wrist joint) their (right) hands as a recompense for that which they committed. But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then verily, Allah will pardon him (accept his repentance). Quran 5:38- 39 It is Big Sin, Major sin, Gunaahe Kabira, to commit stealing i.e to take something with out owner’s permission.

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Quran: Chapter 6 ‘La Yuhibbu’ ‘Does not like’, Sura: 5 ‘Al Maidah’ ‘The Table spread with food’, Verse: 38- 40

Verse 38: And (as for) the male thief and the female thief, cut off (from the wrist joint) their (right) hands as a recompense for that which they committed, a punishment by way of example from Allah. And Allah is All- Powerful, All-Wise.

Verse 39: But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then verily, Allah will pardon him (accept his repentance). Verily, Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most- Merciful.

Verse 40: Know you not that to Allah (Alone) belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth! He punishes whom He wills and He forgives whom He wills. And Allah is Able to do all things.

Explanation by Ibne Kathir: [The respected Imam, Abu Al-Fida’, `Imad Ad-Din Isma il bin ‘Umar bin Kathir Al-Qurashi Al-Busrawi– born in Busra 701 H– died in Damascus in 774 H// b. 1301 Christian Era– d. 1373CE. http://www.dar-us-salam.com/authors/hafiz-ibn-kathir.htm

The Necessity of Cutting off the Hand of the Thief

Allah says;

وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُواْ أَيْدِيَهُمَا …

And (as for) the male thief and the female thief, cut off their hands, Allah commands and decrees that the hand of the thief, male or female be cut off.

During the time of Jahiliyyah, this was also the punishment for the thief, and Islam upheld this punishment.

[Restrictively, the pre-Islamic pagan times of the Arabian Peninsula. http://islamicencyclopedia.org/public/index/topicDetail/page/10/id/475 ]

In Islam, there are several conditions that must be met before this punishment is carried out, as we will come to know, Allah willing.

There are other rulings that Islam upheld after modifying these rulings, such as that of blood money for example.

When Does Cutting the Hand of the Thief Become Necessary

In is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

لَعَنَ اللهُ السَّارِقَ يَسْرِقُ الْبَيْضَةَ فَتُقْطَعُ يَدُهُ، وَيَسْرِقُ الْحَبْلَ فَتُقْطَعُ يَدُه

May Allah curse the thief who steals an egg and as a result his hand is cut off, and who steals rope and as a result his hand is cut off.

[http://www.sahih-bukhari.com/Pages/Bukhari_8_81.php Volume 8, Book 81, Number 774 :] 

Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded that Aishah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

[Full name Imâm Abû `Abdullâh Muhammad ibn Ismâ`îl al-Bukhârî (194 H- 265 H / 809 CE- 878 CE) http://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/imam_bukhari.htm ]

[Full name Imam Abu’l-Husain ‘Asakir-ud-Din Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naisaburi (202 H – 261H/ 817 CE- 874 CE) http://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/Imam muslim.htm ]

تُقْطَعُ يَدُ السَّارِقِ فِي رُبْعِ دِينَارٍ فَصَاعِدًا

The hand of the thief shall be cut off if he steals a quarter of a Dinar or more.

[http://www.sahih-bukhari.com/Pages/Bukhari_8_81.php Volume 8, Book 81, Number 780 :]

Muslim recorded that Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said that the Messenger of Allah said,

لَا تُقْطَعُ يَدُ السَّارقِ إِلَّا فِي رُبْعِ دِينارٍ فَصَاعِدًا

The hand of the thief shall only be cut off if he steals a quarter of a Dinar or more.

This Hadith is the basis of the matter since it specifies (that the least amount of theft that deserves cutting the hand) is a quarter of a Dinar. So this Hadith fixes the value. And saying that it is three Dirhams is not a contradiction. This is because the Dinar in question was equal to twelve Dirhams, so three Dirhams equaled a fourth of a Dinar. So in this way it is possible to harmonize these two views.

This opinion was reported from Umar bin Al-Khattab, Uthman bin Affan, Ali bin Abi Talib – may Allah be pleased with them – and it is the view of Umar bin Abdul-Aziz, Al-Layth bin Sa`d, Al-Awza`i, and Ash-Shafii and his companions.

This is also the view of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and Ishaq bin Rahwayh in one of the narrations from him, as well as Abu Thawr, and Dawud bin Ali Az-Zahari, may Allah have mercy upon them.

[Full name Imam Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hambal (164 A.H. /780 CE.241 A.H. / 855 CE) http://www.renaissance.com.pk/mjuletfor96.html ]

[Full name Ishaq bin Ibrahim bin Mukhlid al-Hanthali at-Tamimi al-Marwazi. His kunyah: Abu Ya’qub. Famous as: Ibn Rahwayh (163 – 238 Hijri779 – 852 CEhttp://www.as-salaf.com/article.php?aid=70&lang=en ]

As for Imam Abu Hanifah and his students Abu Yusuf, Muhammad and Zufar, along with Sufyan Ath-Thawri, they said that;

[known as `Imam-e-`Adham’ (The Greatest Imam), kunyah `Abu Hanifah’, Nu’man ibn Thabit was born in the city of Kufa (modern day Iraq) in the year 80 A.H (689 A.D), and died in Baghdad in 150 A.H / 767 CEat the age of seventy. http://www.sunnah.org/publication/khulafa_rashideen/life_of_imam_abu_hanifah.htm ]

the least amount of theft that deserves cutting off the hand is ten Dirhams, whereas a Dinar was twelve Dirhams at that time.

The first ruling is the correct one, that the least amount of theft is one forth of a Dinar or more.

This meager amount was set as the limit for cutting the hand, so that the people would refrain from theft, and this is a wise decision to those who have sound comprehension.

Hence Allah’s statement,

… جَزَاء بِمَا كَسَبَا نَكَالاً مِّنَ اللّهِ …

as a recompense for that which both committed, a punishment by way of example from Allah.

This is the prescribed punishment for the evil action they committed, by stealing the property of other people with their hands. Therefore, it is fitting that the tool they used to steal the people’s wealth be cut off as punishment from Allah for their error.

… وَاللّهُ عَزِيزٌ …

And Allah is All-Powerful,  (in His torment),

… حَكِيمٌ ﴿٣٨﴾

All-Wise. in His commands, what he forbids, what He legislates and what He decrees.

Repentance of the Thief is Acceptable

Allah said next,

فَمَن تَابَ مِن بَعْدِ ظُلْمِهِ وَأَصْلَحَ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ يَتُوبُ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿٣٩﴾

But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds, then verily, Allah will pardon him. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Therefore, whoever repents and goes back to Allah after he commits theft, then Allah will forgive him.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah bin `Amr said that; a woman committed theft during the time of the Messenger of Allah and those from whom she stole brought her and said, “O Allah’s Messenger! This woman stole from us.” Her people said, “We ransom her.” The Messenger of Allah said,

اقْطَعُوا يَدَهَا

Cut off her hand. They said, “We ransom her with five hundred Dinars.” The Prophet said,

اقْطَعُوا يَدَهَا

Cut off her hand.

Her right hand was cut off and the woman asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Is there a chance for me to repent?”

He said,

نَعَمْ أَنْتِ الْيَوْمَ مِنْ خَطِيئَتِكِ كَيَوْمَ وَلَدَتْكِ أُمُّك

Yes. This day, you are free from your sin just as the day your mother gave birth to you.

Allah sent down the verse in Surah Al-Ma’idah,

فَمَن تَابَ مِن بَعْدِ ظُلْمِهِ وَأَصْلَحَ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ يَتُوبُ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then verily, Allah will pardon him. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

This woman was from the tribe of Makhzum. Her story was narrated in the Two Sahihs from Az-Zuhri from Urwah from Aishah.

The incident caused concern for the Quraysh after she committed the theft during the time of the battle of the Conquest (of Makkah). They said, “Who can talk to Allah’s Messenger about her matter.”

They then said, “Who dares speak to him about such matters other than Usamah bin Zayd, his loved one.”

When the woman was brought to the Messenger of Allah, Usamah bin Zayd talked to him about her and the face of the Messenger changed color (because of anger) and he said,

أَتَشْفَعُ فِي حَدَ مِنْ حُدُودِ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ ؟

Do you intercede in a punishment prescribed by Allah? Usamah said to him, “Ask Allah to forgive me, O Allah’s Messenger!” During that night, the Messenger of Allah stood up and gave a speech and praised Allah as He deserves to be praised. He then said,

أَمَّا بَعْدُ فَإِنَّمَا أَهْلَكَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ أَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا إِذَا سَرَقَ فِيهِمُ الشَّرِيفُ تَرَكُوهُ، وَإِذَا سَرَقَ فِيهِمُ الضَّعِيفُ أَقَامُوا عَلَيْهِ الْحَدَّ،

Those who were before you were destroyed because when an honorable person among them would steal, they would leave him. But, when a weak man among them stole, they implemented the prescribed punishment against him.

وَإِنِّي وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوْ أَنَّ فَاطِمَةَ بِنْتَ مُحَمَّدٍ سَرَقَتْ لَقَطَعْتُ يَدَهَا

By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! If Fatimah the daughter of Muhammad stole, I will have her hand cut off. The Prophet commanded that the hand of the woman who stole be cut off, and it was cut off.

Aishah said, `Her repentance was sincere afterwards, and she got married and she used to come to me so that I convey her needs to the Messenger of Allah.”

This is the wording that Muslim collected, and in another narration by Muslim, Aishah said,

“She was a woman from Makhzum who used to borrow things and deny that she took them. So the Prophet ordered that her hand be cut off.”

Allah then said,

أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللّهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ ….

Know you not that to Allah (Alone) belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth!

He owns everything and decides what He wills for it and no one can resist His judgment.

… يُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَاء وَيَغْفِرُ لِمَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ﴿٤٠﴾

He punishes whom He wills and He forgives whom He wills. And Allah is able to do all things.

http://www.quran4u.com/Tafsir%20Ibn%20Kathir/005%20Ma’idah.htm#وَالسَّارِقُ

Notes by samia2010oct:

It is Big Sin, Major sin, Gunaahe Kabira, to commit stealing i.e to take something with out owner’s permission. For all Big sins, there is the punishment of burning in unbearable and unending fire. For many Big sins the punishment starts from this world and continues in the Hereafter.

May Allah give all of us strength to avoid sins. And to live a completely sin- free life. Aameen.

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