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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The Qur'an teaches that the person who steals should have his or her hand cut off. This cutting off of the hand serves as a retribution and punishment from Allah. This punishment was ordered by Allah and was practiced by the Prophet. Can such a form of punishment for theft come from the creator of the human hand? Can any property be equivalent in value to the human hand?


According to the Qur'an

The Qur'an teaches that the person who steals should have his hand cut off. This cutting off of the hand serves as a retribution and punishment from Allah. This punishment was ordered by Allah and was practiced by the Prophet. It is an essential constituent of the Islamic Shariah law.

Surah 5:38: “And (as for) the male thief and the female thief, cut off (from the wrist joint) their (right) hands.” (Hilali-Khan)

Surah 5:38 (41): “As to the thief, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from God, for their crime: and God is exalted in power.” (Yusuf Ali)

According to the Hadith

Sahih Muslim, Book 017, Number 4175: “A'isha reported that Allah's Messenger cut off the hand of a thief for a quarter of a dinar and upwards.”

Sahih Muslim, Book 017, Number 4185: “Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger as saying: ‘let there be the curse of Allah upon a thief who steals an egg and his hand is cut off and steals a rope and his hand is cut off.’”

These Hadiths prove that the penalty could be imposed for even very trivial or minor thefts.

Fuzalah-Ibn-Obaid reported that a thief was brought to the Prophet and his hand was cut off and on a further order from the Prophet, the hand was hung around his neck:

Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4397: Narrated Fadalah ibn Ubayd: A thief was brought to the Apostle of Allah and his hand was cut off. Thereafter he commanded for it, and it was hung on his neck.

Mishkat-ul-Masabih, Book II, Section 11, 1210-Theft, Hadith No. 127:

It is narrated in Sharih Sunnat that Safwan-b-Umayyah came to Medina and slept in the mosque using his sheet as pillow. A thief came and stole his sheet. Safwan overtook him and came with him to the Messenger of Allah. Muhammad gave the order for the thief's hand to be cut off. Safwan said, “I did not wish it (that punishment); I give it (the sheet) to him as charity,” upon which the Messenger of Allah asked, “Why didn't you (tell him) before you came with him?”

In other words, it is too late, and the man’s hand must be cut off as required by Allah.

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 816:

Narrated By 'Urwa bin Az-Zubair: A woman committed theft in the Ghazwa of the Conquest (of Mecca) and she was taken to the Prophet who ordered her hand to be cut off. 'Aisha said, "Her repentance was perfect and she was married (later) and used to come to me (after that) and I would present her needs to Allah's Apostle."

Tabari reports an incident in which a woman expressed repentance, but the amputation was nevertheless administered.

Tabari’s tafsir (commentary) on Surah 5:38:

A woman stole jewellery from some people who then brought her to The Prophet. He ordered that her right hand be cut off. The woman then asked him if there was room for repentance to which he replied, ‘Today (that is after your hand is cut off) you will be pure from your sin like the day you were born.’”

As it can be noted, even when a thief repents or expresses regrets, he or she is not spared from Allah’s punishment. Some Muslim apologists falsely state that amputation is administered only when very valuable items are stolen, but as we can see from Islamic evidences itself that this is not the case. Even if items that are more expensive are involved, are they still worth a human hand? In reality, mutilating a thief is ethically wrong and far too extreme a punishment.

To recap, we can see that both the Qur'an and the Hadith require the amputation of the hand of the person who steals. The thief’s right hand is to be cut off at the wrist. (Surah 5:38). According to one Hadith, the value of the stolen article that calls for the cutting off of the hand must be a quarter of a dinar and above. And another Hadith reported that Muhammad called for the amputation of the hand even when very small items such as an egg or rope is stolen. Thus, the penalty could be imposed for very minor thefts. We also saw that repentance by voluntary compensation and a determination never to steal again does not spare the person from having his or her hand cut off. This is also the opinion of Ibn Abbas who was an early renowned follower of Muhammad. This view is also supported by other commentators on the Qur'an, such as the renowned al-Razi. And it should be noted that in all the collected Hadith on the subject, not once was a person forgiven or the punishment waived. In every case, the thief’s hand was cut off.

According to the Bible

Let us compare the above stated punishment for theft in the Qur'an with the punishment defined in the Holy Bible for the same crime. A comparative study is crucial, as it can greatly aid us to identify the true Creator of mankind. Consider now how Jehovah dealt with the problem of theft. In the Bible, God gave laws whereby His people could deal with the problem of theft.

Leviticus 6:4-5: “…then it must occur that in case he sins and indeed becomes guilty, he must return the robbed thing which he has robbed or the extorted thing which he has taken by fraud or the thing in his charge which was put in his charge or the thing lost that he has found, or anything at all over which he might swear falsely, and he must make compensation for it in its full amount, and he will add to it a fifth of it. To the one whose it is he will give it on the day his guilt is proved.”

According to the above Biblical law given to Moses for the nation of Israel, if a man steals an article, he has to pay back the victim the worth of whatever he stole plus an additional twenty percent of the amount stolen.

Furthermore, in Ephesians 4:28 it is stated:

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

According to the laws of Jehovah God, amputation is never administered as a form of punishment for theft. The reformed thief is admonished to “work with his own hands”so as to share something with those in need. Under Islamic law, with their hands amputated, repentant thieves are not given the opportunity to be restored as useful members to the public. The true Creator of mankind never commanded any form of bodily damage as a punishment or compensation for property damage. He commanded bodily damage for bodily damage and property damage for property damage. The Creator knows that man is the crown of his creation on earth; property was made for him, he was not made for property. This proves that the hand-cutting law originated from someone other than the Creator of the human hand.

The human hand is a divine masterpiece. It is far greater than any human achievement. And it is certainly far more valuable than any property. We can be very sure that the Creator will never issue such an order for one of his greatest gifts to humans to be cut off as a punishment for the theft of property. As a righteous Creator, Jehovah God only commanded that a greater amount of property be given back as a punishment for the stolen property. If we compare the teachings of the Qur'an with that of the Bible, we can see that the God who spoke in the Bible behaves as a true Creator – the One who knows the true worth of the human hand. The deity who spoke to Muhammad exposes himself as an imposter. Let us now consider a real life account in the Bible that will help us see the reason behind the distinction between the laws of Jehovah and Allah.

Two mothers came to King Solomon with one child, each claiming that the child belongs to her. They sought his judgment on the matter. King Solomon said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one woman and half to the other.” The real mother was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” But the other woman said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” (1 Kings 3:16-27).

How did King Solomon identify the true mother? He could see that the woman who did not want the child to be cut in two behaved like the true mother. She had the heart and compassion of a real mother. She would rather lose the baby and spare his life than lose him altogether. It is the same with Jehovah God. He behaves like the “real mother” because he is our Maker. As our Creator, he has tender compassion for us. He does not want to destroy something that is irreplaceable for something that could be replaced. As our Creator, he knows the value of the human hand. In total contrast, Allah orders the precious irreplaceable hand to be amputated for even trivial or minor thefts. Why? Because he is not the “real mother.” He is not our Creator. He simply lacks the compassion of a Creator to consider the tragic consequences that befall upon all those who lose their precious hands. It means nothing to him. His Prophet had the hand of a man amputated just for stealing a mere blanket. This punishment was carried out even when the owner forgave the thief and decided to give away the blanket as a gift to the thief. Allah’s orders have to be carried out no matter what. The true-life account of these two mothers – one true and one false – serves to highlight the difference between Jehovah the Creator and Allah the imposter.

In God’s message to Moses, punishment for theft is mainly restitution and compensation. However, the message that Muhammad received in the Qur'an was a different one. It called for the inflicting of a permanent physical handicap as a punishment for theft. Can these two messages be reconciled as coming from a single God? Muslims agree that God did indeed speak to Moses, but they also claim that God gave a perfect and final revelation to Muhammad. If God’s declaration to Muhammad is inconsistent with his declaration to Moses, then it basically means that the voice, which spoke to one of them, was in fact not that of God. Our very salvation depends on identifying the true voice of God. We will now address this crucial issue.

We will begin by taking note of the fact that neither Abraham nor his descendants practiced amputation as a form of punishment. How do we prove this? The Qur'an itself testifies to this fact in the story of Joseph in Surah12:70-81. For when one of the brothers of Joseph was accused of stealing Joseph’s drinking cup, they were asked by the Egyptians, “What shall be its recompense if you are liars?” In other words, what will be the recompense if it is proven that one of the brothers stole the drinking cup. In Surah 12:75, the children of Jacob stated how a thief is dealt with according to their law:

Surah 12:75: They said, “The punishment, if it is found in his bag, is that the thief belongs to you. We thus punish the guilty.” (Khalifa)

Joseph’s brothers suggested the most severe form of retribution for thievery because they were very sure that they are all innocent of the charge of stealing Joseph’s drinking cup. If the cutting off of the hand were known to them, they would certainly have said so. Thus, according to the Qur'an, the cutting off of the hand as a form of punishment was unknown to the descendents of Abraham. This proves that neither Abraham nor his grandson Jacob practiced hand-cutting or recognized it as God’s punishment for theft. If Abraham had practiced it in his lifetime, Jacob would have done so and his children would have acknowledged this when they were questioned by the Egyptians. They, however, knew exactly how thieves were punished according to their own laws and they answered accordingly.

Thus, if the ruling to cut off the hand of the person who steals did not have its origin with the Creator – the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob – then where did it come from? Muslim sources themselves acknowledge that the punishment of cutting off the hand of a thief had its beginning at the period of ignorance when the Arabs worshipped idols. This was before the coming of Muhammad.

Ibn Kathir, the renowned Muslim commentator in his Tafsir on Surah 5:38 states:

“…the cutting off of hands as a penalty for theft was practised by the Arabs in the 'days of paganism' (ayyam al-Gahiliyah - the days of ignorance), and was confirmed in Islam with the addition of extra stipulations for it.... It is said that the first to practise the cutting off of the hand was the tribe of Qoraysh in the 'days of paganism'. They cut off the hand of a man called Dowayk who was a chief to the people of Malih b-'Amr from Khasa'ah when he stole a treasure from the Ka'ba.”

It is evident that Islam learnt this form of punishment from the pagans and confirmed it in its theology. The “Encyclopedia of Islam” says that according to the 'Awa'il literature, this form of punishment had already been introduced in the days of paganism by Walid b. Mughirah. It is believed to be of Persian origin. (The Encyclopedia of Islam, 1934, under section “SARIK”).

We cannot find a single authoritative Islamic source that associates this form of punishment with the early Biblical prophets. However, this very same Islamic sources show that this form of punishment was first practiced by the Arabs during the days of paganism – during the times of ignorance when the Arabs worshipped idols. The recognition of this fact is made by Islamic sources themselves. Can the regulations of these idol-worshippers dealing with theft be superior to that which the true God had given to Moses? Can the true God give Moses an inferior regulation as the answer to the problem of theft than those pagans who worshipped stones?

As we have noted earlier, the Qur'an itself testifies that the descendants of Abraham did not practice this form of punishment. In view of this admission in the Qur'an, Muslims must ask, “Did Abraham and his descendants who rejected idol worship and worshipped the one true God receive from God an inferior solution to the problem of theft, while the idol worshippers of Arabia possessed the perfect solution which is hand-cutting?” “Why then did Islam incorporate the punishment of the pagans for theft in its theology? Thus, it can be seen that while hand-cutting had its roots in paganism, it also became a law in Islam for punishing thieves. This is yet another example of paganism in Islam.

The laws given to Moses by the true God are truly the best regulations for dealing with theft because the punishment does not exceed the crime. It is to this voice of compassion that we must listen. Therefore, we must listen to the voice of Jehovah, the God of tender mercies. To ascribe to the perfect God, the barbaric regulations of the pagans are an insult to our Creator. It is blasphemous to take the cruel pagan practices of the idol worshippers and make it the determined will of our God. God is far greater and wiser than those who devised this savage form of punishment. And Jehovah is much more compassionate than the cruel image this form of punishment portrays.

Since this cruel form of pagan punishment is also commanded by Allah, then Allah cannot be the Creator. As such, Allah is no different from the idols that those savage pagans worshipped. It is important to remember that there is not a single prophet of the true God who ever delivered a commandment specifying bodily damage as a compensation for property damage. Only the prophets of idol worshippers called for such punishments. One such example is the Law of Hammurabi which states:

If a seignior hired a(nother) seignior to oversee his field, and lending him feed-grain, entrusting him with oxen, contracted with him to cultivate the field, if that seignior stole the seed or fodder and it has been found in his possession, they shall cut off his hand.” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard, Princeton University Press, 1969, the Code of Hammurabi, Law 253).

The Cruelty of Allah

In the first centuries of Islam, when Muslims practiced cutting off of the hand of the person who stole, “the stump of the hand used to be held in hot oil or fire to stop the bleeding.” (The Encyclopedia of Islam, 1934, see under section “SARIK”). This burning is an additional punishment. Therefore, the punishment is exceeded by the additional pain caused by the procedure to stop the bleeding. Can this form of punishment come from a God of Justice?

There are even cases where people whose hands were cut off and who subsequently died from the infection caused by it. In cases such as these, the punishment grew in severity to equal the punishment for murder. Thus, we can clearly conclude that whoever gave this barbaric law did not know the implications of this form of punishment. Surely, the true God knows exactly how to prescribe everything with precision, not only in his creative works but also in imposing punishment. There are no miscalculations with God. That is why, Jehovah, the true Creator never prescribed this form of punishment in the Holy Bible.

The Cruelty of Muhammad

Just as Jesus reflected the loving qualities of Jehovah, Muhammad reflected the cruelty of Allah.

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 234:

Narrated By Abu Qilaba: Anas said, "Some people of 'Ukl or 'Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them. So the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) camels and to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). So they went as directed and after they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of the Prophet and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet early in the morning and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured and brought at noon. He then ordered to cut their hands and feet (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron, they were put in 'Al-Harra' and when they asked for water, no water was given to them." Abu Qilaba said, "Those people committed theft and murder, became infidels after embracing Islam and fought against Allah and His Apostle."

It is only proper for thieves and murderers to be punished. But, it is one thing to execute murderers and quite another to torture them excessively as Muhammad did. Can someone claiming to be a messenger of God display such excessive cruelty? He actually pierced their eyes with heated nails and had both their hands and feet cut off. The bodies were then thrown on stony ground to die slowly of dehydration. The dying men’s plea for water was refused. Even a prisoner on death-row is given a decent meal before he is executed. Such action will shock any decent human with a minute sense of justice and civility but not the followers of Islam. They will defend the actions of this extremely cruel man no matter how barbaric it may be. For a Christian, it is unthinkable for their Lord Jesus to ever resort to such cruelty as Muhammad displayed. This is the legacy of Islam. Islam gave mankind one of the cruelest laws to pass as a punishment for theft and it also gave an equally cruel prophet to match this cruelty.

Hands have cultural as well as practical significance. There are vast numbers of people living in the East in countries like Pakistan and India whose right hands have a special significance not known in Western countries. For example, they eat with their right hand, because they use their left hand to clean their private parts. The left hand would never be used to place food in the mouth. If a person in that part of the world steals and has his right hand cut off, he is destined to eat with the hand with which he cleans himself. And if the left hand is cut off instead of the right, the problem still remains, for that person will still eat with the same hand which he uses to clean himself. It is also customary in these lands to serve others with the right hand. Thus, the punishment does not stop at the loss of the hand but becomes a terrible stigma contaminating his social dealings with others, bringing him down to the level of a social outcast. The problem that confronts a victim of this punishment is continual and sadly it is also irreversible.

A God, who is all-knowing and full of justice, will know the social customs of all peoples. He will not enact punishments where it will be more difficult for some than for others. Moreover, God’s judicial laws will not allow for the continuation of the punishment long after the penalty for the crime has been paid. The former thief, who is punished under Islamic law, suffers psychologically every moment of his remaining life. The absence of his hand will proclaim every minute, that he was a thief. He is not given a chance to redeem himself, no matter how remorseful he is of his past sin. This form of punishment inflicts more than a physical handicap. It inflicts the victim with a disgrace that cannot be erased from his mind and Allah’s punishment becomes a life long torture. Thinking objectively, is it not a far loving course of action that a thief should keep his hand and work off his debt then having his hand cut off? This is one of the reasons why the Law given to Moses never endorsed the brutality of cutting off the hands of thieves.

The loss of the hand is not the only damage that results from this form of punishment. Cutting off the hand destroys the efficiency of the arm and makes it practically useless. It destroys the usefulness of the arm since it makes the muscles and the tendons that empowers and controls the hand useless. Additionally, not only does this punishment render the arm useless, but it also makes the hands that were intended to work in pairs, useless as well. The loss of one of them does not make it a loss of 50 percent of the ability of the hands. The cutting off of one hand is to a degree a form of destruction of the other hand. For the two work together. They were designed to work together, just as one side of a pincer works with the other side. Try to hammer a nail, or saw a piece of timber, or try to peel an orange or even to cut an onion with one hand. Cutting off one hand is a virtual destruction of the other, resulting in the loss of much of its effectiveness. Thus, the thief is left with a permanent affliction that hinders him for the rest of his life. It jeopardizes his chances of future employment, and ironically might force him to steal again merely to satisfy his basic needs. Can this truly be a godly solution to the problem of theft? We do not think so. This clearly proves why Allah cannot be the true God. And it gives us one of the strongest reasons to decline Islam.

Some Muslim countries deliberately choose to ignore this law of Allah. Enacting them would mean exposing the barbarity of Islam to the civilized world. However, judicial amputation is still practiced in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and many other resolutely Islamic countries like Yemen, Sudan, Iran and Nigeria. Under the Taliban, amputations were common in Afghanistan.

Amnesty International recorded 90 judicial amputations between 1981 and December 1999 in Saudi Arabia, including at least five cases of cross amputation – cutting the right hand and the left foot – but the true number is probably much higher. In some cases, executioners were called to carry out amputations. Amnesty International does not know if they receive medical training, or whether anesthetics are administered to victims of judicial amputations, or if restraints are used. After the amputation, the victim is taken away by ambulance to hospital for treatment.

Sa'id bin 'Abdullah bin Mabrouk al-Bishi, an experienced Saudi Arabian executioner, revealed that purpose-made knives are used to cut off the hands of those who commit theft. He also told a journalist:

...for me it is more difficult to cut off a hand than to carry out an execution, because executions are done momentarily by the sword and the person leaves this life. By contrast, severing a hand demands more courage, especially because you are cutting off the hand of someone who will remain alive afterwards, and also you have to cut it off at a specific joint and use your skill to make sure that cutting implement stays in position. As I said, it is much more difficult for me to cut off someone's hand than to execute them, both in terms of carrying out the penalty itself and in terms of my own feelings.”

Even a seasoned executioner finds it difficult to cut off the hands of a thief. Such punishments are against the laws of nature. This gives us a compelling reason to decline Islam. Its teachings show that it could not have been originated from mankind’s Maker – the Maker of the human hand.

If someone discovers a painting by Leonardo De Vinci that is damaged on one side, is it likely that he will take a pair of scissors and cut away that damaged part? We would be horrified and would rightly assume that this person has no idea of the real value of the painting. If a person with little knowledge of the work of Leonardo De Vinci would not cut that damaged part, is it likely that Leonardo De Vinci himself would give instructions to cut parts of his paintings? God is also unlikely to do so with his great work of art – the human hand.


Submitted: August 15, 2012

© Copyright 2020 EMIR FEROZ KHAN. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:




Yup. That's how it goes. I'm a Muslim and I know why. That's because REAL MUSLIMS NEVER STEAL. Why? Because WE Muslims obey Allah and Allah told us never to steal. But if someone is not obeying Allah and steals, he or she will have his/ her hand cut off. And if that person steals again, his/her second hand will be cut off.

Wed, September 26th, 2012 6:02pm



Your utter ignorance of Islam is evident. Not only that, but your total lack of understanding about other cultures. In western culture, stealing is not such a terrible thing and is usually dealt with as minor. For adherents to Islam, stealing goes against the Will of Allah, who sees and knows all, and to do this goes far deeper than actually stealing the object, to blasphemy of the church, to blasphemy of God. It is a very serious offence and thus, is dealt with seriously. That is their culture.

Sun, February 3rd, 2013 6:28am


Rana Azhar

Dude, you are so uneducated it's irritating. Half of the information is false. I am a practicing Muslim and I've been earned Islam since I was born. Please educate your self before you write this long thing. Yes, the punishment for stealing is to get hands cut off, but this only applies in certain conditions. It's not like I go steal a pencil from my friend and then get my hand cut off. There are details and instructions of when, how, and why hands get cut off. Islam is the most spreading religion in the world. If what you've written is true, I don't think any kind of human would ever convert to islam.

Fri, March 1st, 2013 12:09pm

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