Combat of Crime by Threatening of Punishment in the Hereafter

To Islam, a criminal is to be punished in this world and in most of the cases in the Hereafter. A number of examples can be supplied in this context.

On retaliation, for instance a number of verses were contained in the Quran. The Surat "Al-Baqarah" says "O, you who believe , retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain the free for the free ,and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if remssion is made to one by his aggrieved brother, prosecution for blood-wit should be according to usage, and payment to him in a good manner. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. Whoever exceeds the limit after this will have a painful chastisement" [Surat Al-Baqarah: 178]

In this Quranic verse, the worldly penalty is mentioned and in the meantime, another punishment was prescribed in the Hereafter for those who would repeat the crime. In another verse, only has the punishment in the Hereafter been mentioned rather than the worldly punishment. God says : "And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell, abiding therein And Allah's wrath is with him and He has cursed him and prepared for him a grievous chastisement." 79

Another verse mentions only the earthly punishment. It says "And whoever is slain unjustly, we have indeed given to his her authority - but Let him not exceed the limit in slaying. surely he will be helped " [Surat Al-Isra' : 33]

As regards larceny, God says "And as for the man and the woman addicted to theft, cut off their hands as a punishment for what they have earned, as exemplary punishment from Allah. And Allah is Mighty, wise. But whoever repents after his wrongdoing and reforms, Allah will turn to him mercifully surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful knowest thou' not that Allah is He to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth? He chastises whom He pleases, and forgives whom He pleases. And Allah is Possessor of power over all things." [Surat Al-Maidah : 38 - 40]

These Quranic verses indicate that the punishment was not confined only to the cutting off of a hand, but the thief must repent his crime, otherwise he will receive from God in the Hereafter due chastisement.

For usury, punishment will be imposed only in the Hereafter. God orders "O, you who believe, devour not usury, doubling and redoubling, and keep your duty to Allah, that you may be successful. And guard yourself against the fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers." [Surat Al-Imran 131 - 132]

Punishment in the Hereafter for the same crime is mentioned in another verse. The Quran warns "Those who swallow usury cannot arise except as he arises whom the devil prostrates by, his touch. That is because they say trading is only like usury. And Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury .To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, and he desists, he shall have what has already passed. And his affair is in the hands of Allah. And whoever returns to it - there are the companions of the Fire; therein they will abide". [Surat Al-Baqarah : 275]

A Prophetic saying stipulates, "To take only one dirham as usury is considered by God more oppressive than adultery committed by man twenty times. Whoever accumulates money unlawfully deserves to have his abode in hell."

These verses refer to punishment for usury in the Hereafter. In the worldly life, the Muslim legislator has left the punishment of the usurer to the ruler.

By these texts, God and His Messenger want crime to be combated strictly. Warning of punishment in the Hereafter, in addition to the worldly penalty, are more restrainable against committing crime.

But would the worldly punishment supersede punishment in the Hereafter ? On this subject the jurists differed and on this issue there were three points of view.

Some of the jurists opined that the worldly punishments are nothing but deterrents end, thus, they would not abrogate any punishment in the Hereafter unless the offender repented his crime. In this view, this faction of jurists derived support from this Quranic verse : "The only punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is that they should be murdered, or crucified, or their ands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides, or they could be imprisoned This shall be a disgrace for them in this world, and in the Hereafter they shell have a grievous chastisement." [Surat Al-Ma'idah: 33] Here God mentioned the two punishments, but abated them if the offender expressed repentance. Repentance, however, absolves all sins. The Prophet Muhammad said : "He who turns away from sin is like a person who had made no sins whatsoever".

Other jurists were more strict. To them, repentance never substitutes either the worldly punishment or that of the Hereafter, and as a consequence, the worldly punishment does not substitute that of the Hereafter even if the offender repented.

Ibn Abbas once was asked about the case of a man who had intentionally killed a believer but later expressed penitence. He replied : "How would such a penitence be accepted ? I have heard the Prophet saying, The slain clings to his assassin, with his veins full of blood. The slain asks : O, God will You ask this man why he had killed me ?" Ibn Abbas added "I swear by God that this statement had never been repeated."

Saeed Ibn Jubair reported that once he asked Ibn Abbas : "would anyone who intentionally killed a believer be forgiven ?" He said, No". Saeed then recited to him the Quranic verse, "And they who call not upon another god with Allah and slay not the soul which Allah has forbidden, except in the cause of justice, nor commit fornication ; and he who does this shall meet a requital of sin - the chastisement will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection ;and he will abide therein in abasement - except him who repents." [Surat Al-Furqan (The Discrimination):(68)] Ibn Abbas said "This was a verse which was revealed in Mecca, but was revealed later by another verse which was revealed in Medina". The latter verse reads as follows "And who ever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell." [Surat Al-Nisa': 93. This was reported by Al-Nasai' as well as the two Shiakhs]

There is a third view, and it is more slight in verdict. This school of thought theorises that earthly punishment supersedes that of the Hereafter. [See "Alamul Muwaqui'in", Vol 3, page 21 onwards]

This means that the punishment imposed on the criminal absolves the crime and abrogates the punishment for the same offence in the Hereafter. In this view, these jurists relied on a report by Al-Tirmidhi in which he quoted the Imam Ali Ibn Abou Talib as having said that once the Prophet Muhammad stated that "Whoever received a punishment for a crime in this world, God is not unjust to impose on him another punishment for the same crime in the Hereafter. And whoever committed a sin, but went unnoticed, God is so exalted that He will not punish him because He has forgiven the offender." [Jami'il Usul, by: Ibn Al-Atheer, Vol, 4, p. 349]

Ubadah Ibn Al-Samit reported that when once they were at a meeting with the Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet said to them "Whoever promises me that he will not take any other god as a partner with Allah; anyone who will not commit adultery; anyone who will not exceed his limits; and anyone who will not kill any human soul except in the cause of justice all these will be rewarded by God; and anyone who does such a thing and receives his due punishment in this world, this will be an expiation for the wrong he had done; and whoever does such an offence and repents, it is for God either to forgive him or to punish him."

Ibn Taymiyyah and other jurists are the view that repentance absolves the sins even if no earthly punishment winflicted on the offender. [`Alamul Muwaqui'in]

This view, in fact, is complementary to the other view which opines that punishment absolves the Hereafter punishment, and that repentance absolves the sins whether it was expressed before or after the earthly punishment.