Chapter Twenty-three

Criminal Punishments


Preface and Comparison with the Bible

The Qur'an itself lists few specific criminal punishments. Only eighteen verses are collected in this chapter. Other texts the Muslim’s respect, the Hadith, list extensive details about how to punish those that break Islamic law.

The punishments listed in the Qur'an seem barbaric, severe and primitive to many non-Muslims. In response, some Muslims claim that these compare with criminal punishments commanded by the prophets in the Old Testament of the Bible. It is true that Yahweh prescribed strict punishments for sin among the people of Israel, but ancient Bible scholars used wisdom in their interpretation and application. For example, metaphors like “an eye for an eye” were never taken literally. The ancient elders knew it was Yahweh’s poetic way of insuring equal justice before a court of law.

Even though capital punishment was prescribed in the Law of Moses, there are significant differences between the Bible and the Qur'an. The Bible does not promote torture such as crucifixion or the beating of women. There is discipline within the church but it does not include physical punishment. The New Testament leaves the punishment of evildoers to the civil authorities (Romans 13:1-7).

The Qur'an Says ...

Adulterers 100 Lashes   Both the male and female who are guilty of adultery or premarital sex are to be flogged with one hundred lashes. Absolutely no mercy is to be given. It is to be witnessed by a group of Muslims. The adulterers can only marry a person who has been found guilty of the same crime or an unbeliever in the religion or Islam (24:2,3).

Unsupported Accusation Eighty Lashes   If a person accuses a good woman of sexual misconduct and cannot produce four witnesses, that accuser must be flogged with eighty stripes and never again will their evidence be considered (24:4).

Swear Four Times   If a man accuses his wife without witnesses, he must swear four times calling down a curse on himself if he is lying. If his wife denies the allegations and does the same thing then there will be no punishment (24:6-9).

Retaliation for Murder   When a person is murdered then retaliation is allowed as long as it is “equitable.” A free man is to be killed if a free man was murdered—a slave for a slave and a female for a female. If the wronged party forgives then a liberal fine should be paid (2:178).

Denying Islam   If believers are forced to recant their Muslim faith but in their hearts they believe, they will be forgiven. Those who deny Islam, after being a Muslim, will suffer the wrath of Allah and be sternly punished (16:106).

Women Confined for Indecency   If a woman is accused by four witnesses of indecency and she confesses to it, confine her to her home until she dies. If two men are convicted for the same thing they should both be punished but if they repent leave them alone (4:15,16).

Beating Rebellious Women   Women who are suspected of disobedience must be scolded, made to sleep alone and beaten. When they return to obedience, no further punishment should be administered (4:34).   The Qur'an says that the Biblical character, Job, was commanded to fulfill some unexplained vow by beating his wife (38:44).

Cut Off Hands of Thieves   Men or women who steal must have their hands cut off as a reward for their deeds. This will be an example for others (5:38).

Behead and Maim   The hearts of the infidels will be terrorized so Muslims should attack with courage and behead them and cut off all their fingers. Maiming your victims will show that opposing Allah and Mohammed results in severe punishment. They are going to Hell (8:12-14).

Crucify or Maim   Those who make war on Allah and Mohammed or strive to spread disorder in the land should be killed, crucified, have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides or be exiled. They must be degraded in this world and doomed in the afterlife except those that repent before the Muslims capture them. In their case Allah will forgive them (5:33,34).

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