Islamic justice or state sponsored murder?

Home Minister Umar Naseer has justified the government’s decision to implement the death penalty after a sixty-year moratorium on Islamic values, while Islamic groups have said capital punishment is a crucial aspect of the Islamic Shari’ah.

But Scholar Usthaz Abdul Mueed Hassan has called on the state to abolish the death penalty, arguing Islam is first the religion of forgiveness.

Mueed, a graduate of Qatar’s Mauhadini Sanawi and Azhar University with a permit to lecture on religious issues, contends the Islamic Shari’ah does not encourage capital punishment. The death penalty comes with several qualifications in order to discourage its implementation, he argued.

The government’s new regulations says a suspect may be executed by lethal injection if the Supreme Court upholds the death sentence and if all heirs of the victim desire qisaas – an Arabic term referring to the heirs’ right to ask for a murderer’s death.

Quoting from Sayyid Sabiq’s Fiqh Sunnah, Mueed said there are four requirements which need to be fulfilled before qisaas can be carried out.

“Firstly, it has to be seen whether the victim was pure of blood [Whether he is a blasphemer, a fornicator or an infidel]. Then whether the culprit has reached puberty. Thirdly, whether the culprit was sound of mind at the time he or she committed the murder. Qisaas cannot be implemented even if he was intoxicated at the time of murder. Lastly, it has to be proven without a doubt that the culprit committed murder out of his own free will. If not, it is the person who ordered the murder and drove the culprit to commit murder who will be subjected to execution,” he explained.

The victim and the culprit must also hold similar levels of freedom and religiosity, he said.

“In taking qisaas, it is prescribed that it must be done in the manner that the crime was committed. Like the metaphor an eye for an eye. Taken in the same exact manner. How can this be done in cases of murder? How can the life of the murderer be taken in the same manner as that of the murdered? This is prescribed so as to discourage the taking of qisaas,” he said.

Further, forgiveness precedes qisaas in Islam, he argued, quoting Verse 32 of Surah Al Maida: “Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.”

Islam does not permit punishment for Hadd offenses – which include murder, theft, fornication, adultery and consumption of alcohol – to be delivered if there is any doubt in the matter, he said.

Additionally, if the executioner believes that the death sentence was wrong, he must refuse to implement it. If he carries out the execution while in doubt then he himself must face the same fate, Mueed said.

“The Prophet has also said that when seeking to implement Hadd on a person, even of the slightest reason to let it go without implementing the Hadd is detected, then do so. He then says that this is because it is far better for the person in charge – be it a judge, a president or an Imam – to err in forgiving a person than to err in sentencing a person,” he stated.

Even in Saudi Arabia – the largest 100 percent Muslim nation – the King himself intervenes in cases of murder to urge forgiveness instead of qisaas, Mueed noted.

The public voice

When I spoke to several members of the public on their views, I found those who favored the death penalty did so believing it would deter crime. In recent years, there have been spates of gang related killings, including the murder of MP Dr. Afrasheem Ali.

Waheeda Omar, a 56-year-old housewife, believed the death penalty was crucial to prevent murder.

“Let the state kill whoever is accused of murder, whether or not they have the right man. The point is, once someone is killed for the crime, other people will hesitate from committing similar crimes,” she said.

Ahmed Ubaidh, a 48-year-old taxi driver, expressed faith in the state, saying it could not go wrong in deciding on life and death.

“I don’t have an opinion on this matter. The state is the highest authority, next to the Qur’an. If both feel that death penalty must be implemented, then they must be right. Who am I to question God’s will?”

Hassan Iqbal, 32, said death must be punished with death: “They killed. Let them feel what it feels like to be at the sharp end of the blade.”

President Abdulla Yameen has also said “murder must be punished with murder.” In an interview during the 2013 presidential campaign, Yameen said he had not supported the death penalty previously, but had “a change of heart” due to “commonplace murders.”

Several members of the public, meanwhile, opposed the move, saying the Maldivian judiciary is not fit to decide on the life and death of a human being.

A 39-year-old civil servant who asked to remain anonymous, on account of “speaking about a manner that will have people accuse me of blasphemy,” stated “Islam is a religion of forgiveness. It is a corrupted version of Islam, full of political and self-interest, that promotes the idea of taking lives. In a country as small as ours, state executions will lead to more rifts, more crimes, and more hatred and unrest. I am strongly against it”.

Ali Akhtar, 28, said he “wouldn’t trust this judiciary with my property, much less my life.”

“I am not a scholar, so I will not speak in light of what the Shari’ah says. But even I know for sure that Allah would never want people to be ordered to death by a judiciary as corrupt as ours, where there is a chance that it is minority groups, and us everyday people, who are mostly unjustly sentenced to die,” he said.

Mohamed – a 25 year old who previously worked in a human rights organization – said: “Putting aside the fact that death penalty is a clear violation of Maldives’ international obligations and right to life guaranteed under the new Constitution, death penalty is clearly not a deterrent to murder. Maldives does not have the legal framework to provide the accused a fair trial.

“The judiciary is not equipped with the skill sets to examine forensic evidence put before them. Furthermore, being a small and well-connected society, the ramification of it would be huge and can have a lasting impact as the regulation puts the life of the accused in the hands of the families of victims.”

Lethal injection

The state’s decision to administer the death penalty by lethal injection has also raised controversy.

A group of medical doctors, who requested to be unnamed, said death by lethal injection is unreliable.

“There are many recorded cases where administration of lethal injection has gone wrong, leading to paralysis or worse instead of death. I would not recommend it,” one doctor stated.

“I do not think the state will, and sincerely hope they don’t, approach anyone in the medical field to administer the injection. It is strictly against our ethics; we work to save lives, not take them,” his partner added.

Dr Faisal Saeed meanwhile opined that “The specific role of health professionals in society is to heal and to alleviate suffering”.

“There is a consensus among most professional bodies that doctors and nurses involvement in executions is unethical because it contradicts the dictates of the medical profession to alleviate pain and suffering. The use of medical devices and knowledge as a method of execution distorts the life saving purpose of medicine and portrays the doctor or nurse as an executioner, which will risk to undermine public trust.”

“Execution is not the role of doctors or nurses. Although the death penalty regulations do not state who will administer the lethal injection, the state cannot ask doctors or nurses to be in a position to violate their professional ethics and values,” he concluded.

Except for the location of execution, the state has not revealed details of the procedures for administration of the lethal injection so far.

The last Maldivian to be executed by the state was Hakim Didi, who was killed by a firing squad for the crime of practising black magic in 1952.

A backward leap

Local NGOs, advocacy groups and members of the public have started to raise concern about what they term to be “a backward leap” for the Maldives.

“Given the state of the Maldivian judiciary, which is also perceived to be highly politicised and corrupt, it is most concerning that as grave a matter as life and death of humans is to be decided by it,” a recent statement by the Maldivian Democracy Network, and supported by Dhi Youth Movement and Transparency Maldives said.

Islamic blogger Aisha Hussein Rasheed has also said the death penalty can be used to silence political dissent.

“The issue is that of corruption in the justice system: police, judiciary, lawyers, etc. Look at the death sentences given recently in Egypt for example. Capital punishment can easily be used to silence political dissent or to subdue personal or business rivals,” she said.

An advocacy group – calling themselves “When The State Kills”- have launched an Aavaaz petition urging public support to convince the state to abolish the death penalty.

“The implementation of the death penalty is especially troubling given the state of the country’s criminal justice system. Even in countries with long established justice systems, innocent people have been wrongly convicted and executed,” administrators of the group told Minivan News.

“It is a well known fact that judges in the Maldives use their own discretion when handing out verdicts, without following any particular procedure or even due process. We have seen innocent people being convicted in the past, so it is likely to happen in the future. The death penalty is an irreversible punishment. It would be an inhumane error,” they said.

Over 69 percent of Maldivians believe the judiciary is among the most corrupt institution in the country, Transparency International’s global corruption barometer of 2013 has revealed. Numerous international actors, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges Gabriela Knaul have released statements of concern about the judiciary’s lack of independence and failure to serve justice.

In addition to the perceived incompetency of the judiciary, the Maldives lacks legislation for witness protection, evidence or criminal procedures.


20 thoughts on “Islamic justice or state sponsored murder?”

  1. This is one of those threads that will continue to have opposing arguments which will never end.

    It reminds me of the quote, "don't argue with fools, for they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience"

    Let this go. The idiots will make the noose themselves and then hang themselves.

  2. Sorry, cannot let this go. This will continue every day that the death penalty is in force.

  3. Coming out against something clearly prescribed at the Islamic shariya and these people has the audacity to ask "what is anti-islamic about us?"

  4. "expressed faith in the state, saying it could not go wrong in deciding on life and death." AND "Who am I to question God’s will?" Who's will is it who wants to Kill ? the State or God?

  5. The only thing Islam asked Muslims of Maldives to do was to kill murderers. Nothing else applies to Maldivians. Just one line of text in a very old book.

  6. There's no country in the world where lethal injection is carried out by medical professionals. It's done by "laymen" as it's against the fundamental principles of the medical profession to be responsible to deliberately taking someone's life.

    But hey, this is the Maldives. We may always trump the rest of the world. After all, we did invent a unique style of "democracy" as well.

  7. ainth, it is NOT clearly prescribed in the texts. There's enough reason to believe any murder of another muslim, inclusive executions are anti-islamic. And Usthaz Abdul Mueed Hassan describes clearly why death penalties should be rare, even if the practice is in use.

    Take the murder on Afrasheem, it's not Humam himself who needs to be executed, but the person who has given the order to kill.

    Frightening to read those reactions btw.. Having faith in the state, how naive can you be?

  8. @ hassan
    In US it is the physicians who oversee the injection of lethal drugs. They place the I/V lines. In other countries where death sentence is carried by hanging such as India, doctors are alway present when the body is removed from the gallows to confirm death.

  9. Allah gave life, and Allah alone must take it away. We entrust our lives unto HIM, not a state judge or executioner.

    Clearly, murderers are the worst threat to society and must be punished. If they are unfit to rehabilitate or move back into society then they must be put away for life - but their life cannot be taken by another human being! What is wrong with this nation? What is the matter with those people who defend state sponsored murder with Islam? Please, don't use my religion to kill. Come out and say it. You people are a perverse, violent bunch of people. Don't use Islam to justify your love for blood and death.

  10. @ ekolas
    "it is NOT clearly prescribed in the texts."

    which texts is Qisas not prescribed?

    In the Holy Qur'an, surah al-baqrah, ayath 178 Allah (subuhaanahoo watha aalaa) has clearly comanded it. And if you continue reading that surah the very next ayath, Allah decrees fasting in Ramadhan (2:183).

    so, if you dont believe in legal retribution for those murdered (Qisas) why should you believe in fasting?

  11. @ enough
    If you are a muslim you dont have any right to reject what Allah has clearly prescribed in the Holy Qur'an and the sunnah of the prophet Mohamed salahlaahu alaihi wasalam.
    Qisas is a punishment commanded by Allah. He is Al-Alim, the all knowing.

  12. 1. To assume that any argument against death penalty or human rights come from "those who do not believe in Allah" is wrong. There are prominent Muslims scholars who do not believe the death penalty should be implemented given certain conditions: e.g. Tariq Ramadan -Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, and the Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Jum'a. To be so narrow minded is very much against the spirit of Islam, which gives utmost importance to knowledge, reason and wisdom. It's not for any of us to judge who is a believer or not a believer. If you want to argue with someone, argue with what they are saying instead of resorting to character assassination based on presumption about their faith.

    2. To believe that it's okay to implement the death penalty despite the state of our justice system undermines the importance that Islam gives to justice, fairness, and equality. "Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing."(4:58). Prophet Muhammad Sallallaahu A'laihi Wasallam said “Avoid (the application) of hudud in situations of doubt [when you must rely upon doubt]” and Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz said “far better that I should err one thousand times in forgiving than once in the application of a sanction". To turn a blind eye to this and to assume that Islam is only about handing out Shariah punishments, despite the context and conditions (shurût), is a rejection of part of the revelation. Grand Mufti Ali Jum'a states "the legally qualified witnesses required by shair’a law, to establish a criminal act as one where a hadd is applicable, have long since been lost. To this effect At-Tanukhi relates in his volume Mishuar al-muhadara that, a judge would once have been able to enter a village and find there as many as forty witnesses whose testimony could be considered satisfactory, in that they possessed the two qualities required of a legal witness: moral rectitude (al-adala) and far sightedness (ath-thabt). Today, however-that is, in the days of At-Tanukhi-a judge arriving in a locality is able to find one or two witnesses [possessing the required qualities]. Insofar as our era is concerned, and in a general sense, it may well also be described as one in which a (legally qualified) witness cannot be found at all".

    3. How is it rational or logical for the death penalty to act as a true deterrent if there is possibility that the wrong person is being punished? And how does it give justice to the victim or the victim's family if another innocent person is killed in the name of the victim, while the person who actually committed the heinous act of murder may roam free? Don't underestimate the flaws in our criminal justice system. Currently in Maldives, we lack a Criminal Procedures Act, a Witness Protection Act, Evidence Law. In addition 69% of Maldivians believe the judiciary is extremely corrupt/corrupt (Global Corruption Barometer), and it's been said that 50% of judges in Maldives have only 7th Grade education and the only qualification they have is a 6 month to 2 year course certificate. Shall I go in to detail about how politicized and unethical the judiciary is? Just read about the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed and the Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed. It was only a few weeks ago that we heard about the story of a completely wrong person given a 6 year jail sentence. If we hand out the death penalty like that, remember the punishment is irreversible. You cannot simply say 'Oops, I am sorry'. Even in countries such as the US where the death penalty has been practiced for years, and with a far developed criminal justice system, 144 people have been exonerated from the death row because they were found to be innocent. On average these innocent people spent 10.1 years in jails before they were found to be innocent.

    4. A Companions asked: “Messenger of God, I understand how to support someone that is a victim of injustice, but how can I support him who is unjust?” The Prophet Sallallaahu A'laihi Wasallam responded: “Prevent him from being unjust, that is you support to him.” If we truly want to fight crime, lets ask ourselves why there is crime in the first place and what we have so far done to reduce it? Islam calls for social justice in society. What has our governments and we as individuals done to support the youth of the country? Many members of gangs and those who have committed murder are extremely young and were neglected and abused as children, by family, teachers and society in general. Politicians and businessman has taken advantage of this vulnerable population for achieving their own goals. As the Gang Violence report highlighted "a widespread breakdown in family structures has begun to lead young people to look for new ways of belonging in an effort to replace the security and structure of a family. Young people often turn to drugs to get away from their family problems, which contributes to their ending up in a gang". . So, while we are attempting to implement the death penalty, in the name of Islam, lets also ask whether we are doing our job as instructed by the Prophet Sallallaahu A'laihi Wasallam to “Prevent him from being unjust, that is you support to him.”
    [42:40-43] The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loves not those who do wrong. But indeed if any do help and defend themselves after a wrong (done) to them, against such there is no cause of blame….And whoever is patient and forgiving, these most surely are actions due to courage. – Holy Quran

  13. @Dr. :In US it is the physicians who oversee the injection of lethal drugs. They place the I/V lines.

    Have you seen this? This is clearly not true. Medical professionals have nothing to do with lethal injection in the United States. The "physicians" you refer to are laymen, and not people employed or trained as medical professionals. Quote: "Typically, most states do not require that physicians administer the drugs for lethal injection, but many states do require that physicians be present to pronounce or certify death".

  14. Ainth... could you let me know where it says in this Ayath about Qisas in 2:183?

    I could not find it... but I did find the part about fasting.

    Maybe this is not the same book you are looking at?

  15. @ainth
    "legal retribution"

    Exactly. I do not believe that a judge from Saddhoom can ever pass 'legitimate judgement'. As long as the corrupt judges sit there and kill whoever they want to line their paycheck, I say no to the death penalty.

  16. @....
    Show me where Allah commands the killings of those who have not committed a crime. If you dare to edit the Holy Quran, that is.

  17. I have clearly said surah al-baqrah, ayath 178

    Allah has prescribed Qisas the same way he has prescribed fasting. How it should be carried out is detailed by sunnah of the prophet and by scholars. So no muslim has the right to say they reject Qisas or death penalty.

    Anyways I have no intrest arguing with anyone about something so clearly written in islam.

  18. @ainth: I suppose you don't know anything about the sunnath. I also disregard the scholars as they are a bidhua funded by Saudi petrodollars.

    Now, check the Holy Quran and Sunnath regarding judges (ghaazees), before you flap your mouth about the death penalty.

    If you're unwilling, here, I'll list them for you.

    The Noble Qur'an - Hud 11:113
    And incline not toward those who do wrong, lest the Fire should touch you, and you have no protectors other than Allâh, nor you would then be helped

    Ibn Buraidah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated from his father that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

    "Judges are of three (types), two of whom will end up in Hell and one will be admitted to Paradise (as follows):

    - One who judges according to his desires; he will be in Hell. (Ali Hameed, Abdulla, and the rest of the murderers, abusers, and people who release drug dealers and murderers)

    - One who judges with no knowledge; he will end up in hell. (The mullahs who make up false fatwas to help the child abusers.)

    - And one who sticks to the truth in his judgments; he will be in Paradise." (Authenticated by Al-Albani)


    You may hide like a coward, and call anyone who disagrees with your tyranny a 'nonmuslim', but this hadith will tear up your verdict.

    Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

    "Whosoever amongst you sees an evil, let him change it with his hands; and if he is not able, then with his tongue; and if he is not able, then let him hate it in his heart, and that is the weakest of faith." (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

    This is why, in this land where judges are worse than sadhoom judges, I refuse to support the death penalty. I swear, as Allah is my witness, that I will never give such corrupt people the right to kill anyone they please.

  19. Death penalty is not the issue I guess, people who have a problem is having a problem with Shariah law.


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