Muslim missionaries who understand the Qur’an and the hadith believe that sharia (Islamic law) expresses the highest and best goals for all societies. It is the will of Allah.
Muslim polemicists boast that Islam is the best and fullest religion in the world, because it specifies duties and requirements for every aspect of life. But what happens if this control is oppressive? What if it is rooted in a harsh and outdated holy book?
Islamic websites that preach justice and human rights seem unwilling to confront the unpleasant truths lurking in the origins of their religion; instead, they whitewash the violence. For example, these three articles, representing others, preach "peace and love," but they fail to point out ALL of Islam: Islamonline.net, Jamaat.org, Islam-guide.com.
But does Islam practice justice? Does Islam really promote human rights?
This article says no for ten verifiable reasons.
Here are five points you must understand, before reading the rest of the article:
First, sometimes these ten points quote the Qur’an or omit it; sometimes they quote the ahadith (reports of Muhammad’s words and actions outside of the Qur’an) or omit it. This is done only to keep the article from getting longer than it is. No one should be fooled into believing that these harsh and excessive laws were invented in the fevered imagination of extremists who came long after Muhammad. No. These harsh and excessive laws come directly from the founder of Islam in his Qur’an and in his example in the hadith.
Second, each of these ten reasons has a back-up article (or more than one) that is long and well documented with quotations and references to the Qur’an, the ahadith, and classical legal opinions. The back-ups also examine the historical and literary context of each Qur’anic verse. If the readers, especially critics, wish to challenge one or all of these ten reasons, or if they simply doubt them, they should click on the supporting articles. They will see that Muhammad himself actually laid down these excessive punishments and policies.
Third, it must be pointed out that these harsh laws are not (or should not be) imposed outside of an Islamic court of law. Careful legal hurdles must be passed before the punishments are carried out. However, even in that case, it will become clear to anyone who thinks clearly that these punishments and policies are excessive by their very nature, and excess is never just, as Aristotle taught us in his Nicomachean Ethics.
Fourth, in each of the lengthy supporting article (or articles), a Biblical view on these infractions of moral law and civil law is presented. One of the reasons that we all sense that these Islamic punishments are harsh and excessive is that Christianity has also filled the globe. New Testament Christianity, when properly understood and followed, offers humanity dignity. Further, Christians honor and revere the Old Testament as inspired by God in its own era, and they can learn timeless truths from it, but they also believe that Jesus Christ has fulfilled this sacred text, so people no longer have to be stoned to death for a sin like adultery. Sins are dealt with in a new way under the New Covenant—forgiveness and restoration.
Fifth, we must answer a Muslim strategy. A Muslim missionary, who believes that Islam is the best religion in the world and who wants it to spread around the globe, attempted to refute this top ten list. But attempting to refute such a list is like reviewing a long, long book only from the last chapter. The reviewer has skipped over the hard work of reading all of the chapters. In the same way, the Muslim polemicist has skipped over the hard work found in the back-up articles (see the second introductory point, above). This top ten list is only a summary of many articles and a lot of strenuous labor from the present author and many other authors. The answers to the missionary’s criticisms are found in all of these articles. So he must refute all of them before he has earned the right to reply to a mere summary. Plus, in his abbreviated response, he whitewashes Islam either deliberately or unknowingly, which means that he does not know his own religion or he knows it, but covers it up. Whatever the case, the truth about ALL of Islam must get out.
"Islam" in this article stands for Muhammad (and the Qur’an and reliable Traditions), the earliest Muslim leaders, and classical legal scholars.
Here are the top ten reasons why sharia or Islamic law is bad for all societies.
10. Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped.
In 2001, Iranian officials sentenced three men to flogging not only for illicit sex (see reason no. nine), but also for drinking alcohol.
After going through two previous confusing stages before coming down hard on drinkers and gamblers, the Qur’an finally prohibits alcohol and gambling in Sura 5:90-91; they do not prescribe the punishment of flogging, but the hadith does. This poor "criminal" was brought to Muhammad who became angry:
The Prophet felt it hard (was angry) and ordered all those who were present in the house, to beat him [the drinker dragged into Muhammad’s presence]. (Bukhari, Punishments, nos. 6774-6775 (online source; see the one just above, and the others below the one directly linked)
Thus, we see no offer of help for the alcoholic, when he is dragged before Muhammad and his followers. Why does Muhammad not offer rehabilitation? Why does he always seem to go immediately to corporal punishment?
The later classical legal rulings follow the Qur’an and the hadith, so we do not need to examine them here.
It is sometimes argued that Islamic countries are pure, whereas the West is decadent. No one can argue with this latter claim, but are Islamic countries pure? The Supplemental Material, below, demonstrates that Islamic countries still have drinking and gambling in them.
Here is the article that supports this tenth point and that analyzes the confusing Qur’anic verses on drinking and gambling. It also analyzes the hadith and later legal rulings.
9. Islam allows husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives.
In 2004, Rania al-Baz, who had been beaten by her husband, made her ordeal public to raise awareness about violence suffered by women in the home in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi television aired a talk show that discussed this issue. Scrolling three-fourths of the way down the link, the readers can see an Islamic scholar holding up sample rods that husbands may use to hit their wives.
The Qur’an says:
4:34… If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)
The hadith says that Muslim women in the time of Muhammad were suffering from domestic violence in the context of confusing marriage laws:
Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" (Bukhari)
This hadith shows Muhammad hitting his girl-bride, Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr: Muslim no. 2127: "He [Muhammad] struck me [Aisha] on the chest which caused me pain."
It is claimed that Islamic societies have fewer incidents of fornication and adultery because of strict laws or customs, for example, women wearing veils over their faces or keeping separate from men in social settings. But these results of fewer incidents of sexual "crimes" may have unanticipated negative effects in other areas, such as the oppression of women. Generally, sharia restricts women’s social mobility and rights, the more closely sharia is followed. For example, in conservative Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars. In Iran, the law oppresses women. For instance, women’s testimony counts half that of men, and far more women than men are stoned to death for adultery.
Here is the supporting article for the ninth point. It has a long list of different translations of Sura 4:34, in order to resolve confusion over this verse, circulating around the web. The article has many links that demonstrate the oppression of women under Islamic law (scroll down to "Further discussion").
8. Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge—physical eye for physical eye.
In 2005, an Iranian court orders a man’s eye to be removed for throwing acid on another man and blinding him in both eyes.
The Qur’an says:
5:45 And We ordained therein for them: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wounds equal for equal. But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation. And whosoever does not judge by that which Allah has revealed, such are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers…). (Hilali and Khan, the Noble Qur’an, Riyadh: Darussalam, 1996)
This passage allows for an indemnity or compensation instead of imposing the literal punishment of eye for an eye. No one should have a quarrel with this option. According to the hadith, the plaintiff also has the option to forgive, and this is legitimate, provided a judge oversees the process. The problem is the literal law of retaliation.
The hadith and later legal rulings demonstrate that this excessive option was actually carried out, as do the three modern examples linked above.
Please go here for the supporting article that cites the hadith and later legal rulings.
Islamic law calls all of humanity to march backwards 1,400 years BC and to re-impose the old law of retaliation—literally, though the evidence suggests that the Torah never intended the law to be carried out literally, as the supporting article demonstrates. Muhammad’s understanding of the Torah was incomplete and confused.
7. Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off.
Warning! This short article has photos of severed hands. The reader should never lose sight of the fact that this punishment is prescribed in the Qur’an, the eternal word of Allah. It does not exist only in the fevered imagination of a violent and sick radical regime like the Taliban, which once ruled in Afghanistan.
Warning! This page has photos of thieves getting their hands chopped off. They also show beheadings.
This news report shows a man getting his hand chopped off in Nigeria.
A Saudi cleric justifies chopping off hands here.
The Qur’an says:
5:38 Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done—a deterrent from God: God is almighty and wise. 39 But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, God will accept his repentance: God is most forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)
At first glance, verse 39 seems to accept repentance before the thief’s hand is cut off. But the hadith states emphatically that repentance is acceptable only after mutilation. Muhammad himself says that even if his own daughter, Fatima, were to steal and then intercede that her hand should not be cut off, he would still have to cut it off (Bukhari, Punishments, no. 6788; online source)
This hadith ( no. 792) repeats that a woman’s hand was cut off, even though some interceded for her so that she would not suffer from this atrocity. Muhammad says she must be punished regardless of this request. Islam means business.
This is a parallel hadith in Muslim ( no. 4187). Scroll a little above to view the section title. Also, note the hadith below this linked one.
The early legal scholar Malik says that cutting off a hand is obligatory even if the thief returns the stolen item or intercession is made on his behalf before the Caliph: Here and here.
If the reader would like to see more hadith passages, modern defenses of this indefensible punishment (and a refutation of them), and the Biblical solution to theft, they should click on this long supporting article.
6. Islam commands that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated.
In September 2003, Scotsman Sandy Mitchell faced crucifixion in Saudi Arabia. He was beaten and tortured until he confessed to a crime he did not commit: a bomb plot masterminded by the British embassy. The article says of this punishment that it is the worst kind of execution and that two have been carried out in the last twenty years.
In 2002 Amnesty International reports that even though Saudi Arabia ratified the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture) in October 1997, amputation is prescribed under both Hudud (punishments) and Qisas (law of retaliation). Amnesty International has recorded thirty-three amputations and nine cross-amputations where the alternate hand or foot is mutilated.
The Qur’an says:
5:33 Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter, 34 unless they repent before you overpower them: in that case bear in mind that God is forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)
It may be difficult to accept, but the hadith says that Muhammad tortured these next people before he executed them. This scenario provides the historical context of Sura 5:33-34. The explanations in parentheses have been added by the translator:
Narrated Anas: Some people . . . came to the Prophet and embraced Islam . . . [T]hey turned renegades (reverted from Islam) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels away . . . The Prophet ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron, and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterized, till they died. (Bukhari, Punishments, no. 6802; online source; see the hadith above and below this linked one)
The next hadith reports that the renegades died from bleeding because Muhammad refused to cauterize their amputated limbs. Then the hadith after that one reports that the renegades were not given water, so they died of thirst. They probably died of both causes: thirst and loss of blood.
See this short article for details on another example of Muhammad’s use of torture. These articles also analyze the use of torture practiced and endorsed by Muhammad. This one discusses the torture of a city treasurer to find out where wealth was hidden. And this one has more details on the torturous deaths of the Arab tribesmen.
Islamic law says that these punishments are imposed for highway robbery, and in some cases crucifixion does not need a murder before it is imposed.
For more information on Muhammad’s brutality and the barbaric laws that flow out of it, go to the back-up article. This article, also a back-up, explains Sura 5:33 and other tortures in early Islam, inflicted by Muhammad himself. So these two articles and the three above, serve as the back-up articles.
Continues in Part II