September 18, 2008

Current Thought – Devilish

One characteristic of the month of Ramadan in Egypt is the family gatherings. I come from a very big family, my father has 8 brothers and sisters so you can imagine the number of cousins I have. Add wives, husbands and you will end up with a small tribe.
So, in one of those gatherings one of my uncles decided to analyze the similarities between those 9 brothers and sisters in a try to find which of us (the sons and daughters) resemble them.
After an hour of back and forth talking between the uncle and the aunts and giggles from the sons and daughters side my uncle said that the only thing in common between them will always be the religious background. He said that they were raised religiously, and he hopes that they have passed that way of life to us.
His words reminded me with something that my father once said about the way he raised us. He said that the most important thing that makes him rest assured that we, me and my brothers, will choose the right direction is that he raised us on religion.
I am not sure if I ever questioned that religious background. As I have said before, religion is one of the few things in life that I take for granted. Occasionally I would have caught myself guilty of questioning the essence of faith, I am a Muslim and a believer that Islam is a great religion and I am also a believer that religion is all about accepting the unknown and this is exactly what usually leads me to what I call my devilish thoughts.
One of the most recent devilish thoughts came to me after a talk with one of my uncle’s wife. She went to
Umrah right before me so in another Ramadan family gathering we chit chatted about our experiences there. And then she popped the question, have you seen those black women with amputated hands. I replied, I didn’t really notice. I noticed that there were lots of black female beggars in the streets of Mecca and I even noticed them in the Friday prayers in Medina. She then started telling me a story about another black woman who was dragged by police officers. She said that the woman was screaming and crying to the extent that she almost cried for the woman’s misery. I wondered what she might have done to be dragged that way.
She commented she might have been stealing and this explains her screams as you know they cut off the thief’s hand in Saudi Arabia.
Then the talk got drifted to other things. Later that night as I started recalling what happened through the day I remembered what she said and some how I related to the scenes she described. I remembered those black women with amputated hands asking for money in the streets and in the mosque itself. I never thought these missing hands are the sign of their crime. And when I finally related I couldn’t keep that devilish thought away.
In Islamic Law, there are penalties called “
Hudud” and in Islam the penalty of theft is amputating the thief’s hand. Something that I never questioned before, I even remember that I have argued that maybe amputating the thief’s hand is the best way to stop people from stealing till I started recalling the pictures of those women and the only thing that I can think of is that they have turned them into nothing but beggars. They are women, ignorant and poor. They must have stolen out of need. And though in Islam petty thieves are to be exempted of that penalty I doubt that anyone considered any of these women petty thieves. And even if they weren’t petty thieves, I believe that amputating their hand should never be the solution because it is not a way of reform. When you cut off someone’s hand, you turn a healthy person to an impaired person. What type of job could a person do with his dominant hand amputated, given that this person is ignorant and poor and at the best he will only be capable of physical jobs?
What if this person was caught at his first theft? Can we punish someone on a non-recurring mistake that severe punishment? Even those calls to only amputate three fingers in the first theft, does this count as mercy?
Umar Ibn El Khattab, canceled the theft penalty in the time of starvation, which can be compared to our current days where scarcity is the norm. He withheld that penalty because the Islamic state who was responsible of the fair distribution of resources couldn’t maintain that job. So how dare current governments who enforce Islamic law apply that penalty in the time they don’t do the same function? I can understand cutting off the hands of big thieves who steal directly and indirectly from innocent people. Gangs that live of theft, gang leaders and old members who take theft as a profession, but casual thieves? Poor thieves who steal to support families?
I am not talking about the cruelty of the act, as they amputate hands while the person is conscious as if the amputation itself isn’t punishment enough but I am talking about the rationalism of application. It such penalties are almost performed on small thieves because they are the most likely to get caught I believe that these governments should start reconsidering the cases where such a severe punishment should be applicable to have what so called preventive effect.
I believe that there should be some Islamic reform. It is not possible to stick to interpretations that are more than 10 centuries old in the time we have proofs that thinking outside the box was common back then.
I believe if Umar Ibn El Khatab lived our time he would have canceled lots of these punishments. Because you can’t put the man who steal a pound with the man who steal millions. You can’t simply cut off the first man’s hand because he was dumb enough to get caught while labeling the other one as a businessman because he is indirectly stealing.
A chance to repent and be reformed should be given to those who committed minor mistakes. Minor means a crime that didn’t form a threat on the community and only for once because a recurring crime is a threat to a community regardless how small it is.
I mean that those governments applying the Islamic law should give them a chance to live healthy and productive instead of being impaired and beggars.


insomniac said...

i have a couple of incoherent remarks here...

i've been told (wallahu a3lam) that the concept of amputation being such a severe punishment was to make 3ebra out of he/she who steals.... you know the same way religion did not grant illegitimate children acknowledge from their fathers!

i would completely understand that... EXCEPT, people no longer get affected, mabya3taberoosh!! and even worse, those who get punished are those who do not have a way around the law or connections to stop the penalty.... i am guessing by black women that they were not saudi women, but rather women from an african ethnicity, no? even within saudi society, i am sure there are men and women who steal, and by steal i don't mean to make the day but out of greed, lust or even mania, do they get punished???

and like the notorious 7ennawy case in the egyptian court, attention was given, legal and religious opinions were highly challenged basically because of the reputation of parties involved!!! did any of the highly respected egyptian court officials stop and give further care to the everyday rape cases that resulted in children who had no fathers!!!

i think our arab islamic society sucks in so many ways mostly because rules are only applied to those who cannot get around them; the essence of justice disappeared taking away a whole bunch of morals and proper behavior...

and here you are ya shimz comparing our times with sayedna umar ibn el khatab radya Allah 3anh :) wake up dear, his times were cruel times in so many ways, but in no way does it compare to here and now!

long comment and might be a little incoherent, apologies :)

insomniac said...

oh, i forgot to mention that i meant to say that it's not the religion or its rules that need to be changed, it's the people, how they perceive and practice it... because i think we have already managed to change religion from what it was supposed to be!!

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Inso :)

First, I really love long comments because that means that whatever I have written has raised many issures to discuss, something that rarely happen ;)

Yes, the concept of severe punshiments is mainly to grant prevention of such crimes. People are supposed to fear to get punished that way and that's supposed to be enough to prevent such crimes from re-occuring. Which isn't really the case. And as in any system those who get punished are those who are stupid enought to get caught. If such a penalty was protective you wouldn't have heard the list of warnings of thiefs before the Hajj season. I believe that those who
The idea that ruling by the book in Islam means that there is no chance for rehabiliation is really scary because it is supposed to be a merciful religion, or at least this is how we muslim sell it. So how come a mercuful religion doesn't have a clause so that who commit a minor mistake once can have a chance to live decently.

I believe that our times are crueler than Umar times, those people embraced Islam while the prophet was among them, telling them what's right and what's wrong. They had the "sa7aba" who weren't scared to think outside the box. Now people are scared to think, they are stuck with old interpretations that fitted the medival times. You can even hear people calling to get back to these times so that the interpretations fit.

If we managed to change religion from what is supposed to be, so I am right to ask for reform. So that we can get religion back to what it is supposed to be.

I don't think that the fierce attack on Islam is all bad, but maybe it is God's way to save His religion by guiding us to new ways of thinking.

Sherif said...

Dear Shimaa,

I know the controversy will never stop on Hudud.

Neverthless, things change with the progressing delicay of human and the ever advance on this road.

In the past, feelings were blunt that punishement was only effective through physical torture that comes up to sacrificing man's life itself.

Evidences are numerous, 3arous el nile in the Pharaonic era, the Romans were enjoying the fight between a man and a lion especially the last scene where this lion mutilates that man into pieces or even between two men where, with a sign from the king, the winner stabs and kills the loser where the audience cheer with joys, but no pitty.

Nowadays, even bull fighting in Spain and Mexico is banned. Doesn't it tell you something that a human of the contemporary age can no longer tolerate the scene of torture and blood shed even to an animal?

It was not surprising when God himself questioned Prophet Ibrahim's faith by asking him to slaughter his son Ismail, or that Abdul Motaleb vowed to sacrifice his tenth son if it turns to be a male. Hudud also included the highest possible pain for those who corrupt on earth by introducing the cross mutilation of their limbs.

All we can say this were the general features of the old eras.

Omar Ibn El Khattab was genious enough to accomodate hudud with the circumstances implied by the situation .. he stopped paying zakah to mo2alafa koloobohom, and stopped all hudud during 3am el ramada.

Notice that in the Quoran God didn't give any exception. He simply worked up his mind, and chose whatever suits the situation. But if you argue with any of the scholars of shari3a today they will just say " This is Omar, can you be Omar?" as if Omar was sacred or prophet.

Omar was just a human, the only difference is that he was strong and confident enough to think and decide, but they don't.

It maybe well that you have two sons, but you treat them differently cause one is thick , and the other is so sensitive. You come up to the same conclusion by punishing each with the same amount of pain, whether psychologically or physically.

The wisdom is to rectify a whole society, not to terrify it. And as you said in your post, results never proved any benefit.
Set aside rushing into committing foolishness in the name of Islam without even validating the verdict as no suit takes place.

Again, these are the spells of bedouin sand storms and I think Egypt was way ahead compared to those, and it never applied these rules and remember, those scholars in the arab peninsula as well as their ancestors have learned in Egypt. Their problem is that they started to develop their own.

It is a pitty they kept living 1400years back. What can you do except praying for them to know the wisdom beyond everything

يؤتى الحكمة من يشاء ومن أوتى الحكمة فقد أوتى شيئا كثيرا

صدق الله العظيم

Regards to you

Anonymous said...

In response to your comments about the women's missing hands, and in response to Sherif's comment about God asking Abraham to kill his son--God tested Abraham's faith and in turn of faithfulness, God provided a scapegoat--the Lamb of God--that would take the place of Abraham's son as a sacrafice to compensate for wrongdoings.

In response to the stoning of a woman, Jesus said, "Let he who has no sin cast the 1st stone," and no one cast a stone then because everyone realized that sin is sin at any level--it all saddens God--and no one is without sin.

God gave me Jesus to be the scapegoat. Like Abraham, I have been provided with God's sacrificial Lamb which takes away my sin. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me."

I pray for Christians and Muslims all over the world. There are 6.7 billion of God's children walking all around this world who do not understand the amazing mercy and grace of God's love shown to us. He showed how He wanted people to live through the example of the life of Jesus. If you follow the covenant of the law, you will be judged according to God's covenant of the law. If you follow His later covenant of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, you will be judged as blameless and clean from sin because of what you believe in your heart Jesus has done for you.

The women with their hands cut off are victims of man's abuse of power and law. Jesus said there were 2 greater commandments than the law...."Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength," and "Love your neighbors as yourself."

As a 23 year old, Jesus changed my life and changed my ways. Before I knew His life, teachings, death, and resurrection, I was hopeless. Now I know I have a place in Heaven and that God loves me and has prepared a place in Heaven for me. This I can be assured of. I am at peace, and I live a better life not because I try to do better, but because I live better filled with His abundant grace and love and peace.
May God's blessings be revealed to you today too.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Anonymous (though I would really like to call you by your name)
I am so happy that you have found your way to God, and that you have got to the point of peace.
I agree those women with their hands cut off are victims of man not God. They are victims of ignorance and misunderstanding of God’s will.

May God bless you and fill your life with light

Anonymous said...

انا بقرا البوست اول حاجه جت على بالي هي لما عمر ابن الخطاب استعمل واحد على بلد تقريبا دمشق

بصراحه لا فاكر البلد ولا فاكر الشخص بس الي فاكره هو الحوار الي دار بينهم

سأله عمر: تعمل ايه لو حد سرق عندك
رد هو: اقطع يده
فرد عمر: وقال له عظيم لكن انا حقطع يدك لو كان في حد معندوش شغل في البلد

هو ده الكمن الوحيد الي عندي

شكرا على البوست الرائع ده


Shimaa Gamal said...

Thanks for your words Omar :)

It seems that we have the best role model in Omar Ibn El Khatab but some how everyone seems to forget what did that great man do.

Have a great day my dear