Theft in Islam

Islam disapproves of theft and forbids it. There are severe punishments for theft. In the eyes if Islam it is mandatory to punish the thief in order to forbid people committing the same mistake. Allah forgives those who rent their mistakes, therefore if a person commits stealing but repents his mistake he will be surely forgiven by Allah. The verse in Quran which signifies this is

“The male thief, and the female thief, you shall mark, cut, or cut-off their hands/means as a recompense for what they earned, and to serve as a deterrent from God. God is Noble, Wise. Whoever repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, then God will relent on him. Truly, God is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 5:38-39).

The first ayat of the verse suggests chopping off the hands of any women or men who have been caught in the action of theft. But actually there are three possible ways to punish the criminal (1) cutting off their hands, or (2) cutting or marking their hands, or (3) cutting their means to steal, or cutting their hands from committing the crime. It is up to the society to choose one of these meanings or a combination of them depending on the severity of the crime and their ability to enforce the penalty. The following are the conditions which must be met in order to establish the penalty of theft:

  • The one who steals is sane
  • He has reached puberty
  • The theft itself has to be proven, either by the testimony of two qualified witnesses or by the confession of the thief twice.
  • He steals equivalent to the amount (nisab) or more. The Nisab is one Dinar or ten Dirhams (i.e. 4.374 grams of gold). The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

There is no cutting (of hands) for stealing that is less then ten Dirhams (Musnad Ahmad).

 

If these conditions are fulfilled, then the hand must be cut off or any prescribed punishment must be given to the thief. Allaah says (what means):

“Then is it the judgment of [the time of] ignorance they desire? But who is better than Allah in judgment for a people who are certain [in faith].” [Quran 5:50] 

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