Rare Justice: Judgements, Decisions and Answers to Difficult Questions part 7

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Confession

 Confession by a Man of Having Committed Adultery
It has been reported that a man once came to
Hazrat Ali (A) and confessed that he had committed adultery and requested
him to purify him of his sin, but Hazrat Ali (A) turned his face to another
direction. The man stood up again and said: “Ya Ali. ! I have committed
adultery.”Hazrat Ali (A) again turned his face from his side to another direction
and engaged himself in talking with some other people present there. But
the man once again addressed Hazrat Ali (A) in the same way, confessed
again before him of having committed adultery and requested Hazrat Ali
(A) earnestly to purify him of his sin.
Hazrat Ali (A) asked him:
“Why are you saying this”?
“For purification of my sin”, said the man. At first Hazrat Ali (A) said
without addressing any man in particular:
“Why people dont’ hide their own sins as Allah hides them …from the
eyes of other people?
The second time when the man requested him again to purify him of his
sin, Hazrat Ali (A) remarked:
“What else is there which is better than penitence? When the man
stressed the point for the third time, Hazrat Ali (A) told him that if he
repeated his words of confession once again he would have to punish him as
had been ordered by Allah;
But when the man, despite the warning by Hazrat Ali (A), repeated the
words of confession once again, he asked him as to whether he was
physically sound and if his mind was working all right.
When the man replied in the affirmative, Hazrat Ali (A) said to him.
“All right, let me make an enquiry about the soundness of your brain at
my own as you have told me now. Therefore, you better wait a bit and come
to me after some time when I have completed my enquiry.”
After Amir-ul-Momineen Hazrat Ali (A) had made his private enquiry
about the soundness of the man’s brain and it proved to be in proper form
the man appeared before him again and insisted on the punishment for his
above mentioned crime and for his purification thereby.
Hazrat Ali (A) then asked the people to gather next day outside Kufa
with the condition that all of them had each a veil on their faces.
On the subsequent day when most of the residents of Kufa had collected
outside the city of Kufa, Hazrat Ali (A) addressed them as follows:-
“O the people of Kufa! You have all collected and come here to witness
this man to be stoned to death, but I bind you in the name of Allah to do so
only if none of you has committed a crime for which punishment was
necessary.”
Hearing the above words of Hazrat Ali (A) most of the spectators left the
scene. But according to the report of Kulaini (may the peace of Allah be on
him) only three persons were left on the scene. They were Hazrat Ali (A)
himself and his two sons, Hazrat Imam Hasan (A) and Hazrat Imam Husain
(A). When all other people had left, Hazrat Ali (A) hit the man with a big
and heavy stone first, sounding the words or ‘Takbir’ (God is the greatest of
all). Thereafter, Hazrat Imam Hasan and Hazrat Imam Husain (A) hit him
with stones turn by turn till the man was dead and his soul (in all
probability) had reached paradise.
Therefore, Hazrat Ali (A) pulled the dead body of the man out of the
ditch which was dug previously for the purpose of stoning him to death,
brought him to the city of Kufa, led his funeral prayer and buried him.When people asked him as to why he had not given him the last bath,
Hazrat Ali (A) replied as under:
“The patience he manifested while being stoned to death gave him such a
bath of purity that he did not require any bath thereafter “ (Biharul Anwar,
vol. 9 p. 494 through Abu Turab (Urdu) by Allama Jazairi, vol. 2, pp. 129-
l32).

Conditions of Confession
Besides mentioning the perfect frame of mind, freedom to confess or not
to confess and maturity as conditions of confession Hazrat Ali (A) has also
said:
“If an accused in some case of theft admits to have committed the crime
in question his hand is not to be cut off” (Wafi, vol. 9, p. 64).
Cases of Theft
Allama Jazairi (need not remove the following explanation as it does not
create fiqhi complications for common man)who has rendered the above
story from Arabic into urdu has added the following explanation to it:- “In
Islam the punishment for committing theft is the cutting
off the hand. This is such a nice commandment of Allah in the ‘Holy
Quran’ that in almost all the cases the possibility of repetition of the offence
ends with it. Moreover a thief is always easily recognized thereafter and
wherever this practice is in force people very seldom dare commit the
offence.”
“However”, says the Allama, the question which arises with regard to the
punishment itself is that whether the hand of the thief should be cut off from
the wrist, the elbow or the forearm? Because the ‘Holy Quran’ is silent after
the main verse in this regard, i.e., “Cut off the hand of the thief, male or
female.” “Those”, explains the Allama, “who argue in favour of cutting off
the hand of the thief upto the wrist only cite the verse of the ‘Holy Quran’
wherein the word ‘hand’ applies upto that portion only, while some others
cite another verse of the Holy Book regarding ablution the word hand
precedes the words
“upto the elbow.”
‘Therefore, the second group of theologians have recommended that the
hand of a thief should be cut “upto” the elbow, which in the arabic language,
at times, means “including.”
There seems some major shortfall/mistake in quoting from the Urdu
book. Since, I do not have the original Urdu book with me I cannot cross
check. Please compare and corect.
Proceeding further with his explanation regarding the orders of Hazrat
Ali (A) for cutting off the hand of the thief by which only four fingers were
cut off as in the case of the negro, AlIama Jazairi of Lahore has reproduced
(Abu Turab vol. 2, p. 113) the account of an incident from Muntahi-ulAma1 (vol. 2, p. 234) relating the same question, which once took place in
the court of Motasim Abbasi, the Abbasiad Caliph.
The incident described by the author of Muntahi-al-Amal and reproduced
by Allama Jazairi is as follows:
Once a thief was produced in the court of Motasim Abbasi and the thief
admitted that he had committed theft.“The Abbasiad Caliph turned to the theologians then present at the time
in his court and asked them as to what portion of the thief’s hand should be
cut off according to the religious law.”
“’One of the groups of theologians referred to the first verse of thc Holy
Quran mentioned above and another, to the second also cited above. Then,
the Caliph consulted Imam Muhammad Taqi (A) who also happened to be
present at that time in his court, and asked him as to what he had to say in
the matter.”
The Holy Imam (A) exclaimed:
“You have already heard what the two opposite groups of the theologians
have said about it.” But the caliph said to him: “I want your opinion, Sir”
“Thereupon, the Holy Imam (A) referred to the order of Hazrat Ali (A) in
that respect i.e., if only four fingers of the culprit are cut off, the
commandment of Allah in the Holy Quran is fulfifled”.
When called upon to explain his claim, the Holy Imam (A) elaborated the
point as follows ;
“In so far as the comments on the two verses of the Holy Quran by the
theologians present here are concerned, they are correct and quite relevant in
their respective places, but the words of the Holy Quran which were kept in
view by Hazrat Ali (A) while awarding punishment to a thief were neither
of the first verse nor of the second but of another verse which, I submit, has
escaped the sight of the honourable theologians present here.”
“The Holy Imam (A) recited the following verse of the ‘Holy Quran’:
“The parts (of the body) with which Sajdah (putting of head on the
ground while offering prayers to Allah) is perfonned are all for Allah.”
Explaining the above verse of the Holy Quran, Imam Muhammad Taqi (A)
said to Motasim Abbasi, the then Abbasiad Caliph:
“If besides the forehead, palms of both the hands are not used while
performing ‘Sajdah’ the ‘Sajdah’ would be incomplete and consequently the
prayers also. This is what is meant by th verse I have just recited and
followed by Hazrat Ali (A) when awarding punishment to a thief i.e.,
cutting off only four fingers of his or her hand”:
When enlightened by the Holy Imam (A) on the point of punishment to a
thief, Motasim did not only agree with the views presented to him by the
Holy Imam (A) but followed them and the thief concerned was awarded the
punishment accordingly.

The One Whose Hand is Amputated as Punishment for Committing
Theft
As reported by Imam Ja’far Sadiq (A) some thieves were brought to
Hazrat Ali (A). The thieves admitted their crime and Hazrat Ali (A) ordered
for cutting off their hands and when the order was carried out he said to
them:
“Your hands have gone to Hell. If you offer penitence and abstain from
committing theft in future, you can get them out, otherwise they will pull
you all there.” (Wafi, vol.
9, p. 66).

Acquital of an Accused Who Admitted His Crime of Theft.
A person came to Hazrat Ali (A) and admitted before him that he had
committed a theft. Hazrat Ali (A) asked him if he could read the Holy
Quran. The man said that he could read Surah Baqarah of Holy Book of
Allah.
Hazrat Ali (A) said to him: “I acquit you of the crime for the sake of that
part of the Holy Quran.”
Hearing these words of Hazrat Ali (A), Asha’s bin Qais who happened to
be present there said to him:
“Ya Ali’. Do you want to suspend the order passed by Allah for this
crime?”
Hazrat Ali (A) replied:
“O’ye ignorant t You do not know that an Imam who is just can acquit
the accused who admit their crime themselves, but if they do not and two
witnesses who are just and of good moral character are produced against
each of them, he cannot.
(Wafi, vol. 9, p. 78 through Abu Turab (Urdu), vol. 2, p. 118)

Slave Trade
A trafficker in children i.e., a man who used to pick up children from the
streets and then sell them as slaves was brought to Hazrat Ali (A). He
punished that criminal by cutting off his hand. (Wafi, vol. 9, p. 67).

Punishment for a Pickpocket
 A pick-pocket was once brought to Hazrat Ali (A) with the accusation
that he had picked the pocket of another person. Ali (A) said to the people
present before him,:
“If he has picked the inner pocket of this man his hand should be cut off
but in case he has picked the complainant’s outer pocket his hand should not
be cut off. (Wafi, vol. 9, p. 64).
Abulula: How is that the hand, the penalty of which is five hundred
Dinars is cut off for half Dinar only.

Committing Theft During Famine
It has been reported by Hazrat Imam Jafar Sadiq (A) that Hazrat Ali (A)
did not order for cutting off the hand of thief during a famine. ((Wafi, vol. 9,
p. 64).
. (Abu Turab (Urdu)
vol. 2, p. 126-27).

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