Is the Punishment for Stealing in Islam Cutting Off One’s Hand?

Islam is a realistic religion. Islam doesn’t always give just one ruling no matter what the situation is. If an Islamic court orders a thief’s hand to be cut off, there is a very strict criteria that has to be met. First of all, the stolen property has to be something of worth. It also has to have a certain value to it. It’s not like someone’s hand would be cut off for stealing a lollipop; rather, the value should be above three Islamic dirhams or a quarter of one Islamic dinar, which would have to be equivalent to the currencies people use today. The thief has to be an adult, of sound mind, not drunk, nor insane, and committed the crime out of his own free will, without coercion. If none of these criteria are met, the penalty isn’t implemented. If they stole because they are poor and hungry, the penalty isn’t implemented. If it has been more than a month since the crime has occurred, the penalty isn’t implemented. If the thief is a uterine relative or the spouse of the person they stole from, the penalty isn’t implemented. The theft itself has to be proven, either by testimony of two qualified, upright witnesses who do not disagree nor retract their testimony, or by the confession of the thief twice. Moreover, the person from whom the property was stolen from has to ask for it back; if he does not, then the thief’s hand does not have to be cut off. And on top of all of this, there are even more conditions that have to be met in order for this punishment to actually take place. Therefore, one can see that some of the reasons that Allah puts these punishments in place is as a deterrent and to protect the people, but as for the criteria that has to be met, it is extremely strict. Nevertheless, having such a strong deterrent surely would make this world a better place and prevent so many of the crimes that happen today. In America, about every 20 seconds, a burglary offense occurs, with thousands of thefts occurring daily, and millions by the year. By the time you’ve read this paragraph, about 5 burglaries already happened, and this doesn’t even include other thefts, and all of this is just in America! Additionally, in the United States, about 715 burglaries happen per 100,000 population, while in Saudi Arabia, it is 0.1; in other words, the burglaries in the US are about 7,150 times more likely to happen than in Saudi Arabia. People can lose everything that they worked hard for in the matter of seconds. Allah is the King of Kings, He is the One who made us, therefore, He knows what is best for us, and He knows that having such a strong deterrent against theft is what is best for us.

And Allah knows best.