Crime and Punishment-Islam



Justice is fair treatment or behaviour. In terms of punishment, Muslims would understand justice to be the fair treatment of a person according to the crime they have committed. 

Importance of justice for Muslims: 

  • Justice is a key idea promoted in the Qu'ran-"God commands justice"
  • Shari'ah law has strict rules about justice and acting fairly. 
  • The Five Pillars support ideas of justice (e.g. Zakah-sharing wealth makes society fairer). 
  • Muslims believe that justice is important to Allah and this is what he intended for his creation.
  • Muslims will be judged in the afterlife on how they treated others, so they should always act fairly and in a just way. 

Non-religious attitudes to justice: 

  • It means fairness has been applied.
  • Everyone involved feels the appropriate action has been taken in response to what has happened.
  • Ideas of equality can be upheld that are important to all people, regardless of religion.
  • Muslims would agree, although they would refer to Islamic teachings of key beliefs in Islam as reasons why they are significant. 
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Muslims teaching about the problem of crime: 

  • Allah orders justice. "Allah orders justice and good conduct...he forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression." 
  • Crime is a distraction from Allah. "Intoxicants, gambling...are but defilement from the work of Satan."
  • The ummah is important and there is a duty to look after and help others, especially those involved in crime or affected by crime. 
  • It is important to follow the example of Muhammad who taught the importance of living a good life and not committing crimes. 
  • Islam teaches that all humans were made equal by Allah and deserve to be treated fairly and not hurt by others. 

Muslims actions to end crime

  • Muslims Chaplains' Association: it supports Muslim chaplains working in prisons, works towards resettling prisoners when released, provides support and mentoring both within and outside the system. 
  • Mosaic: Established in 2007, Mosaic supports people of all backgrounds growing up in deprived communities. They have a young offenders' programme linking people with role models to assist in supporting them. 
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Good, evil and suffering

  • "Evil and suffering is not a problem if you believe in God." 
  • "The one who purifies his soul succeed and the one who corrupts it fails." 

Good actions and reward: Helping and caring and leading a good life. Rewards is an afterlife in al-Jannah. Evil actions and punishment: Carrying out evil acts such as committing crimes. Punishment is an afterlife in Jahannam-a place where unbelievers face terrible torments. 

Non-religious attitudes to suffering: 

  • Evil and suffering are not punishments.
  • We have no control over some evils like natural disasters.
  • The existence of evil and suffering is evidence there is no God. 
  • Humans make their own choices and should take responsibility for their actions. 
  • There is no afterlife, so they don't believe in the judgement of God. 

Divergent Muslim responses to why people suffer: 

  • Suffering is a part of Allah's plan.
  • Suffering is a test of faith and character. 
  • Suffering is a reminder of sin and the revelation of Allah. 
  • Some suffering is due to human action.
  • Good can come from suffering. 
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  • "Cut off the hand of thieves."-"an eye for an eye" 

Nature of punishment and divergent opinion: In the UK, the law is made by parliament and crimes are judged in courts of law. In many Islamic countries, the law is derived from the Qu'ran and the courts refer to Shari'ah law-this was established when society was very different. For example amputation of the hand is considered by Western law and society completely inappropriate. This can lead to differences of opinion. 

Punishment is justice-this enables the victim to gain retribution. 

Why punishment is needed in society: (Islam)

  • maintain law and society 
  • set the expected behaviour of society
  • give a chance for offenders to mend their ways, but to also keep the victims safe.
  • give a chance for offenders to reflect on the impact of their crime on others.

Importance of punishment to Muslims: 

  • Build a peaceful society as Allah intended, by creating a stable society and preventing further crimes.
  • Give offenders the chance to change their behaviour.
  • Make some amends for the crime committed. 
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Aims of punishment

  • "Allah wants to accept your repentance." 
  • "Allah wants to guide you to the good practices of those before you."
  • Protection: to protect society from dangerous criminals by keeping them away from society so they can't hurt others. Muslims strongly support this idea, believing that the protection of society is of paramount importance.
  • Retribution: Punishment should make criminals pay for what they have done wrong. Muslims believe they should try to achieve this by giving a punishment that enables justice to be achieved.
  • Deterrence: To discourage someone from doing something against the law. Punishment may stop someone committing the same crime or seeing someone else punished for a crime might put someone off doing that action. Muslims believe deterring others from committing the same crime again reduces crime in society and maintains order and justice-therefore they support it.
  • Reformation: Punishment should show the criminal what they have done wrong and give then time to change so they do not repeat the offence.This could mean education or providing jobs and skills. Forgiveness is important and Islam teaches that Allah is forgiving, his followers should also try to apply this to their lives.

Qu'ranic teachings about punishment:

  • The Qu'ran gives specific instructions for particular crimes. This shows the use of punishment as a means of reforming the criminal, as they will not want the punishment to happen to them again. Stricter punishments are considered a last resort.
  • Muslims believe that punishment establishes peace and justice on Earth as Allah intended.  
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  • "Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." 

Nature and importance of forgiveness: 

  • Allah is compassionate and merciful and forgives people fo Muslims should too.
  • If a person truly repents, then they should be forgiven.
  • People should try to forgive those who have wronged, as Muhammad taught. 
  • Islam is a religion of peace.
  • A killer may be forgiven if the pay compensation to e family (Qu'ran). 
  • On the Day of Judgement people will be judged on their behaviour and those who repent will be forgiven. 

Being forgiven by the community is important for offenders because...

  • Reintegrated into society
  • Gain skills and education from the punishment 
  • Carry out community service to make amends for wrong
  • Ease tensions in the community because victims can see justice has been done
  • A way of protecting the ummah

Restorative justice-an attempt to bring together the offender and victim of a crime to try and restore peace and allow people to heal. 

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Treatment of criminals

  • " And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan and the captive." 

Muslims teachings: The Qu'ran teaches that everyone has done wrong and is being kept captive deserves to be treated in the correct, human way, e.g. a fair trial. Muslims believe in justice and believe that criminal should be given the chance to reform. Some Muslims, however, may believe that if someone has done wrong, their freedoms and human rights should be limited. Shari'ah law is very clear about those who have been convicted being given punishments.

Muslims beliefs:

  • Human rights-they believe all humans have equal rights, although they do accept that criminals deserve punishment for their crimes.This may involve the removal of some human rights, e.g. freedom-being put in prison.
  • Fair trial-Muslims believe justice is important and criminals have the right to a fair trial where both sides are considered. They believe it is important that the laws of the state are recognised and upheld.
  • Trial by jury-Trials need to be conducted fairly so a jury would work to achieve this.
  • Use of torture: To inflict any pain is wrong. Even though criminals have done wrong, they are still human and deserve fair and respectful treatment. As all humans were created by Allah and should be treated respectfully.
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The death penalty

  • In the Hadith, it suggests that the death penalty can be used for crimes of murder and for Muslims who refuse to do their Islamic duty."
  • The Qu'ran also indicates that the death penalty can be for crimes of r*pe, homosexual acts and apostasy (when someone works against Islam). 

The purpose of Capital Punishment:

  • To offer a punishment for the most severe crimes committed.
  • To act as a deterrent for other criminals.
  • To make victims feel as though punishment has been given and to offer closure for families.
  • To make sure that the offender cannot commit the crime again.
  • To give a chance for the offender to repent by facing up to what they have done.

Non-religious attitudes:

Humanist and atheists generally oppose the use of the death penalty, as they believe premeditated murder is wrong-even when carried out by the state. When situation ethics is applied, however, some may believe capital punishment might be better.

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Muslims attitudes towards the death penalty

In support:

  • The Qu'ran says the death penalty can be used for certain crimes
  • Muhammad made statements suggesting he agreed
  • When Muhamad was the ruler of Medinah, he sentenced people to death for murder


  • The scholars of the Shari'ah law do not agree when or how the death penalty should be used-differences in opinion
  • The Qu'ran states that capital punishment is one option, but not the only one
  • Strict conditions given by the Qu'ran are not often met
  • Life is special and sacred and it is not the place of humans to take it away
  • If there is no capital punishment in the country they live in, then they accept this law

Muslims teachings: In the Hadith, it suggests that the death penalty can be used for the crimes of murder and for Muslims who refuse to do their Islamic duty. The Qu'ran indicates that the death penalty can be for crimes of r*pe, homosexual acts and apostasy.

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