Capital punishment in Islam: Part 4

Read Previous prats of this series of articles:- Part One | Part Two | Part Three

| by Dr Rifal

(November 13,London, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is estimated that more than one third of Saudi population is migrant workers today in the Kingdom. Out 27 millions of Saudi population nearly 10 millions are migrant workers. Some of these migrant workers have been living in Saudi Kingdom for decades yet; they have not been given Saudi nationality and citizenship rights. They do not enjoy some basic rights as indigenous Saudi people do. They come from different parts of world. Some of them come from Muslim nations such as Egypt, Yemen, Palestine, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other third world Muslim countries. Some others come from Non-Muslim nations from many parts of world; some others come from Non-Muslim countries with large Numbers of Muslim minorities such as India, Philippines, Burma, Srilanka and other Muslim minority countries.
One more characteristic of Saudi legal system is that politics and religion are operating as separate entities. Saudi political leadership do have final sayings in some legal cases and sometimes, they pardon some convicted people yet, in some murder cases, they cannot intercede unless and until the relatives of victim’s family forgives or accepts blood money.
Most of people from these countries do not understand Saudi social and legal systems. These migrant workers are not properly inducted and introduced to Saudi culture, traditions, way life more importantly into Saudi legal system. Cultural awareness classes should be contacted for all these migrant workers prior to their arrival to Saudi Arabic. Unfortunately, No employment in these countries offer such comprehensive programs for the migrant workers who want to go to Saudi and even employers do not provide such service. They are expected to know all these issue themselves. This is really unfair. Consider for instance, Rizana Nafeek’s case. She was accused of killing a baby while she was bottle feeding her employer’s baby. She was a minor when this incident occurred and she was not trained professionally to work as a child minder. Yet, she was sentenced to death. What an unfair judgment is this. Under such circumstances, how could she be accused of intentionally murdering the baby? There may be thousands of people victimized like this.
Migrant workers are every much vulnerable and exposed to discrimination, exploitation and to all sort of harassment, violence and intimidation by at least some employers in Saudi Arabia. Some of migrant workers and housemaids are not paid their wages for years. There are many reported cases of physical abuses and tortures. Discrimination in employment and promotions are widely reported. For instance, A Qualified Doctor from European nations may draw more salary than a doctor with same qualification from any Asian country. Sometimes, Asian migrant workers with higher qualifications will have to get fewer salaries than their counterpart western nationals. Migrant workers are not allowed to take some jobs in certain governmental departments.
Moreover, some migrant workers have been living for many years and yet, they have not given permission and facilities to bring down their spouse from their native countries. Some of them do not given permission and leave to join their families annually. Some of these migrant workers do not have proper pension schemes. Women rights are restricted employment, education, politics and in other sphere of life. Political parties are banned and people are politically discriminated and are not allowed to express their views and opinions freely and openly. People are put behind bars because of their different political ideologies.
Islam gives the freedom of speech and freedom of expression yet, these freedoms are oppressed in the name of Islam in Saudi. Islam is all about social equality and social justice. Yet, in the name of Islam these basic social justice and equality are denied for millions of migrant workers in Saudi. Islam speaks human dignity and human respect and yet, in the name of Islam the same human dignity and human respects are violated in Saudi. Religion of Islam was revealed to the prophet Muhammad to free human being from slavery and subjugation yet, in the same name of religion people are enslaved and subjugated beyond imagination in our modern free world. The prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessing of Allah upon him) was sent down in the same land as a Mercy to humanity and yet, in the same land, cruelty and tortures are perpetrated. He came to the world to free Mankind from slavery and yet, these types of human slaveries are taking place in the same land he was born. When these types’ discriminations and injustice are taking place in these holy lands it is very difficult to digest by any Muslim.
One more characteristic of Saudi legal system is that politics and religion are operating as separate entities. Saudi political leadership do have final sayings in some legal cases and sometimes, they pardon some convicted people yet, in some murder cases, they cannot intercede unless and until the relatives of victim’s family forgives or accepts blood money. At the same time, Saudi religious scholars follow strict version of literal interpretation of Islamic legal thought. They follow Islamic law words to words literally in its application. The higher objectives of Islamic law are contrived by the classical Islamic scholars from punishment laws in Islam. Protection and promotion of faith, human life intellect, progeny, and wealth according to the classical Islamic scholars are higher objectives of Islamic laws. Crimes and offences that human beings commit, go against one or more elements of these fives constituents of higher objectives of Islamic law.
Moreover, according to Islamic legal philosophy, crimes, and offence are basic violation of public interest and welfare. To protect the long term and short term public interests and welfare the severe punishments are needed in some cases. These severe punishments work as deterrent mechanism. That is why some Islamic scholars argue that Islamic punishment is indeed, a mercy to the public in general. It may be harsh and severe punishment as far as convicted criminals are concerned. Yet, it is a mercy that protects the entire public from criminals and repetitive offenders. It is generally believed that Saudi scholars and jurist consults are highly qualified and well trained in Islamic laws. No doubt that they are highly qualified people and they apply Islamic law with good intention and with firm conviction that they apply divine laws as they have been asked by divine instructions. Such good intentions and firm convictions would not be good enough they do not have excellent legal procedures and scientific investigation mechanism supported modern forensic science.
This is the basic argument of these scholars. They argue that criminals and offenders should not have free license to roam around the country and inflict harm and crimes without any check. Moreover, they argue that Islam does not show mercy and kindness for those criminals and convicted people who have deliberately and intentionally committed repeated crimes and punishing these people is not cruelty and brutality at all rather they deserve to be punished severely. One may agree with such hard-line and strict applications of Islamic law as deterrent way of preventing crimes and offence in Muslim nations. No doubt crime rates in the Middle Eastern countries are low comparatively with other nations. Yet, application of Islamic criminal justice system in Saudi today is disputable for many reasons we have mentioned in this article.
It is true that a limited numbers of Quranic texts and prophetic traditions speak about the Punishment law in Islam and yet, unlimited numbers of Qurnaic texts and Prophetic traditions speak about justice, equality, social justice, love, kindness and human dignity. To ignore all these hundreds of texts in favorite of some texts that prescribed punishment would be a wrong treatment of divine texts. Modern Islamic scholarship should read Quranic texts and traditions collectively and collaboratively in the sphere of Islamic punishment and particularly in the application of capital punishment. Piece meal treatment of divine texts could lead to wrong and inappropriate application of Islamic laws.
Hence, application system of Islamic legal systems in Saudi should be reviewed and amended and incorporated with sophisticated and modern legal procedures and legal principles. So, that justice can be served equally for all without any discrimination and bias.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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