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Excerpt from al-Sayyid Yusuf al-Rifaʿi's recent epistle, *Advice to Our Brothers the Ulema of Najd* (Nasiha li-Ikhwanina ʿUlama' Najd):

38 - Committing Criminal Excesses

You acted scandalized and denounced al-Khomayni, the Iranian leader, and his friends when they made the verse {The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom} (5:33) an excuse to issue death warrants and execution orders against their adversaries.

Yet you yourselves later took that same verse as an avenue to commit the same acts against your own opponents, using it to cut off the heads of inadvertent offenders among the foreigners and the helpless, even for possessing a little hashish or qat. We neither heard that you consulted the Islamic Juridical Council (Majmaʿ al-Fiqh al-Islami) located near you in Jeddah, nor that you sought out the least confirmation in the matter from other authorities such as al-Azhar or the major Ulema of the Muslims!

It appears that you have studiously forgotten, in your capacity as judges, the narration of ʿA'isha that the Messenger of Allah - Allah bless and greet him - said: "Ignore the offenses of those seen to possess [good] qualities (dhawī al-hay'āt), except in [corporal and capital] penalties."1

ʿA'isha also related that the Prophet ﷺ said: "Stave off the penalties from the Muslims as much as you can, and if any leeway is found then release the detainee. Truly it is preferable for the ruler to pardon mistakenly than to punish mistakenly." Al-Tirmidhi narrated it and said: "This report has been narrated from her without raising it up to the Prophet ﷺ , which is more correct."2 The hadith master Ibn Hajar said:

Al-Bukhari said the most authentic narration on the chapter is Sufyan al-Thawri, from ʿAsim, from Abu Wa'il, from ʿAbd Allah ibn Masʿud who said: "Stave off the penalties by way of inconclusive evidence. Avert death from the Muslims as much as you can." The same was narrated from ʿUqba ibn ʿAmir and Muʿadh with mawqūf chains and ʿUmar with a munqatiʿ mawqūf chain.3 Abu Muhammad ibn Hazm related it from ʿUmar in al-Isal with a sound mawqūf chain. Ibn Abi Shayba similarly narrated through Ibrahim al-Nakhaʿi from ʿUmar that the latter said: "To erroneously not apply the penalties because of inconclusive evidence is dearer to me than mistakenly applying them on the basis of inconclusive evidence." It is also in al-Harithi's Musnad Abi Hanifa, from Miqsam, from Ibn ʿAbbas, raised to the Prophet ﷺ .4

You also forgot what the Most Truthful said concerning human life: {Whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if be had killed all mankind, and whoso saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of the sovereignty of Allah), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth} (5:32). And you forgot that the Prophet ﷺ said: "The first judgment that shall be passed among the people on the Day of Resurrection shall be over blood [unjustly shed]."5

Therefore, fear Allah Most High and do not kill a life which Allah Most High made sacred, except in justice! And be warned of the causes for remorse and guilt the Day of Woe and Resurrection.


1 Narrated by Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and others.

2 Also narrated from ʿAli by al-Daraqutni; Abu Hurayra by Ibn Majah and Abu Yaʿla; ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAmr by Abu Dawud and al-Nasa'i.

3mawqūf: "Stopped." A chain arrested at the Companion-narrator without explicit attribution to the Prophet ﷺ . Munqatiʿ: "Cut up." A chain missing two successive links or missing only the Successor-link.

4 Ibn Hajar, Talkhis al-Habir (4:56).

5 Narrated by Ahmad and the Six except Abu Dawud.

GF Haddad ©

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latest update: Wed, 7 Jan 2009


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