Strategies for the justifications of Ḥudūd Allah and their punishments in the Islamic tradition
Alsoufi, Rana Hajaj Ahmaid
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The punishments of Islamic criminal law and in particular, the notoriously severe ḥadd punishments, were never systematically justified in classical Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). However, the fiqh tradition is ripe with debates about ḥadd punishments, and theories of justification, while not fully spelt out, are often implied in the writings of Muslim jurists. In Part I of this thesis, three fiqh strategies for the justification of ḥadd punishments are described and critically evaluated: one that seeks to characterize the ḥadd punishments as divinely ordained, immutable “rights of God” (ch. 1), one that describes the purpose of ḥadd punishments as serving general as well as individual prevention (ch. 2), and one that stresses that to suffer ḥadd is an expiatory act that amends for sins and thus ensures salvation in the Hereafter (ch. 3). The Sunnī legal schools (madhāhib), salient representatives of which are studied in this dissertation, controversially discussed the meaning and purpose of ḥadd punishments in the context of each of these three fiqh discourses. Part II of this thesis proceeds to describe and discuss contemporary Muslim debates about the applicability and justifiability of ḥadd punishments today. While only few Islamic regimes currently implement ḥadd, the topic has a large symbolical importance because it exemplifies the struggle of Muslim thinkers to reconcile Islam with modernity. In a first step, this thesis aims to clarify to what extent contemporary positions echo, attack or simply sidestep classical fiqh positions: how, in other words, the present is connected to the traditional fiqh framework of the past (ch. 4). In a concluding chapter, a number of salient topics of debate in the contemporary ḥadd controversy are analysed within the cultural and political contexts in which they are located (ch. 5). While classical legal doctrines about ḥadd punishments, despite the controversies between the madhāhib, tend to be rigid, emphasizing the immutable character of the criminal law norms found in the Sharīʻah, the periodic calls among contemporary thinkers for the implementation of ḥadd are, it is suggested, largely driven by political agendas.