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Firstly, it is necessary to know that crimes which bring harm or loss to a human being inflict injustice not only on the created but also cause disobedience to the Creator. Therefore, in every crime of this nature, the Right of Allah (Haqqullah) and the Right of the Servant of Allah (Haqqul-'Abd) are intermingled, and one becomes guilty of both crimes. But, in some crimes, the status of the Right of the Servant of Allah is more important while, in some others, the status of the Right of Allah is more prominent. As for the modus operandi in religious injunctions, it rests on this status of predominance.
Secondly, it is also necessary to know that the Shari'ah of Islam has not deterrnined any yardstick for crimes other than those which
are special. Instead, it has left it to the discretion of the Qadi (the Judge of an Islamic Court) who could award and enforce the kind and amount of punishment deemed necessary to plug out the incidence of crime keeping in view the objective conditions prevailing in whatever time, lace and circumstance it may be. It is also possible that the Islamic state of any time and any place may, with due consideration of Islamic legal percepts, restrict the rights of the Qadis in some manner and make them abide by a particular measure of punishment for crimes as has been the practice in the later centuries of Islam, and as it nearly is the prevailing practice in most countries.
Let us now understand that crimes for which the Qur'an and Sunnah have not fixed any punishment, instead, have left it to the discretion of the relevant authorities, are the kind of punishments which are called "Ta'zirat"(penalties) in the terminology of the Shari'ah of Islam. AS for the punishments of crimes already fixed by the Qur'an and Sunnab, they are divided over two kinds. Firstly, those in which the Right of Allah has been declared to be predominant and the punishment for which is known as "Hadd," the plural of which is "Hudud." Secondly, those in which the Right of the Servant of Allah has been accepted as predominant in accordance with the Shari'ah of Islam and the punishment for which is called the "Qisas" (Even Retaliation). As for the description of Hudud and QisZs, the Holy Qur'an has itself explained it in full details. The details of the remaining penal offences have been left to the judgement of the Holy Prophet (SM) and to the discretion of the relevant ruling authority of the time.
In short, we can say that the punishment of crimes which the Holy Qur'an has promulgated after having determined it to be the Right of Allah is called the "Hudud," and that which it has ordained as the Right of the Servant of Allah is known as "Qisas," and crimes the punishment of which has not been determined by it are called, "Ta'zir." The injunctions of these three kinds differ in many respects. Those who take the punishment of every crime as "Ta'zir" on the basis of their own customary usage and do not keep the difference of Islamic legal terminology in sight make frequent errors of judgement in understanding Islamic legal injunctions.
As for the punishment of penal offences (Ta'zir), they can be made the lightest, the heaviest, or could even be pardoned, all depending on attending circumstances. Here, the powers and options of the relevant authorities are wide. But, when it comes to Hudud, no Amir or government or ruler or head of state is permitted to make the least change, alteration, reduction or increase in it. Neither does a change in time and place affect it in any manner nor does the Amir or chief executive of the government have the right to waive or pardon it.
There are only five "Hudud" in the Sharpah of Islam. These are the punishments for (1) Robbery, (2) Theft, (3) Adultery, (4) False Accusation of Adultery. These punishments have been mentioned in the Holy Qur'an clearly and categorically (Mansus). The fifth Hadd is that of drinking wine which stands proved on the basis of a consensus (Ijma') of the noble Companions of the Holy Prophet (SM). Thus, the punishments of a total of five crimes stand fixed here. These are called the "Hudud." The way no Amir or ruler can reduce or pardon these punishments, very similarly, even an act of repentance cannot bring about an amnesty for the criminal as far as the punishment due in this mortal world is concerned. Of course, the sin bound to bring punishment in the Hereafter does get to be forgiven through sincere repentance leaving at least that account in the clear. Out of these, there is only one punishment, that of robbery, in which there is an exception, that is, if the robber repents before being arrested and his conduct in dealings proves his repentance to be satisfactory, only then, this "Hadd" will stand dropped. Repentance after arrest is not valid with regard to the worldly punishment. Other than this, the remaining Hudud do not get to be forgiven in this world even by repentance whether this repentance comes before the arrest or after it. In matters relating to penal offences (Ta'zirat) recommendations could be heard as warranted by a relevant right. In the Hudud of Allah (punishment under Divine right) even the making of a recommendation is not permissible, and equally impermissible is its hearing too. The Holy Prophet (SM) has prohibited it strictly. The punishments under Hudud are generally strict. The , law of their enforcement is also strict as nobody has been permitted to make any additions or substractions in them under any circumstances, nor can they be waived or forgiven by anyone. Along with this strict stance maintained in punishment and law, when it comes to some moderation of matters, equally stringent conditions have been imposed regarding the completion of the crime as well as the completion of the proof of the crime. Should even a single. condition out of these be found missing, the Hadd stands dropped. In fact, even the least doubt found in the proof will cause the Hadd to be dropped. In this matter, the established law of Islam is: الحدوده تندرء بالشبهات that is, Hudud dropped in case of doubt.
At this point, let us also understand that in cases where the Islamic legal punishment (Hadd) is dropped because of a doubt or absence of some condition, it is not necessary that the criminal would go scot-free only to become more daring in later crimes. Instead of that, the relevant ruler would award the penal punishment to him as due in his case. The penal punishments (Ta'zirat) of the Shari'ah are generally physical which, being lesson-oriented, have a complete system of blocking and eradicating crimes. Suppose, only three witnesses were found to attest to the proof of adultery (Zina), and the witnesses are upright and trustworthy about whom the doubt that they would lie cannot be entertained. But, according to the Islamic legal norm, the Islamic legal punishment will not be enforced against the offender because of the absence of the fourth witness. However, it does not mean that the offender will be allowed to walk out free of any obligation, lesson or penalty. The ruler of the time would, rather, award an appropriate penal punishment to him which would be in the form of lashes. Or, take the example of the punishment for theft. If there remains any shortfall or doubt in conditions fixed as the required proof of theft, the Islamic legal Hadd punishment of cutting hands cannot be enforced on the accused. This does not mean that the accused goes all untouched and free. On the contrary, other penal punishments will be given to him as warranted in his case.