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Mu‘awiyah and abandonment of divine limits

Al-Mawardi and other transmitters of hadith have recounted that a number of thieves were brought before Mu‘awiyah for judgment. He cut the hands of all the thieves save one. Then, Mu‘awiyah said to the remaining thief, “I have cut the hands of all of your companions. What should I do with you?”

The mother of the thief whose hands had not yet been cut interjected and pleadingly said, “O Amir! Consider this to be one of those sins which you forgive.” Mu‘awiyah let the thief go free. This was the first Islamic injunction that was abandoned.20

The son of Abu Sufiyan did this despite the fact that, according to the explicit text of the Holy Qur’an, a man or woman who steals must have their hand cut off.

The Holy Qur’an says,

    والسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَة فَاقطَعُوا أَيدِيهُمَا ...

“The Man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands for what their hands have earned.”21

Therefore, in circumstances where all the evidence has been presented and guilt proven, no one has the right to overlook the limits set forth by Allah.

Allah, the Most High, says,

    ﴿ ... وَمَن يتَعَدَّ حُدُود اللهِ فَقَد ظَلَمَ نَفسَهُ ... ﴾

“And whoever goes beyond the limits of Allah, he indeed does injustice to his own soul.”22

Notes:

20. Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah, vol. 2, p. 228; Tarikh ibn Kathir, vol. 8, p. 145; the events which occurred in the year 60 AH.

21. Surat al-Ma’idah 5:38.

22. Surat al-Talaq 65:1.

Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani"