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Offline HOPE

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5:38 how many hands?
« on: December 30, 2017, 11:45:04 PM »
Peace,

I'm confused about the number of hands involved.
yad  one hand
yada two hands
aydiya three plus hands

verse mentions  male and female thieves thus plural usage may apply to them but the verse says
Aydiya humā   three plus hands of both (dual)
Aydiyahumā  both their three hands ? literal understanding of this word does not make sense so maybe it should be understood metaphorically  since Aydiya  also means power, strength like in verses
38:17 And remember Our servant, David, the man of strength.
38:45 men of power and insight
51:47  We constructed with strength,


‘KataA  physical cut  meaning used twice only 12:31, 7:124
others are used metaphorically
2:27 sever that which Allah has ordered to be joined
6:45 the roots of the people who were unjust were cut off
7:72  We cut off the roots of those who rejected Our signs
9:121 cross/cut/yaqṭaʿūna wādiyan
10:27 qiṭaʿan pieces
11:81 biqiṭ’ʿin
13:4  qiṭaʿun  tracks
13:25 yaqṭaʿūna
22:15 l’yaqṭaʿ
27:32 qāṭiʿatan
29:29  wataqṭaʿūna
56:33 supply will not be cut off

What do you think?

Salam

"Hope is like a bird that senses the dawn and carefully starts to sing while it is still dark"

Offline Athman

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Re: 5:38 how many hands?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2018, 05:44:15 PM »
Dear Br. HOPE,

Wa aleikum as salaam,

Notwithstanding your focus on the linguistics of the terms employed in the verse, I hope the following article and threads somehow address some of the verses in question for the topic and go out of way to argue for what seems to be the crux of what the directives are given the way they are in the Qur’an, with a notable emphasis on the word nakalan to argue against any other interpretation of the phrase faqta’u aydiyahuma, among others.

http://quransmessage.com/forum/index.php?topic=2007.msg9955#msg9955
http://quransmessage.com/forum/index.php?topic=106.msg273#msg273
http://quransmessage.com/articles/thief%20hands%20FM3.htm

Hopefully that somehow gives some little insight.


Regards,

Athman.


Offline Athman

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Re: 5:38 how many hands?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2018, 09:06:49 PM »
Salaamun Aleikum,

From my humble perspective, ‘yad’ in the singular, ‘hand,’ could symbolically refer to ‘power,’ as in (57:29,67:1,3:733:26,17:29,23:88) or simply ‘hand’ in the literal sense. ‘Yada’ with a prolonged ‘fatha’ literally referring to ‘two hands’ could metaphorically refer to ‘power’ as in 38:75, with respect to a ‘single individual,’ or ‘means/sustenance’ as in 111:1. ‘Aydi’ with a prolonged ‘ya’ could mean ‘strength’  as in (38:17,38:45) you quoted above or also metaphorically as ‘power/might’ as in 8:70 and symbolically as power in (48:24,30:36). This is with a plural connotation to the number of referees to that power.

In another terms, if the power or hands are attributed to individuals more than or equal to two in number, then ‘aydi’ is used as in many of the Qur’anic verses making use of the word. This is irrespective of whether it is one hand of each individual or both. If the address is an individual, his/her hand is referred to as ‘yad’ or rather his/her two hands are referred to as ‘yada.’

As a distinguishing example, consider 38:75 referring to Allah in His Singularity as contrasted to 51:47 or 36:71 referring to Him in majesty or with the angelic assembly.

On the other hand, ‘qatta’a’ as verb form II used in 12:31 and 7:124 which you quoted above somehow has a connotation of intensity of the physical ‘cutting’ in various specific respects e.g, dividing (7:160), cutting into sections (12:31) etc, as similarly used in (7:160,12:50,47:15,22:19,5:33,20:71,13:31) for some physical and symbolic ‘cutting off’.

However, ‘qata'a,’ of verb form I, used in the verse in question, 5:38, has some sort of variant connotations depending on context, with possible symbolic nuance of ‘cutting off’/terminating as in (3:127,7:72,9:121,15:66,27:32) and a physical literal ‘cutting off’ one as used in (69:46,59:5) and as supported by context as detailed by Br. Joseph in the article(s) above, in 5:38.

It is somehow interesting to note how the Qur’an deliberately uses ‘qata'a,’ instead of ‘qatta’a’, in 5:38, given the slight nuance imparted by the use of each.

Therefore, contextually from the foregoing narratives of chapter 5, considering the nuance with which ‘nakalan’ comes with, as similarly used elsewhere in the Qur’an and in support with what is inferred in the next verse 5:39 regarding repetitiveness of the act, I find the interpretation of literal ‘cutting off’ of hands in 5:38 as most cogent. A slight possible emphasis/addition could be on the range of the hand-cut which is not mentioned but inferred from the possibility of there being other alternatives in the case of 5:33 hence in this case either upto the wrist, elbow or shoulder, depending on the gravity of the ‘fasaad,’ which could possibly be determined by the punishing authority. A similar elucidation is somehow given in 5:6 in the case of ablution.

With the detailed analysis by Br. Joseph in the article(s) above, I concur with how the phrase 'faqta’u aydiyahuma' has been interpreted in the article(s)

Hopefully that somehow helps God willing.


Regards,

Athman.

Offline Wakas

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Re: 5:38 how many hands?
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2018, 08:45:07 AM »
peace,

There is certainly a case for a non-physical cutting of hand:


#####


Misconception: Islam and The Quran orders hands to be cut off for theft
The verse in question will be given then a discussion will be presented. It should be noted that like all punishments relating to members of a society, they are only enforceable if such a society is governed by the laws of The Quran. In such a society, it is a requirement for believers to provide for those in need [2:177, 2:215, 2:219, 5:89, 59:7].

The male thief, and the female thief, you shall mark, cut, or cut-off their hands/means as a recompense for what they earned, and to serve as a deterrent from God. God is Noble, Wise. Whoever repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, then God will relent on him. Truly, God is Forgiving, Merciful. [5:38-39]

The above verses are commonly translated to mean physical cutting off the thief's hand or hands, however whilst this understanding is a theoretical possibility, when all the information is reviewed it is only one of several possibilities, hence the above translation. Firstly, it should be noted that the verse makes clear whoever commits theft but repents after and makes amends, then this is acceptable to God, thus no punishment can be administered in this case. This of course would only apply to those who do this before they have to be tried and found guilty. To prove this, see the verse below in which being punished is contrasted to relenting:

There are some who await God's decree whether He will punish them or relent on them. God is All Knower, All Wise. [9:106]

And how repenting and making amends shows a true repentance, thus reinforces the notion that a true/sincere repentance is accepted:

And whoever repents and takes corrective action, certainly he turns toward God with true repentance. [25:71]

The Arabic word translated as "cut" in 5:38 is "iqtaa" and occurs 14 other times in the same verb form (QaTaA) in The Quran, and with the exception of 59:5 and possibly 69:46 all other occurrences mean the non-physical or metaphorical action of "cutting off relationship" or "ending" [2:27, 3:127, 6:45, 7:72, 8:7, 9:121, 13:25, 15:66, 22:15, 27:32, 29:29, 56:33].

The derivatives that are read in the 2nd verb form (QaTTaA) occur 17 times. This form, which expresses intensity or frequency of the action, is used both to mean physical cutting off [5:33, 7:124, 20:71, 26:49, 13:31] and metaphorical cutting off [2:166, 6:94, 7:160, 7:167, 9:110, 47:15, 47:22, 21:93, 22:19, 23:53] as well as physically cutting/marking [12:31, 12:50]. It is interesting to note that even though 12:31 uses the more intensive verb form and both "cut" and "hands" together, it does not mean "cut off". The less intensive form is used in 5:38.

Secondly, the Arabic word for "hands" (aydi) is often used in The Quran in a metaphorical/metonymical manner [some examples are 2:195, 2:237, 3:3, 3:73, 5:64, 6:93, 8:70, 9:29, 23:88, 28:47, 30:36, 38:45, 48:10, 48:24, 111:1], and often has a meaning of power/means/sustenance. Interestingly, when it means "sustenance" the plural is always used, as used in 5:38.
It should also be noted that this word is in the Arabic plural meaning 3 or more hands, whilst only two people are referenced: the male and the female thief. Some have commented that this plural usage causes problems for the common interpretation of hand cutting.

Thirdly, the word يَد (singular: yad, plural: aydi) in Arabic can refer to any part of the human arm; up to and including the shoulder joint. Therefore, it can refer to the hand from the fingertips up to the wrist, or up to the elbow, or up to the shoulder joint. There is no specification in verse 5:38 as to the point at which the aydi should allegedly be severed - which is unusual - whereas for ablution in 5:6 it specifies how much is to be washed (e.g. it says "wash your aydi upto the elbows").

One other potential problem is created if 5:38 means to physically cut off the hand or hands of the thief, when we consider what were to happen if a person had no hands or had been punished before hence had no more hands to cut/mark or cut off.
Also, when lashes are given as punishment for proven adultery, The Quran states not to let pity/compassion prevent you from carrying out such a punishment [24:2], but it says no such thing for the alleged hand cutting-off verse, when many consider this punishment to be worse. This adds to the possibility that it should not be taken to mean this.
Thus, it is possible to understand the punishment for thieves in four alternative ways:
(1) cutting off their hands
(2) cutting or marking their hands
(3) cutting their means/power to steal, e.g. detention/jail.
(4) cutting their sustenance, e.g. in order to compensate the value of the theft.

It does seem the punishment could be flexible depending upon the time, circumstances and severity of crime - it is up to the society to choose one of these meanings or a combination of them depending on the severity of the crime and their ability to enforce the penalty. 

It should be said however that the only working example given in The Quran of theft and its punishment is in the story of Joseph:

They said, "By God, you know we did not come to cause corruption in the land, and we are no thieves!"
He said, "What shall be its recompense, if you are not truthful?"
They said, "Its recompense is that he who has it in his bag, then he is its recompense. Like that do we recompense the wrongdoers."
[12:73-75]

Furthermore, 12:79 makes it clear that Joseph (described in 6:84 as one of the guided and a good doer) was acting in accordance with God's law in detaining only the one guilty of theft:

Joseph said: “God forbid that we would detain anyone except he whom we found our belongings with. Indeed, we would then be wrong doers.” [12:79]

Thus, one possible meaning of 5:38 is to apply it in the manner provided by Joseph's example: the suspected thief is given a chance to confess and return the stolen goods, if not, then if found guilty, would be detained, for a set time and/or in order to work off the cost.

Lastly, whatever interpretation is chosen, it is important to keep in mind the recurring theme of equivalence in The Quran, thus the punishment should be proportionate to the crime:

And those who, when gross injustice befalls them, they seek justice. The recompense for a crime shall be its equivalence, but whoever forgives and makes right, then his reward is upon God. He does not like the wrongdoers. [42:40]

To conclude, when all the above information is taken into account, it is clear that to physically cut off the hand or hands of the thief is not the only possible understanding and taking into account the law of equivalence would perhaps only be reserved for significant theft which led to harming others, hence harming the perpetrator. If a Muslim in authority, like Joseph was, were to apply the punishment for theft like Joseph did, then they would be following the example of one of the guided and a good doer, as stated by The Quran.


Offline Athman

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Re: 5:38 how many hands?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2018, 07:22:55 AM »
Dear Wakas,

Peace be upon you,

Briefly, I think what 'Hope' asks has to do with the linguistics of the term 'aydiyahuma' as interpreted as one hand of each of the two thieves (male - 'sariqu' and female - 'sariqatu'). Ipso facto, one assumes that it should be addressed from the point of view of one who understands such a directive in 5:38 as that of 'cutting off' hands. Because you also seem to partly accept such an interpretation given some reservation, which in the main is also my view, it would have been more appropriate if you share your view concerning the same.

From my humble perspective, firstly, it is noteworthy that 'aydiyahuma' simply translates to 'their hands.'  This doesn't outright rule out 'one hand of each of the two accused.' As shared in my previous response, 'if the power or hands are attributed to individuals more than or equal to two in number, then ‘aydi’ is used as in many of the Qur’anic verses making use of the word. This is irrespective of whether it is one hand of each individual or both. If the address is an individual, his/her hand is referred to as ‘yad’ or rather his/her two hands are referred to as ‘yada.’ '

With a view to possibly extract some best deduction, one would expect to 'cut off' the 'hands of might' of the accused. It could be 'right hand' for some, and 'left hand' for others. It could even be the other hand for an unrelenting frequented such thief who is being re-punished. Thus, a combination of 'two hands' - 'yadayni' at a time, of all these possibilities for two individuals, would yield 'their hands' - 'aydi.'

Pertaining to your exposition, kindly see my responses in italics to your comments below.

It should be noted that like all punishments relating to members of a society, they are only enforceable if such a society is governed by the laws of The Quran.

Albeit I agree with you that the stipulated laws of equitable retribution for believers in the Qur'an can practically be enforced in an 'Islamic state,' I see such laws as providing general guidance on the same. It is within the discretion of a general state governance, except for an Islamic one, to either employ it or not. The Qur'an is for all times, and given advancements in the wider context of progressiveness, humankind would never surpass the wisdom behind the Qur'anic edicts in all spheres of life. In fact, they are bound to conform to the same. However, professing to actually follow the Qur'an regarding the same is a separate issue (41:53).

The male thief, and the female thief, you shall mark, cut, or cut-off their hands/means as a recompense for what they earned, and to serve as a deterrent from God. God is Noble, Wise. Whoever repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, then God will relent on him. Truly, God is Forgiving, Merciful. [5:38-39]

Respectfully, I disagree with your probable interpretation of 'qata'a' to mean 'mark.' For the several instances the term appears in the Qur'an in its different constructs, I find it not used once to suggest 'marking.' Inherently, it also carries no nuance of marking. Therefore, unless some additional text would elaborate the nature of some 'qata'a' as that meant for 'marking' purposes, I would just default its meaning to 'cut/cut off/terminate/end/cross, etc' depending on context. For a lasting deterrent 'sealing' mark, I would expect use of such terms as 'khatama' as in (2:7, 6:46, 45:23), or 'seema' in (48:29, 55:41, 2:273) if not 'alama' - mark.

Firstly, it should be noted that the verse makes clear whoever commits theft but repents after and makes amends, then this is acceptable to God, thus no punishment can be administered in this case. This of course would only apply to those who do this before they have to be tried and found guilty.

I do concur. To highlight the intended context more precisely for the same, repentance when smelling possibility of trial or just before trial is never accepted. Rather, true repentance should be done soon after the crime/evil. See 4:17-18.

It is interesting to note that even though 12:31 uses the more intensive verb form and both "cut" and "hands" together, it does not mean "cut off". The less intensive form is used in 5:38.

In (7:124, 20:71, 26:49), use of the 'qatta'a' is made coupled with 'aydi' to still suggest 'cutting off.' The less intensive form 'qata'a' is employed in 59:5 not with 'aydi' but still to mean 'cut off.' 

Secondly, the Arabic word for "hands" (aydi) is often used in The Quran in a metaphorical/metonymical manner [some examples are 2:195, 2:237, 3:3, 3:73, 5:64, 6:93, 8:70, 9:29, 23:88, 28:47, 30:36, 38:45, 48:10, 48:24, 111:1], and often has a meaning of power/means/sustenance. Interestingly, when it means "sustenance" the plural is always used, as used in 5:38.
It should also be noted that this word is in the Arabic plural meaning 3 or more hands, whilst only two people are referenced: the male and the female thief. Some have commented that this plural usage causes problems for the common interpretation of hand cutting.

As for reference to 'sustenance/provision,' not only does the Quran use 'aydi,' verse 5:64 captures 'yad' and 111:1 'yada' for the same. Regarding commentary by some suggesting problems for the employment of 'aydi' for the two hands of the 'sariqs,' I would encourage one to criticize the same internally within the Qur'an rather than bet appropriateness of it via external commentary. One would not be doing the Qur'an its deserved justice. The Qur'an should speak for itself.

Thirdly, the word يَد (singular: yad, plural: aydi) in Arabic can refer to any part of the human arm; up to and including the shoulder joint. Therefore, it can refer to the hand from the fingertips up to the wrist, or up to the elbow, or up to the shoulder joint. There is no specification in verse 5:38 as to the point at which the aydi should allegedly be severed - which is unusual - whereas for ablution in 5:6 it specifies how much is to be washed (e.g. it says "wash your aydi upto the elbows").

As regards explicit details of some Qur'anic edicts, I would contend that the Qur'an highlights such details if it deems necessary, and overlooks the same if some wider wisdom is meant to be twinned with some implicitness. However, to claim or deny such implicit derivations is a separate matter. For instance, as I have noted in my previous comment, the punishing authority could possibly determine the extent of the hand-cut given some set criterion of discretion before them prior to such a punishment being meted out. A considerable list of parameters could possibly be at their disposal to effect the same. For instance, magnitude of theft, its overall impact on society, frequency of stealing, hand employed in stealing, actual part of hand that takes/steals, etc.

On the other hand, if we employ your rationale above over various Quranic commandments, for the 'extent' of such edicts, we can still question other commandments given somewhere else, e.g, those concerning 'numbers.' For example, while 24:2,4 explicitly stipulate the exact number of lashes to be flogged on the accused, the 'swalawat' verses do not explicitly specify an exact number of the same per day.


One other potential problem is created if 5:38 means to physically cut off the hand or hands of the thief, when we consider what were to happen if a person had no hands or had been punished before hence had no more hands to cut/mark or cut off.

Conversely, it can also be argued as to how an amputated believer or one born with 'amelia' would carry out such a commandment in 5:6.

Also, when lashes are given as punishment for proven adultery, The Quran states not to let pity/compassion prevent you from carrying out such a punishment [24:2], but it says no such thing for the alleged hand cutting-off verse, when many consider this punishment to be worse. This adds to the possibility that it should not be taken to mean this.

However, for those who wage war against God and His prophet (5:33), engage in adulterate prostitution (4:15) or homosexuality (4:16), no pity/compassion is suggested not to prevent the believers from dispensing with the deserved punishments either. However, only true repentance and amendments soon after a crime/evil can absolve dispensation of such punishments (4:17-18). I see 5:33 which may also involve 'death' as a punishment option to be 'worse' than 5:38. Therefore, I find 'cutting off' of the hand to still be a binding deliberation for such a crime.

Thus, it is possible to understand the punishment for thieves in four alternative ways:
(1) cutting off their hands
(2) cutting or marking their hands
(3) cutting their means/power to steal, e.g. detention/jail.
(4) cutting their sustenance, e.g. in order to compensate the value of the theft.

It does seem the punishment could be flexible depending upon the time, circumstances and severity of crime - it is up to the society to choose one of these meanings or a combination of them depending on the severity of the crime and their ability to enforce the penalty. 

I somehow do concur. However, what is contended is the context of such a punishment for such a typical 'thief.' Br. Joseph mentions in a thread [1] below:

"I am strongly swayed by two conditions: 'Nakalan' as a term used in 5:38 and the context of 'fasad fil ard' in the previous verses which I humbly feel should not be overlooked. These are no ordinary 'thief's' in my humble opinion given the conditions just cited, but those whose repeated transgressions are so indiscriminate and a serious deprivation to others which amount to clear 'fitna' in the land.  This would be no different from the kind of highway indecent robbery which was possibly commonplace amongst the people of Lot for which along with other lewd acts, were taken for severe retribution by God (29:29).
"

Thus, in my opinion, I find such a context to strongly advocate for an understanding given by your first intepretation (1).

It should be said however that the only working example given in The Quran of theft and its punishment is in the story of Joseph:

Thus, one possible meaning of 5:38 is to apply it in the manner provided by Joseph's example: the suspected thief is given a chance to confess and return the stolen goods, if not, then if found guilty, would be detained, for a set time and/or in order to work off the cost.

I do agree that some wisdom can be extracted from the narrative of Prophet Joseph (pbuh) and his brothers. It could also possibly be incorporated into a today's Islamic judicious system. However, I find such a narrative illustrating an equivalent retribution of a particular theft scenario in Islam for the time. I see such a deliberation as one dealing with a specific level of stealing and not as a sweeping dispensation for theft cases per se. With 12:73, one can argue that a distinction was made between one that unduly causes 'corruption in the land' (nafsidi fil ardhi) and a conditioned thief (sariqin).

I see such a suggested recompense in 12:75 to exact an ordinary 'thief' as was the case in that scenario, and also as implied in 12:77. On a different note, I see such a punishment to somehow be meted out in the spirit of your suggested interpretation (4), that is, detention for 'service' that is meant to compensate for the evil done; and not interpretation (3) that hints on penitentiary conditioning. Such recompense (3) would exact a higher degree of theft. With a heightened level of theft that would create undue insecurity and restlessness to the society, causing 'corruption in the land,' I see the 'cutting off' of hands to be appropriate.

To conclude, when all the above information is taken into account, it is clear that to physically cut off the hand or hands of the thief is not the only possible understanding and taking into account the law of equivalence would perhaps only be reserved for significant theft which led to harming others, hence harming the perpetrator. If a Muslim in authority, like Joseph was, were to apply the punishment for theft like Joseph did, then they would be following the example of one of the guided and a good doer, as stated by The Quran.

I do concur. However, it still has to be pointed out that the context of the punishment to be dispensed with such a typical 'thief' in 5:38 has to be carefully identified as that of a 'fasad fil ardh' and one that serves to act as a 'nakal.' With such tyrannical regime coupled with claims of Lordship by Pharaoh, with such violation of a binding Covenant coupled with unrelenting rigid character of the Sabbath breakers among Children of Israel, such formidable recompense to act as lasting deterrents - 'nakalan' (79:25, 2:66) are no doubt not for ordinary transgressions.

Thus, as a continuation of narratives that seem to draw on a particular theme as from 5:33, the punishment for the advanced 'thieves' in 5:38 would be 'cutting off' their hands, as a 'nakalan' - deterrent to them and others who tend to steal 'making mischief in the land,' e.g, causing undue insecurity and restlessness. This is in the capacity of the authoritative governance that seeks to secure its borders and the rights of the community it is meant to safeguard. Unwarranted wanton eccentricities that seek to threaten security and wellbeing of its subjects have to be dealt with squarely. In the main, God is stronger in might and stronger in deterrent punishment - ashaddu tankila (4:84).


Hopefully that clarifies my position.

Regards,
Athman.


REFERENCE:

[1]. Cutting off the Hands http://quransmessage.com/foru
m/index.php?topic=106.msg273#msg273