Hadeeth lesson from 40 hadith Nawawi (22nd August, 2013)

In the name of Allah
Assalamu aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

On the authority of Ibn Mas’ud, (may Allah be pleased with them), who said: The Messenger of Allah, (peace be upon him), said:

“The blood of a man who is a Muslim is not lawful (i.e. cannot be lawfully shed), save if he belongs to one of three (classes): a married man who is an adulterer; life for a life (i.e. for murder); one who is a deserter of his religion, abandoning the community.”
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

Before the arrival of Islam, human life had no value. A person can easily be killed for many different reasons, e.g. revenge, to show the superiority of a tribe, killing a newborn baby girl because it was considered a shame, etc.
When Islam arrived, it stressed on the value and importance of human life. A life must not be threatened unless it is lawful, i.e. where a serious violation of the shariah had occurred. Islam also made it clear that the taking of a human life is the responsibility of the highest authority, i.e. the judge. This is to prevent this practice from being abused for personal interests.
Islam has established rules and regulations for the community that minimize the need to carry out the execution of a man or woman as allowed by the three cases defined in the prophetic saying. Islam is a peaceful religion and it has established rules where people respect each other and live together peacefully, without lives being threatened. In the case of zina, Islam has rules for the Muslim society that regulate relationships. Hence, it is very difficult for the cases mentioned to occur if these rules and regulations are observed. As for ‘deserting the religion’, the Muslim community is based on knowledge where ilm and da’wah are continuously being disseminated and conveyed. Thus people are aware of their religious obligations and the minds of the society are well-protected from being manipulated. All these measures have been set up by Islam to minimize the occurrences of these exceptional cases where the taking of a human life is allowed.
These truly are exceptional cases because during the time of the Prophet, (peace be upon him), (and later during the era of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs) there were only a few cases where such violations or problems occurred.
This prophetic saying should be seen and understood from a positive viewpoint – it is not legal to kill a Muslim except in one of three cases. Because these three cases are exceptional, it shows that the Muslim blood is valued and treasured and is blessed by Allah subhana wa ta’ala.
In the last sermon of the Prophet, (peace be upon him), during his farewell Pilgrimage (which was a few months before he died), he, (peace be upon him), re-emphasized the principle of this prophetic saying which is the sanctity of a Muslim’s blood. Islam encourages Muslims to avoid any kind of act, e.g. violence, injustice, etc. that will lead to violating this principle. All this shows just how important it is not to shed the blood of a Muslim.


In Islam what is seen as punishment are actually measures put in place to protect the Muslim society and community. Islam takes precautions to ensure that these evil acts (or the violations of these principles) are minimised. In other words, Islam promotes good values and chastity; it encourages marriage, i.e. the legal relationship between man and woman; Islam also discourages acts that might lead to the violations of this principle, e.g. zina.
Islam makes it clear what the duties and obligations of the Muslim are – how we are to treat and respect each other. Islam places importance in a caring society, where the people, whether rich or poor, care for each other. This minimises hatred and hence conflicts and killings.
Adhering to Islam itself (i.e. to stick to the religion) is another means of minimizing the occurrences of the exceptional cases mentioned in the prophetic saying. The evidence is established and da’wah is conveyed and hence the Muslim community is well educated and knowledgeable. They know and understand the religion and their obligations. They are proud to be Muslims and to live in a Muslim community and they can feel the bounty of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. They would never think of forsaking their religion.
But the problem today is that modern technology, e.g. the media, Internet, entertainment, etc., is being misused to promote the three negative cases mentioned: adultery, violence/murder, and apostasy. These are shown as being normal and acceptable for the sake of entertainment. The world today has made bad, unacceptable behavior and negative elements appear as good and vice versa.
These are serious challenges to the Muslim community today. We have to deal with these challenges very carefully, without forgetting the underlying principles behind this prophetic saying. We have to determine how we can protect the Muslim community from violating these principles. The leaders and du’at of the communities have to determine how to counter or minimize the negative influences of the media, especially in areas like entertainment (TV, movies, etc). We have to study why the rates for things like divorce, adultery, violence and apostasy amongst Muslims are high. We have to revive the true roles of parents, du’ats, teachers, and leaders of the community to solve these problems. We should especially be concerned about protecting the minds and values of the youths.
There have been many researches and studies that show the negative influences of the media, especially television (e.g. like the book written by Prof Jerry Mander: Four Arguments to Eliminate Television, and the book written by Zig Ziglar: Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World). Studies have shown how television have made children become lazy, physically and mentally, how it affects their academic progress, how it can change their attitude, etc. We Muslims can benefit from these studies by learning from them so as not to allow our children to fall into the same pitfalls.
Another problem is the lack of support within the Muslim communities, in terms of education, health, religious guidance, finance, care, etc. So when certain Muslims are in desperate need for help but no other Muslims are taking the trouble to lend a hand, Christian missionaries would come in and take advantage of the situation. They offer their help, financially, spiritually, etc. There are countries where Muslim families would send their children to Christian schools because it is the Christian schools that have shown greater concern towards the well-being of the Muslim children by providing them with better education and future. This leads to some Muslim families forsaking their religion.
In these sorts of situations, it is the Muslims themselves who are responsible for this apostasy because they do not look out for one another.Many Muslims today are victims of mind-manipulation where misconceptions created by; for example, Western Orientalists and Christians have influenced their perception and attitude. This results in the Muslim being less careful about his Islam, living a double-standard life – looking at him from one angle, he looks like a Muslim but looking at him from another angle, he doesn’t seem to have the Muslim identity.
This leads to another problem which is the lack of the Muslim identity among the Muslims. There are Muslims today who are promoting non-Muslim identities or speaking highly of other cultures which in the Islamic view may have negative elements. We should maintain and promote our own identity. We can still benefit from progress of the West, e.g. technology advancement, but we should do so in a positive way, without jeopardizing the image and values of Islam.
We need to hold more conferences or dialogues and discuss issues like how we can benefit from the positive aspects of technology/change/progress and how to avoid technology misuse. Muslim experts should present their views or propose ideas on how we can achieve this.
We need to discuss these issues which are the real challenges faced by the Muslim community today. We should not just talk about Islamic concepts without putting them in context with reality. We should not just talk about these issues theoretically, simply stating what the rulings on Islam are on this or that matter. We need to have an approach that goes deeper and considers the challenges and strategies we need to put in place in order to help the Muslim community to be positive, confident and proud of their Muslim identity. We need to help them so that they do not become trapped by the challenges they face today. We need to create awareness among the Muslim community so that they are aware of their roles and responsibilities.
We need to see how we can revive the original concepts of Islamic values and behavior in a way that will work today.

Creed lessons:

This prophetic saying denotes that Faith is belief in one's heart and acting in
accordance with it. He (peace he upon him) mentioned that a Muslim is to be killed in these cases, if he committed adultery and was married, if he killed another person, or if he apostatized. This means that testifying that there is no god but Allah requires abstention from the Prohibitions of Allah and adherence to His Lawful Matters, It is agreed upon by all Muslims that Islam has given the right in these three cases to take the lives of these people, even if they have uttered the testifying of faith.
The one who deserts Islam and abandons the Muslim community is
considered to be an apostate and he must be killed as a disbeliever, not as
a Muslim punished for a crime. Apostasy can be proven either by the
person's words, with him stating that he is a disbeliever, or it can
appear in his deeds, for example if he makes lawful what is unlawful such
as adultery, drinking alcohol, or committing suicide, or by him making
unlawful what is lawful, or by denying the obligations of offering prayers
and observing the last for example. He may also revile a prophet. Apostasy
also appears in implied actions such as throwing a copy of the printed
Qur'an into a filthy place. An apostate is to be asked to repent for three
successive days without beating or starving him. If he does not repent
during these days, he Is to be killed after the sun sets on the third day.

Juristic Lessons:
Retaliation: In Islamic rulings, whoever kills a Muslim intentionally is to be killed in retaliation, Allah, the Exalted, says, which means, "And We ordained therein for them: 'A life for a life..." (Al-Ma'idah,5: 45) In this way, people can feel that their lives are sale. Allah. the Exalted, says, which means, 'And there is (a saving of) life for you in the Law of Equality in punishment, O men of understanding' (Al-Baqarah, 2: 179)
A legally competent person is to be killed if he kills another intentionally, with no legal excuse, whether the person he kills is a man or a woman. lt is recorded in the book of 'Amr bin Hazm that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'Verily! A man is to be killed for (killing) at woman." It is recorded that the Prophet (peace be upon him) killed a Jew for murdering a slave girl. Retaliation is not to be applied if the murdered person's family pardons the murderer. Jurists agreed that retaliation is obligatory if both the murderer and the one he murdered were disbelievers. Some Jurists, among which are the Hanafy scholars, believed that retaliation must be executed according to the verse, which means, "A life for a life," (Al-Mai’idah, 5: 45) and the prophetic saying in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'A life for a life.”

Legal Lessons:
Islam prescribed the penalty of killing for a married adulterer and a murderer.
However, it put a condition on the case of the adulterer that he should confess to his crime by himself without any coercion. If he does not admit to it, then it is almost impossible to prove his adultery without any proof. This proof requires the testimony of four upright witnesses who saw the crime with their own eyes. If one inquires into the cases of whipping during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him) he will find that the penalty was executed based on confessions, as in the case of Ma'i1 and Al-Ghamidiyyah (may Allah be pleased with them). The Prophet (peace he upon him) himself reviewed the case and asked him several times trying to find any doubtful matter that may rescind the execution of the penalty saying, 'You might have (just) kissed'
Furthermore, the prescribed penalty for adultery is not intended as a punishment in itself, but as a means of preventing the unrestrained souls who were breaking free from the restraint of faith and committing this hideous crime. Thus the cases of adultery in the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions after him could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Some contemporary jurists limit the penalty of rape to imprisonment or a fine, but as for adultery, that is committed with the consent of both parties, this is not considered as adultery at all! They prescribe no penalty for it with the argument that they respect personal freedom.
The numbers of illegitimate children have increased, as well as the numbers of murders, burglary, rape, and all the other hideous crimes. All the victims should now be shouting, 'Away with the spurious city with its unjust laws. We are in need of the judgments of the Most Just of all judges'

Social Lessons:

"A life for a life.” As we see, the second life is specified, as if the murderer has killed himself the moment he murdered his Muslim brother. He should be
tormenting himself for the rest of his life, Allah, the Exalted, says about Cane and Abel, which means, 'So the self of the other (latter one) encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers. Then Allah sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him to hide the dead body of his brother, He (the murderer) said: 'Woe to me Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother' Then he became one of those who regretted. Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person, not in retaliation -, for murder or to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved life of all mankind.” [AiMA'idah, E; 3041)


This prophetic saying needs to be looked at in the positive light where the emphasis is on the value of the human life and not on the punishments permissible for the three cases mentioned. Islam has put in place a system which leads to minimizing the occurrences of the three cases. There are strategies, obligations, etc., which help the Muslims to avoid these acts.
Opponents of Islam look at the prophetic saying in a negative way where they accuse Islam of being murderous and barbaric. But the truth of the matter is Islam values human life, just as it values chastity (iffah or taharah) – a virtue which has lost its value in these contemporary times because of the evil being promoted by the opponents via the media and negative side of technology. These negative influences have also caused some Muslims to interpret this prophetic saying negatively.
One of the biggest problems today is that with there being more and more challenges, the explanation of the prophetic saying should take into account what the problems are that are facing the Muslims today that violate the principles set up by the prophetic saying. We should look into what we can do to promote the principles and virtues mentioned in the prophetic saying (e.g. to uphold chastity, valuing human life, that killing is a crime, etc.) and to minimize their violations.


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