Your Questions

Is the Shari’ah mostly about imposing cruel punishments?

Some of the punishments mentioned specifically in the Qur’an (known as the hudood laws) correlate directly with preventing the violation of the aims and objectives of the Shari’ah. Theft must be addressed justly because it threatens preservation of wealth, while murder threatens life and adultery threatens family, and so on. It is important to note, however, that these Qur’anic punishments are the maximum sentence and have nearly impossible standards of proof, making them more of a deterrent against crimes and major public sins; they are not intended to nor have they historically been commonplace sentences. For example, in order to meet the threshold of proof to warrant the maximum punishment for adultery, four trustworthy witnesses must see the actual act of sexual intercourse. Even if two people not married to each other are found in the same bed, because the act itself was not witnessed, there is not enough proof to enact a hudood punishment!

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