What is the punishment for a rapist?
The Shari`ah has actually prescribed the punishment for four major crimes. It has prescribed the punishment for murder and other bodily harm, theft, fornication and qazaf (to accuse someone of zinaa – fornication – without adequate evidence). Besides these crimes, if a crime is committed against the community rather than an individual or if the crime is of the nature of religious persecution or if the motive of the crime is to spread a wave of terror through the whole community or if the crime is committed against the state, the Qur’an calls it “Fasaad fi al-ardh”1. In case of Fasaad fi al-ardh, the Qur’an has given four options for the person administering the punishment. Thus, the punishment may be severe or comparatively soft depending upon the nature of the crime committed and on the various conditions surrounding the accused. The punishments mentioned in the Qur’an , from among which one of the punishments shall be administered are:
- Taqteel: Taqteel in the Arabic language means to kill in a very painful manner. One of the methods of taqteel, as adopted in the times of the Prophet (pbuh) was rajam, i.e. stoning to death. Other methods might include killing through the Electric chair etc.
- Tasleeb: Tasleeb means to crucify. Crucifixion is the other option given by the Qur’an . Both taqteel and tasleeb are different methods that may be adopted to punish a criminal that in the eyes of the judge deserves no mercy and should not be allowed to live in the society.
- Amputation of a hand and a foot: The third option is to cut off a hand and a foot of the criminal. This option shall be administered if the judge feels that the criminal has committed such a heinous crime that even if he is allowed to live, he should be made an example for the other members of the society and should not be allowed to live a normal life.
- Banishment: The fourth option given to the judge for punishing such criminals is to banish them from their hometown. This option shall be used for such criminals who, in the eyes of the judge have the potential of correction and who, only due to their bad company in their own land had committed a grave crime.
Punishments for crimes other than those mentioned above shall be determined by the collectivity of the Muslims, through their legislative body. The basic guideline provided by the Qur’an for the determination of the punishments for other crimes is that no crime other than that, which falls under the category of murder or “Fasaad fi al-ardh” can be punished by death. Death sentence can only be administered in these two cases.
In view of the above explanation, it is quite clear that the Shari`ah does not determine the punishment for rape. There may be certain cases of rape, which fall under the category of Fasaad fi al-ardh. In such cases, any of the punishments provided for crimes that fall under this category may be administered, keeping in view the nature of the crime committed, the psyche and various other conditions of the criminal. For cases of rape, that do not fall under the category of Fasaad fi al-ardh, the legislative may, under the stated guideline provided by the Qur’an , decide about the punishment to be administered. This punishment may or may not be the same as stipulated for fornication in the Qur’an .
22nd May 1999
- That is, creating anarchy in the land. [↩]