Death penalty!

3rd Issue16-23

“...Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, so that you may learn wisdom.”

This is what God says in the Holy Qur’an in Surah Al-’An’am, verse 151, regarding capital punishment for certain crimes especially murder.

Muslims who support the death penalty believe that its use provides for an effective deterrent against crime and, as such, helps to promote justice. Islamic law permits the use of the death penalty as a punishment against intentional murder and Fasaad fi al-ardh, which translates to "spreading mischief throughout the land." This type of crime is interpreted in a variety of ways, but can include, among others, rape, adultery, treason, apostasy, and piracy.

Capital punishment is still widely supported in Islamic states and nations in which Islam is the state religion. However, there are growing groups of Muslims that support the abolishment of the death penalty, arguing against the mainstream interpretation of Quran passages regarding capital punishment.

Restoring death penalty is one of the priority bills of the Duterte administration. The proposed House Bill 4727 seeks to impose death penalty on more than 20 heinous offenses. According to the original version of the bill, the following are punishable by death under the Revised Penal Code—treason, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with homicide, rape, intentional mutilation or arson and destructive arson.

However, a few legislators believe plunder should not be punishable with death. Their reasons or motives are unknown. But plunder can be more heinous than murder, which is made punishable under the proposed law, because plunder can cause mass killings, once the frenzy starts.

The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines plunder as: “to take the goods of by force (as in war):  pillage, sack (invaders plundered the town); to take by force or wrongfully:  steal, loot (plundered artefacts from the tomb); and to make extensive use of as if by plundering:  use or use up wrongfully (plunder the land).”

Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, and tooth for tooth is the most natural disposition of justice. In a simple illustration, if one owes you US$1,000, would you accept a lesser payment for that, say US$900, $800, etc.?

The Torah of the Jews first prescribed this and the Qur’an sustained it partly, but supplemented it this way: “And We ordained therein for them: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, and tooth for tooth and wounds equal for equal. But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation….” (Surah Al-Maedah, Verse No. 45).

The resort to “blood money” in Islam and in the MILF, in particular, has this verse as a foundation. The precondition is that if the nearest of kin agrees to the payment of blood money for murder; if they do not agree, then the punishment would eventually proceed.

It is not our intention to comment directly on the death penalty bill, because it is an internal affair of the government. But perhaps it is useful to everyone to know the MILF’s perspective on the matter.