Can Islam be reformed?
American Thinker has a very long, but worthwhile article on the
differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam regarding
retaliation and punishment -- the old "eye for and eye, tooth for a
tooth". Judaism interpreted this passage as just and equal punishment
of offense, not to exceed the crime itself. In other words, let the
punishment fit the crime and do not impose a harsh punishment for a
Christianity took this one step further when Christ admonished us to
turn the other cheek and to love one's enemy.
The author addresses the fundamental problem facing Islam, and the
impossibility of reforming it. The problem is that for a Muslim, the
Koran is the literal word of God dictated to Mohammed, therefore it
cannot be subject to interpretation, mistranslation or not being taken
literally. Unlike Christianity, which reformed itself by returning to
the original teaching of Christ compassion, love and forgiveness, Islam
can only reform itself by ignoring its own foundational text.
that is basically impossible. Islam has no central authoritative body
such as the Papacy, or in the case of the earliest church, the councils
which decided and interpreted many of these matters of faith.
Even if some Imam somewhere reinterpreted these barbaric texts in a
nonliteral sense, he would either be ignored, or more than likely
by others who disagree. We disregard these fundamentally primitive and
unjust elements of Islam at our peril when we entertain, as Canada as
done, the implementation of Sharia family law in our own countries. It
furthermore points to the fact that even under democratic rule,
countries which institute Sharia Law will not truly be able to join the
modern world and the western concept of human rights. And in that
sense, can they be truly democratic?
True Islam, the one taught by Muhammad, revives the law of
retaliation or lex talionis. The Biblical "eye for an eye."
Traditional Muslims who understand the Quran and the hadith (reports of
Muhammad's words and actions outside of the Quran) believe that Islamic
law or sharia expresses the highest and best goals for all societies.
is the will of Allah.
In 2000, the law of retaliation (Arabic word is qisas) required an eye
to be removed (scroll down to 2.5):
A Qisas [law of retaliation] punishment means causing injury to the
offender similar to the injury caused to the victim. For example, in
August 2000, the Saudi Arabian media reported that Abdel Moti Abdel
Rahman Mohammad, a 37-year-old-Egyptian national was subjected to
forcible surgical removal of his left eye at King Fahd Hospital in
Medina. The operation was carried out as a judicial punishment of Qisas
after he was found guilty of disfiguring Shahata Ajami Mahmoud, a
53-year-old Egyptian, by throwing acid at his face and damaging his
In 2003, in Saudi Arabia a man had two teeth extracted under the law of
In May Awda al-Zahrani, a Saudi Arabian national, reportedly had two of
his teeth extracted as a judicial punishment for having caused similar
injury to someone during a fight. One press report suggested that the
teeth were extracted by a dentist.
In 2003, a court in Pakistan sentenced a man to be blinded by acid
he carried out a similar attack on his fiancйe.
The court in the town of Bahawalpur, Punjab province, sentenced
Sajid under the Islamic Qisas law that matches crime and punishment.
. . . Etemaad says the accused, identified only as Vahid, was 16 when
threw a bottle of acid at another man during a fight in a vegetable
market in 1993. The top opened - Vahid insists accidentally - and
blinded his victim in both eyes. A court said the crime should be
as qisas, a category for which the Koran stipulates specific
punishments, in this case an eye for an eye. The paper said the
was to pour acid on Vahid's eyes, but an appeals court ruled it should
be done surgically so as not to harm other parts of his face.
The following articles in the law covering retaliation in Iran say that
the instruments for carrying out the law must be sharp and sterile, and
that a one-eyed man is still liable to have his good eye removed.
The instruments for carrying out the retaliation must be sharp and
sterile, in accordance with the manner of retaliation, and be suited
such purpose. It is not allowed to inflict greater injuries on the
wrongdoer than he caused.
If someone gauges [sic, gouges] out the eye of another, he can be
condemned in accordance with the law of retaliation, even if he himself
has only one eye and will be blind as a consequence. No reason exists
for him not to pay compensation.
Eye and teeth removal come directly from the Quran, the eternal word of
Allah, which must be imposed on humankind for its own good. Therefore,
how can traditional and Quran-believing Muslims reform unless they
behind their sacred book?
This following hadith shows Muhammad taking revenge on his household
forcing him to take medicine during a sickness. He told them not to
him the medicine (one tradition says he pointed this out without
speaking). The members of his household misinterpreted his comment as a
refusal for not liking the taste of the medicine. So they gave him more
medicine, anyway. When he improved, he scolded them and laid down the
law of retaliation: "There is none of you but will be forced to drink
medicine, and I will watch you" . . . (Ad-Diyat or Blood-wit, no. 6897;
cf. no. 6886). That is, everyone will be forced to drink the bitter
medicine, and Muhammad will watch them squirm as they taste the
bitterness. This tradition shows Muhammad's law can be imposed for
reasons. To be blunt, it also reveals a mean streak in him. One would
expect more self-restraint and forgiveness from an Allah-inspired
prophet. He should set the example and rise above such a petty thirst
The same manual expands on the list of body parts that are liable for
"Retaliation is also obligatory . . . for every wound that cuts to the
bone, such as a cut on the head or face that reaches the skull, or a
to the bone on the upper arm, lower leg, or thigh. To the bone means
that it is known that a knife or a needle, for example, has reached the
bone, not that the wound actually exposes the bone to view" (pp.
It is breathtaking to watch Islam in action. Does a judge or his
representative take a knife or a needle and actually inflict the same
wound by slicing and puncturing an arm or a leg? How is like-for-like
punishment literally and physically applied to the sex organs? The
answer is found in the hadith and in the modern examples in the
introduction to this article. A judge or his representative actually
applies the same wound on the offender as it the victim's wound.
. . . This website gives a useful mid-sized summary of Islamic law.
Its theme is human rights and Islamic law. They link the two in all
seriousness, but the article drips with irony. Sharia and human rights
are opposites and antithetical. It blithely assumes that the law of
retaliation (spelled "Qesas" on this page) is the best for humankind.
Most Muslims are convinced that the Quran came down directly from God,
so they never challenge it.
We on the outside of Islam are allowed to ask whether the Quran's
punishments are better than the New Testament's policy of forgiving and
restoring sexual sinners. Does the Quran guide society better than the
New Testament does? Would the true God send Gabriel down to Muhammad
with a violent and bloody message that comes six hundred years after
Jesus? Should this message supercede the one proclaimed by Jesus?
Given the hard evidence, Bible-educated Christians answer no. The true
God would not send down such extreme policies in the new era of
salvation which Jesus ushered in. They realize that the Quran is
empirically and factually worse than the New Testament.
Jesus Christ came with good news and the love of God. Muhammad came
poking and gouging. Christianity advances society forward. Islam drags
Jesus saves. Muhammad retaliated.