Lost in Translation: Cutting off the Hands of Thieves

This is kind of a terrifying misconception. Children steal. The poor steal. Greedy, rich jackasses steal. Of course, only the first two will suffer from this misconception, which makes clearing it up pretty damn important*.

The misconception comes from this translated verse:

The male thief, and the female thief, you shall cut off the hands as a recompense for what they earned, and to serve as a deterrent from God. God is Noble, Wise. Whoever repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, then God will relent on him. Truly, God is Forgiving, Merciful. [5:38-39]

This verse is often translated to mean literally cutting off the hand. But the verb used here to express “to cut”–iqtaa–is used in a metaphorical sense almost (2 exceptions out of the 14) every other time it is used in the Qur’an, and a more intense verb–qattaa–related to iqtaa (correction), is used to mean both literal and metaphorical cutting off.

The object of the verb, hands–aydi–is also metaphorical and used metaphorically throughout the Qur’an to mean means or ability.

Another significant word is recompense, sometimes translated as deterrent–and not necessarily punish, implying that the means should be cut off until the crimes stop or until they made up for.

The verse then continues to command us to excuse those who repent for their sins, which is kind of hard to do when the hand has been cut off.

Conclusively, the verse should interpretively read:

The male thief, and the female thief, you shall cut-off the means as a recompense for what they earned, and to serve as a deterrent from God. God is Noble, Wise. Whoever repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, then God will relent on him. Truly, God is Forgiving, Merciful. [5:38-39]

*Not that I would advocate rich jackasses having their hands cut off either.

92 thoughts on “Lost in Translation: Cutting off the Hands of Thieves

  1. You asked specifically if I had an ijazah, not only if I learned classical Arabic from a reputable source. That is certification.I'm going to assume that you are asking in good faith, and not implying that I shouldn't interpret verses with someone else's "authoritative permission" despite the fact that God has commanded me to use my brain and seek knowledge for myself and that traditionally learned scholars have always been argued against, and tell you that I am currently studying classical Arabic.If you seek someone who is reputable now (and not learning) perhaps the Internet isn't the best source.

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  2. fair play, I didn't realize ijazah was exclusive to sunnis. So 'what' (lol) are you then?I didn't visit this blog for guidance, this post is a subject of discussion at a forum: http://maniacmuslim.com/forums/index.php?/topic/27816-lost-in-translation-cutting-off-the-hands-of-thieves/Well, I was asking because I wanted to know whether you had a deep understanding of the language. If you had a deep understanding of the language it gives you more weight. But I suppose I was also implying that if you do not have the knowledge of the language, then who are you to comment? One of the scholars of the past said (though I don't recall the name, but the message isn't diminished because of it) that the more he learnt, the more he realised how little he actually knew. Until at one point, it was as if in actual fact, he knew barely anything at all.

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  3. I don't believe in sects. Sectarianism emerged after the Prophet's death out of struggle for political power, and the Qur'an has several verses warning us against them as they divide the Ummah. I have written on this and cited the verses if it interests you:http://thefatalfeminist.blogspot.com/2011/03/islamic-sects.htmlhttp://thefatalfeminist.blogspot.com/2011/06/thoughts-on-islam-as-organized-religion.htmlIf I sound like I feel I know more than I do, I assure you it's because this is an uphill battle and I am working against a system of erased history and immense patriarchal bias forced into the interpretation of the Qur'an. However, even if I weren't studying the language, YOU have no right to silence those who interpret for themselves–that, in itself, is a way of failing to realize how little we know. Everyone's interpretation is worth consideration and no one needs permission from any human being to share their experiences in the human condition. The only authority is God. And it is highly problematic that those engaged in religious debate are demanded of credentials rather than attacked for arguments.

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  4. There isn't any getting rid of sects, and that is the raw truth – they've been around and are far too ingrained into people's cultures. There does have to be some work though on bringing them together. Most of them become sworn enemies on little details. It's so sad to see ourselves knee deep in hadith whilst neglecting the book of allah to a dusty shelf – and the quraan without a doubt is what can unite the muslims.By no means am I here to silence you. I just wanted to know for myself what your education was. Besides discussing these things can only be good for both of us? I do think however that if you are going to post your opinions, you should let everyone know your credentials, it's only fair.The reason I asked for credentials is because I am a layman, If I knew all the sciences of Arabic and tafsir, then I would be able to come to a much better conclusion with regards to your tafsir of this verse. As such, I am inclined to go with the person who has more authority in the matter, the person that is/was an expert in Arabic and the Quraan. I would much prefer the diagnosis of an experienced doctor, than a kid in med school, if you get my drift.

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  5. I would much prefer the diagnosis of an experienced doctor, than a kid in med schoolOf course you would. But everyone is capable of reading. Would you invalidate observations on the human experience over the opinions of a philosopher?That said, you are free of course to believe whom you will.

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  6. the above meaning, that a scholar of Islam is so much more than a mere philosopher. A true scholar has to practice his religion, otherwise what is the point of his learning?

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  7. So a true scholar must experience xir religion?I find that scholars today fail to consider the vastness and variety in interpretation, and the most literal and shallowest interpretations have dominated.But again, as you wish, for yourself.

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  8. what's wrong with their? :pback to the point:of course, what is the point of knowledge if it is not going to be implemented. In fact unimplemented knowledge is dangerous. The more you know, the more responsibility you have.I think you may like this: http://bayyinah.com/media/I would say a 3-4 hour explanation of surah al Asr is pretty deep. I think that there are very few people (at least in the public eye) that discuss the Quraan deeply. But Even in our local communities the imams barely discuss the Quraan, keeping it to the you can do this, you can't do that, and not really touching on the heart pulling stuff.However, wouldn't you say there is a case for letting many verses retain their obvious and clear meaning:It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise – they are the foundation of the Book – and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah . But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.tafsir of ibn kathir on this verse, if you are interested: http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=563&Itemid=46And Allah knows best.

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  9. What is wrong with their is that gramatically it is inconsistent when dealing with singular subjects ;)Nahida's credentials as you put them are quite irrelevant. However, if your personal expression of belief requires you only to accept viewpoints from people schooled in centuries of misogyny then it would probably be best if you ask your local imam as to the validity of nahida's points.I feel, my religion and relationship with God is so innately personal that ALL views can be considered.Interestingly, this medicine analogy is REALLY overdone:1. When you have a cold you don't go to a super specialist for their opinion (dear Sheikh: am I allowed to be a decent human being?) certain aspects should be apparent by their intrinsic nature. 2. Medicine is based on tangible results. Nobody actually knows what Gods judgement will be in the hereafter so I would rather take my destiny into my own hands seeing as I am the one who is going to be held accountable.

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  10. lol. If you have a cold, someone tells you the treatment. How did they find out what the treatment was? They learnt either from experience (and many failed attempts, or a fluke, or some knowledge they learnt and applied), or from somebody else's experience or knowledge.Furthermore the following story exemplifies why we should ask people of knowledge: One hadith, that of Jabir (quoted earlier), relates a story about a man who was on a journey and suffered an injury. While he slept, he had a wet dream, after which he asked his companions if he could perform tayammum. They said he could not, so he made ghusl and died because of it. When that was mentioned to the Prophet, he said "They killed him, may Allah kill them. Do you not ask about what you do not know? … It would have been enough for him to perform tayammum and drop a little water over his wound or else wipe it, then to wipe it and wash the rest of the body." This is related by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, ad-Daraqutni and Ibn as-Sakin, who classified it as sahihI'm not saying don't think for yourself – but when you are contradicting the overwhelming majority of scholars, at least have it checked out. You are free to hold your own views and opinions, what I take is from what I feel safe to take. Once you release your point into the public arena you then become accountable for what you propagate. We will all be held accountable for what we do, so my line of thought is, instead of only interpreting verses for ourselves, we should also seek the interpretation that has been held by generations of scholars. Also the point about people being schooled in centuries of misogyny interests me. Can you give an example of this? Preferably of one of the four Imams of Jurisprudence as they are the scholars most people adhere to.

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  11. We will all be held accountable for what we do, so my line of thought is, instead of only interpreting verses for ourselves, we should also seek the interpretation that has been held by generations of scholars. We are accountable for our actions so we should let others act instead?Yeah that totally makes sense.She's thinking for herself, not for you it's really weird that you've derailed this comment section into arguments for your standards of validity when no one suggested you take everything.

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  12. Oh, rammy. =/ When people start lecturing for no reason about how our interpretations are invalid because engineers and doctors and such while asserting that their interpretation is more valid because they can drop names and then accuse us of forcing our interpretation on them when we never did… we tend to get impolite yes. ;)

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  13. I never accused you of forcing your interpretation on me. Or at least if I appeared to I never intended it. I'm sorry if my comments came across as self righteous drivel. All I meant by the post before last was that be careful, and I honestly only said it out of concern for you, and not to debase your argument. I truly am sorry if it came across as an attack.

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  14. I took it from you insisting that you had the right to take what you feel is safe, which I already said so I didn't understand why you needed to point it out (unless you were accusing me of forcing my interpretation on you) along with the comment on the importance of being backed up. It's alright, and thank you. =)

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  15. the more power a person has, the more they should be questioned. i find it strange that you've said Nahida is the one who should be careful, and not scholars who have caused so much suffering in the Ummah. if anything i would think you would interrogate them, not her. (though she is also not above criticism). power must be checked

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  16. Do you have any specific posts addressing 1400 years or so of misogynistic pressure, like a brief history or summary? I don't fancy browsing through 100 or so entries :p

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  17. Ah, no, unfortunately the site builds on itself, so you don't really get everything all at once. The general picture is that there have been many scholars (both male and female) who have remained true to the original interpretations, but their voices have been drowned out by patriarchy and the desire for political power and war and fabrications of most–not all–written hadith, and the systematic oppression of women allowed this to happen. Their interpretations must be recovered, and the post I linked about 33:33 is a small example of this recovery and revivalism.

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  18. This post reminds me that reading can be a political act. It's also an act that has ethical and moral implications.I'm wary of readers who can't think for themselves– who need a scholar to tell them how to read, what to read, and what to think about either. Such an approach to reading a text is disingenuous, passive, and egotistical (egotistical when used to inform or chasten the "ignorant" from the mouths of those who have unwittingly labeled *themselves* fools in order to usurp the role of the scholar by conflating scholarly knowledge with their own: "I've read x who is smart, therefore I am smart. I've read x is who wise, righteous, and brilliant, therefore I am brilliant. I've read scholars on this matter and they all say x, I agree, therefore I know what I'm talking about."Besides being a theft and a fraudulent claim to knowledge, that method of reading breeds a rancid form of arrogant piety.At its worst, how a reader interprets a text can absolve them of responsibility for their beliefs and actions. Of course, this is a repulsive phenomena. Readers have a choice. And whether or not they find themselves in the neighborhood of being absolved of responsibility depends on what a reader decides to do with what they've read. That nature of that choice, I believe, is a question of character– not intellect.It's disturbing and wrong when unethical and immoral methods of reasoning and consequences arise from bad reading habits and scholarship.It's outrageous when bad reading habits and scholarship are endorsed as a way for arriving at conclusions that, at best, are problematic– not least of all when it seems that the conclusions and intepretations drawn from a text fail the test of reality and common sense.Unfortunately, as we've witnessed time and again in the realm of sacred and religious texts, readings and readers who are divorced from reality find themselves in a hermeneutical quandry. When coupled with power, that quandry tends to be resolved through means of elaborate theological and philosophical ruses, violence, oppression, priviledge, exclusion, coercion, harrassment, force, psychological aggression, guilt. On and on.I don't trust readings of any text that need the thought police or a goon squad in order to enlighten the rest of us. I'm not a Muslim, but I do at least remember that the Qu'ran has the special status of being God's direct, revealed word and speech.With that in mind, I marvel that the Prophet Muhammad was apparently illiterate. It seems to me that having credentials or a degree isn't a pre-requisite for understanding the Qu'ran. Nor does it seem, outright, to be a pre-requisite for sharing one's thoughts or ideas about the Qu'ran. God's revelation is to all of humanity (high and low)–not to a select group of scholars that have been asked to interpret it for the rest of us.Rant over.

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  19. Well said Sophia! I would like to point out that understanding the Arabic language does not ensure that one would comprehend the meanings of Quranic verses. There are many examples from history where people who spoke Arabic derived wrong interpretations and/or completely twisted God's word from the Quran. For example, the disbelievers in Makkah during the Prophet's time understood Arabic (as it is presented in the Quran) and yet they did not grasp its full meaning and therefore rejected the truth. Possessing skill in Arabic is not a prerequisite to understand the Quran. A sincere believer who does not know Arabic and yet makes an effort to understand the Quran through different translations and his/her own God given intelligence is certainly on the right path. "When you recite the Qur'an, we place an invisible barrier between you and those who do not believe in the life to come. We have put covers on their hearts that prevents them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears." (17:45-46)Therefore, it is only Allah who provides guidance. I leave you all with these verses from the Quran:"Among them is a group who distort the scripture, to make you think that what they relate is a part of the scripture, when it is not from the scripture. And they assert that it is from God, when it is not from God. Thus, they tell lies concerning God, and they are well aware of it.Never would a human being, whom God has blessed with the scripture, wisdom and prophetic office, thereafter say to people, 'Be servants of me instead of God.' Rather, he would say, 'Become true devotees of the Lord since you learn and teach the Book and study it as it should be studied.'Nor would he instruct you to take angels and the Prophets for lords and patrons. What! Would he ever enjoin upon you unbelief after you have surrendered to God?" (3: 78-80)

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  20. maher

    “But what’s most interesting is the form of plural that the word takes in this verse: not two but three. Most of us have only two hands, and yet the plural for two is not used, reinforcing the interpretation that hands is not literal.”
    ***والمراد قطع يد كل منهما ; أي إذا سرق الذكر تقطع يده ، وإذا سرقت الأنثى تقطع يدها ، وإنما جمع اليد ، ولم يقل يديهما ; لأن فصحاء العرب يستثقلون إضافة المثنى إلى ضمير التثنية ; أي الجمع بين تثنيتين ، ومثله قوله تعالى : ( إن تتوبا إلى الله فقد صغت قلوبكما ) ( 66 : 4
    So how would you interpret this verse>
    إِنْ تَتُوبَا إِلَى اللَّهِ فَقَدْ صَغَتْ قُلُوبُكُمَا

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      1. maher

        can you please interpret for us the verse in Sura -Yusuf that speaks about the women that had cut their hands,
        فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتْ بِمَكْرِهِنَّ أَرْسَلَتْ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَعْتَدَتْ لَهُنَّ مُتَّكَأً وَآتَتْ كُلَّ وَاحِدَةٍ مِّنْهُنَّ سِكِّينًا وَقَالَتِ اخْرُجْ عَلَيْهِنَّ فَلَمَّا رَأَيْنَهُ أَكْبَرْنَهُ وَقَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ وَقُلْنَ حَاشَ لِلّهِ مَا هَـذَا بَشَرًا إِنْ هَـذَا إِلاَّ مَلَكٌ كَرِيمٌ
        Aydi- plural of hand= hands
        Do you mean it is correct to say ” يَدَيهِنَّ “

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        1. The women did NOT “cut their hands.” They nitched into them a little. They did not cut them off. This only proves that there are an abundance of interpretations and degrees of severity.

          Your very first comment was entirely irrelevant. Stick with THIS verse, please. You are taking other verbs out of context. The original verse in question could have easily said TWO. (يداهما) But it didn’t. And there is a reason.

          And unless you are my instructor, I don’t owe it to you to engage in gratuitous testing to prove I can translate. Unless you can offer new information that I haven’t heard already (believe me, you are not educating me here) you can get your own blog with your interpretation.

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    1. maher

      I meant this verse
      إِنْ تَتُوبَا إِلَى اللَّهِ فَقَدْ صَغَتْ قُلُوبُكُمَا
      my question here is about the word ” qulobakoma”
      qalb meanS heart .
      qulob means hearts.

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        1. maher

          firstly “gulobakoma” is not a verb.
          secondly ,The male thief, and the female thief, they are also two people
          as تتوبا also referring to two people,

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          1. maher

            I agree with you that the verse does not say your hands but it does say your hearts ( in a form of plural -( as if we explain it as having more than two hearts ))– when they were two individuals and each one of them had one heart.

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          2. Yes but for the same reason–it’s not talking about a literal heart.

            Alright. Both our arguments are here now, we can leave them for individuals to read and consider.

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  21. maher

    ” The women did NOT “cut their hands.” i agree with you because قَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ mean that they were continuously cut their hands.
    قَطَّعْنَ is not the same as قَطَعنَ
    because the first one is a verb in a state of frequency
    and the second one is an act that happens only once

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  22. maher

    your profile picture shows Cross and crescent united together, so what about the jewish symbol
    ???

    **Do not think that i am trying to take you away from the discussion topic ,but i just saw the picture.

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      1. maher

        i did not know that it is a feminine sign, but it looks to me as a cross. would you please inform me what does this sign mean, as they are using cross and crescent .

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  23. maher

    you said : “the form of plural that the word takes in this verse: not two but three. Most of us have only two hands, and yet the plural for two is not used, reinforcing the interpretation that hands is not literal.”

    ****my argument was about showing you that ” ايديهما ” can be in plural form even when they speak about two individuals , as this rule fits in other verses in the Quran as in the verse ” إِنْ تَتُوبَا إِلَى اللَّهِ فَقَدْ صَغَتْ قُلُوبُكُمَا
    The verse speaks about two individuals, (as if each one would have more than two hearts, which is out of this world) as far as your interpretation of the verse is concerned ( the one that talks about cutting the HANDS ).

    another example would be the verse ” فَلَمَّا رَأَيْنَهُ أَكْبَرْنَهُ وَقَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ ” , which refers to the women that were cutting their hands unconsciously – when they saw prophet yusuf – in which the word” أَيْدِيَهُنَّ ” would refer to the women as if each one of them has more than two hands.

    so what i am trying to say, with all due respect, is that you cannot simply say that : “the form of plural that the word takes in this verse: not two but three. Most of us have only two hands, and yet the plural for two is not used, reinforcing the interpretation that hands is not literal.” what you have written basically shows that you are clearly basing your argument on unsound grammatical rules.

    again, i’m not necessarily arguing for the cutting of hands, though i may, according the Islamic law .

    I hope that you are qualified enough to be in such a position that would permit you to interpret the Quran in such a manner , otherwise i’d love to learn about the reference you have used , because i am very concerned that your interpretations might mislead many people, specially your readers in the blog .
    my question to you is that , how you would respond to what follows ?

    in the time of the prophet Mohammad صلَّ الله عليه وسلم, someone stole something and the person’s hand was cut .

    and here is the Hadieth :
    عن عائشة . أن قريشاً أهمّهم المرأة المخزومية التي
    سرقت ، فقالوا : من يكلم فيها رسول الله ، ومن يجترىء
    عليه إلا اسامة ، فكلمه أسامة ، فقال الرسول : أتشفع
    في حد من حدود الله ، ثم خطب فقال : إنما أهلك من كان
    قبلكم إذا سرق فيهم الشريف تركوه وإذا سرق الضعيف
    أقاموا عليه الحد ، وايم الله ! لو أن فاطمة بنت محمد
    سرقت لقطعت يدها ، فأمر النبي بقطع يدها .
    رواه البخاري ومسلم

    so much so that, prophet Mohammad said that , even if it was his own daughter Fatima, if she was to steal, he would make sure she gets what she deserves. yet she was the dearest to him.

    NB: how would respond to this , given the use of the word ” يدها” in this Hadieth ; does it also solely imply the meaning : ”means”, unfortunately the answer is NO , the Hadith is pretty clear and straightforward, no space for manipulation of interpretations in this regard .

    yet we are expected as Muslims to challnge any act of theft; i.e. the ” MEANS” , however, this does not necissarly discard or contradicts with the act of cutting hands, in anyway.

    Islam is clear, simple, fair to understand, because at the end of the day , we are all equal in the eyes of ALLAH . it aims to create social justice by employing certain measures, some of these measures happen to be a bit harsh, and other measures are just the opposite, because it would not make sense to call for justice from a single platform , and thus a standard measure, rather, problems are dealt with according to the level o their effect on society , and stealing is such a big deal .

    But Islam is very considerate as such that it protects children and those who are needy

    by the way, talking about the term : “means”, you might as well want be reminded that cutting hands can also be considered as means to promote social justice.

    PEACE :)

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  24. You don’t need common roots to have a relation. Also, there were more than two women! Maher, your previous (unpublished) comments: Before asking for my qualifications, citing hadith, proclaiming yourself an Arab, and lecturing me about misleading people, please read the earlier of the comment thread. It’s happened. Here, and elsewhere. I don’t have the patience to deal with this again. It only goes in circles and leads to incredible derailing.

    I hold the people who view my entries as fully responsible for making their own decisions.

    This place is for expressing my views, and practicing my religion as I see fit. If you differ you are free to start your own blog and preach people there.

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  25. maher

    Deleting my previous comment just shows how “open minded you are” .
    that shows that you argument is so weak and lose , you just to afraid to be face to face with the truth.
    you do not respect others’ views..
    i hope you would post it back because it does not contain any inappropriate use of language.

    Do not hide the truth

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    1. ?

      Um. I never deleted them. They go into moderation (you can still see them because you submitted them but other people can’t until I approve them) for a period of time until I approve them officially. One of them landed in the spam folder.

      Calm down.

      And foul language is actually not against the comment policy. For example, now you’re being a total ass, and making paranoid accusations. Please stop spamming the site.

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        1. It is not right for you to make false accusations. In fact I believe it is a sin. Don’t say things like that without knowing.

          And you are not entitled to this space, so stop throwing a fit when your comments don’t appear within the minute you submit them.

          Your comments are inane at this point. Please stop spamming. You’ve derailed and violated the comment policy.

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    2. kelsshels

      LOL!! She’s not hiding the truth you’re just paranoid.

      All comments are moderated. And your argument is weak. She clearly said that BOTH hands and heart are FIGURATIVE.

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      1. maher IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!
        You read her post, you either get convinced by it, or you discuss with her the argument itself, or you press that little x button on the top and move on with your life. Her nationality, whether she speaks arabic or not, her scholarly degree are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

        JESUS.

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  26. maher

    HI i am back
    I want to say that< saying that you are " currently studying classical Arabic" does not give you the write to make your own interpretation of the verse , because basically you do not know Arabic
    my point here that you do not know the root of the word qattaa = قَطَعَ ,
    because you say above "verb–qattaa–derived from iqtaa" which is totally wrong, and if you ask your teacher then he/she will tell you that the verb iqtaa is derive from qattaa ( ق ,ط , ع ) sorry to tell you but this is just basic grammatical rule.

    and you said that i proclaiming myself as an Arab, show me where did i mention that !!!!!!!

    i might have posted a comment that say so " i am arab " >>>

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    1. I have ANSWERED you about the relation. It shouldn’t say “derived” it was poor choice of ENGLISH vocabulary.

      saying that you are ” currently studying classical Arabic” does not give you the write to make your own interpretation of the verse , because basically you do not know Arabic

      It sure the hell does. I’m a practicing Muslim, I have EVERY RIGHT to Islam as your Arab “superiority.”

      Are you placing yourself as an intermediary between me and God, saying only YOU have the RIGHT to interpret? This is against the Qur’an. And the proof is above in the comments.

      I didn’t publish the comment about proclaiming you’re an Arab because it was obnoxious.

      Stop harassing me. You’re the reason Islam is in the state it is today. You are not an Organization. I don’t need your PERMISSION, you don’t own ISLAM.

      And you’re officially banned.

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  27. I think we all know what’s going on here!! Obviously Nahida is trying to suppress the truth of Islam because she’s a corrupted woman who lives in a Western country and doesn’t even speak Arabic!! You can’t go around interpreting Islam however you like, as it says in the Qur’an:

    “Lo! We have sent down a Book with clear proofs, for all humanity, yet for some reason only conservative heterosexual Arab males are permitted to interpret it. Also, We created all humankind and endowed them with reason and conscience, but we didn’t intend for them to actually use it. And God is sexist, discriminatory.”
    – Surah al-Misogynist 4:1-2

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  28. Kathryn

    Nahida,

    You have great patience and the reason these people don’t like what you’re writing is very likely that the status quo of today’s Islam suites them just fine. I am so glad to see another sister using her mind and intellect to research for herself and find meaning in the Quran as well as hadith. I have also gotten a lot of defensiveness and condescending reactions when I offer an alternate and very logical view. Keep on keepin on!!!

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  29. Kathryn

    I do have to add though that if a person steals in need, than it is the state’s responsibility to care for the person, not punish them. I also disagreed with the cutting off of hands for a long time but I look at it like this now; a few hundred who have their hands cut off throughout the year due to thievery seems much better than incarcerating millions of people for years. The U.S’s prison industrial complex is modern day slavery and only helps to perpetuate the cycles of crime, poverty and violence in this country… just a thought

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    1. Well I’m certain there would be a better solution than either–we needn’t limit ourselves with one or the other. I’m highly uncomfortable with permanently removing a perfectly functioning body part; I’d offering fining them twice the amount they stole rather than incarceration (unless they’ve stolen massive amounts or are serial thieves) as a way of cutting off the means / discouraging them from committing the crime again.

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  30. You probably already know that I am not exactly religious but I am someone who likes reading and learning more about history.

    Should you ever decided to have a different perspective try reading “The Hidden Origins of Islam” by Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Gerd-R. Puin.

    I don’t believe you ever answered my question on your views of the hadith and the fiqh – Reliance if the traveller. So where do you stand on these items?

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    1. That’s because to comment on the entire book in a single comment would be vague, generalized, and unhelpful.

      But here’s a principle:

      “I do not believe any hadith or report of a companion of the Prophet to be true which differs from the common sense meaning of the Qur’an, no matter how trustworthy the narrators may have been. It is not impossible that a narrator appears to be trustworthy though he may be moved by ulterior motive. If hadiths were criticized for their textual contents as they were for the narrators who transmitted them, a great number would have been rejected. It is a recognized principle that a hadith could be declared spurious if it departs from the common sense meaning of the Quran from the recognized principles of Shariah, the rules of Logic, the evidence of sense, or any other self-evident truth.” –Ibn Khaldun

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  31. Rashida Khan

    Sounds like a lot of creative interpretation. If Allah wanted his message to be heard clearly, why use so much metaphor that gives occassion for misinterpretation? Why not use simple, plain, language? Evidence is more on the side of a simple, occams-razor explanation that the words are to be taken literally. Otherwise pretty much everything can be interpreted sixty ways until sundown.

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      1. I am not sure what your counter is– Are you saying it is good to leave room for many interpretations? In that case who pronounces the definitive interpretation for those absolutists who want a Sharia law in all four corners of the world — gentle spirits like the ones here, or fire and brimstone clerics hell bent on meshing politics, law, and metaphysics into one fearful force?

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        1. I am not countering anything. I simply believe that when the Qur’an itself implies that each verse has many interpretations by asking us to take “the best meaning” in it, it only makes all the sense in the universe. It makes all the sense that a work of God meant to speak to everyone wouldn’t be one-dimensional. It makes all the sense that even the interpretation of it would reveal a person’s character. If every act on Earth is a means of navigating our moral compass, then why shouldn’t the Qur’an be one of the most telling?

          You’re concluding that the Qur’an isn’t “clear” based on your own projections of God’s objective–which I’d like to believe doesn’t only involve barking orders.

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  32. Let me clarify my perspective of this back and forth over multiple interpretations (or as you call “projections of God’s objective”).

    We can all agree that amputation for stealing is a horrible punishment –whether now or in the time of the Prophet. We cannot deny though, that it _is_ happening today in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Mali, Tanzania, Iran, Afghanistan, and yes, even in Indonesia’s Aceh province. Your interpretation creates the hope that punishment this barbaric (e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPqDj51u0Ow ) is simply a horrible misreading of Qur’an. But anyone that observes its effects (search youtube, there are just too many similar links) will see that such misreading isn’t just a matter of nuance, to be dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders. Rather, it is of utmost urgency that the myriad malicious misinterpretations are simply not allowed such dangerous consanguinity with the True one (whatever the True one may be), since the results of such are so heart rending.

    That to me is the salient matter here. And therefore I am compelled to make this observation, with a rhetorical question — not just to you Nadia, but also to others here: can we honestly file this away as a test of one’s character or belief in a merciful God when those words have so much superfluous mystery as to be easily miscarried towards the most unmerciful acts in HIs name, in our names? I come back to my original question: Why should there be so much metaphor or reliance on infidelities of language when it concerns not matters of spirit but those of law?

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    1. Razin

      “Why should there be so much metaphor or reliance on infidelities of language when it concerns not matters of spirit but those of law?”

      In response to your question, I have actually pondered such a thing. As in, why can’t God(s.w.t) be more straightforward? But I think the reason for the Quran having metaphors is that it is open to interpretations depending on the time period and also the Quran is the last, final words by God(s.w.t) and it is supposed to endure till the end of time. It may sound a little bit too far fetched but that’s the truth. So my point is even further down the road, future generations may look back and think that the opinions written here in regards to the Quran may be wrong as compared to their own.

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  33. Nicolás

    As salamu 3alaicum sister, the plural used in the aya is the dual plural أَيْدِيَهُمَا, not the 3 or more plural. The three or more plural would be أيديهُم.

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