The ruling regarding Qisaas (retribution) is found in Islam. One form of Qisaas is to take a life in revenge for another life. The death sentence is prohibited in many countries of the world. Many organisations protest against it and object to it. In this regard, the objections raised to the death sentence are also imposed on this ruling of Islam. We, therefore, will discuss this in some detail.
First of all, the ruling regarding Qisaas is present in the previous heavenly religions and books. Qisaas has been mentioned in the Old Testament in these words, ‘You take life in revenge for another life. You take eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for a hand, foot for a foot. Burn against burning you, scrape against scraping you, and injure against your injury.’ (‘Ahd Naamah Qadeem, pp. 21, Ayah 23-25)
Mentioning the wisdom of this punishment it has been stated at another place in the Old Testament, ‘By doing this, you will eradicate an evil from amongst you. All the people of Israel will hear about this and fear.’ (‘Ahd Naamah Qadeem, pp. 21, Ayah 21)
At one place in the Old Testament, the punishment for kidnappers has been stated like this, ‘If a man is found kidnapping one of his people (Israelis), and he uses him as [his] slave or sells him, then that kidnapper must be killed. By doing this, you will eradicate that evil from amongst you.’ (‘Ahd Naamah Qadeem, pp. 24, Ayah 7)
Now let’s talk about rational and logical arguments. It is the basic responsibility of any state to protect the life of people. If someone’s life is not safe, the state system is of no use. Many steps are taken to protect the life. One of them is the system and imposition of punishments. On the one hand, this teaches criminals a lesson and brings about their reformation, but on the other hand, this makes people realise that the state attaches importance to the lives of people because if a murderer can carry out one murder, he can also carry out a hundred murders. Therefore, a murderer is given the death sentence so that the greatness and importance of the lives of thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions of people remain in the heart with complete awe and dignity. The next time, a person will think a thousand times before carrying out a murder and will avoid murdering humanity by recalling the consequences.
Those who oppose the punishment say that the death sentence greatly affects the family of the criminal, but this argument is extremely weak. It implies that if a murderer has a family, he should be released. If he does not have a family, there is no harm and obstacle in the way of punishing him. It means in non-Muslim countries, there are a number of children whose fathers are not known, and when their mothers abandon them or pass away, they usually have no more family left, therefore the death sentence should be given in such countries, but these are the countries which strongly oppose it.
Similarly, this punishment should be given in the countries where the state fulfils economic and educational needs of its people because the family there will suffer only emotionally, but will not face helplessness, and dependency. Considering this, the death sentence should be imposed in several non-Muslim countries. However, this is for a justification purpose. For us, Islamic laws are equivalent everywhere with all their conditions. The second thing is that if there is only the concern that the family will be affected, then terrorists and rebels should not be given the death sentence either, nor should any military action be taken against them because many deaths are bound to occur due to such actions and the family of every dead terrorist will be affected.
Those who oppose the death sentence put forward another argument that human life is very precious; keeping its value and worth in mind, even those who commit a very serious crime should not be deprived of the right of living their life. Its reply is the same that if a complete crop is produced by throwing seeds on farmland, the seeds are then not valued.
Similarly, if millions of lives can be saved by killing hundreds of terrorists after taking a military action against them, then these hundreds of deaths are not valued. Likewise, if millions of lives can be protected by preventing thousands of people from becoming murderers after giving the death sentence to a murderer, then there is no harm in punishing that one murderer.
Some people argue that if someone is given the death sentence and he is found innocent later on, then there is no compensation for that. Its reply is that many innocent people are killed during a military action and there is no compensation for them either, so should these actions be stopped? Moreover, there are people who are sentenced to life imprisonment during which they pass away or who are released from life imprisonment in their old age. What is the value of their life that is full of torment and if it is found later that they were innocent, what will be the compensation for that? The solution to all these things is not to repeal the original law, but to improve the crime investigation and the court system from better to best.
Another argument is given that the death sentence does not cause a reduction in crimes, therefore it is not beneficial, so it should be abolished. Even this argument is wrong and is the result of a lack of contemplation, because the death sentence certainly causes a reduction in crimes. If it does not reduce the crime rate, all punishments should be abolished, because when a big and severe punishment like the death sentence does not have any impact on the crime rate, what will be the impact of other light punishments? So, the whole system of punishments should be abolished.
The thing is that there are many causes of increase in the crime rate. For example, poverty, lack of good upbringing, not teaching the significance of life and wealth to people, experiencing injustice by the law, giving freedom to criminals, buying lawyers and judges with the power of money and taking no action against it by the state, etc. Despite taking an action against terrorists and rebels, terrorism and rebellion occur over and over again.
So now should military actions be stopped by saying that terrorism and rebellion are not being eradicated permanently or there is no reduction in them by these actions? Certainly, it will not happen. In fact, if other steps such as giving education and good upbringing, developing understanding, giving rights, stopping inflicting cruelty, etc. are taken alongside (military actions), then terrorism and rebellion will be eradicated. The same thing is for the death sentence.