Posts Tagged ‘Justice’

Polygamy in the Bible and the Koran

September 3, 2017 Leave a comment

In this blog post, I want to talk about polygamy — more specifically, polygyny — the practice of having more than one wife. I will quote from the Church Fathers and ancient Christian writers as well as from the Bible and the Koran.

Polygamy has been around for thousands of years. It is still practiced in some parts of the world. The first mention of a polygamous marriage in the Bible is in the Book of Genesis it says that Lamech had two wives, Adah and Zillah. (Genesis 4:19) Abraham had a wife and a concubine. His wife was Sarah and his concubine was Hagar. Later, Abraham took another concubine, Keturah, to be his wife. A concubine is a slave who is also a wife. There were Old Testament laws that regulated this practice of polygamy. (Exodus 21:10,11; Deuteronomy 21:15-17) Abraham’s son, Isaac, had only one wife, but his grandson, Jacob, had two wives and two concubines. King David had several wives. King Solomon also had several wives. The prophet, Hosea, had two wives in obedience to God’s commandments. (Hosea 1:2,3; 3:1-5) Tertullian wrote:

We do not indeed forbid the union of man and woman, blest by God as the seminary of the human race, and devised for the replenishment of the earth and the furnishing of the world,(Genesis 1:28) and therefore permitted, yet singly. For Adam was the one husband of Eve, and Eve his one wife, one woman, one rib. (Genesis 2:21,22) We grant, that among our ancestors, and the patriarchs themselves, it was lawful not only to marry, but even to multiply wives. There were concubines, too, (in those days.) But although the Church did come in figuratively in the synagogue, yet (to interpret simply) it was necessary to institute (certain things) which should afterward deserve to be either lopped off or modified. For the Law was (in due time) to supervene. (Nor was that enough:) for it was meet that causes for making up the deficiencies of the Law should have forerun (Him who was to supply those deficiencies). And so to the Law presently had to succeed the Word of God introducing the spiritual circumcision. (Romans 2:28,29; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11) Therefore, by means of the wide licence of those days, materials for subsequent emendations were furnished beforehand, of which materials the Lord by His Gospel, and then the apostle in the last days of the (Jewish) age, either cut off the redundancies or regulated the disorders. (To His Wife, Book I, vol. 4, p. 39, by Tertullian,145-220, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

St. Basil the Great wrote:

The Fathers say nothing of polygamy as being beastly, and a thing unagreeable to human nature. To us it appears a greater sin than fornication: Let therefore such [as are guilty of it] be liable to the canons, viz.: after they have been mourners one year — let them be prostrators three years — and then be received. (Canon LXXX, St. Basil the Great, 329-379, vol. 14, p. 609, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

Polygamy was acceptable in Old Testament times, but gradually became a discouraged practice. St. Methodius of Patara wrote:

   If, however, any one should venture to find fault with our argument as destitute of Scripture proof, we will bring forward the writings of the prophets, and more fully demonstrate the truth of the statements already made. Now Abraham, when he first received the covenant of circumcision, seems to signify, by receiving circumcision in a member of his own body, nothing else than this, that one should no longer beget children with one born of the same parent; showing that every one should abstain from intercourse with his own sister, as his own flesh. And thus, from the time of Abraham, the custom of marrying with sisters has ceased; and from the times of the prophets the contracting of marriage with several wives has been done away with; for we read, “Go not after thy lusts, but refrain thyself front thine appetites” (Sirach 18:30); for “wine and women will make men of understanding to fall away ” (Sirach 19:2); and in another place, “Let thy fountain be blessed; and rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18), manifestly forbidding a plurality of wives. And Jeremiah clearly gives the name of “fed horses” (Jeremiah 5:8) to those who lust after other women; and we read, “The multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take deep rooting from bastard slips, nor lay any fast foundation.” (Wisdom 4:3)
Lest, however, we should seem prolix in collecting the testimonies of the prophets, let us again point out how chastity succeeded to marriage with one wife, taking away by degrees the lusts of the flesh, until it removed entirely the inclination for sexual intercourse engendered by habit. For presently one is introduced earnestly deprecating, from henceforth, this seduction, saying, “O Lord, Father, and Governor of my life, leave me not to their counsels; give me not a proud look; let not the greediness of the belly, nor lust of the flesh, take hold of me.” (Sirach 23:1,4,6) And in the Book of Wisdom, a book full of all virtue, the Holy Spirit, now openly drawing His hearers to continence and chastity, sings on this wise, “Better it is to have no children, and to have virtue, for the memorial thereof is immortal; because it is known with God and with men. When it is present men take example at it; and when it is gone they desire it: it weareth a crown and triumpheth for ever, having gotten the victory, striving for undefiled rewards.” (Wisdom 4:1,2) (The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse I, chapter 3, St. Methodius of Patara, 260-312, vol. 6, p. 312, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

The purpose of polygamy was to increase the number of offspring one could have. Having more than one wife made it possible for a man to have more children.

To pious and discerning readers of the sacred Scriptures evidence of the chastity of the holy men who are said to have had several wives is found in this, that Solomon, who by his polygamy gratified his passions, instead of seeking for offspring, is expressly noted as chargeable with being a lover of women. This, as we are informed by the truth which accepts no man’s person, led him down into the abyss of idolatry. (Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, Book XXII, by Blessed Augustine of Hippo, 354-430, vol. 4, pp. 289-290, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series)

The example of Tobit in the Old Testament teaches us that we should not marry because of lust.

And now, O Lord, I take not this my sister for lust but uprightly: therefore mercifully ordain that we may become aged together. (Tobit 8:7, KJV)

St. Paul taught that one should marry in order to avoid falling into the sin of fornication. (I Corinthians 7:2)

In the beginning, however, the first human marriage was a monogamous one according to the Bible. (Genesis 1:27; 2:21-25) Monogamy is the rule laid down for Christians in the New Testament. The New Testament elevated marriage to the level of a Sacrament. (Ephesians 5:22-33) St. Paul called marriage a “great mystery.” (Ephesians 5:32) “Mystery” is another word for “Sacrament.” In the Orthodox Church, we call the Sacraments the Holy Mysteries. Tertullian wrote:

“But withal the blessed patriarchs,” you say, “made mingled alliances not only with more wives (than one), but with concubines likewise.” Shall that, then, make it lawful for us also to marry without limit? I grant that it will, if there still remain types — sacraments of something future — for your nuptials to figure; or if even now there is room for that command, “Grow and multiply” (Genesis 1:28); that is, if no other command has yet supervened: “The time is already wound up; it remains that both they who have wives act as if they had not:” (I Corinthians 7:29) for, of course, by enjoining continence, and restraining concubitance, the seminary of our race, (this latter command) has abolished that “Grow and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28) (An Exhortation to Chastity, chapter 6, by Tertullian,145-220, vol. 4, p. 53,Ante-Nicene Fathers)

In the Sacrament of Marriage, the man represents Christ and the woman represents the Church. Christ has only one bride, the Church. Therefore, a Christian man can have only one wife. During this present age, the Church is betrothed to Christ. (II Corinthians 11:2) After the resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment, the Church will become married to Christ in some mystical sense. (Revelation 19:7-9) So, the Sacrament of Marriage prefigures something to come in the future.

Although an Orthodox Christian is forbidden to live in a polygamous relationship with more than one wife at a time, he is permitted to re-marry after the death of his wife or after a divorce determined to be obtained for legitimate reasons by the Church. An Orthodox woman can, likewise, re-marry after the death of her husband or after a divorce obtained for legitimate reasons. An Orthodox Christian may not have more than three spouses during his or her lifetime.

In the case of trigamy and polygamy they laid down the same rule, in proportion, as in the case of digamy; namely one year for digamy (some authorities say two years); for trigamy men are separated for three and often for four years; but this is no longer described as marriage at all, but as polygamy; nay rather as limited fornication. It is for this reason that the Lord said to the woman of Samaria, who had had five husbands, “he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.” (John 4:18) He does not reckon those who had exceeded the limits of a second marriage as worthy of the title of husband or wife. In cases of trigamy we have accepted a seclusion of five years, not by the canons, but following the precept of our predecessors. Such offenders ought not to be altogether prohibited from the privileges of the Church; they should be considered deserving of hearing after two or three years, and afterwards of being permitted to stand in their place; but they must be kept from the communion of the good gift, and only restored to the place of communion after showing some fruit of repentance. (Letter CLXXX, Canon IV, St. Basil the Great, 329-379, vol. 8, pp. 225,226, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

There is no law as to trigamy: a third marriage is not contracted by law. We look upon such things as the defilements of the Church. But we do not subject them to public condemnation, as being better than unrestrained fornication. (Letter CXCIX, Canon L, St. Basil the Great, 329-379, vol. 8, p. 240, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

There are commandments in the Bible to care for widows and orphans.

Ye shall hurt no widow or orphan. And if ye should afflict them by ill treatment, and they should cry aloud to me, I will surely hear their voice. And I will be very angry, and will slay you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows and your children orphans. (Exodus 22:22-24, LXX)

Learn to do well; diligently seek judgement, deliver him that is suffering wrong, plead for the orphan, and obtain justice for the widow. (Isaiah 1:17, LXX)

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27, NKJV)

There are commandments in the Bible to care for the poor and needy.

Break thy bread to the hungry, and lead the unsheltered poor to thy house: if thou seest one naked, clothe him, and thou shalt not disregard the relations of thine own seed. (Isaiah 58:7, LXX)

“‘For I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:42-45, NKJV)

The Koran, likewise, commands us to care for the poor, the needy, the widows, and the orphans.

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing. (Koran 2:177, Pickthall)

They ask thee, (O Muhammad), what they shall spend. Say: that which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good ye do, lo! Allah is Aware of it. (Koran 2:215, Pickthall)

Upon the world and the Hereafter. And they question thee concerning orphans. Say: To improve their lot is best. And if ye mingle your affairs with theirs, then (they are) your brothers. Allah knoweth him who spoileth from him who improveth. Had Allah willed He could have overburdened you. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Koran 2:220, Pickthall)

The likeness of those who spend their wealth in Allah’s way is as the likeness of a grain which groweth seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah giveth increase manifold to whom He will. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing. (Koran 2:261, Pickthall)

The Koran uses the term “spending” for “giving.” One is not supposed to give to those in need something that one disdains.

O ye who believe! Spend of the good things which ye have earned, and of that which We bring forth from the earth for you, and seek not the bad (with intent) to spend thereof (in charity) when ye would not take it for yourselves save with disdain; and know that Allah is Absolute, Owner of Praise. (Koran 2:267, Pickthall)

So, if you have some rotten apples, you should not give them to the needy. You should give him some good apples. The Koran, further, states:

Ye will not attain unto piety until ye spend of that which ye love. And whatsoever ye spend, Allah is Aware thereof. (Koran 3:92, Pickthall)

Giving involves sacrifice.

There is a passage in the Fourth Surah which talks about caring for orphans and polygamy.

1 O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you.
2 Give unto orphans their wealth. Exchange not the good for the bad (in your management thereof) nor absorb their wealth into your own wealth. Lo! that would be a great sin.
3 And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice. (Koran 4:1-3, Pickthall)

The first verse in this passage states what the Bible also teaches. The first marriage was a monogamous one. Everyone is descended from the first man and the first woman.

The second verse talks about just treatment of orphans. After their father died, they inherit from their father. One should not deprive an orphan of his inheritance.

The third verse says that one should marry one to three widows with children if one does not think that he can deal fairly with the orphans. The purpose of the second, third, and fourth marriages was to insure that one dealt fairly with the orphans. If one does not think that he can do justice to so many wives, then he should have only one wife or a concubine. (A slave that is a wife is a concubine.)

The Koran is, therefore, teaching that a man may marry a virgin as his first wife and widows with children as his second, third, and fourth wives. One is not supposed to marry the second, third, and fourth wives out of lust, but in order to insure that he cares for them and their children. A man is more likely to care for a woman and her orphaned children if they are part of his household. However, in verse 129 of this same surah, it says:

Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so). But turn not altogether away (from one), leaving her as in suspense. If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 4:129, Pickthall)

The Bible says:

And if he take another to himself, he shall not deprive her of necessaries and her apparel, and her companionship with him. (Exodus 21:10, LXX)

So, a man has a choice. He can marry up to three more women who are widows with children or he can refrain from marrying anymore and just have only one wife. The Koran teaches that a man cannot live up to the high standard of morality taught in these passages regardless of what he chooses to do.

The Koran says:

If Allah took mankind to task by that which they deserve, He would not leave a living creature on the surface of the earth; but He reprieveth them unto an appointed term, and when their term cometh — then verily (they will know that) Allah is ever Seer of His slaves. (Quran 35:45, Pickthall)

The Prophet Isaiah said:

And we are all become as unclean, and all our righteousness as a filthy rag. (Isaiah 64:6, LXX)

We all in the end need mercy, because none of us are good enough regardless of how hard we try to do what is right.

He said: Have no fear this day! May Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. (Quran 12:92, Pickthall)

And they bid thee hasten on the evil rather than the good, when exemplary punishments have indeed occurred before them. But lo! thy Lord is rich in pardon for mankind despite their wrong, and lo! thy Lord is strong in punishment. (Quran 13:6, Pickthall)

The Koran gave seventh century Muslims an option: marry the widows to insure that they and their children are cared for or stay monogamous. If one stays monogamous, one must still look after the widows and the orphans. If one becomes polygamous, one must deal fairly with the additional wives and the orphans. In the 21st century, there are government agencies and private charities which assist widows and orphans. So, polygamy for the purpose of insuring that one fulfills his God-given responsibility to care for the widows and orphans is not necessary.

Christians are only allowed to have one wife. The Koran makes us aware that we need to care for orphans and widows. A married Christian man has only one choice in regard to the widows and orphans. Make sure that they are cared for. A married Christian man can adopt widows as spiritual wives. That is to say, be a husband to them, but do not make love to them. Make sure that they have all of the necessities of life and are cared for. He can also be a father to the orphans without adopting them.

Why moreover, Christian, are you so conditioned, that you cannot (so travel) without a wife? “In my present (widowed) state, too, a consort in domestic works is necessary.” (Then) take some spiritual wife. Take to yourself from among the widows one fair in faith, dowered with poverty, sealed with age. You will (thus) make a good marriage. A plurality of such wives is pleasing to God. (On Exhortation to Chastity, chapter 12, by Tertullian,145-220, vol. 4, p. 56, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

Such, we read, was the reward which the blessed Job obtained who was certainly crowned (for a victory) on the right hand, when he was the father of seven sons and walked as a rich and wealthy man, and yet offered daily sacrifices to the Lord for their purification, in his anxiety that they might prove acceptable and dear to God rather than to himself, when his gates stood open to every stranger, when he was “feet to lame and eyes to blind,” (Job 29:15) when the shoulders of the suffering were kept warm by the wool of his sheep, when he was a father to orphans and a husband to widows, when he did not even in his heart rejoice at the fall of his enemy. And again it was the same man who with still greater virtue triumphed over adversity on the left hand, when deprived in one moment of his seven sons he was not as a father overcome with bitter grief but as a true servant of God rejoiced in the will of his Creator. (The Conferences, Conference VI, chapter 10, by St. John Cassian, 360-435, vol. 11, p. 356, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

In conclusion, the Old Testament permitted polygamy for the purpose of increasing the number of offspring one could have. The later writings in the Old Testament discouraged polygamy. The New Testament elevated marriage to the level of a Sacrament. The man in the Sacrament represents Christ and the woman in the Sacrament represents the Church. The Church is in its betrothal stage now. After Christ returns, the Church will be in its married state to Him. The Sacrament of Marriage prefigures Christ’s future relationship with the Church. The Bible and the Koran teach that we should take care of the poor, the needy, the widows, and the orphans. Muslim men in the seventh century were permitted to marry widows with orphaned children in order to insure that they dealt fairly with them and they were cared for. A man cannot deal equally with his wives in a polygamous marriage. So, a Muslim man has a choice. He can stay monogamous and strive to deal fairly with the widows and orphans, or he can marry up to three widows with children in addition to his first wife. He has a struggle either way. However, God is the most merciful of those who show mercy. So, regardless of what he does, he still needs to look to God for mercy. A married Christian man can be a husband to the widows, that is, have them as spiritual wives that one cares for, but does not cohabit with them. He can also be a father to the orphans without adopting them.



Is the Testimony of a Woman Worth Half of That of a Man according to the Koran?

August 27, 2017 Leave a comment

I am going to deal with the subject regarding a woman’s testimony as taught in the Koran. Some critics of Islam and even some Muslims themselves think that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man. This belief is based on Koran 2:282.

O ye who believe! When ye contract a debt for a fixed term, record it in writing. Let a scribe record it in writing between you in (terms of) equity. No scribe should refuse to write as Allah hath taught him, so let him write, and let him who incurreth the debt dictate, and let him observe his duty to Allah his Lord, and diminish naught thereof. But if he who oweth the debt is of low understanding, or weak, or unable himself to dictate, then let the guardian of his interests dictate in (terms of) equity. And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not (at hand) then a man and two women, of such as ye approve as witnesses, so that if the one erreth (through forgetfulness) the other will remember. (Koran 2:282, Pickthall)

This is the longest verse in the Koran. David Wood, a harsh critic of the Koran, made this video. In it he says that the Koran teaches that a woman’s testimony is worth half of that of a man. He quotes from that massive collection of hearsay called the Sunna in order to support his interpretation.

I disagree with his interpretation of this verse. This verse is basically teaching that an expert witness is worth more than a non-expert witness. The verse deals with financial transactions in the seventh century. In seventh century Arabia, women were not educated as much as men and were not very knowledgeable about business matters.

The Koran asserts that women have similar rights to those of men.

And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. (Koran 2:228, Pickthall)

I know that in some Islamic countries women are oppressed and do not have similar rights to those of men, but those countries are not following the teachings of the Koran regarding women’s rights. There are so-called Christian countries which also do not follow the teachings of the Bible. Many Christian countries have, for example, legalized abortion for any reason and even financially encourage this abominable practice. The Bible teaches that life begins at conception. Abortion is murder. So, just because a so-called Islamic country oppresses women, does not mean that that is the authentic teaching of Islam as found in the Koran.

If women have similar rights to those of men, then their testimonies are equal to those of men. However, an expert testimony is worth more than a non-expert testimony. So, we have this commandment in Koran 2:282 to use two men as witnesses or one man and two women. There must be at least one expert witness in a financial transaction in seventh century Arabia. If there are two women witnesses who witness along with the man, one of the women witnesses is supposed to insure that the other does not forget. Maybe those transactions back then were more complex than one would be prone to think.

In the 24th Surah, it is quite clear that a woman’s testimony is equal to that of a man in the case of being charged with adultery.

And those who cast it up on their wives having no witnesses except themselves, the testimony of one of them shall be to testify by God four times that he is of the truthful, and a fifth time, that the curse of God shall be upon him, if he should be of the liars. It shall avert from her the chastisement if she testify by God four times that he is of the liars, and a fifth time, that the wrath of God shall be upon her, if he should be of the truthful. (Koran 24:6-9, Arberry)

So, one should not think that Koran 2:282 is teaching that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man. A non-expert’s testimony is worth half of an expert’s testimony. That is what is being taught in this verse.

Here are some more videos made by Muslims to explain this verse. Some use the Sunna along with the Koran. If anyone has been reading my blogs, you already know what I think about the Sunna.








Here is a Turkish cleric’s explanation. Notice how the Muslim women are dressed in this video. Also, notice that there are bottles of alcoholic beverages on the tables. There really is more than one version of Islam.



Well, I hope that my readers have learned something here. Do not believe everything that non-Muslim people tell you about the Koran and about Islam. Look at the sources themselves. Look at how people who follow the religion interpret various passages from the Koran. There are Muslims who do not believe that a woman’s testimony is worth half of that of a man. There are Muslims who think that this verse teaches that a woman’s testimony is half of that of a man, too, but I do not think that the Koran is teaching that.




Apostasy and a False Hadith

May 31, 2017 Leave a comment

It is very unfortunate that there are many Muslims and predominantly Muslim countries who actually think that they have a moral mandate to put to death anyone who leaves Islam. The Koran and the Bible do not teach this. There are hadiths that do teach that, unfortunately. Those hadiths are based on hearsay reports and no intelligent person should think that the Islamic prophet actually commanded anyone to kill an apostate from Islam.

In the Old Testament, there is a passage in Deuteronomy which commands the Israelites to put to death by stoning those who apostatize from the monotheistic religion taught in the Torah and worship other gods.

And if there should be found in any one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God gives thee, a man or a woman who shall do that which is evil before the Lord thy God, so as to transgress His covenant, and they should go and serve other gods, and worship them, the sun, or the moon, or any of the host of heaven, which He commanded thee not to do, and it be told thee, and thou shalt have enquired diligently, and, behold, the thing really took place, this abomination has been done in Israel; then shalt thou bring out that man, or that woman, and ye shall stone them with stones, and they shall die. He shall die on the testimony of two or three witnesses; a man who is put to death shall not be put to death for one witness. And the hand of the witnesses shall be upon him among the first to put him to death, and the hand of the people at the last; so shalt thou remove the evil one from among yourselves. (Deuteronomy 17:2-7, LXX)

The other peoples among whom the ancient Israelites were traveling when they were on their way to the land of Canaan were polytheists. Those who abandoned Abrahamic monotheism ended up accepting one of the polytheistic religions of the indigenous peoples in that part of the world. The first one to cast a stone at an apostate was supposed to be one of the witnesses. So, if the witness was bearing false witness against his neighbor — a violation of one of the Ten Commandments — he would also be guilty of murder as well. If anyone escapes the judgment of man for the commission of murder, he will most definitely not escape the judgment of God. (Genesis 9:5,6; Deuteronomy 32:35,43)

In the New Testament, apostates were not killed. The Christians disfellowshipped them.

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person. (I Corinthians 5:11, NKJV)

This verse in the New Testament abrogates the commandment in Deuteronomy 17:2-7. In the Koran, it says:

None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things? (Koran 2:106, Yusuf Ali)

The commandment to disfellowship apostates is better than the one to kill them. By disfellowshipping them, the Christian community is able to nonverbally express their disapproval of the apostates’ practice of idolatry and hope that they eventually repent and return to the worship of the one Triune God.

Christians often just allowed the apostates and heretics to leave the Christian community on their own.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (I John 2:19, NKJV)

No one was killed for committing apostasy in the first century. By the way, the author of I John was a rightly guided Muslim (Matthew 10:2; Koran 3:52) and a messenger of Allah. He also wrote the Gospel according to St. John, two more epistles, and the Book of Revelation.

The Koran confirms the Bible. It does not contradict it.

And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. (Koran 5:48, Pickthall)

As for that which We inspire in thee of the Scripture, it is the Truth confirming that which was (revealed) before it. Lo! Allah is indeed Observer, Seer of His slaves. (Koran 35:31, Pickthall)

Muhammad did not receive any new revelations. He received confirming ones — revelations which confirmed what the messengers before him had already taught.

Nothing is said to thee that was not said to the messengers before thee: that thy Lord has at His Command (all) forgiveness as well as a most Grievous Penalty. (Koran 41:43, Yusuf Ali)

Muhammad was not an innovation among the messengers.

Say: I am no new thing among the messengers (of Allah), nor know I what will be done with me or with you. I do but follow that which is inspired in me, and I am but a plain warner. (Koran 46:9, Pickthall)

He accepted the Scriptures of the Orthodox Christians.

And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender. (Koran 29:46, Pickthall)

I believe in whatever Scripture Allah hath sent down, and I am commanded to be just among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. (Koran 42:15, Pickthall)

So, Muhammad accepted I Corinthians 5:11 and I John 2:19 as Holy Scripture. He never commanded anyone to put to death an apostate.

Furthermore, in the Koran it says that Muhammad followed the Koran.

I but follow what is revealed to me. (Koran 6:50, Yusuf Ali)

I only follow what is revealed to me from my Lord. (Koran 7:203, Shakir)

I only follow what is revealed to me. (Koran 10:15, Sahih International)

I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am not but a clear warner. (Koran 46:9, Sahih International)

The Koran says that Muhammad was not supposed to be a compeller or controller over his ummah (community).

We are Best Aware of what they say, and thou (O Muhammad) art in no wise a compeller over them. But warn by the Qur’an him who feareth My threat. (Koran 50:45, Pickthall)

So remind, [O Muhammad]; you are only a reminder. You are not over them a controller. (Koran 88:21,22, Sahih International)

There are two passages in the Koran about apostasy. The first one is in the Fourth Surah.

Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never pardon them, nor will He guide them unto a way. (Koran 4:137, Pickthall)

It is very unreasonable to believe based on this verse that the Islamic prophet actually commanded his followers to kill apostates. The apostate described in this verse would have been stoned to death twice. He would have had to have been resurrected after the first stoning so that he could be stoned to death once more. No capital punishment for apostates is mentioned in this verse. The punishment is that God will never pardon him. That is to say, he receives eternal damnation at the Last Judgment. Also, God will never guide him “unto a way.” He is allowed to continue on in his error, much the same way as many atheists and agnostics do today.

The next passage pertaining to apostasy is in the 16th Surah.

Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief – save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with the Faith – but whoso findeth ease in disbelief: on them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom. That is because they have chosen the life of the world rather than the Hereafter, and because Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk. Such are they whose hearts and ears and eyes Allah hath sealed. And such are the heedless. Assuredly in the Hereafter they are the losers. (Koran 16:106-109, Pickthall)

The punishment that apostates receive is in the Hereafter — the afterlife. There is no commandment in these verses to kill an apostate.

Muhammad died in 632 A.D. In the ninth century, a collection of hadiths was compiled. It is called Sunan an-Nasa’i. The compiler of these hadiths was born in 829 and died in 915. Here is a hadith from this collection which falsely states that Muhammad told his followers to kill apostates.

It was narrated from ‘Ikrimah: “Some people apostatized after accepting Islam, and ‘Ali burned them with fire. Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘If it had been me, I would not have burned them; the Messenger of Allah said: ‘No one should be punished with the punishment of Allah.’ If it had been me, I would have killed them; the Messenger of Allah said: ‘Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 4060)

Based on the teachings of the Koran and the Bible, it is highly unlikely that the Islamic prophet ever told anyone, “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.”

The hearsay  hadiths contain falsehood. The Koran and the Bible which the Koran confirms contain truth. The Koran says:

That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood and because those who believe follow the truth from their Lord. (Koran 47:3, Pickthall)

One can either follow falsehood — those hearsay hadiths — or the truth. Here is another passage of Scripture which Muhammad accepted.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, NKJV)

Let us obey the Koran and the Bible and “follow the truth from our Lord.” Ignore those hearsay hadiths. They really cannot be trusted. As-salamu alaykum.

Some Verses About Forgiving Others

February 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Today in our Church it is Forgiveness Sunday. We begin Lent tomorrow. (I am Eastern Orthodox.)  I decided that I will post some verses from the Bible and the Koran about forgiving others.

In both the Old and New Testaments as well as in the Koran, it is taught that  we continue to receive forgiveness from God as we continue to forgive others.

Forgive thy neighbour the hurt that he hath done unto thee, so shall thy sins also be forgiven when thou prayest. (Sirach 28:2, KJV)

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14,15, NKJV)

And let not those who possess dignity and ease among you swear not to give to the near of kin and to the needy, and to fugitives for the cause of Allah. Let them forgive and show indulgence. Yearn ye not that Allah may forgive you? Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 24:22, Pickthall)

Jesus told St. Peter to forgive those who sin against him 70 times 7 times. Seven is a symbolic number for completion or totality. Jesus was telling him to always forgive those who offend him.

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21,22, NKJV)

Then Jesus told this parable about the importance of forgiving others.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:23-35, NKJV)

Failure to forgive others results in God not forgiving us. That is the point of the parable.

The Koran says that believers should forgive those who do not hope for the days of Allah, that is, those who do not look forward to the blessed afterlife promised by God to those who faithfully serve Him.

Tell those who believe to forgive those who hope not for the days of Allah; in order that He may requite folk what they used to earn. (Koran 45:14, Pickthall)

It says:

Kind speech and forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury; and Allah is Self-sufficient, Forbearing. (Koran 2:263, Shakir)

It also says:

Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant. (Koran 7:199, Pickthall)

People who forgive others when they are angry are the kind of people who will enter Paradise.

So whatever thing you are given, that is only a provision of this world’s life, and what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who believe and rely on their Lord. And those who shun the great sins and indecencies, and whenever they are angry they forgive. (Koran 42:36,37, Shakir)

The Koran also says that those who forgive others and change their way of life will be rewarded by God in the afterlife.

And the recompense of evil is punishment like it, but whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah; surely He does not love the unjust. (Koran 42:40, Shakir)

I was really touched by this video I found on Youtube. Someone smashed a beer can on this Muslim woman’s face. In court she forgave her attacker.

St. Stephen the Protomartyr forgave the Jews who were throwing stones at him before he died. (Acts 7:55-60)

Jesus prayed that the men who crucified Him would be forgiven. (Luke 23:34)

Although we are supposed to forgive others, we still should not passively allow injustices to be perpetrated against others. The Muslim woman in the video forgave her attacker, but it is not all right to allow people like him to continue to perpetrate such crimes against others.

How long will ye judge unrighteously, and accept the persons of sinners? Pause.  Judge the orphan and poor: do justice to the low and needy. Rescue the needy, and deliver the poor out of the hand of the sinner. (Psalm 81:2-4, LXX; Psalm 82:2-4, Hebrew)

Justice in society is important to God, too.

On a personal level we need to forgive others. On a societal level we should not allow injustices to flourish. Here is an example to think about. If someone kidnapped your daughter and taught her to be a prostitute, would that be all right? Of course not. For your daughter’s sake you should demand justice.

One mistake that many modern thinkers make is to think that Jesus had some sort of philosophical system that he used to determine right and wrong. That is not true. Jesus taught a way of life, not an ethical philosophy. There is mercy which we should all show. There is also justice that needs to be administered to curb immorality and injustice.

Categories: Islam Tags: , , , ,

Theft and Punishment in the Bible and the Koran

November 11, 2016 Leave a comment

One of the most disturbing things to non-Muslims living in North America, South America, and Europe is the hadd punishments. The hadd punishments are those corporal and capital punishments meted out to gays, people accused of adultery or fornication, thieves, apostates, and others that certain Muslim sects regard as deserving them. Gays are thrown off of buildings or other high places. People who committed adultery or fornication are either stoned to death or flogged. The hands of thieves are amputated. Apostates are beheaded. Those are all examples of hadd punishments. In this blog I am going to talk about theft and the punishment for thieves as found in the Bible and in the Koran.

Hadd punishments are a harsh reality in many Muslim countries.

Allah “is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy” (Koran 12:92) and there is definitely no mercy in the practice of these harsh, hadd punishments. None of this is of God. It is barbaric.

Hadd Punishments in the Old Testament

First of all, it is important to understand that hadd punishments are in the Old Testament. For example, a woman who has lost her virginity before marriage was stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) Adulterers were stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 22:22) Homosexual men were put to death. (Leviticus 20:13) A priest’s daughter who has pre-marital sexual relations with a man was burned with fire. (Leviticus 21:9)

There is even a commandment in the Old Testament which says that a woman’s hand should be cut off if she grabs a man’s testicles.

11 And if men should strive together, a man with his brother, and the wife of one of them should advance to rescue her husband out of the hand of him that smites him, and she should stretch forth her hand, and take hold of his private parts; 12 thou shalt cut off her hand; thine eye shall not spare her. (Deuteronomy 25:11,12, LXX)

The main reason for prescribing such a harsh punishment is because if the woman injures the man so badly that he cannot have children, she has committed a very serious crime. By rendering the man in effect incapable of procreation, she has “destroyed a world.” Remember the citation in the Jewish Talmud that I quoted in a previous blog.

“Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” [Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1(22a)]

Whenever one kills another human being, he has also exterminated his posterity that he could have had if he had lived longer. Likewise, rendering someone unable to procreate is like destroying a world.

Another reason for amputating her hand is because emasculated men were not allowed to enter the assembly of the Lord.

He that is fractured or mutilated in his private parts shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 23:1, LXX)

One could not apply the “eye for an eye” law to her since women do not have testicles. Amputation of her hand was the punishment under the Mosaic Law.

The “eye for an eye” law was meted out in the case of King Adonibizek.

4 And Judas went up; and the Lord delivered the Chananite and the Pherezite into their hands, and they smote them in Bezek to the number of ten thousand men. 5 And they overtook Adonibezek in Bezek, and fought against him; and they smote the Chananite and the Pherezite. 6 And Adonibezek fled, and they pursued after him, and took him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. 7 And Adonibezek said, Seventy kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their food under my table: as I therefore have done, so God has recompensed me: and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there. (Judges 1:4-7, LXX)

He lost his thumbs and large toes after being captured by the Israelites. He had committed the same atrocity to seventy kings who gathered food under his table.

Hadd Punishment for Theft

As for theft, the only hadd punishment meted out for theft was the theft of people. Man-stealers or kidnappers were executed under the Law of Moses.

Whosoever shall steal one of the children of Israel, and prevail over him and sell him, and he be found with him, let him certainly die. (Exodus 21:17, LXX; Exodus 21:16, Hebrew)

The Biblical Prohibition Against Theft

Stealing is forbidden in both Testaments.

Thou shalt not steal. (Exodus 20:14, LXX; Exodus 20:15, Hebrew; Deuteronomy 5:19; Matthew 19:18; Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9)

Ye shall not steal, ye shall not lie, neither shall one bear false witness as an informer against his neighbour. (Leviticus 19:11, LXX)

Trust not in unrighteousness, and lust not after robberies: if wealth should flow in, set not your heart upon it. (Psalm 61:10, LXX; Psalm 62:10, Hebrew)

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (Ephesians 4:28, NKJV)

Consequences of Theft

Stealing is a serious crime. Thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God.

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10, NKJV)

In the Old Testament there are punishments prescribed for those who steal another person’s property.

1 And if one steal an ox or a sheep, and kill it or sell it, he shall pay five calves for a calf, and four sheep for a sheep. 2 And if the thief be found in the breach made by himself and be smitten and die, there shall not be blood shed for him. 3 But if the sun be risen upon him, he is guilty, he shall die instead; and if a thief have nothing, let him be sold in compensation for what he has stolen. 4 And if the thing stolen be left and be in his hand alive, whether ox or sheep, he shall restore them two-fold. 5 And if any one should feed down a field or a vineyard, and should send in his beast to feed down another field, he shall make compensation of his own field according to his produce; and if he shall have fed down the whole field, he shall pay for compensation the best of his own field and the best of his vineyard. 6 And if fire have gone forth and caught thorns, and should also set on fire threshing-floors or ears of corn or a field, he that kindled the fire shall make compensation. 7 And if any one give to his neighbour money or goods to keep, and they be stolen out of the man’s house, if the thief be found he shall repay double. 8 But if the thief be not found, the master of the house shall come forward before God, and shall swear that surely he has not wrought wickedly in regard of any part of his neighbour’s deposit, 9 according to every injury alleged, both concerning a calf, and an ass, and a sheep, and a garment, and every alleged loss, whatsoever in fact it may be, —the judgment of both shall proceed before God, and he that is convicted by God shall repay to his neighbour double. 10 And if any one give to his neighbour to keep a calf or sheep or any beast, and it be wounded or die or be taken, and no one know, 11 an oath of God shall be between both, each swearing that he has surely not at all been guilty in the matter of his neighbour’s deposit; and so his master shall hold him guiltless, and he shall not make compensation. 12 And if it be stolen from him, he shall make compensation to the owner. 13 And if it be seized of beasts, he shall bring him to witness the prey, and he shall not make compensation. 14 And if any one borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be wounded or die or be carried away, and the owner of it be not with it, he shall make compensation. 15 But if the owner be with it, he shall not make compensation: but if it be a hired thing, there shall be a compensation to him instead of his hire. (Exodus 21:1-15; LXX)

The principle in this law is compensation or restitution. Whenever one steals from someone, he is required to make compensation to the owner. The compensation is two to five times the value of the item stolen, depending on the circumstances regarding the theft. Verses 1 through 5 of the passage and verses 8 through 15 pertain to theft of livestock. Verse 6 is about destruction of another’s field by fire. Verse 7 is about money or goods entrusted to someone. (There were no banks and no rental storage facilities back then.)

In another Old Testament law, the amount of compensation paid to the owner by the thief is twenty percent more than the value of the item stolen. So, if one steals through fraud or deceit $100 from someone, he must repay $120 dollars to the owner.

2 The soul which shall have sinned, and willfully overlooked the commandments of the Lord, and shall have dealt falsely in the affairs of his neighbour in the matter of a deposit, or concerning fellowship, or concerning plunder, or has in anything wronged his neighbour, 3 or has found that which was lost, and shall have lied concerning it, and shall have sworn unjustly concerning any one of all the things, whatsoever a man may do, so as to sin hereby; 4 it shall come to pass, whensoever he shall have sinned, and transgressed, that he shall restore the plunder which he has seized, or redress the injury which he has committed, or restore the deposit which was entrusted to him, or the lost article which he has found of any kind, about which he swore unjustly, he shall even restore it in full; and he shall add to it a fifth part besides; he shall restore it to him whose it is in the day in which he happens to be convicted. 5 And he shall bring to the Lord for his trespass, a ram of the flock, without blemish, of value to the amount of the thing in which he trespassed. 6 And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven for any one of all the things which he did and trespassed in it. (Leviticus 6:2-6, LXX)

There is another law in the Book of Proverbs regarding theft. It is more harsh than the ones found in the Books of Moses. A thief is required to repay seven times the value of the item stolen to the owner even if he stole the item in order to satisfy his appetite because he was hungry. The items about which these verses pertain are apparently food.

It is not to be wondered at if one should be taken stealing, for he steals that when hungry he may satisfy his soul: but if he should be taken, he shall repay sevenfold, and shall deliver himself by giving all his goods. (Proverbs 6:30,31, LXX)

Biblical Provision for the Hungry

The ancient Israelites were allowed to eat corn from someone’s field or grapes from someone’s vineyard if they were hungry. This was not considered theft. If they put the corn or the grapes in a vessel or a sack as if they were harvesting it, then it would be theft.

1 And if thou shouldest go into the corn field of thy neighbour, then thou mayest gather the ears with thy hands; but thou shalt not put the sickle to thy neighbour’s corn. 2 And if thou shouldest go into the vineyard of thy neighbour, thou shalt eat grapes sufficient to satisfy thy desire; but thou mayest not put them into a vessel. (Deuteronomy 24:1,2, LXX; Deuteronomy 23:24,25, Hebrew)

Jesus’ disciples did this when they were hungry on a Sabbath day. (Mark 2:23-28)

The Example of Zacchaeus

Then, there is the New Testament example of Zacchaeus.

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-9, NKJV)

Zacchaeus repented when he met Jesus and decided to give more than the Old Testament law required. He, being a tax collector, probably stole money from people while collecting taxes for the Roman Empire. Instead of giving back 120% as the law in Leviticus prescribed (Leviticus 6:2-5), he said that he would restore fourfold. Also, he said that he would give half of his goods to the poor. Zacchaeus is a model of repentance.

Notice that nowhere in the Old Testament or New Testament is a thief’s hand required to be amputated.

Some Words of Jesus

These words of Jesus need to be examined next.

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29,30, NKJV)

8 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18:8,9, NKJV)

43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched — 44 where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched — 46 where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire —  48 where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’ (Mark 9:43-48, NKJV)

Jesus quotes from Isaiah’s passage respecting eternal torment.

And they shall go forth, and see the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh. (Isaiah 66:24, LXX)

Of course, one way that one can sin with his hand is through theft.

Church Fathers and Ancient Christian Writers

These words of Jesus in the Gospels seem to be talking about amputations of hands, feet, and eyes in order to avoid going to Gehenna. One would think that these are self-inflicted hadd punishments, but when one reads the Church Fathers and some ancient Christian writers, one sees that that is not the case.

Tertullian was not a Church Father, but he lived in the second century. He left the Church and became a Montanist. The Montanists were heretics. He wrote:

A whole day the zeal of faith will direct its pleadings to this quarter: bewailing that a Christian should come from idols into the Church; should come from an adversary workshop into the house of God; should raise to God the Father hands which are the mothers of idols; should pray to God with the hands which, out of doors, are prayed to in opposition to God; should apply to the Lord’s body those hands which confer bodies on demons. Nor is this sufficient. Grant that it be a small matter, if from other hands they receive what they contaminate; but even those very hands deliver to others what they have contaminated. Idol-artificers are chosen even into the ecclesiastical order. Oh wickedness! Once did the Jews lay brands on Christ; these mangle His body daily. Oh hands to be cut off! Now let the saying, “If thy hand make thee do evil, amputate it,” see to it whether it were uttered by way of similitude merely. What hands more to be amputated than those in which scandal is done to the Lord’s body? (On Idolatry, chapter 7, by Tertullian, p. 64, vol. 3, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

Although a heretic, not everything that he wrote was bad. He says that idol-makers were handling the Eucharist. He says, “Oh hands to be cut off!” He may not have meant this literally to be done, but he was expressing his displeasure with a scandal in the Church.

Origen, another ancient Christian writer and also a heretic, lived in the third century. He wrote the following:

And it is well, then, if the eye and the hand are deserving of praise, that the eye cannot with reason say to the hand, “I have no need of thee.” [I Cor. 12:21] But if any one in the whole body of the congregations of the church, who because of his practical gifts has the name of hand, should change and become a hand causing to stumble, let the eye say to such a hand, “I have no need of thee,” and, saying it, let him cut it off and cast it from him. [Matt. 18:8] And so it is well, if any head be blessed, and the feet worthy of the blessed head, so that the head observing the things which are becoming to itself, may not be able to say to the feet, “I have no need of you.” If, however, any foot be found to become a stumbling-block to the whole body, let the head say to such a foot, “I have no need of thee,” and having cut it off, let him cast it from himself; for even it is much better that the rest of the body should enter into life, wanting the foot or the hand which caused the stumbling-block, rather than, when the stumbling-block has spread over the whole body, it should be cast into the hell of fire with the two feet or the two hands. And so it is well, that he who can become the eye of the whole body should be worthy of Christ and of the whole body; but if such an eye should ever change, and become a stumbling-block to the whole body, it is well to take it out and cast it outside the whole body, and that the rest of the body without that eye should be saved, rather than that along with it, when the whole body has been corrupted, the whole body should be cast into the hell of fire. For the practical faculty of the soul, if prone to sin, and the walking faculty of the soul, so to speak, if prone to sin, and the faculty of clear vision, if prone to sin, may be the hand that causes to stumble, and the foot that causes to stumble, and the eye that causes to stumble, which things it is better to cast away, and having put them aside to enter into life without them, like as one halt, or maimed, or one-eyed, rather than along with them to lose the whole soul. And likewise in the case of the soul it is a good and blessed thing to use its power for the noblest ends; but if we are going to lose one for any cause, it is better to lose the use of it, that along with the other powers we may be saved. (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Book XIII, Chapter 24, by Origen, p. 489, vol. 9, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

Many of Origen’s theological views were anathematized at the Fifth Ecumenical Council of the Church in 553 A.D. However, he did write some good sound material. So, not everything that he wrote was bad. In the above-cited passage, Origen says that some people should be put outside of the Church. He interpreted Christ’s words about the amputation of body parts in the Gospels figuratively as referring to members of the Church who cause others to stumble.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons was a sub-apostolic Church Father.  He lived in the second century. He knew someone who knew one of the Twelve Apostles.

As then the unrighteous, the idolaters, and fornicators perished, so also is it now: for both the Lord declares, that such persons are sent into eternal fire; and the apostle says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” [I Cor. 6:9,10] And as it was not to those who are without that he said these things, but to us, lest we should be cast forth from the kingdom of God, by doing any such thing, he proceeds to say, “And such indeed were ye; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.” [I Cor. 6:11] And just as then, those who led vicious lives, and put other people astray, were condemned and cast out, so also even now the offending eye is plucked out, and the foot and the hand, lest the rest of the body perish in like manner. [Matt. 18:8,9] And we have the precept: “If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one no not to eat.” [I Cor. 5:11] And again does the apostle say, “Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of mistrust. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” [Eph. 5:6,7] And as then the condemnation of sinners extended to others who approved of them, and joined in their society; so also is it the case at present, that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” [I Cor. 5:6] And as the wrath of God did then descend upon the unrighteous, here also does the apostle likewise say: “For the wrath of God shall be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of those men who hold back the truth in unrighteousness.” [Rom. 1:18] (Against Heresies, Book IV, chapter XXV, by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, p. 500, vol. 1, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

St. Irenaeus interpreted Christ’s words regarding the amputation of body parts figuratively, too. He interpreted those passages in the Gospels as referring to those who lead “vicious lives” and “lead others astray.” Such people were to be put out of the Church.

St. John Cassian the Roman is regarded as a Saint by the Orthodox Church. He wrote:

And even although they seem to be useful and needful at first, yet if afterwards they begin to interfere with the soundness of our profession, and as it were to weaken in some sense the whole body of our purpose, it is well that they should be cut off and cast away from us like a member which may be necessary, but yet offends us and which seems to perform the office of the right hand or foot. For it is better, without one member of a command, i.e., its working or result, to continue safe and sound in other parts, and to enter as weak into the kingdom of heaven rather than with the whole mass of commands to fall into some error which by an evil custom separates us from our strict rule and the system purposed and entered upon, and leads to such loss, that it will never outweigh the harm that will follow, but will cause all our past fruits and the whole body of our work to be burnt in hell fire. (Matthew 18:8) Of which kind of illusions it is well said in the Proverbs: “There are ways which seem to be right to a man, but their latter end will come into the depths of hell” (Proverbs 16:25, LXX) and again “An evil man is harmful when he attaches himself to a good man” (Proverbs 11:15, LXX), i.e., the devil deceives when he is covered with an appearance of sanctity: “but he hates the sound of the watchman” (Proverbs 11:15, LXX), i.e., the power of discretion which comes from the words and warnings of the fathers. (The First Conference, Chapter XX, by St. John Cassian, pp. 306-307, vol. 11, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

He also interpreted Christ’s command to amputate parts of one’s body figuratively. He interpreted it to mean to expel people from a monastery who hinder the spiritual progress of others.

St. John Chrysostom also interpreted these words of Christ figuratively. He is one of the Greek Church Fathers.

And that thou mayest learn that it is not of necessity, hear also what follows. For after bewailing them, He saith, “If thy hand, or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: for it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or feet to be cast into the fire. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out; it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into the furnace of fire;” not saying these things of limbs; far from it; but of friends, of relations, whom we regard in the rank of necessary members. This He had both said further back, and now He saith it. For nothing is so hurtful as bad company. For what things compulsion cannot, friendship can often effect, both for hurt, and for profit. Wherefore with much earnestness He commands us to cut off them that hurt us, intimating these that bring the offenses. (Homilies on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Homily LIX,  by St. John Chrysostom, p. 367, vol. 10, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series)

“There was therefore a division among them.” This division first began among the people, then later among the rulers also, and some said, “He is a good man”; others, “Nay, but he deceiveth the people.” (John 7:12.) Seest thou that the rulers were more void of understanding than the many, since they were divided later than they? and after they were divided, they did not exhibit any noble feeling, when they saw the Pharisees pressing upon them. Since had they been entirely separated from them, they would soon have known the truth. For it is possible to do well in separating. Wherefore also Himself hath said, “I am come not to bring peace upon the earth but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34.) For there is an evil concord, and there is a good disagreement. Thus they who built the tower (Gen. 11:4), agreed together to their own hurt; and these same again were separated, though unwillingly, yet for their good. Thus also Corah and his company agreed together for evil, therefore they were separated for good; and Judas agreed with the Jews for evil. So division may be good, and agreement may be evil. Wherefore It saith, “If thine eye offend thee, smite it out, if thy foot, cut it off.” (Matt. 5:29, and 18:8.) Now if we must separate ourselves from an ill-joined limb, must we not much more from friends united to us for evils? So that agreement is not in all cases a good, just as division is not in all cases an evil. (Homilies on the Gospel according to St. John, Homily LVII, by St. John Chrysostom, p. 206, vol. 14, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series)

Cutting off a body part or poking out an eye means to separate oneself from those who would influence you to do evil according to St. John Chrysostom.

Blessed Augustine, one of the Latin Church Fathers, also interpreted Christ’s words figuratively. Those words of Jesus mean to separating oneself from those who would want you to do evil, according to Blessed Augustine.

But thy wife comes to thee advising thee to some evil thing. Thou dost love her as a wife should be loved; she is one of thy members. “But if thine eye offend thee, if thine hand offend thee, if thy foot offend thee”[Matt. 18:8,9],  thou hast just heard the Gospel, “cut them off, and cast them from thee.” Whosoever he be that is dear to thee, whosoever he be that is held in high estimation by thee, let him be so long of high esteem with thee, so long thy beloved member, as he shall not begin to offend thee, that is, to advise thee to any evil. Hear now how that this is the meaning of “offence.” I have brought forward the example of Job and his wife; but there the word “offence” did not occur. Hear the Gospel: when the Lord prophesied of His Passion, Peter began to persuade him not to suffer. “Get thee behind Me, Satan, thou art an offence to Me.” [Matt. 16:23] Here undoubtedly the Lord who hath given thee an example of life, hath taught thee both what an “offence” is, and how an offence is to be avoided. Him to whom He had a little while before said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona” [Matt. 16:17]; He had shown to be His member. But when he begins to be an offence, He cuts off the member; only He restored the member, and put it into its place again. He then will be an “offence” to thee, who shall begin to persuade thee to any evil thing. And here, Beloved, take heed; this takes place for the most part not through any evil will, but through a mistaken good will. Thy friend who loves thee, and is loved by thee again, thy father, thy brother, thy child, thy wife, sees thee in an evil case, and would have thee do what is evil. What do I mean by “sees thee in an evil case”? Sees thee in some press of trouble. This pressure it may be thou art suffering for righteousness’ sake; art suffering it because thou wilt not give false witness. I would speak merely by way of illustration. Examples abound; for “woe to the world, because of offences.” See, for instance, some powerful person, to cover his rapine and plunder, asks of you the service of a false witness. You refuse: refuse the false oath, lest thou shouldest deny Him that is true. (Sermons on Selected Lessons from the New Testament, Sermon XXXI, by Blessed Augustine, p. 354, vol. 6, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series)

Another Latin Church Father, St. Jerome, also quoted those words of Christ when writing to a monk.

The sons of the prophets, who were the monks of the Old Testament, built for themselves huts by the waters of Jordan and forsaking the crowded cities lived in these on pottage and wild herbs. [II Kings 4:38,39; 6:1,2] As long as you are at home make your cell your paradise, gather there the varied fruits of Scripture, let this be your favourite companion, and take its precepts to your heart. If your eye offend you or your foot or your hand, cast them from you. To spare your soul spare nothing else. The Lord says: “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” [Matt. 5:28] “Who can say,” writes the wise man, “I have made my heart clean?” [Prov. 20:9] The stars are not pure in the Lord’s sight; how much less men whose whole life is one long temptation. [Job 25:5,6] Woe be to us who commit fornication every time that we cherish lust. “My sword,” God says, “hath drunk its fill in heaven” [Isaiah 34:5]; much more then upon the earth with its crop of thorns and thistles. [Gen. 3:18] The chosen vessel [Acts 9:15] who had Christ’s name ever on his lips kept under his body and brought it into subjection. [I Cor. 9:27] Yet even he was hindered by carnal desire and had to do what he would not. As one suffering violence he cries: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” [Rom. 7:24] Is it likely then that you can pass without fall or wound, unless you keep your heart with all diligence [Prov. 4:23], and say with the Saviour: “my mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God and do it.” [Luke 8:21]  This may seem cruelty, but it is really affection. What greater proof, indeed, can there be of affection than to guard for a holy mother a holy son? She too desired your eternal welfare and is content to forego seeing you for a time that she may see you for ever with Christ. She is like Hannah who brought forth Samuel not for her own solace but for the service of the tabernacle. (Letter CXXV, by St. Jerome, p. 246, vol. 6, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

He interpreted the words of Christ as referring to asceticism. One should keep his body under subjection and his heart with all diligence and struggle against committing the sin of lust while looking on a woman. I do not think that St. Jerome was advising the monk to amputate one of his body parts or poke out an eye.

All of these Church Fathers and ancient Christian writers lived before the time of Muhammad. So, the Koranic precept regarding looking at what they say applies here.

And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. (Koran 10:94, Pickthall)

An Exegesis of Koran 5:38-40

I already did an exegesis on Koran 5:33 in a previous blog. In my opinion, the amputation of feet and hands spoken of in that verse occur in military battle and are not punishments inflicted on civilians who violate a law in the Koran. There is one other passage which is often interpreted by Muslim commentators to mean to literally cut off the hand of a thief. It is Koran 5:38-40.

As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise. But whoso repenteth after his wrongdoing and amendeth, lo! Allah will relent toward him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Knowest thou not that unto Allah belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth? He punisheth whom He will, and forgiveth whom He will. Allah is Able to do all things. (Koran 5:38-40, Pickthall)

Before I do an exegesis of this passage, I want to first of all discuss some other verses of the Koran.

God is extremely merciful. In the Koran, it says that God is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.

He said: Have no fear this day! May Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. (Koran 12:92, Pickthall)

And (O Muhammad) say: My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for Thou art Best of all who show mercy. (Koran 23:118, Pickthall)

So, if there are human judges who would never order that a thief’s hand be cut off because of their sense of mercy and compassion, Allah, who is the Most Merciful, would never order such a thing to be done either. This is one of the many reasons why I think that these words in Koran 5:38 must be interpreted figuratively.

The Torah is a light and guidance for mankind. (Koran 6:92) Nowhere in the Torah, as we have already seen, is there a commandment to amputate the hand of a thief. People who kidnap others and sell them into slavery were supposed to be put to death. People who stole from others were to pay back what they stole plus one-fifth to six times more depending on what was stolen and how it was stolen, according to the Old Testament. In the Koran, it says:

Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you. (Koran 2:185, Pickthall)

Amputating someone’s hand would make it more difficult for one to work and make restitution for his theft. God does not desire hardship for the thief. He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.

Then, there is the principal of abrogation.

None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things? (Koran 2:106, Yusuf Ali)

If Koran 5:38 is interpreted literally, then it is not better than the previous commandments in the Torah which prescribe that a thief should pay back what he stole plus an additional amount as compensation to the owner. It is better for the owner to receive the compensation and what was stolen from him than to witness the amputation of the hand of the thief who can now be less productive at working to restore what he had stolen plus the restitution. A thief with an amputated hand joins the disabled and becomes a burden to the community in which he lives. A literal application of this verse from the Koran cannot be better. Furthermore, the verse is not similar to previous commandments of God. Therefore, the verse must, like the words of Christ in the Gospels (Matthew 5:29,30; 18:8,9; Mark 9:43-48), be interpreted figuratively.

Even in the Koran, there is the example of Joseph detaining his brother, Benjamin, for stealing the King’s cup. Joseph was obeying the “the king’s law.”

Then he (Joseph) began the search with their bags before his brother’s bag, then he produced it from his brother’s bag. Thus did We contrive for Joseph. He could not have taken his brother according to the king’s law unless Allah willed. We raise by grades (of mercy) whom We will, and over every lord of knowledge there is one more knowing. (Koran 12:76, Pickthall)

So, theft in ancient Egypt was, according to the Koran, punished by detention or imprisonment. This is a much more merciful sentence than amputation of the hand and Allah is “the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.” (Koran 12:92)

Therefore, Koran 5:38 must be interpreted figuratively.

The Koran also lays down another principle pertaining to justice. The punishment must fit the crime.

If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted. But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient. (Koran 16:126, Pickthall)

A person’s hand is worth far more than anything he could have stolen. Therefore, amputating a thief’s hand would not be a fair punishment. Requiring the thief to replace what he stole plus an additional amount as restitution is a far more just sentence.

Furthermore, there are no contradictions in the Koran.

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction. (Koran 4:82, Sahih International)

Some passages in the Koran are clear and others are allegorical or figurative.

He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. (Koran 3:7, Yusuf Ali)

The words, “cut off the hands,” in Koran 5:38 must be interpreted figuratively. Otherwise, it will contradict Koran 2:106 regarding abrogation, Koran 12:92; 23:118 regarding God’s mercy, and Koran 16:126 regarding fair punishment.

Another point to mention is the principles regarding authority in the New Testament and in the Koran. In the Gospels, Jesus said:

I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him. (John 8:26, NKJV)

But as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. (John 8:28, NKJV)

The words of Christ are the words of Allah. There should be no doubt about that. After He was resurrected, He told His disciples that He possesses all authority in heaven and on earth.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 20:18, NKJV)

He never relinquished that authority during the time of Muhammad. One of the prophecies regarding the Messiah in the Psalms says:

The Lord said to My Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet. (Psalm 109:1, LXX; Psalm 110:1, Hebrew)

St. Paul says regarding the reign of Jesus:

He (the Son) must reign until He (the Father) has put all enemies under His (the Son’s) feet. (I Corinthians 15:25, NKJV)

Jesus told Pilate before He was crucified:

My kingdom is not of this world. (John 19:36)

Jesus’ kingdom is a spiritual one, but He still possesses all authority in heaven and on earth.

Regarding Muhammad, the Koran says:

Thou art but a warner, and Allah is in charge of all things. (Koran 11:12, Pickthall)

With truth have We sent it down, and with truth hath it descended. And We have sent thee as naught else save a bearer of good tidings and a warner. (Koran 17:105, Pickthall)

We are Best Aware of what they say, and thou (O Muhammad) art in no wise a compeller over them. But warn by the Qur’an him who feareth My threat. (Koran 50:45, Pickthall)

Jesus continues to reign from Heaven over the earth. Allah is in charge of all things. Muhammad was only a warner of eternal damnation and a bearer of good tidings of immortality in Paradise. He was not “a compeller” over those he led. Muhammad is under Jesus’ authority. St. Paul also said:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (Romans 13:1, NKJV)

and the Koran, likewise, says:

It is We Who have placed you with authority on earth, and provided you therein with means for the fulfilment of your life: small are the thanks that ye give! (Koran 7:10, Yusuf Ali)

O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and those of you who are in authority; and if ye have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the messenger if ye are (in truth) believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the end. (Koran 4:59, Pickthall)

Muhammad never named a successor before he died. It was never his intention that an Islamic theocracy should be established after his death.

In a society without a prophet, we must obey the authorities that exist. We must submit to the laws of the land. So, the punishment for theft is determined by the laws of each country on earth.

I think that no country should prescribe that the hand of a thief should be cut off, even if most of the inhabitants are Muslims. The verse in the Koran (5:38) should be interpreted figuratively.

“Cutting off the hands” is probably a metaphorical way of saying “impede the ability to steal.” The word translated “cut off” is the Arabic word, quṭiʿa. It is used in this passage of the Koran and means “to obstruct.”

And Lot! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Lo! ye commit lewdness such as no creature did before you. For come ye not in unto males, and cut (quṭiʿa) ye not the road (for travellers), and commit ye not abomination in your meetings? But the answer of his folk was only that they said: Bring Allah’s doom upon us if thou art a truthteller! (Koran 29:28,29, Pickthall)

Impeding one’s ability to steal can be accomplished through detention and supervision. Any time a thief is convicted, he should be required to make restitution to the owner. He should replace what he stole and pay an additional amount as restitution.

So, I think that an appropriate sentence for a thief would be some sort of supervised work detail and detention. The convicted thief can stay in jail and leave under the supervision of a prison guard to work and pay for what he has stolen plus an additional amount as restitution to the owner.

The punishment in Koran 5:38 is “an exemplary punishment” from Allah. So, other people in the community will know that this person was convicted of theft. Still, Allah is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy and cutting off someone’s hand is not better than the laws of Allah in the Torah. So, the expression, “cut off the hands” is still metaphorical. State supervised work detail, detention, and forced payment of restitution to the owner is exemplary punishment.

If the thief repents like Zacchaeus did in the Gospel according to St. Luke (Luke 19:1-9) and “amends,” that is, makes restitution to the owner immediately, then there is no need to detain the thief and place him under supervised work detail.

The text goes on to say, “Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” He is the “Best of all who show mercy.” (Koran 23:118) So, in respect to his eternal destiny, the repentant thief has the hope of eternal life in Paradise.

“Knowest thou not that unto Allah belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth?” The Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth belong to God, not to any earthly authority. However, “for there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1, NKJV) It is God who has “placed you with authority on earth.” (Koran 7:10) So, “let every soul be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1, NKJV) and “obey… those…  who are in authority.” (Koran 4:59)

“He punisheth whom He will, and forgiveth whom He will. Allah is Able to do all things.” God punishes people by sending them to Hell. He forgives those who repent and reform their lives. He offers eternal life in His kingdom to all who believe in Him and serve Him.

In conclusion, there were hadd punishments in the Old Testament, but there was no such punishment for the theft of personal property. Koran 5:38 cannot abrogate the Old Testament laws if it is interpreted literally. Amputating a thief’s hand is not better than requiring the thief to pay back what he stole plus more as restitution to the owner. Making amputees creates a burden for the community. God is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. There are human judges who would never order that a thief’s hand be amputated because of their sense of mercy and compassion. The law of the king of Egypt under whom Joseph served apparently had no law requiring that a thief’s hand be amputated. Joseph detained his brother according to the “law of the king.” Therefore, God does not want a thief’s hand to be literally cut off. If He did require that, He would be less merciful than many human judges including the King of Egypt under whom Joseph served. Amputating a thief’s is an unjust punishment since a thief’s hand is worth far more than anything he could have stolen. Jesus possesses all authority in heaven and earth. He is reigning until all of His enemies are put under His feet. Muhammad was under Jesus’ authority. Muhammad did not name a successor. Therefore, it was never his intention that an Islamic theocracy be established after his death. “Cutting off the hands” is probably a metaphor meaning to impede someone from stealing. In Koran 28:29 the same word translated “cut off” in Koran 5:38 has the meaning “to obstruct.” The consequences for theft in the afterlife are exclusion from the kingdom of God and eternal damnation in Gehenna. God is forgiving and merciful. A thief who repents and amends can find mercy from God.