5-Surah Al-Maidah ( The Table spread with Food ) 38
    [As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
    وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُوا أَيْدِيَهُمَا جَزَاءً بِمَا كَسَبَا نَكَالًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

    Quran's Tafhim ( explanation)

    *60). The injunction is to cut off one not both hands. There is consensus among jurists that in the event of the first theft the right hand should be cut off. This punishment has been laid down for theft alone. The Prophet (peace be on him) declared: "There is no cutting off of a hand for he who embezzles.' (Abu Da'ud, 'Hudud', 14; Tirmidhi, 'Hudud', 18; Ibn Majah, 'Hudud', 36; Nasa'i, 'Qat' al-Sariq', 13 - Ed.) This shows that the punishment prescribed for theft does not cover acts involving embezzlement and other dishonest practices. It is applicable only to acts involving the seizure, by stealth, of someone else's property.
    The Prophet (peace be on him) also instructed that the punishment of cutting off a hand should not be applied in cases where the value of the article stolen is less than that of a shield. In the time of the Prophet (peace be on him) according to a tradition from Ibn 'Abbas, this was ten dirhams; according to a tradition from Ibn 'Umar, it was three dirhams; according to a tradition from Anas b. Malik, it was five dirhams; and according to another tradition from 'A'ishah, it was a quarter of a dinar. Owing to this discrepancy, there is disagreement among jurists regarding the minimum value of the goods stolen which merits the punishment of cutting off a hand. This value, according to Abu Hanifah, is ten dirhams whereas according to Malik, Shafi'i and Ahmad b. Hanbal, it is one quarter of a dinar (three dirhams). (For traditions on objects and amounts of things on which the hand of the thief is to be cut off, see Bukhari, 'Hudud', 13; Muslim, 'Hudud', 1-7; Abu Da'ud, 'Hudud', 12, 13; Tirmidhi, 'Hudud', 16; Nasa'i, 'Qat' al-Sariq', 5, 8-10 - Ed.)
    Moreover, there are several things the theft of which would not necessitate cutting off a hand. The Prophet (peace be on him) directed, for instance, that no hand should be cut off if the stolen article was food. According to a tradition from 'A'ishah: '(The hand of) the thief was not cut off during the time of the Messenger of Allah for the theft of trivial things.' (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 3, p. 464; Darimi, 'Hudud', 4, 7 - Ed.) Furthermore, 'Ali and 'Uthman gave the judgement - and none of the Companions disagreed with it - that a person's hand should not be cut off for stealing birds. 'Umar and 'Ali did not cut off the hands of those who had stolen from the public treasury, and on this question no disagreement on the part of any Companion has been reported. On these grounds the founders of the schools of Islamic Law exempted certain things from the application of this penal injunction.
    According to Abu Hanifah a man's hand should not be cut off for stealing vegetables, fruit, meat, cooked food, grain which is not stored in a barn, and instruments of music and play. Likewise, he is of the opinion that a hand should not be cut off for either stealing animals grazing in the forest or for stealing from the public treasury. The founders of the other schools of Islamic Law have also exempted the stealing of certain things from the punishment of cutting off a hand. But this exemption does not mean that the guilty parties should receive no punishment at all. (See the commentaries of Ibn Kathir, Ibn al-'Arabi, Qurtubi and Jassas on this verse. See also Ibn Rushd, Bidayat al-Mujtahid, vol. 2, pp. 441 ff. - Ed.)
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