I recently had a rather disconcerting discussion with a Muslim who’s been advocating crucifixion. The focus of the debate was the following Quranic verse:
“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,” (5:33)
He argued that:
1) heinous criminal acts deserve heinous punishments.
2) the criteria set for this kind of punishment is such that hardly any criminal qualifies for crucifixion
The first argument is the product of a depraved, vengeance-centric mind, rather than one interested in seeking justice. The purpose of justice is to isolate or vanquish the undesirable element from the society, so that he/she may cause no further harm to it. If this process of vanquishing is carried out in the same inhuman fashion as the criminal employed for his victim, then the punisher cannot claim to be any more civilized than the criminal himself.
The second argument is the equivalent of saying, “Murder isn’t immoral as long as I kill only one person each year!”. The fact that God condones such a barbaric punishment says a lot about how “compassionate” he really is.
Ironically, it’s the Atheists who usually get an earful from religious people, who walk around pretending to be the guardians of morality.
Morality is relative to time and populace. We base our moral values on the verdicts of our conscience and the information made available to us through science. Deriving your moral code from an ancient book and adhering to it unwaveringly makes you a direct threat to mankind’s progress.
Some moderate theists believe that these punishments, though clearly not applicable in the 21st century, were okay for olden days. However, that is not how most religious people see it, nor is it meant to be seen that way. Islam, for example, claims to be a universal religion meant for all time. No devoted Muslim reads the Quran and says, “Oh, this command was okay for the Prophet’s time, but I don’t have to follow it today.” If it’s in the Quran, then it has got to be followed.
Believing in a book that condones crucifixion, lashing and chopping off body parts as acceptable forms of punishment, does not make you evil…but if does make you a mafia wife (stoning is not mentioned in the Quran itself, but it supported through sunnah).
I wonder what it feels to be part of an organization, the mission statement of which includes the words: “We shall crucify all those who dare fight against our President”.