Five-year-old Hanifa was abducted by her teacher on December 4. The teacher, Abdulmalik Mohammed after requesting ransom from the parents went ahead to take the life of the precious child. Conspiring with one Hashim Isyaku, little Hanifa was poisoned and buried in the school’s premises.
Across Social Media platforms, the hashtag #JusticeForHanifa is trending. Having received global attention, concerned individuals are group await the fate of the murdered in a Shari’ah and Democracy compliant state. I ask, “what justice do we want”.
A human rights organization, Amnesty International has continued to advocate for the abolishment of Capital Punishment, in fact, the campaign is prioritized. According to the organization, “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception – regardless of who is accused, the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution.
Amnesty International holds that the death penalty breaches human rights, in particular the right to life and the right to live free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.”
While Islamic States implementing the Shari’ah as a legal system continue to uphold Capital Punishment, the same cannot be said for many democratic states in the 21st Century. 107 countries have abolished it for all crimes, while 57 retain it.
This article seeks to discuss Capital Punishment within the context of intentional murder. In the United States, it is considered to be a hot debate. In history, religious individuals, philosophers, intellectuals, and lawyers have had debates on the topic, some supporting and others vehemently opposing it.
While the Shari’ah dictates Capital Punishment for acts of murder, it also gives room for forgiveness where the murderer pays blood money. Also, the Christians’ Bible has verses that support Capital Punishment. We read in,
“Exodus 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
Numbers 35:16-17 “But if someone strikes and kills another person with a piece of iron, it is murder, and the murderer must be executed. Or if someone with a stone in his hand strikes and kills another person, it is murder, and the murderer must be put to death.
Deuteronomy 19:11-12 But if out of hate someone lies in wait, assaults and kills a neighbor, and then flees to one of these cities, the killer shall be sent for by the town elders, be brought back from the city, and be handed over to the avenger of blood to die.”
Interestingly, the Catholic Church, today, does not agree with the death penalty, as it goes against the commandment not to kill (Exodus 20:13). In addition, Catholics believe that life is a gift from God, therefore God alone has the power to take life.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offence incapable of doing harm–without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself–the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are rare, if not practically non-existent.Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life
Contemporary antagonists of Capital Punishment do not see the motive behind it, to them, all type of killing is bad. Like Amnesty International, the Catholic Church also sees CP (Capital Punishment abbreviated) as a violation of the right to life. However, we wonder what right do we give to one who violates the right to life of another. Killing a murderer is not evil in itself but prevention of evil.
Plato reports Protagoras’ view, “The only right that Protagoras knows is therefore human right, which, established and sanctioned by a sovereign collectivity, identifies itself with positive or the law in force of the city. In fact, it finds its guarantee in the death penalty which threatens all those who do not respect it.”
…men who are in authority over others do no wrong when they reward the good and punish the evil.
… for the preservation of concord among men it is necessary that punishments be inflicted on the wicked. Therefore, to punish the wicked is not in itself evil.
Moreover, the common good is better than the particular good of one person. So, the particular good should be removed in order to preserve the common good. But the life of certain pestiferous men is an impediment to the common good which is the concord of human society. Therefore, certain men must be removed by death from the society of men.
Furthermore, just as a physician looks to health as the end in his work, and health consists in the orderly concord of humors, so, too, the ruler of a state intends peace in his work, and peace consists in “the ordered concord of citizens.” Now, the physician quite properly and beneficially cuts off a diseased organ if the corruption of the body is threatened because of it. Therefore, the ruler of a state executes pestiferous men justly and sinlessly in order that the peace of the state may not be disrupted.” – Saint Aquinas.
Capital Punishment for murderers is not evil. One who violates the right of another cannot demand for the same right he violated. In the case of Abdulmalik Mohammed Versus Hanifa, we ask, “what punishment does Abdulmalik deserve?”