This is by far the best article I’ve read in a very long time! I unfortunately see a lot of “Christians” preaching love and that stuff to your face but then turning around and basically being a bigot towards anyone who is not like them. A true follower of Christ, a real Christian, knows that such is not what Jesus taught. It doesn’t only go for them though, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others have strayed from their scripture too, but we should remember to not judge an entire group of people based on the bad actions of one. Thank you Mr. Zia H. Shah for reminding us of the true compassionate, loving, and tolerant message of Jesus. ❤
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD
I start my thesis with a longish quote from the Gospel of Matthew, to explore, what would Jesus like us to do:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your…
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This was such a great article! We often forget that Jews are our neighbors but also our brothers and what the Israeli government does to people has very little to do with the Jewish faith as we know it today in North America. Antisemitism is not an Islamic value, loving your neighbor as yourself is an Abrahamic value present in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. More people need to take notice!
The wailing wall in Jerusalem
Source: Muslim Sunrise, Fall 2016 volume
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
The planet earth with its circumference of25,000 miles with a population of 7.4 billion has shrunk into a global village and we are in ever greater need for mutual respect and compassion. In the world of social media, Facebook and Twitter and instantaneous news we are all neighbors to each other.
It is high time thatthe Muslims should be writing about compassion in Judaism and good things done by the Jewish people and we will soon find the gesture reciprocated by the Jewish writers finding compassion and love in the Holy Quran and the Hadith.
The Talmud tells a story ofRabbi Hillel, who lived around the time of Jesus. A pagan came to him saying that he would…
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11. Jennifer Hudson
Looks like she got the same hair dresser Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did… and a similar suit too.
I like human Jennifer better any day…
12. Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay
Was it a bird? A plane?
13. John Gotti
You don’ mess with the mob boss…
You just don’t, okay?
14. Ali Hamza al Bahlul
The faceless dude was Osama bin Laden’s personal assistant.
The egg man has finally been caught!
15. Robert C. Mardian
It’s indeed shameful to be found guilty of a cover up, isn’t it?
You do the crime, you do the time dude…
I hope that y’all found these series of posts to be funny and hopefully your day was made a little brighter!
6. Charles Manson
How do you make sure you get a fair trial? You try to attack the judge of course!
7. Apple vs. Samsung
When it’s your phone that’s actually on trial.
You know that the fish don’t have the mental capacity to understand what’s going on, right?
8. Drew Peterson
Such behavior is actually not new for this dude.
9. Amy Winehouse
That’s right, shoes are more important than what the judge is saying…
It seems like she didn’t go to rehab after all either.
10. Don King
I guess maybe that was a thing back in the 80s…
But I still have a few questions for that artist…
After some emotionally charged articles about injustices in society, I decided I ought to post something funny to lighten the mood. In this series I’ve compiled the best (and worst) mysterious, and often downright creepy, courtroom sketches around. Enjoy! 😉
1. Tom Brady
I think the entire internet that the infamous sketch of the New England Patriots football player is the worst of all time!
The artist even apologized for creating that thing.
But the internet was unforgiving.
The real Tom Brady is pretty cute though.
2. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
If the Guantanamo Bay detention camp isn’t creepy enough, you’ll definitely go running for the hills after this!
But that doesn’t explain this. What the hell is this?!
3. James Holmes
It’s not nearly as bad as the Brady sketches but…
I’m not sure they got the facial expression quite right…
4. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Back in 2013 the youngest of the two Boston Marathon bombers became a teenage heartthrob but apparently that wasn’t the case in the courthouse.
So much for being “too pretty to be guilty,” that thing doesn’t even look human…
Most people would say that he isn’t anyway….
I think I’m just going to stick to the Rolling Stone cover with this one!
5. Squeaky Fromme
In a bizarre turn of events, an apple is thrown at the attorney!
Not quite my weapon of choice…
Part of the reason I get so many blog views in a day is because I’m not shy to write about controversial topics. I always try to do so in a way where I don’t impose my beliefs on others, but instead present them with the facts and try to make them think for themselves. One debate that won’t be burning out any time soon is the one about the death penalty. I’ve made my point very clear in my previous two-part article, but there are still a couple of things I’d like to reflect on personally.
The first is that many Muslims believe that abolishing practices like slavery, polygamy and capital punishment are an “innovation,” and no Muslim likes innovation in religion, but these same people ignore what Muhammad was really trying to accomplish. If anyone out there thinks that any book, including the Bible and the Quran, are exempt from a historical, social, and cultural context you are gravely mistaken. That’s where most of my fellow Muslims get it wrong too.
If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected [Bukhari]
In the days of the Jews and the Christians, slavery was a disgusting practice where slaves had no rights, weren’t even regarded as human beings, and were often mistreated. Such practices weren’t unique to the Jews and the Christians since there are good and bad apples in every orchard, but it’s safe to say that before Muhammad arrived to rectify things, slavery wasn’t a pretty practice.
It would’ve been impossible for Muhammad to throw out slavery completely since it was such a big part of the economy in those days, but what Islam did differently was give slave many rights and even allow them to become prominent members of the free world and gain status just like anybody else would. Muhammad himself never abolished slavery, but it’s pretty clear that he was going to help move society in that direction. Abolishing slavery was not an innovation, in fact it was the exact opposite because by abolishing that practice we were only following in the footsteps of the Prophet who did a heck of a lot for society by giving these people their basic rights that were previously denied to them.
And now let’s look at polygamy again for a moment. In the Old Testament King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines! Holy smokes! In the Quran, Muhammad limited a man to have only 4 wives. Once again it was impossible to completely abolish the practice because in those days women had few legal rights and most often could not sustain themselves and their children in their husbands had died at war or something so they needed the support of another husband. Considering the casualties of war, there were far more women than men in society and Muhammad placed limits on polygamy while not completely abolishing it because then many women and children would’ve been forced into prostitution, poverty, and death. Is advancing the rights of women and children in society and abolishing polygamy an innovation? Not at all! We’re just following in the Prophet’s footsteps and finishing what he started.
I don’t see why it’s so hard to look at the death penalty in the same light. In the Old Testament a child could be put to death for cursing (or disobeying) their parents, among a long list of other things that could be punished by the death penalty. Muhammad reserved the death penalty only for two crimes: murder and mischief in the land. While that last one is subject to much interpretation and debate, we all agree that they were the only two crimes worthy of a death sentence. Here too we need to understand that the penal system back then could not handle having men behind bars for decades and prisons weren’t equipped to handle violent offenders so they were put to death quickly to ensure the security of the community. In light of the modern prison system (not to mention everything that’s wrong with the death penalty as we know it today) we don’t need to execute people anymore. It costs more to kill them than to keep them alive and it’s proven that it’s not a deterrent anyway! Once again, abolishing capital punishment isn’t an innovation, it’s following in the footsteps of the Prophet.
Wake up people! This isn’t the year 700 anymore! It’s 2016! If the Prophet was here today to strike down all of our modern abominable practices he would be hated by those who refuse to abandon their outdated social notions and adored by those like me who see his beautiful and peaceful vision for the world. Everyone (Jews, Christians, Muslims and others) needs to let go of their outdated legalistic notions and look at the message behind what the prophets were really saying. If we all did that there is no doubt in my mind that we could all coexist much more peacefully and be united by a common cause instead of divided by our theological differences.
“O you men! We have created you of a male and a female, and then We made you (into different) races and tribes so that you may know each other.” (The Quran 49:13)
This blog exists to suffocate the hate and break down misconceptions. If you type in Islam in any search engines, the first things that show up are Islamophobic websites spreading lies about the true message of the Quran and then some very legalistic and outdated websites by scholars who have a 7th century mentality and they equally spread hatred and intolerance for Islam. Finding the good and the truth among them is like trying to find the needle in the haystack! But it’s there! And I hope to help you find it.
Everybody knows that I highly admire Sister Helen Prejean. Some Muslims seem to be afraid to look up to amazing people if they aren’t Muslim, but I don’t believe that your beliefs make you a good person, it’s your behavior that does. Mother Teresa was a saintly woman and she was Catholic, and these child-molesting priests also identify as Catholic. Same beliefs, very different behavior. Are we clear? I think we are. I highly admire Sr. Helen because she’s devoted her life’s work to a cause she cares very deeply about. I hope that one day my social activism can amount to even half of what she has done for the world. In light of my previous article on capital punishment, I found this article on Sr. Helen’s Twitter feed and I wanted to share it. It further highlights my point that many death sentences aren’t driven by justice at all.
Another book that I was recently blessed enough to read was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I know that I’ve added an endless amount of links in my article about capital punishment to support my p.o.v. but I just couldn’t pass up this gem. I hope that you did take a look at most of them so you can make up your own conclusion on the matter. All I’m trying to do here is make my society a better place and I ask God to accept this blog as a step in the right direction.
The biggest misconception about the modern death penalty is that it’s a deterrent. It is not. It may have been once upon a time, but that argument is no longer valid today. In fact, States and nations (to the exception of a handful) with the death penalty have higher violent crime rates than areas who do not. There is no doubt in my mind that once upon a time this was an effective way to keep order in the land when considered in the proper historical, cultural and social context, but such is obviously outdated today. We do not live in the same type of society and hence it’s erroneous to think that we can continue to move forward with the same type of laws and mentality.
It’s interesting to note that al Qaeda has made threats of grave consequences against the United States if they went along with their plan to execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. If this teaches us anything it’s that violence + violence = violence. Look at it this way:
- America wages war on the Middle East
- The Tsarnaev brothers bomb Boston because they are angry about the Americans bombing Syria
- The United States handed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a death sentence out of retribution for bombing the marathon because he was angry at the U.S. bombing Syria
- Terrorist group al Qaeda threatened the U.S. because they are angry that Dzhokhar got a death sentence because he was angry about Syria
And what will come next? Dzhokhar will be executed, al Qaeda will carry out their threats and in response the U.S. will wage war even more? What’s wrong with this picture? This further illustrates that the death penalty isn’t just retribution against one individual, it harms all of society. Some radical jihadis also believe that if he is executed, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will die a martyr for the cause. Regardless of what the experts have to say about it, they won’t be able to convince the radicals and terrorists otherwise. His death sentence verdict has not deterred would-be terrorists at all. The only thing it accomplished was create more looming threats and don’t underestimate what these people can carry out.
If we look at the pros and cons of the death penalty in Islam, you can clearly see that the argument of “well it’s been in scripture forever” is always quoted, yet none of these people look at any other facts like the context in which that was recommended or the principles of justice that can be applied to modern times. Now if you look at the commentators who are against the practice of the modern death penalty, they quote the same injustices and I have and there ought to be universal agreement from both Muslims and non-Muslims that such flaws and bias do not constitute as justice. Such injustices are indefensible in both Islam and the modern world no matter which way you put it. This article by Penal Reform also provides some interesting and unbiased perspectives on this issue.
Another issue is lethal injection, the current method of execution in the United States. Tied to botched executions, there’s also the issue of drug mix-ups and States being accused of illegally importing drugs to carry out their executions. Even if it’s not morally disgusting to you, it’s still against federal law and that is wrong. Furthermore, there is the never-ending debate over whether or executions consist of cruel and unusual punishment. Read Richard Glossip describe his experience on death row and a touching letter sent to him from Jannie Coverdale. On the last note, Islam calls us to be loyal to our country of residence, and in the case of the United States, there is room in the Constitution to outlaw the death penalty out of respect for human rights.
Let us look at the reality, as it exists. There is today a quadruple crisis of closed and repressive political systems, religious authorities upholding contradictory juristic positions and unknowledgeable populations swept up in remaining faithful to the teachings of Islam through religious fervor than through true reflection. The crisis cannot legitimize our silence. We are accomplices and guilty when women and men are punished, stoned or executed in the name of a formal application of the scriptural sources. It leaves the responsibility to the Muslims of the entire world…It thus becomes the responsibility of each ‘âlim (scholar), of each conscience, every woman and man, wherever they may be to speak up.
Regardless of where you stand on the death penalty debate or which God you believe in, I want you to ask yourself the following questions:
- Would God approve of the corruption that puts innocent people to death?
- Would God approve of using the valuable resource of money to fund executions but not healthcare and education among other things?
- Would God approve of sentencing someone to death where there is doubt or inadequate evidence or legal procedures?
- Would God approve of the implication that one life is more valuable than another?
- Would God approve of the executions of those who are not mentally competent?
- Would God approve of using this outdated practice when the facts clearly show that it does more harm than good?
The answer to all of these questions is NO! God’s attributes, in all Abrahamic religions are compassion, mercy and justice. The government has proved time and time again that it cannot properly carry out justice so therefore I must reject the application of the modern death penalty in all circumstances because it clearly goes against the Islamic concept of true justice applied to this society.
Before I move on to another point, I want to leave you with a few more though-provoking articles about the practice of capital punishment in general:
- Islam, justice and the death penalty
- Is There a ‘Moderate’ Islam?
- Islam and the death penalty
- Religious Views on Capital Punishment
- 7 Reasons why Pakistan should not have the death penalty
- Turkey’s child murders revive the death penalty debate
- Essay Against the Death Penalty
- The Death Penalty under International Law
- When Courts Are Used As A Weapon Against The Innocent
- Fell: death penalty views changing
- Editorial: Ensuring justice for all
- The priest, the exonerated death-row inmate and their continued battle against the death penalty
- The death penalty is largely driven by a small number of overzealous prosecutors
Wherever possible, do not inflict punishments (hudud; singular hadd) on Muslims; if there is a way out for someone, let him go. It is better for the ruler (al-imam) to err in forgiveness than for him to err in punishment.
As Muslims, we look to Muhammad as the perfect example of how we should conduct ourselves. It has been demonstrated time and time again that he was a man of noble character who did not promote violence, despite that so many today commit acts of terrorism in the name of God. That could not be farther from the true message of Islam, contrary to popular belief. Over the last 3000 words I’ve definitely made my case, but there are still a few other things I want to discuss in regards to Islam and the death penalty, especially in the context of Muhammad’s time.
Do not say, that if the people do good to us, we will do good to them; and if the people oppress us, we will oppress them; but determine that if people do you good, you will do good to them; and if they oppress you, you will not oppress them.
The death penalty was not something invented by Islam’s prophet, and even though he allowed it, he did not enforce it and never executed anyone. Apart from in the case of war, only one man (indirectly) died at Muhammad’s hands. In summary, the Holy Prophet only made a light scratch on the man’s neck and he died much later. This is recorded as one of the miracles in the Quran because nobody is supposed to die from such a superficial wound. This event isn’t generally highlighted as murder, but regardless of what you think of it, it most certainly wasn’t an execution. In fact, Muhammad followed in Jesus’ footsteps of mercy, forgiveness and compassion. We also should note that although Jesus preached non-violence just as Muhammad did, Jesus never explicitly said anything about abolishing the death penalty either even if the principle was definitely there.
In the case of the death penalty in Muhammad’s time, if a murderer was properly convicted, the victim’s family could choose one of three things:
- Monetary compensation
The court of law could also choose a lesser penalty, but in this context the Quran highly recommends forgiveness. In fact, the forgiveness part was almost mandatory. The Mayo Clinic lists the health benefits of forgiveness and I was honestly quite surprised at some of them. On the other hand, it comes at no surprise that the Quran considers the health benefits a scientific miracle. The Quran and Hadith both contain endless verses about forgiveness, both in us forgiving others and God forgiving us. My favorite ones are probably the following three:
They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Quran 24:22)
When we forgive others, God forgives us.
But if you pardon and exonerate and forgive, Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Quran 64: 14)
Forgiveness is the superior moral trait.
But if someone is steadfast and forgives, that is the most resolute course to follow. (Quran 42:43
Oh you who believe! The law of qisas has been prescribed for you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the woman for a woman. But if there be forgiveness by a brother for his brother then adhere to fairness, and remit any rights with handsome gratitude. This is an alleviation and mercy to you from your Lord. Whoever transgresses after this, he will have a grave penalty (from God). Oh people of reason (and understanding), in qisas you will find (the saving of) life, so that you may (learn to) restrain yourselves. (Quran 2:178-9)
I do wish that the American justice system could incorporate the opinion of the family members of the victims. Although the U.S. allows victim impact statements, they are mainly to sink the defendant and they don’t get a say in the penalty phase of a trial. One juror in the Tsarnaev case said that if he had known that some of the victim’s families, including the Richard family whose son Martin Richard was killed, he would’ve changed his vote to life without parole instead. He wasn’t the first person to have second thoughts about a death penalty verdict either. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did say he was sorry and ask for forgiveness after all, and my prayer for him if his change of heart is sincere is that instead of influencing terrorism, he may come to know what Islam really teaches and use it for good. He would definitely have the influence to change the hearts of many who are contemplating following in his footsteps.
The last thing I want to look at when it comes to modern society and the society in which the Quran was revealed some 1400 years ago are some other outlawed practices that were common back in the day. There are several obsolete traditions but the two big ones mentioned in the Quran are slavery and polygamy. While polygamy is still legal in a handful of countries, it’s rarely practiced legally and is most often looked down upon, and slavery has been downright abolished globally. Although Islam places very strict restrictions on these practices, it does not outlaw them. Why? Because they were beneficial to society at the time. Why did we in turn strike them down? Because they are no longer beneficial to modern society. It’s the same thing with the death penalty. I’ve made it abundantly clear that the benefits (which I believe there once were, just like slavery and polygamy) capital punishment are outdated, invalid, and no longer applicable.
Slavery was a valuable economic practice in the days of the Quran and the Bible, yet today both secular and Islamic law have completely struck down the practice and the principle of the abolition of slavery falls well within the bounds of scripture. Polygamy on the other hand is still legal in some places but no longer widely practiced, however it is illegal here in the West. This practice also had many benefits to the society at the time because women had little rights and few opportunities but the tables have definitely turned today. In Islam, just like in Judaism and Christianity, the ideal union is between one man and one woman and the abolition of this practice also falls well within scripture. More and more, the abolition of the death penalty is spreading throughout the Muslim communities around the world, and such would fall well within the boundaries of scripture too.
Just like the outdated practices of slavery and polygamy, capital punishment has overstayed its welcome in modern society and so I respectfully have to disagree with the death penalty. Personally, I don’t think I could call a court of law to put someone to death regardless of how much they “deserve” it. I would feel as if I had blood on my hands, even if it’s argued that that person put themselves there and decided their own fate when they chose to commit the crime. While such a perspective may be valid, there are no longer any valid reasons to put a person to death. I think I’m going to stick to Martin Richard’s words of no more hurting people, peace.
It is my prayer that this article was thought-provoking and well-researched and may God accept my endeavors to make my society, and the world at large, a better place. I thank God for allowing me to write and live in a society where I am allowed to express my honest opinion without fear and I am thankful for the opportunity I got to write this because I researched this issue for days on end and it took several more for me to put all of this together. May God be pleased with my efforts and may this affect society in a positive and constructive way! ❤
When I tell people that I’m against the death penalty they often look at me with a completely shocked look on their face. “But doesn’t Islam support the death penalty?” The answer is not as easy as simply saying either yes or no because the concept of capital punishment goes way beyond just a few verses in the Quran. If someone only looks at the literal text you can’t argue that Islam permits the death penalty but it’s implications and and the principle of justice is Islam go much deeper than just a few scriptures.
Throughout this article I will linking other articles to support my point of view so I don’t have to copy and paste heaps of text here so I strongly suggest that you click on those and read them at the same time that you’re reading through my article.
One important thing to consider here is the social and cultural makeup of a person that will influence their beliefs in values, including their interpretation of Islam and their views on capital punishment. I must note that I writing this from a perspective of a person who was born and raised in Canada, a country that abolished the death penalty in 1976. As I’m writing this article, I’m doing so in the light of my own culture and society in the context of the North American society. This article I’m solely talking about the practice of the death penalty in my own part of the world, more specifically the United States, even if I believe that the principles behind my point of view can be applied universally.
Some 90% of the global Muslim population adhere to Sunni Islam, an interpretation of the Quran that is overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty but the Quran still makes room for abolition and plenty of it. What many people get wrong when they think about Islam and capital punishment is that it’s not merely just about the death penalty, it’s about justice and society as a whole. All Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) allow the death penalty but it was a way to keep their societies moving along in a straight line at the time but can the same be said for modern society? This is what I meant by saying that the concept of capital punishment carries implications far beyond it being allowed certain circumstances. The circumstances of modern society are completely different than the ones during the time of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad and so is the application of capital punishment.
The first problem is the misconception about Sharia. To many Sharia Law is equal with oppression, violence and various abominations. Contrary to popular belief, Sharia is not a specific set of very strict laws handed down in the 7th century. Sharia is actually a set of principles (such as equality and justice for example) that are applicable to the law, not the law itself. For example, Canada and the United States do not “enforce Sharia” per se, yet the Constitutions of both these countries are 100% compliant with Sharia. Sharia Law isn’t set in stone, but the principles of Sharia Law are. That means that Sharia can take on many different forms throughout history and society. That greatly changes the implications of capital punishment in Islam doesn’t it?
One example of this is that many so-called Muslim countries (personally I don’t view them as Muslim nations more than I view Canada as a Christian nation) have laws which make homosexuality punishable by death when it fact such a practice is actually against Sharia. The same goes for apostasy, when the Quran explicitly states that there should be no compulsion in religion, whether that person rejects Islam or leaves it. While there are many arguments to abolish, or at least change, the practice of the death penalty in the Muslim world, in this article I will stick to the practice of capital punishment in the United States. Before I continue though, I should note that Turkey, a predominantly Muslim nation, has abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 2004.
In this amazing and impartial article we can all agree that despotic nations should not have the right to carry out the death penalty because they use it as a tool for oppression and pushing political agendas instead of its intended purpose of justice. Nations with widespread corruption or an inadequate legal system also shouldn’t practice capital punishment in any circumstances because their deficiencies would cause for an unfair process of justice and subsequently an unfair verdict. But what about a democratic nation such as the United States for example? Should the government have the right to take the life of another human being, regardless of what they might have done?
First, I want to look at the cold hard facts of the modern death penalty, impartial of the religious, cultural of social makeup of a person. This is an interesting slideshow about the global death penalty, but the Death Penalty Information Center provides factual and non-biased information about capital punishment in the United States. Let’s look about some of the issues surrounding the modern death penalty in my neighboring country:
- Studies suggest that 1 in 25 people in the United States condemned to death are actually innocent
- Death penalty trials are far more expensive than sentences of life without parole and with decades of automatic appeals and possibly retrials, the costs climb even higher
- Many trials are inadequately conducted, even in modern times, and corruption and errors are still factors in even the best of justice systems
- Race plays a factor in whether or not an accused with receive a death sentence, with people of color more likely to be executed than a white person, especially if the victim was a white person
- The death penalty is often applied at random, with the quality of legal representation often being a factor
- Those suffering from a mental illness or have an intellectual disability often fall prey to the justice system even if they cannot actually be held responsible for their actions since they don’t understand what they did
- The death penalty does not deter would-be criminals from carrying out their plans
- Not all execution protocols are adequate
- Many consider death penalty practices to be cruel and unusual punishment under the Eight Amendment
While there are many, many more issues when it comes to capital punishment in the United States, I will stop here so we can take a closer look at the above issues. With 2943 inmates on death row as of January 1st, 2016 and 1 in 25 said to be innocent, that is a staggering number of people wrongfully convicted and countless others with a sentence disproportionate to the crime. One very troubling case involving innocence is the one of Richard Glossip. His story was the subject of a Dr. Phil show that aired on August 31st, 2015 called Susan Sarandon Tries to Save a Man from Death Row.
In her book Death of Innocents, Sister Helen Prejean provides a haunting picture of the miscarriage of justice in many cases. Although she is a Catholic nun and makes her stance on execution in light of her own faith, it doesn’t change the fact that innocent people do get executed. Not to mention the countless other books about wrongful executions in the United States throughout history all the way to present day. You can exonerate a living person, but the death penalty does not permit such. It is permanent and irreversible and the fact that so many innocent people are convicted and subsequently executed is absolutely disgusting regardless of your stance on the death penalty.
My second problem is with money. During the time of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad money for murder wasn’t much of an issue. Nowadays a single execution costs millions of dollars and that doesn’t include the cost of trials, appeals, lawyers, the decades spent in prison and more. Back 1400+ years ago the economy was very different than today. The government wouldn’t deprive a school board of money to fund the police and the military, but today that is a very sad reality. When I see things like this I can’t help but ask myself why there is money for war and murder but none for education and healthcare.
In Muhammad’s day executions were carried out quickly (and in public) because the prison system could not house prisoners for very long periods of time. There was absolutely no need to choose between cutting the education and healthcare budget to fund an execution. It seems to be an obscure fact in modern times, but executions can cost up to four times more than keeping someone in prison for 40 years. Imagine what the government could do with all that money! God only knows how much our society is suffering with poverty and lack of opportunities for people who simply cannot afford them. The county or state’s budget is also a big factor when it comes to who is eligible to get the death penalty and who isn’t. Why should life have a price tag like that?!
I also have a problem with pushing political agendas. Nobody wants to be looked at as “soft on crime” but at what cost? I often wonder why the federal government dropped seeking the death penalty against the Benghazi Ringleader but instead chooses to push it when it comes to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Dylann Roof. All three have committed equally abominable crimes against Americans. In Tsarnaev’s case there easily could’ve been a plea deal which would’ve avoided a trial and automatically gave him a sentence of life without parole so why push for a death penalty trial when it wasn’t necessary in the first place? As a show of force? As vengeance? Because it’s better to put him to death than feed the homeless?
Even with modern technology, including DNA testing and security cameras being virtually everywhere, there are still many errors in the court of law. You don’t have to go very deep into a Google search to find incomplete investigations, corrupt judges, inadmissible evidence that could change the course of the trial, the innocent being imprisoned, the bias within the jury and so much more. Regardless of your position on the death penalty, you cannot say that there isn’t a lot of room for error and prejudice which would make a verdict a grave injustice, whatever it may be. Islam believes in fairness and equality for all and this would definitely not fall under that category. No human justice is system is perfect, but too many cases are carelessly handled and when it comes to the death penalty, a miscarriage of justice is permanent.
Nobody regardless of religion can tell me that justice is served when there is an obvious bias, like in the case of a person’s ethnicity but there are also many more. Just the fact that unarmed black people are as likely to be shot by police as armed white people. And this is just on the street, we haven’t even made it to the court of law yet. I’m not implying that abolishing capital punishment will solve all of society’s problem, but it would definitely be a step in the right direction when it comes to remedying the broken justice system and the people unfortunately caught in it. If Islam allows for the abolition of the death penalty In Islamic countries, why do we fail to realize the urgent need for reform here in North America, a paradise of human rights filled with humanitarians that the oppressed from other nations can only dream of?
You can read Emadeddin Baghi’s two letters here and here about the death penalty and human rights in Iran. Although they are in a different context of a different society, he still makes amazing arguments. So good that he was jailed.