In principle the Shari`ah law aims at removing the hardships from people and providing them with solutions to their problems.
Let us illustrate the psychological effect of the severity of punishment on people’s behavior. According to Islamic law, the maximum penalty for professional theft is cutting hands. It should be understood that this policy does not mean that for every theft there is a hand to be cut. The judge exercises other forms of penalties such as imprisonments or fines. With the mere existence of the hand-cutting rule, however, theft in Muslim societies never grew to the level of proficiency and organized crime. The effect of severity of hand cutting as a punishment for theft, and the shameful impact on someone with his hand cut has almost completely eliminated this social disease in the Muslim societies.
“And there is (a saving of) life for you in al-Qisas, the law of equal penalty (killer to be equally killed); O you men of understanding, that you may restrain yourselves.” Qur’an, 2:180.
If everything in the Shari`ah is set by God, where is human reason?
When God asks us to submit ourselves to Him, this does not imply that there is no role for human reason. On the contrary, human reason has a very significant and fundamental role to play in the Shari`ah. No doubt the Shari`ah is not rational in the sense that its authority does not rest in human reason; but it is rational in the sense that it cannot be meaningfully opposed to reason.
The role of human reason consists of:
The conduct of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and those who came after them; the differences in opinions that emerged in all spheres of the Shari`ah in the time of the Prophet himself, in the period immediately after him, and among successive generations of Muslims, are a witness to the role human reasoning plays in Shari`ah.
The following are the conditions which must be met in order to establish the penalty of theft:
There is no cutting (of hands) for stealing that is less then ten Dirhams (Ahmad).
Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) wife Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) reports that the hands were not cut in the time of the Messenger of Allah for stealing worthless things (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah).
Respected Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that: The hand of a thief was not cut off during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) except for stealing something equal to a shield in value (Sahih al-Bukhari, 6792, & Sahih Muslim, 1685).
A shield was worth one Dinar at that time, as narrated by Prophet’s (pbuh) companion Ibn Abbas (Abu Dawud & Nasa’i).
Almighty Allah Most High says: