Hadd Times Ahead for Egypt?

Al ZindAhmad al-Zind, Egypt Judges Club chairman, said his judicial body has decided to reject overseeing Dec. 15th and 22nd 2012 constitutional referendum. He also said this on November 26, 2012: “The judges have a burning desire to instate shari’a laws regarding Islamic hudud punishments”


Today (12/14/12), the senior Egyptian judges of the so-called “Judges Club” re-affirmed their previously announced abstention from overseeing the two-stage (i.e., December 15th and 22nd) referendum on Egypt’s draft constitution.

A rival judicial club body has announced it would oversee the plebiscite. Zaghloul al-Burshi, head of the council responsible for overseeing the referendum, told Al Arabiya during an interview Monday 12/10/12 that between 7,000 to 9,000 judges, had agreed to oversee the referendum, which he maintained, was “more than enough”

Ahmad al-Zind, Chairman of the Egypt Judges Club, which declined the referendum oversight responsibility, nevertheless opined  that all judges seek to protect the country’s national interests despite their differences.

We accept judge’s stances either way. People from here can learn democracy.

Al-Zind’s own recently aired “stance” on Sharia, specifically his condoning the mandatory hadd (plural hudud, or hudood) punishments, is well-worth noting given his prominent position.

What are the so-called hadd punishments condoned by Chairman of the Egypt Judges Club, al-Zind? Defined by the Muslim prophet Muhammad either in the Koran or in the hadith (the canonical collections of Muhammad’s deeds and pronouncements), these draconian punishments include: (lethal) stoning for adultery; death for apostasy; death for highway robbery, when accompanied by murder of the robbery victim; for simple highway robbery, the loss of hands and feet; for simple theft, cutting off of the right hand; for “fornication,” a hundred lashes; for drinking wine, eighty lashes. Muhammad Abu Zahra (d. 1974), was a prominent member of Al Azhar’s Academy of Islamic Research, professor of Islamic law at Cairo University, and prolific author. These extracts from Abu Zahra’s “Punishment in Islam,” featured in the seminal 935-page Proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, September 1968, provide the mainstream institutional Islamic context for the contemporary views expressed by Ahmad al-Zind:

The hadd punishments being prescribed for the protection of society, their execution is tantamount to an act of worship and equivalent to a holy war [jihad] in the cause of Allah. To purge the community of pernicious elements is a sort of holy war to safeguard religion and morals. . . . From the words of Ibn Taymiya [d. 1328, the seminal jurist] it appears that Hudud are prescribed as a divine blessing. This idea is further developed by al-Mawardi in his ‘al-Ahkam al-Sultaniya’. [d. 1058, author of this landmark treatise on the governance of an Islamic state, Mawardi writes] “Hadd punishments are imposed by Allah as [a] deterrent from his prohibitions and the omission of His commandments.”

In accord with this mainstream, Sharia-based Islamic jurisprudence across a millennial continuum, the following are excerpts from an interview with Ahmad Al-Zind, which was broadcasted on Egyptian television (Dream 2 TV), November 26, 2012:

The judges have a burning desire to instate shari’a laws regarding Islamic hudud punishments and the diya indemnity. The UAE [United Arab Emirates] has resolved this issue without problems and in a simple way – the first article of its penal code states that shari’a law will be implemented with regard to the hudud and diya. When shari’a laws are implemented, they leave no room for bargaining. Any country that refrains from implementing these punishments is lacking in many ways. People should not fear the implementation of the hudud punishments, because this could be more lenient to the accused then ta’zir punishment [in which the judge has discretion]. … Yet people terrify you with talk about the hudud. There is no backwardness in Islam, and people who claim otherwise are backward themselves. Allah’s mercy towards His servants is evident in the fact that the person administering lashings places a notebook in his armpit, preventing him from inflicting pain by raising his arm too high, lest the notebook should fall.

Unfortunately, Ahmad Al-Zind’s opinion reflects the overwhelming vox populi sentiments of  Egypt’s Muslim masses, while providing a respected contemporary jurist’s authoritative Sharia-compliant validation of such views. Dating back to within a few days of their publication in April, 2007, I have repeatedly highlighted data from Egypt indicating that 74% of Egyptians favored “strict” application of the Sharia in general. As recently as December 2010, Pew polling data revealed that with regard to the draconian hadd punishments, 84% of Egyptian Muslims rejected freedom of conscience in the most ugly terms claiming apostates should be killed (i.e., that percentage would likely be well over 90% if less draconian punishments, such as imprisonment and beating till recantation were queried), 82% favor stoning adulterers to death, and 77% approved of mutilating punishments for theft.

Given such widely prevalent attitudes, even Muslim Brotherhood “Spiritual Adviser,” and esteemed, prolific commentator. Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s cautious admonition to re-apply the full panoply of Sharia’s odious regulations “gradually,” may not be necessary. With likely passage of Egypt’s Sharia-affirming draft constitution in the offing, “hadd times” may be returning to Egypt sooner than even confirmed Arab Spring pessimists like myself ever imagined.

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