The thief must be an adult. Abdullah Ibn Sinan relates the following tradition from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
When a minor child steals for the first and the second time he is
forgiven. If he does it for the third time he is issued a strict
warning and beating. If he persists in his crime, the tips of his
fingers are slightly cut and if he repeats the act, some more of his
fingers are cut away.
The thief must be sane. So if an insane person robs, his hand is not amputed. He may be suitably warned and scolded.
The thief must not have resorted to stealing under duress, if he had been compelled to do so, the penal code is not applied.
The stolen thing must be something that is worth owning. Hence, if ones freedom is restricted it cannot be called a theft.
The value of the stolen object must not be less than one-fourth misqal of pure gold. One misqal is equal to eighteen grams. One-fourth
misqal is four-and-a-half gram.
The son or the slave of the thief must not own the thing that is stolen. So if a father steals from his son, he is not punished.
Eatables stolen during the times of famine do not make the thief liable for having his hands cut. It is narrated from Imam Ja’far
as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said:
In the time of famine and draught the hands of a thief are not cut off
for stealing edible items like bread and meat etc.
If a soldier participates in a raid and steals from the plundered goods obtained in war before they are distributed, he is exempted from
If one of the parties to a transaction steals a property and claims that it rightfully belongs to him, he is not liable to be punished.
If a person is accused of theft, but before his theft is proved to the judge, he pays the owner the value of the goods, he is not
penalised. Similarly, if a son steals from his father but before the
verdict is issued the father dies, the son is not punished, as stolen
goods now comprise his inheritance.
If the use of the stolen things is Harām (e.g. wine or pork), there is no penal action against the robber.
If the thief claims that he had not taken a particular thing with the intention of stealing it, and the judge considers otherwise, there
shall be no punishment for it.
The object should have been stolen from a place where the owner’s permission is required to enter. If a theft takes place in a public
mosque or public bath, the thief does not have his hand amputed.
The thing should have been stolen from a secure place.
The thief must himself take away the stolen goods from their proper place. If one takes out the thing from its safe place and
another one takes it away, neither of the two can be punished for
theft. If a thief removes the stolen object and loads it on his
animal, or gives it to an insane man or a minor child for taking it
away, he is penalised. This is because the animal, the insane person
and the child are mere carriers of the goods.
Severing of the hand is a punishment for theft. Theft implies that someone takes away something without the knowledge of others who later
realize that the thing is missing. Hence if a person forcibly loots
some goods from its owner, he is not punished for theft.
If before a theft can be proved, the thief goes to the judge and repents and promises not to steal in future he is saved from the
For a theft to be proved, two just witnesses should have seen the thief stealing.
- If the owner takes back his goods or allows the thief to keep them before the matter is reported to the Qazi and does not press for a
penalty, the thief is not punished.