Suppose a person in hunger and poverty steals food in a Muslim nation to feed themselves and their family, and such person is caught by the shopkeeper, but before being taken to the prison (or before the hands are cut), another person decides to pay the shopkeeper for what was stolen.

Would this person still be under any punishment or are they already free?

  • 2
    In the case you quoted the person who has stolen wouldn't even been punished for stealing because shari'a forgives stealing to save ones life from a death because of hunger,
    – Medi1Saif
    Feb 24, 2017 at 6:18
  • @Medi1Saif So they would need to first know why the person is stealing, before taking any measures, right?
    – Yuuza
    Feb 24, 2017 at 6:58
  • 1
    Yes if i have time and nobody answered the question i'll post an answer with evidences explaining the issue. Preserving life is an impirtant goal of shari'a
    – Medi1Saif
    Feb 24, 2017 at 8:18
  • @Medi1Saif As you said, stealing to save ones life from hunger is acceptable, but then why it's said, in this news article, that various Yemeni people were held in prison for stealing, even in order to feed their families?
    – Yuuza
    Feb 24, 2017 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


First thing first: the goal in cutting hand is to prevent society to be messed up and it is applied to the people who do it as habit.

Secondly, there are many limitation for the punishment, the thief should be found guilty of stealing 3 times by the court(either 2 witnesses or thief should accept the crime). Other than that if there are cases like hunger, famine, or someone force thief to steal, or the thief is not an adult, the punishment won't be applied. Also the thief should steal more than an amount. But I dont know the amounts, it should be 1 dinar but I am not sure how much it is now. If it is less than this amount, the loss of the owner sgould be reimbursed.

Third thing is a word of Umar bin AlKhattab which kinda explains the hunger part of the situation: Yahya ibn Abi Kathir reported: Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Do not cut the hand of the thief who steals dates in the year of famine.” Source: Muṣannaf Abd al-Razzāq 18371

As-Sa’di reported: I asked Ahmad ibn Hanbal about this narration and he said, “No, the hand is not cut for theft when there is a need for that and the people are in famine and hardship.” Source: I’lām al-Muwaqqi’īn 3/17

Note that the amounts and the regulations might be different in different school of thoughts, these information is mostly based on Hanafi. Other imams might have different icmaa's/implications but I m not very familiar with those.

  • I think evidences are also available in primery hadith collections such as the sahihs and sunans.
    – Medi1Saif
    Feb 25, 2017 at 8:30
  • @Medi1Saif it would be great if you provide hadith
    – smttsp
    Feb 25, 2017 at 14:42
  • At the moment I'm only onlinr with my mobile device. But maybe I've already posted one in my former posts
    – Medi1Saif
    Feb 25, 2017 at 15:40

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