I have read in a book that when a person steals once, his/her right hand is cut off. If he/she steals a second time than their left leg is cut off. But what if they steal a third time? I heard that there are many opinions on this. What is done if one steals a third time? And what do the scholars say about this?

  • I don't think so after loosing 2 limbs, the person would try to commit the crime again.
    – mtk
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 15:55
  • @mtk you never know, there are some pretty evil people out there.
    – مجاهد
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 16:13
  • @AlUmmat "evil" is tricky... theft can be an act of greed, but it can also be a crime of poverty and desperation; even after the loss of limbs, a person may still want to eat etc Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 13:09
  • 1
    @MarcGravell very true, I have heard somewhere that there is a ruling of poor people who steal, it is different. Here stealing is just out of plain greed, that is what I am referring to.
    – مجاهد
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 13:19

3 Answers 3


The Hanafia and the Hanbalia opinion is that if someone keeps stealing, nothing is cut off after the rights hand is cut and the left leg is cut. Rather He should be imprisoned until he repents.

It is narrated from Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that A thief was brought to him, so he cut off his hand, and then he was brought the same thief a second time so he cut off his leg. Then He was brought a third time so Ali Said: I will not cut, if I cut his hand than with what will he eat with, and what will he wipe with? If I cut his leg than with what will he walk with? I am shy from Allah?. So he hit the man with a wood and put him in prison.

It was also narrated the same thing from Ummar (may Allah be pleased with him).

The Malikia and Shafi'iah opinion is that if someone steals a third time than his left hand is cut off, and if someone steals a fourth time, his right leg is cut off.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: that the Prophet (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon Him) said: If a thief steals than cut off his hand, than if he steals again than cut off his leg, than if he steals again than cut his hand, than if he steals again cut his leg.

Addarqatni in his Sunan

Source: Al Fiqh Al Maliki Al Muyassar by Dr.Whbat Azzuhayli

  • What I've heard is that you cut off alternating limbs on the third incident (Shafi'i opinion). But I don't think there's actually been a case where this happens, and the Quran only says cutting off the hand as punishment.
    – Muz
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 14:08

According to Fiqh of Shia Islam:

Cutting off the hand is for the first stage of theft. For the second time, the left leg will be cut off. For the third time, the retribution is life imprisonment, and annihilation is for the fourth time. [27]


From Tafsir of Sura Al-Ma’idah: 33 - 38 from Enlightening Commentary of the Holy Quran - Volume 4

  • It's always been my question: So why don't we do that?
    – Zahra E
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 12:19
  • @Ezati it has many terms and every thief does not include it and usually are terms are not met. also it needs command of Islamic ruler and he has the right to cancel it if there is other reasons. pasokhgoo.ir/node/68549 and pasokhgoo.ir/node/63371 Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 15:47
  • ‫Thanks. I think I've found a related hadith using your 2nd link: من لا يحضره الفقيه / ترجمه غفارى، على اكبر ومحمد جواد و بلاغى، صدر، ج‏5، ص: 399
    – Zahra E
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 16:14

In prophet's time sahaba kept cutting hands and legs of the thief in alternating order until there were none left. And after 4th time (s)he committed theft, person himself/herself was killed.

Based on a hadith narrated by Jabir as in Abu Dawud Kitab Al-Hudud 20 (4410). I couldn't find the english text on the internet.

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