In Sahih Muslim 1676a, it says

'Abdullah (b. Mas'ud) reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: It is not permissible to take the life of a Muslim who bears testimony (to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and I am the Messenger of Allah, but in one of the three cases: the married adulterer, a life for life, and the deserter of his Din (Islam), abandoning the community.

This means a Muslim can only be killed for three reasons

  1. adultery
  2. murder
  3. apostasy

Howeve in Sunan an Nasa’i 5661 it says

It was narrated that Ibn 'Umar and a number of the Companions of Muhammad ﷺ said "The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: 'Whoever drinks Khamr, whip him; then if he drinks (again), whip him; then if he drinks (again), whip him; then if he drinks (again), kill him.'"

Isn’t that a contradiction?

2 Answers 2


The majority view is that killing a Muslim on his fourth offense of drinking is not to be acted upon, as it has been abrogated.

أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال ‏ من شرب الخمر فاجلدوه فإن عاد فاجلدوه فإن عاد فاجلدوه فإن عاد في الثالثة أو الرابعة فاقتلوه ‏ ‏.‏ فأتي برجل قد شرب فجلده ثم أتي به فجلده ثم أتي به فجلده ثم أتي به فجلده ورفع القتل فكانت رخصة

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: If anyone drinks wine, flog him; if he repeats it, flog him, and if he repeats it, flog him. If he does it again a third or a fourth time, kill him.

A man who had drunk wine was brought (to him) and he gave him lashes. He was again brought to him, and he flogged him. He was again brought to him and he flogged him. He was again brought to him and he flogged him. The punishment of killing (for drinking) was repealed, and a concession was allowed.

Sunan Abu Dawud - classed as Sahih by Zubair Ali Zai (Darussalam) and al-Arnaa’oot

Tirmidhi while commenting on the hadith of killing for drinking wine, says the following:

إنما كان هذا في أول الأمر ثم نسخ بعد هكذا روى محمد بن إسحاق عن محمد بن المنكدر عن جابر بن عبد الله عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال ‏‏ إن من شرب الخمر فاجلدوه فإن عاد في الرابعة فاقتلوه ‏‏ ‏ قال ثم أتي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بعد ذلك برجل قد شرب الخمر في الرابعة فضربه ولم يقتله ‏ وكذلك روى الزهري عن قبيصة بن ذؤيب عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم نحو هذا ‏ قال فرفع القتل وكانت رخصة ‏ والعمل على هذا الحديث عند عامة أهل العلم لا نعلم بينهم اختلافا في ذلك في القديم والحديث ومما يقوي هذا ما روي عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم من أوجه كثيرة أنه قال ‏‏ لا يحل دم امرئ مسلم يشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأني رسول الله إلا بإحدى ثلاث النفس بالنفس والثيب الزاني والتارك لدينه ‏‏ ‏

This was only the earlier order, then it was abrogated later. This is what was reported from Muhammad bin Ishaq, from Muhammad bin Al-Munkadir, from Jabir bin Abdullah, from the Prophet ﷺ who said: "Whoever drinks wine, then lash him, if he returns to it, then on the fourth time kill him." He said: "Then a man who had been drinking was brought to the Prophet ﷺ a forth time, so he beat him, he did not kill him." Similar was reported by Az-Zuhri from Qabisah bin Dhu'aib from the Prophet ﷺ , he (Qabisah) said: "so the order to kill was lifted, and that was a granted favor (from the Law-Giver)."

This [Hadith] is acted upon according to the people of knowledge in general, we do not know of any disagreement between them about this neither the earlier or the latter among them. What strengthens this, is what is reported from the Prophet ﷺ through many routes, that he said: "The blood of a Muslim man who testifies to La ilãha illallãh and, that I am the Messenger of Allah, is not lawful except for one of three: A life for a life, the (married) adulterer, and leaving his religion."

Jami at-Tirmidhi 1444

So, if one is to go with the majority madhab then the second hadith in the question is abrogated and hence the first one does not contradict it but rather is an affirmation that it has been abrogated.

Nevertheless, there are some like Ibn Hazm who did not accept that the execution for repeated drinking was abrogated. Secondly even the other scholars have recorded there are actually around ten or more matters on which a Muslim can be executed, as evident from various Quranic verses and ahadith. See Why do Muslims kill other Muslims? .

They can be reconciled with the hadith on the three lawful executions in multiple ways.

  • They can be considered as abrogations or specifications of the more general hadith.

  • The additional matters all fall under the three categories that are mentioned in the hadith, e.g. repeating a sin multiple times even after being caught and getting punished is indicative that one does not care about Islamic law and hence is a type of "deserter of his Din (Islam), abandoning the community" without actually being outright apostasy.

  • Brother, what are your comment about THIS hadith that says that Abdullah bin Amr allowed a man to be killed for consuming alcohol?
    – Ren
    Aug 16, 2021 at 19:40
  • Secondly, there is an Anti-Islamist who is arguing that in the Hadith you mentioned, there is a narrator قَبِيصَةَ بْنِ ذُؤَيْبٍ who was only a couple of years old when Prophet (Sallallahu'alaihiwassalam) passed away, so it is not possible for him to hear this narration from Prophet (Sallallahu'alaihiwassalam).
    – Ren
    Aug 16, 2021 at 19:54
  • Is there any other collaborating evidence for this narration which you cited in your answer?
    – Ren
    Aug 16, 2021 at 19:55
  • @UmH your hadith that you used is da'if and can not be used as evidence.
    – harmer
    Aug 16, 2021 at 20:38
  • 1
    @Ren My answer has addressed the question from both angles. For the few who have applied the execution the reconcilations at the end of the answer will apply. Qabisah was a sahabi who was born in the first year of Hijrah, so he was around eleven years old at the time of the death of the Prophet and so he could have heard it from the prophet. Otherwise he heard it from another sahabi and all the sahaba are thiqa near the sunnis. The mursal of a sahabi is acceptable.
    – UmH
    Aug 17, 2021 at 3:27

Yes,it is a contradiction. The first hadith does not cover martial law but it claims to be inclusive for penalty law.

If this hadith is accepted, the second one cannot be accepted.

It is a task of qualified scholars to decide whether the first hadith withstands the Qur'an and if so, decide between this and other hadith graded sahih, like the one you quote.

In the latter case, different scholars may come to different results but the same scholar cannot grade both sahih.

  • Both ahadith are Sahih and do not contradict each other.
    – harmer
    Aug 16, 2021 at 18:07
  • Wouldn’t this raise a question against the authenticity of all Hadith?
    – Ma148
    Aug 16, 2021 at 18:30
  • @Jeschu - Well, this answer was quite surprising from you. I do not think that these hadith contradict each other at all!
    – Ren
    Aug 16, 2021 at 19:07
  • @Ren Why do you think that they don't?
    – Jeschu
    Aug 16, 2021 at 19:38
  • @Jeschu Read the answer above. All sahih hadith cannot contradict each other they are all perfect, either one of them is not sahih or the one reading them isn't wise enough to understand them and should ask a scholar.
    – user44632
    Aug 23, 2021 at 16:55

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