Why did the Prophet order to cut off the hands and feet of the people who killed the shepherd?

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Al-bukhari 5727

Some people from the tribes of Ukl and Uraina came to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and embraced Islam and said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! We are owners of livestock and have never been farmers," and they found the climate of Medina unsuitable for them. So Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) ordered that they be given some camels and a shepherd, and ordered them to go out with those camels and drink their milk and urine. So they set out, but when they reached a place called Al-Harra, they reverted to disbelief after their conversion to Islam, killed the shepherd and drove away the camels. When this news reached the Prophet (ﷺ) he sent in their pursuit (and they were caught and brought). The Prophet (ﷺ) ordered that their eyes be branded with heated iron bars and their hands be cut off, and they were left at Al-Harra till they died in that state.

1 Answer 1


The hadith already mentions the reason. Because they had been ungrateful, apostatized from Islam, mutilated and killed an innocent person and then took property (camels) by force. Armed robbery comes under the Hirabah, and its Hadd punishment is mentioned in the Quran:

إنما جزاء الذين يحاربون الله ورسوله ويسعون في الأرض فسادا أن يقتلوا أو يصلبوا أو تقطع أيديهم وأرجلهم من خلاف أو ينفوا من الأرض ذلك لهم خزي في الدنيا ولهم في الآخرة عذاب عظيم

Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,

Quran 5:33

Jurists have different interpretations on how the choice is made between these punishments according to the specifics of the robbery. Because robbery can sometimes involve merely terrorizing people, sometimes it involves murder, sometimes it involves snatching property, and sometimes it involves a combination of these acts.

According to a group including the Hanafis, if a robber both takes property and kills someone then the caliph has the option to amputate their alternate limbs and then to execute or crucify them. Similarly it is noted that that if the robber only take property without murdering then the caliph has the option to amputate their limbs alone.

Amputation of limbs is linked to snatching property. This is similar to amputation in the hadd for theft, except that in theft wealth is taken in secrecy while in robbery it is taken openly by use of force.


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