Saturday, February 27, 2021

Pakistan could not fool FATF with its half measures and last ditch efforts to come out of Grey List

 By New Age Islam Special Correspondent

27 Feb, 2021

Despite all its diplomacy and last minute face saving exercises, Pakistan could not come out of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) 'Grey List'. The financial watchdog, after the end of its 4 day plenary decided to keep Pakistan in its 'Grey List' implying that financial transactions of Pakistan will be closely monitored. The FATF has given Pakistan time till June to fully implement all the 27 recommendations till FATF's June meeting in which Pakistan's fate will be decided.

The FATF said Pakistan had completely implemented 24 recommendations and had partly implemented 3.

FATF has put Pakistan in 'Grey List' since 2018 for its inability and lack of will to prevent money laundering and terror funding. The FATF had asked Pakistan to take action against designated terror organisations and terrorists of Pakistan but Pakistan failed to comply. It was only in January 2021, that it took some half measures against terrorists and terrorist organisations keeping in view the plenary of FATF to be held from February 222021. Pakistan arrested Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi in January. A Pakistani court had sentenced Lashkar-e-Taiba leader and designated terrorist Hafiz Sayeed last year to 35 years imprisonment. But that was also an eyewash to hoodwink FATF because its parent body Jamat ud Dawah has always enjoyed patronage of the Punjab government. In 2013, Shahbaz Sharif led Punjab government allocated JuD Rs 61 million. It also issued a tender for construction and repair work in JuD complex in Muridke. New Age Islam had published a detailed report on it in 2013.


Also Read: Proved: Lashkar-e-Taiba Is Not A Non-State Actor But A Government Body of Pakistan


Another designated terrorist Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-Mohammad named by FATF was not arrested though Pakistan had acknowledged his presence in Pakistan. A Pakistan court issued an arrest warrant against Masood Azhar in January but the police did not arrest him. FATF could see through Pakistan's unwillingness to arrest him.

Another factors that went against Pakistan was the recent acquittal of Omar Shaikh, the prime accused in American journalist Daniel Pearl's murder and Pakistan's diplomatic tussle with France, a powerful member of FATF in the aftermath of Emmanuel Macron's 'Islam in crisis' remark last year. Pakistan had denounced his remark in its National Assembly and passed a resolution to recall its ambassador from France. It had also called France's ambassador in Pakistan and registered its unhappiness over the remark with him.

The fact is that Pakistan has used terrorism as a state policy and therefore, it has sponsored terrorism against India and Afghanistan. The statistics given by Pakistan itself speak of the enormity and severity of the problem of terrorism in Pakistan. The statistics released by Pakistan army says that 1,850 incidents of terrorism occurred in Pakistan from 2017 to 2021. The Army said that it conducted 375,000 operations during the last four years to reduce urban terrorism under its special operation 'Raddul Fasad". Despite all its big talk, the Pak Army could not arrest Masood Azhar. It arrested Lakhvi only in January.

Pakistan officially banned Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2002 but in practice, Lashkar-e- Taiba leader Hafiz Sayeed moved freely in Pakistan, even participating in a seminar in the office of a widely circulated Urdu daily of Pakistan after the ban.


Also Read:  True Success for Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistan: Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangawi, all terror outfits enjoy support of leaders and Ulema


During the plenary of FATF in Paris, human rights activists, journalists, Pashtun and Uyghur activists protested outside the FATF office in Paris demanding that Pakistan be put in the Black list for promoting terrorism. Adil Qasim, the exiled Uyghur dissident, Fazal Rahman, Pashtun Rights activist and other activists said that Pakistan and China have economic friendship and use terrorism to kill Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities in their respective countries. They said that even if Pakistan promulgates laws to curb terrorism, it will not implement them. They also observed that the judiciary in Pakistan was working on the dictates of Pakistan Army which sponsors terrorism.

Pakistan will have to take action against terrorists and terrorist organisations active on its soil and wipe out terrorism completely and it is possible only when it gives up using terrorism as a tool of strategic depth.


Also Read: Pakistan Willing To Overlook Ties That Bind: Lashkar And The Global Jihad



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Friday, February 26, 2021

Why critical discussion of Islamic tradition should not be snubbed


By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

February 26, 2021

A Bristol university professor, Steven Greer, is under investigation for allegedly referring to Islamophobic content in his lectures. Greer, a long-time professor of human rights, apparently gave ‘Islamic’ examples to facilitate student understanding on issues such as freedom of expression, freedom of thought and conscience, position of non-Muslims and other minorities within Muslim societies, among others. Muslim students have lodged a complaint against him to the university authorities, arguing that Professor Greer is anti-Muslim, divisive and bigoted. They are demanding an apology from him and the university authorities for allowing him to continue to teach despite earlier complaints of a similar nature against him.

As it often happens in such cases, we only hear one side of the story, in this case from the Muslim students. Professor Greer has been barred by the university to speak in his defence as the matter is under investigation. However, it is apparent that even this one-sided story is deeply problematic and a threat to university spaces which should be an arena of free and fair discussion. It appears that the students’ criticism is motivated by a desire to curb any discussion of problematic Muslim issues, in the name of countering Islamophobia and racism.

Before understanding the substance of Muslim students’ opposition, it is important to see the location of this university professor. He has been teaching this particular course for a long time and is an accomplished intellectual in his field. He has published extensively in the area of human rights, international law and Islam. As such, he is well qualified to teach such a course. The student body should not have any right to question his academic credentials. It is entirely possible that some students may not like some of his interpretations or the kind of examples that he might be citing but then they must realise that he should have the full freedom to do so. Especially within classroom situations, a teacher must have the inalienable right to express herself freely and in the way that she likes. The curtailment of that academic freedom is the very negation of political freedom itself. The students who are protesting against this professor do not realise that in the long run, they are curbing free society itself. But then, are these students really interested in safeguarding and extending that freedom or are they motivated by some other agenda?

The complaint against Professor Greer was made by the Muslim student body called the University of Bristol Islamic Society (BRISOC). The group encourages God consciousness, facilitates Muslim students by advising them on appropriate places to eat, find accommodation, etc. It educates Muslims about the necessity of being ‘Islamic’ at all times and one of the ways of doing so, it argues, is through gender segregation. Although it claims to represent the diversity of Muslim experience, it appears that the group is closer to a particular interpretation of Islam which can safely be called fundamentalist.

The campaign against Professor Greer has also been led by the Federation of Students Islamic Societies (FOSIS), an umbrella organization of Muslim student groups in the United Kingdom. Started in 1963, FOSIS is perhaps the first Muslim support group to become operative in that part of the world. The group’s philosophy is about faith-based activism which it defines as a ‘transformative journey of progression in faith, skills and habits to become comprehensive Muslims, living to further the cause of Allah’. One of the prominent faces in this forum was Ahmed Deedat, the South African writer and speaker of Indian descent, and who made a name for himself by entering into ceaseless polemics with the Christians.

Indians who are familiar with the work of Zakir Naik will recognise Deedat for the immense harm that such people have caused to inter-religious understanding. Rather than entering into a dialogue with one another, Deedat repeatedly trashed Christianity as a religion which was now superseded by Islam; the implication being that all of them should now become Muslims. Similarly, he has written against Hindu religious beliefs, denigrating them, without in fact understanding much of its philosophy.

Deedat supported the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and was sympathetic to the views of Osama bin Laden. In fact, his dawah centre was funded by the bin Laden family. It’s not surprising, therefore, that he was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for his missionary work. In calling people like Deedat to their forum, the ideological orientation of groups like FOSIS becomes clear. And this orientation seems to come from a Wahabi-inspired ideology which wants Islam to become the ruling idea of the world.

The criticism and censure of Professor Greer is, therefore, not from all Muslims but from Muslim groups which have a distinct political agenda. Most Muslims will not have a problem if a professor, in the wake of a discussion on polygamy and human rights, gives examples from the Islamic society.

In opposing Professor Greer, what are Muslim groups like BRISOC and FOSIS saying? That polygamy does not exist or is not theologically sanctioned within much of the Islamic world? In the name of fighting Islamophobia and discrimination, they basically want to stop any critical discussion of the Islamic tradition, both from within and without. This is typical of the right-wing strategy with which we have become familiar in India. It is unfortunate that such right-wing Muslim tendencies are not being called out for what they are. Muslims themselves must fight against such tendencies, for it is they who will be the ultimate sufferers if this is not challenged.

Arshad Alam is a columnist with


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Why Maulana Azad's Religious and Political Insights Are More Meaningful in The Current Circumstances?


By Prof. Akhtarul Wasey, Translated by New Age Islam Edit Desk

22 February 2021 

Maulana Azad was born at a critical phase in history when the whole world was in the grip of a great social, economic, political and cultural conflict. One era of history and civilization was coming to an end and another age was beginning. 

This turmoil was manifesting with greater intensity in Europe, where on the one hand, with the decline of the Ottoman Empire, a certain period of Islamic history was taking its last breath, and all European powers were actively involved in expediting this decline and perpetuating it.There was an outpouring of anti-Western sentiments throughout the Islamic world, which created the greatest impacts in India. At the same time, various powers in Europe were at war with each other, as a result of the competition created by the Industrial Revolution and colonization, which was manifesting itself in the shape of a conflict of political interests. 

This conflict soon erupted in the form of World War I. At the cultural level, it was a time when people were coming out of the unbridled rationalism of the nineteenth century. As a result, the entire Western civilization was steeped in a great social chaos and spiritual disorder.At that time, India was preparing for a major confrontation against the British imperialism. Gandhi ji had returned home from South Africa and had begun to shape the freedom struggle by combining it with public aspirations. The Congress, under the leadership of Gandhi ji, was advancing the freedom movement in the form of a joint effort of all people of the country, whose ideological basis was peaceful and non-violent resistance.  

On the other hand, there were many other ideological positions. Some people believed in armed struggle against the British, while others sought to limit Indian nationalism to the majority community on the basis of religious revivalism. At the same time, there was a group of socialists who were dreaming of an economic revolution in the country based on the Marxist understanding of history and civilization.  

Azad, in the midst of these diametrically different and contradictory aspirations, aloof in his intellectual silence and insightful solitude, was outlining a scientific and practical roadmap that later accorded him an unforgettable place in the history of modern India. A sketch was being compiled by the pen of his existential and spiritual conscience, with a balanced synthesis of a righteous rationality and a deep esoteric religiosity. He carried out this task through his translation and commentary of the Qur'an—Tarjuman-ul-Qur’an—which can undoubtedly be regarded in high esteem as the pinnacle of his intellectual and spiritual insights. 

In Tarjuman-ul-Qur'an, based on Islam's message of universal human unity and peaceful coexistence, Maulana Azad, interpreted the religion (deen) as a powerful force of freedom that transcends all prejudices and prejudices in human life. This makes a man part of a global human fraternity. In his Qur'anic commentary, Maulana rekindled the fire of freedom granted by Islam which had lifted all the chains worn by man before the advent of Islam, and after which man was not enslaved by anyone except by his Lord. According to Maulana Azad:

 “The government should also remember that if we Muslims become ‘true Muslims’, it would be as much in the interest of the government as in ours, and those of our neighbors. It should not be forgotten that if we are true Muslims, we will have the Qur'an in our hands and the hands which are bearers of the Qur'an cannot pick a bomb or a revolver. However, we should not forget that Islam has also taught us to give freedom as well as to achieve freedom. When we were rulers, we gave freedom and now when we are subjugated, we demand the same thing”. 

The social and political conditions of the country had reached a stage when it was certain that the unity and joint efforts of Hindus and Muslims were a prerequisite for the liberation of India from foreign domination. In the light of his Islamic insight, he stated: 

"It is the duty of the Muslims of India to make a covenant of love and unity with the Hindus of India, and with complete sincerity, become a nation together with them…..I want to tell the Muslim brethren that the greatest voice that can be heard after the voice of God was the voice of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He wrote the testament inthese words: We are one Ummah i.e. One Nation. We make peace with all the tribes living around Madinah and we all want to be one Nation together. Ummah means ‘nation’ and Wahid means ‘one’ (unity).” 

Maulana Azad's message of unity was not the result of any political coercion or expediency but rather a manifestation of the true message of Islam, which implies the universal brotherhood and the religious and political entente established in the light of the earliestIslamic history. 

Maulana Azad wrote in Al-Hilal in the issue of September 1, 1912, addressing the apprehensions of a section of Muslims about the unity with non-Muslims and Muslims’joint efforts with the Hindu brethren: 

Have fallen into the cycle of scarcity and abundance. They want to strengthen the numbers but do not strengthen the hearts. There is no need to be afraid of Hindus 

The biggest mistake of Muslims [in India] is that they concern themselves with their numeric strength. They want to strengthen their numbers but not their hearts. There is no need to be afraid of Hindus. In fact, one should be only afraid of God. If you want to stay in India and live in this land, then make reconciliation with your neighbours. You have seen the result of living in isolation and separation. If there is an obstacle from them, do not care about it.Even if these peoples do not treat you well, you should treat them well.” 

This was the strong conviction that Maulana Azad exhibited in his concept of Composite Nationalism which made him the biggest rival of the separatist politics of the Muslim League. To him, the idea of ​​Pakistan was a symbol of defeat that does not behove Muslims. He confidently reiterated his position and said: "I believe that I find the very term of‘Pakistan’ contradictory. It shows that some parts of the world are pure (pak) and others impure (na-pak). This man-made division of purity and impurity is not only un-Islamic but also contrary to the spirit of Islam. Islam does not accept any such division because the Prophet (PBUH) himself has said that God has made the whole world a mosque for him. ”

 Maulana Azad, in the light of his Qur'anic insight, spiritual consciousness and historical awareness, chosea practical path and never gave it up,though he had to face various accusations in this regard and he suffered cold-bloodedness from his contemporaries and former allies.Even after the partition of India, he fell into a deep loneliness. However, every day since his demise, his thoughts and stances have become more pressing need of the timeand he isproving to be more relevant and meaningful today than ever before. 

Courtesy: Inqilab, New Delhi

February 22, 2021 

URL for original article in Urdu:مولانا-آزادکی-تہذیبی-و-سیاسی-بصیرت--آج-کے-تناظر-میں/d/124370 


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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Does Islam prescribe rajm (stoning to death) as a punishment for adultery? Capital Punishment is Barbaric and Immoral

 By Abdul Rehman Hamza, New Age Islam

25 February 2021

Stoning is mentioned in multiple Ahadith(plural of Hadith) and therefore most schools of Islamic jurisprudence accept it as a prescribed punishment for adultery. Most Muslims and Islamic scholars considerAhadith(reports claiming to quote what Hazrat Muhammad said verbatim on various matters) an authoritative sourceof Islamic law, second only to Quran. The punishment of stoning to death has been rarely applied in the history of Islam owing to the very strict evidential requirements stipulated by Islamic law.

Legal imposition of the rajm punishment (stoning to death) was very rare in Islamic history. During the 623-year history of the Ottoman Empire, for which voluminous court records are available, there is only one recorded example of a judge sentencing a convict to death by stoning. No sentences of stoning have been recorded in Syria during Muslim rule.Muslim jurists used a number of techniques to avoid application of the stoning penalty. They interpreted the evidentiary requirements so strictly that it was effectively impossible to prove the offense. They actively encouraged witnesses to withhold testimony, and argued that it was “morally better” to do so,(meaning it was hard for their conscience to accept this barbaric act). They defined the offense narrowly to exclude many types of sexual activity. And they developed the legal concept ofshubha (doubt), which held that when an illegal sexual act resembled legal sex in some way, the stoning penalty should not be applied. Techniques used to argue that the pregnancy of a single woman should not be considered evidence of zinaʿ included fantastic presumptions about the length of the human gestation period. Classical Hanafite jurists ruled that it could last for up to two years, Shafi'ites four, and Malikites as long as five years. HazratUmar once acquitted a pregnant single mother on the grounds that she was a "heavy sleeper" who might have "intercourse without realizing it".

However, those who claim to be the true followers of Islam like the Taliban in Afghanistan,ISIS in Iraq, and Boko Haram in Nigeria have actively implemented it. Out of the world’s forty-nine Muslim-majority states, six retain the punishment in deference to Islamic legal tradition, ... Of these countries only Iran, which officially placed a moratorium on stoning in 2002 but still gives leeway to individual judges, has actually carried it out. 

Stoning is not mentioned as a form of capital punishment in the canonical text of the Quran. However, Islamic scholars have traditionally postulated that there was a Quranic verse: “If a married man and woman commit adultery, stone them..." which was abrogatedtextually while retaining its legal force.

Numerous sahih Ahadith(reliable, according to Sunni scholars), however, describe stoning. One is the Hadith pf Umar’s speech, HazratMuhammad's last Hajj sermon and the Hadith of the Verse of Stoning.

 Sahih Bukhari, the book most trusted after Quran by most Muslims, has several sunnah regarding stoning. For example:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: 'Umar said, "I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, "We do not find the Verses of the rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book," and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession." Sufyan added, "I have memorized this narration in this way." 'Umar added, "Surely Allah's Apostle carried out the penalty of rajam, and so did we after him."

Sahih Bukhari 8:82:816, see also Sahih Muslim, 17:4194

See also- Sahih Bukhari 7:63: 196, Sahih Bukhari 2:23:413, Sahih Bukhari 3:34:421Sahih Bukhari 3:49:860 Sahih Bukhari 3:50:885 Sahih Bukhari 4:56:829, Sahih Bukhari 6:60: 79, Sahih Bukhari 7:63:195 

Other ahadith also mention stoning as the punishment for adultery.

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah: A man committed fornication with a woman. So, the Apostle of Allah ordered regarding him and the prescribed punishment of flogging was inflicted on him. He was then informed that he was married. So, he commanded regarding him and he was stoned to death.

See also Sunan Abu Dawood 38:4424,Sunan Abu Dawood 38:4421, 38:4426, 38: 4429, 38:4433.

The early Islamic era text Musannaf of Abdul Razzaqin the chapter on rajm, lists 70 hadith reports of stoning linked to HazratMuhammad, and 100 to his companions and other authorities.

 One very important ruling of stoning by Hazrat Muhammad relating to non-Muslims(Jews) proves its Quranic basis as well.

 Quran 5:41 “they say, if you are given this, take it, but if you are not given this, then beware!"

Tafseer Ibn Kathir commentary on the above verse:

“This Ayah was revealed about two Jews who committed adultery. The Jews changed the law they had in their Book from Allah on the matter of punishment for adultery, from stoning to death, to a hundred flogs and making the offenders ride a donkey facing the back of the donkey. When this incident of adultery occurred after the Hijrah, they said to each other, "Let us go to Muhammad and seek his judgement. If he gives a ruling of flogging, then implement his decision and make it a proof for you with Allah. This way, one of Allah's Prophets will have upheld this ruling amongst you. But if he decides that the punishment should be stoning to death, then do not accept his decision.''

There are several Hadiths mentioning this story. Malik reported that Nafi` said that `Abdullah bin `Umar said, "The Jews came to Allah's Messenger and mentioned that a man and a woman from them committed adultery. Allah's Messenger said to them, (What do you find of the ruling about stoning in the Tawrah) They said, `We only find that they should be exposed and flogged.' `Abdullah bin Salam said, `You lie. The Tawrah mentions stoning, so bring the Tawrah.' They brought the Tawrah and opened it but one of them hid the verse about stoning with his hand and recited what was before and after that verse. `Abdullah bin Salam said to him, `Remove your hand,' and he removed it, thus uncovering the verse about stoning. So they said, He (`Abdullah bin Salam) has said the truth, O Muhammad! It is the verse about stoning.' The Messenger of Allah decided that the adulterers be stoned to death and his command was carried out.

Bukhari and Muslim also collected this Hadith and this is the wording collected by Bukhari. Another hadith says that Abdullah bin `Umar said, "I was among those who stoned them and I saw the man shading the woman from the stones with his body.'' These Hadiths state that the Messenger of Allah issued a decision that conforms with the ruling in the Tawrah, not to honour the Jews in what they believe in, for the Jews were commanded to follow the Law of Muhammad only. Rather, the Prophet did this because Allah commanded him to do so.

See also Ali Ibn Ahmad Al-Wahidi’sAsbabun- Nuzul (Occasions of revelations) for 5:41-49 which confirms it.This book is available on the internet.

There are numerous other records of instances similar to this one where HazratMuhammad had adulterers stoned to death. What was, in fact, the "Verse of Stoning"? It is mentioned in the following tradition:

Zirr ibn Hubaish reported: "Ubayy ibn Ka'b said to me, 'What is the extent of Suratul-Ahzab?' I said, 'Seventy, or seventy-three verses'. He said, 'Yet it used to be equal to Suratul-Baqarah and in it we recited the verse of stoning'. I said, 'And what is the verse of stoning'? He replied, 'The fornicators among the married men (ash-shaikh) and married women (ash-shaikhah), stone them as an exemplary punishment from Allah, and Allah is Mighty and Wise."' (As-Suyuti, Al-ItqanfiiUlum al-Qur'an, p.524).


It was narrated by Muhammad ibn Ishaaq. His version says: The verse of stoning and breastfeeding of an adult ten times was revealed, and it was written on a leaf that was kept beneath a bed in my [‘Aa’ishah’s] house. When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) fell sick, we were preoccupied with his situation, and a little animal of ours came in and ate it. 

This was narrated by Imam Ahmad in al-Musnad (43/343), and Ibn Maajah in As-Sunan (no. 1944); the latter version says: When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) died, we were preoccupied with his death, and a tame sheep came in and ate it. 

Whereas the Qur'an makes no distinction in Surah 24.2 between the married or unmarried state of those who are guilty of fornication (it simply calls them az-zaaniyatuwaz-zaanii - "the female and male fornicators"), the text as given in the above tradition only states that married men and women who are caught in adultery should be stoned (the actual meaning of the word is "old" or "adult" men and women, implying married persons).

This has led to much discussion in Muslim writings about the meaning of the verse. The general understanding among Muslim scholars of earlier generations was that any portion of the Qur'an totally abrogated by Allah was also caused to be entirely forgotten (on the strength of Surah 2.106: nansakh ... aw nunsihaanaati - "abrogate ... or cause to be forgotten", the two being taken together as an entity). So, when a verse was found to be retained in the memory of a companion as distinguished as Umar, it was assumed that, whereas the text may indeed have been withdrawn from the Qur'an, teaching and prescription found in it nevertheless is binding as part of the sunnah of the Prophet of Islam. The dilemma was generally resolved by presuming that the Qur'anic command to impose one hundred stripes on fornicators applied only to unmarried persons, whereas married persons guilty of actual adultery were to be stoned according to the sunnah. Numerous other solutions to the issue have been proposed and the subject has been exhaustively treated in the various works of historical Islamic literature.

Hanafi jurists have held that the accused must be a muhsan at the time of religiously disallowed sex to be punished by rajm (stoning). A Muhsan is an adult, free, Muslim who has previously enjoyed legitimate sexual relations in matrimony, regardless of whether the marriage still exists.

There is disagreement among modern Islamic thinkers as to the applicability of stoning for adultery.However,mostscholars maintain that there is sufficient evidence from Hadith to derive a ruling. The vast majority of Muslims consider Hadith, which describe the words, conduct and example set by HazratMuhammad during his life, as a source of law and religious authority second only to the Quran. They consider sahih Ahadith to be a valid source of Sharia, justifying their belief on Quranic verse 33.21, and other verses.

 Javed Ahmad Ghamidi postulates that Quranic verses prescribe rajm only for those who habitually commit fornication as prostitutes do, which then constitute "mischief in the land" that is punishable by death according to Quranic verses 5:33-34. This view is not popular and does not enjoy acceptance by most ulema.

Contemporary attitudes towards capital punishment in Judaism

Rabbinical courts have given up the ability to inflict any kind of physical punishment, and such punishments are left to the civil court system to administer. The modern institution of the death penalty, at least as practiced in the United States, is opposed by the major rabbinical organizations of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism.

Orthodox Judaism

In practice, these punishments were almost never invoked in Orthodox Judaism, and existed mainly as a deterrent and to indicate the seriousness of the sins for which they were prescribed. The rules of evidence and other safeguards that the Torah provides to protect the accused made it all but impossible to actually invoke these penalties. The system of judicial punishments could become brutal and barbaric unless administered in an atmosphere of the highest morality and piety. When these standards declined among the Jewish people, the Sanhedrin (The Supreme Council and Tribunal of the Jews during postexilic times headed by a High Priest and having religious, civil, and criminal jurisdiction), voluntarily abolished this system of penalties.

Conservative Judaism

In Conservative Judaism, the death penalty was the subject of a responsum by its Committee on Jewish Law and Standeards, which has gone on record as opposing the modern institution of the death penalty:

"The Talmud ruled out the admissibility of circumstantial evidence in cases which involved a capital crime. Two witnesses were required to testify that they saw the action with their own eyes. A man could not be found guilty of a capital crime through his own confession or through the testimony of immediate members of his family. The rabbis demanded a condition of cool premeditation in the act of crime before they would sanction the death penalty; the specific test on which they insisted was that the criminal be warned prior to the crime, and that the criminal indicate by responding to the warning, that he is fully aware of his deed, but that he is determined to go through with it. In effect, this did away with the application of the death penalty. The rabbis were aware of this, and they declared openly that they found capital punishment repugnant to them. There is another reason which argues for the abolition of capital punishment. It is the fact of human fallibility. Too often, we learn of people who were convicted of crimes, and only later are new facts uncovered by which their innocence is established. The doors of the jail can be opened; in such cases, we can partially undo the injustice. But the dead cannot be brought back to life again. We regard all forms of capital punishment as barbaric and obsolete.”

Reform Judaism

Since 1959, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union of Reform Judaism have formally opposed the death penalty. The Central Conference also resolved in 1979 that "both in concept and in practice, Jewish tradition found capital punishment repugnant", and there is no persuasive evidence "that capital punishment serves as a deterrent to crime".

In the light of the above, we may safely conclude that capital punishment must be considered inhuman, barbaric and obsolete.


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