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Judicial CP - March 2003

Corpun file 11053 at

Khaleej Times, Dubai, UAE, 22 March 2003

Experts' panel divided on punishment for drinking

From our correspondent

ISLAMABAD - A punishment of 80 lashes for drinking alcohol is not sanctioned by the Holy Quran and Sunnah, a committee of religious and legal experts constituted by Pakistan's National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) has concluded by a majority vote.

Opinion was divided in the 15-member panel, but overwhelming numbers supported the view that the prescribed punishment was not directly derived from the Quran and Sunnah, but was an innovation of a later period.

The debate in the panel was intense. The minority opinion did agree that the punishment was not provided in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, but suggested that it had resulted from 'ijma' (consensus).

The panel focused its study on the Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd) Ordinance of 1979 introduced by General Ziaul Haq, prescribing 80 lashes for drinking. An overwhelming majority of members termed it as a brainchild of the military dictator which lacked justification.

Leading members of the panel, including Justice M. Usmani and Dr Faqir Hussain argued that at the time of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), no particular punishment was provided for drinking and, in fact, the offender was either slapped or confined to home. Dr Faqir Hussain said the second caliph, Hazrat Umar Farooq, prescribed a punishment for drinking for the first time.

Ms Farida, a woman member of the committee, said the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had administered punishment by striking the offender with a branch of palm tree.

Dr S. M. Zaman, another member of the panel, said even if the punishment had been prescribed by Sahaba (Prophet's companions), it constituted part of 'Sunnah' (Prophet's tradition) and was binding.

Justice Majida Rizvi, chairperson of the NCSW, however, disagreed with the opinion. Justice Usmani said that an offender could be given punishment other than the Hadd.

Dr Zaman insisted that the punishment of Hadd was part of Sunnah, but acknowledged that he could not quote any Hadith (Saying of Holy Prophet) to support his contention.

He concluded the subject required deeper research.

© 2003 Khaleej Times All Rights Reserved.

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