World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article




In Islamic Law, tazir (or ta'zir, Arabic تعزير) refers to punishment, usually corporal, for offenses at the discretion of the judge (Qadi) or ruler of the state.[1] It is one of three major types of punishments or sanctions under Sharia Islamic law — hadd, qisas and tazir.[2] The punishments for the hudud offenses are fixed by the Qur'an or Hadith[3] (i.e. "defined by God"[4]), qisas allow equal retaliation in cases such as murder or injury, however ta'zir refers to punishments applied to the other offenses for which no punishment is specified in the Qur'an or the Hadith.[5][6]


  • Overview 1
  • Scripture 2
  • Examples of Tazir offenses 3
  • Tazir punishments 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


The classical Islamic legal tradition did not have a separate category for criminal law as does modern law.[6] The classical Islamic jurisprudence typically divided the subject matter of law into four "quarters", that is rituals, sales, marriage, and injuries.[2] In modern usage, Islamic criminal law has been extracted and collated from that classical Islamic jurisprudence literature into three categories of rules:[2]

  • Hadd (literally "limit"[7]) under Sharia, are rules stated in the Quran and the Hadiths, and whose violation is deemed in Islam as a crime against God, and requires a fixed punishment. Hadd crimes include[8] theft (amputation of the hand), illicit sexual relations or rape (death by stoning or one hundred lashes), making unproven accusations of illicit sex (eighty lashes), drinking intoxicants like alcohol (eighty lashes), apostasy (death), and highway robbery (death).[5][9]
  • Qisas, (literally "retaliation in kind"[10]) and diyya, دية) ("blood money"), in Islamic jurisprudence, are the second category of crimes, where Sharia specifies equal retaliation (qisas) or monetary compensation (diyya[11]), as a possible punishment. Included in this category is homicide, for example, which Islamic law treats as a civil dispute between believers.[12] Qisas principle is available against the accused, to the victim or victim's heirs, when a Muslim is murdered, suffers bodily injury or suffers property damage.[13] In the case of murder, qisas means the right of a murder victim's nearest relative or wali (ولي) (legal guardian) to, if the court approves, take the life of the killer.[14]
  • Tazir (literally "to punish",[7] sometimes spelled as taazir, ti'zar, tazar, ta'azar) is the third category, and refers to offense mentioned in the Quran or the Hadiths, but where neither the Quran nor the Hadiths specify a punishment.[1][15] In Tazir cases, the punishment is at the discretion of the state, the ruler, or a [5]


The word tazir is not used in the Quran or the Hadith, in the sense that modern Islamic criminal law uses it.[18] However, in several verses of the Quran, crimes are identified, punishment of the accused indicated, but no specific punishment is described. These instances led early Islamic scholars to interpret the Quran as requiring discretionary punishment of certain offenses, namely Tazir.[18] Example specific verses from the Quran that support taazir are,[18]

Examples of Tazir offenses

Tazir offenses are broadly grouped into two sub-categories in Islamic literature.[19] The first are those offenses that have the same nature but do not exactly meet the complete requirements of hudud crimes. Examples of such Tazir offenses include thefts among relatives, or attempted but unsuccessful robbery, attempted fornication witnessed by four male Muslims, and homosexual contacts such as kissing that does not result in fornication.[19][20] The second sub-category of Tazir offenses relate to offenses committed by an individual that violate the behavior demanded in the Quran and the Hadiths. Examples of the second sub-category include false testimony, loaning money or any property to another person for interest in addition to principal, any acts that threaten or damage the public order or Muslim community or Islam.[19][20]

The fourteenth century Islamic jurist Ibn Taymiyyah included any form of disobedience as a Tazir offense, and listed several examples where there is no legal penalty in Sharia:[21]

  1. the man who kisses a boy or a woman unrelated to him by marriage or a very near kinship;[21]
  2. the man who flirts without fornication;[21]
  3. the man who eats a forbidden thing like blood, or dead animal which suffers natural death, or meat that is slaughtered in an unlawful manner;[21]
  4. the man who steals a thing lying in open or one whose value is unclear;[21]
  5. the man who debases the commodities such as foodstuffs and clothes, or who gives short measure of capacity or weight;[21]
  6. the man who bears false witness or encourages others to bear false witness;[21]
  7. the judge who judges contrary to what Allah has enjoined;[21]
  8. the non-Muslim or Muslim engaged in espionage;[21]
  9. the nashiz woman who questions or is rude to her husband;[22]
  10. the man who questions Qadi's opinion or challenges the views of other Muslims;[21]

Numerous other offenses are included in Tazir category.[2][22]

Tazir punishments

Tazir punishments are common in Sharia courts for less serious offenses.[18] Punishments vary with the nature of crime and include a prison term, flogging, a fine, banishment, and seizure of property. Execution is allowed in cases such as habitual homosexuality, practices which split the Muslim community, propagating heretical doctrines or espionage on behalf of an enemy of the Muslim state.[18][23][24] All four schools of fiqh (Madhhab), namely Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii and Hanbali, permit the death penalty at the discretion of the state or Qadi, for certain Tazir offenses. But traditionally Ta'zir often varied between schools of fiqh. Insolvent debtors were generally required to sell their goods, but a Hanafite judge would send the defendant to jail until their creditors were paid, for example.[25][26] Hanafite and Shafi'ite fiqh allowed a judge sometimes to "rely on information personally acquired instead of independent testimony" -- even in cases where the defendant faced capital punishment.[27][26] Judges would use the difference in fiqh to the advantage of prosecution and disadvantage of the defendant. Malakite fiqh allowed for beating during interrogation if the defendant had a "bad reputation", and "an expansive approach to capital punishment" compared to other schools. At least during the fourteenth century non-Malakite judges "often" sent defendants to Malakite judges.[28] [26]

Contemporary application

In some Islamic countries, such as Pakistan, rape is being treated as liable to Tazir.[29] For Tazir punishment for rape, the Pakistan law requires evidence that the woman resisted, that there is semen present on the woman, and that the man is potent; if the evidence confirms all these three requirements then the Tazir punishment under the Pakistan law is a fine, thirty lashes and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years for the convicted.[29] In cases, where the judge discretionarily decides that the evidence is insufficient, the rape victim can be tried on charges of false accusation, under both hadd and tazir rules of Pakistan law.[29][30]

Brunei introduced Tazir into its Syariah Penal Code Order effective 2014. Tazir crimes in Brunei now include offenses such as failing to perform Friday prayers by anyone above 15 years old, any Muslim disrespecting the month of Ramadan, and khalwat (dating or any form of close proximity between unrelated members of opposite sex).[31]

Iran introduced Tazir into its legal code after the 1979 Revolution, naming the section as Qanon-e Tazir. These Tazir laws allow prosecution of offenses such as illicit kissing, failing to wear proper head dress such as hejab, and making critical statements against judges and members of the Council of Guardians.[32]

See also


  1. ^ a b Tazir Oxford Islamic Studies, Oxford University Press
  2. ^ a b c d e f Mark Cammack (2012), Islamic Law and Crime in Contemporary Courts, BERKELEY J. OF MIDDLE EASTERN & ISLAMIC LAW, Vol. 4, No.1, pp. 1-7
  3. ^ "Hadd" Oxford Islamic Studies
  4. ^ a b Wasti, Tahir (2009). The application of Islamic criminal law in Pakistan Sharia in practice. Brill Academic. p. xix, 72–73.  
  5. ^ a b c d e Mohamed S. El-Awa (1993). Punishment In Islamic Law. American Trust Publications. pp. 1–68.  
  6. ^ a b Wael Hallaq (2009), SHARI’A: THEORY, PRACTICE, TRANSFORMATIONS, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521678742, pp. 309, 551-558
  7. ^ a b Smith, Sidonie (Editor) (1998). Women, Autobiography, Theory : a Reader. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 124.  
  8. ^ "Hadd" Oxford Islamic Studies, Oxford University Press
  9. ^ Silvia Tellenbach (2015). The Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law (Ed: Markus D. Dubber and Tatjana Hornle). Oxford University Press. pp. 251–253.  
  10. ^ Mohamed S. El-Awa (1993), Punishment In Islamic Law, American Trust Publications, ISBN 978-0892591428
  11. ^ Christie S. Warren, Islamic Criminal Law, Oxford University Press, Qisas
  12. ^ Wasti, Tahir (2009). The application of Islamic criminal law in Pakistan Sharia in practice. Brill Academic. pp. 283–288.  
  13. ^ Tahir Wasti (2009), The Application of Islamic Criminal Law in Pakistan: Sharia in Practice, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004172258, pp. 12-13
  14. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, Qisas (2012)
  15. ^ Wasti, Tahir (2009). The application of Islamic criminal law in Pakistan Sharia in practice. Brill Academic. p. xix.  
  16. ^ "Qadi" Encyclopædia Britannica
  17. ^ Burns, Jonathan (2013). Introduction to Islamic law : principles of civil, criminal, and international law under the Shari'a. p. 121.  
  18. ^ a b c d e Hakeem, Farrukh (2012). Policing Muslim communities comparative international context. New York: Springer. pp. 16–20.  
  19. ^ a b c Criminal Law in Islam, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, Oxford Islamic Studies, Oxford University Press (2013)
  20. ^ a b Bassiouni, M (1982). The Islamic criminal justice system (Ta'azir Crimes chapter). London New York: Oceana Publications.  
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Omar A. Farrukh (1969). Ibn Taimiyya on Public and Private Law in Islam or Public Policy in Islamic Jurisprudence. pp. 92–97. 
  22. ^ a b Boğaç Ergene (2009). Judicial practice : institutions and agents in the Islamic world. Leiden: Brill Academic. pp. 266–267.  
  23. ^ Terrill, Richard (2013). World criminal justice systems : a comparative survey. Anderson Pub. pp. 562–563.  
  24. ^ Gerald E. Lampe (1997). Justice and human rights in Islamic law. Washington, D.C: International Law Institute. p. 88.  
  25. ^ Ibn Rushd, Distinguished Jurist's Primer: A Translation of "Bidayat al-mujtahid.", Translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee. Reading, 1994-6, 2:341-42
  26. ^ a b c Kadri, Sadakat (2012). Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari'a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia ... macmillan. p. 124.  
  27. ^ Baber Johansen, "Signs as Evidence: The Doctrine of Ibn Taymiyya 1263-1328) and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d.1351) on Proof", Islamic Law and Society, v.9, n.2 (2002), pp.175-76, 177-78
  28. ^ Rapport, Yossef "Legal Diversity in the Age of Taqlid: The Four Chief Qadis Under the Mamluks", Islamic Law and Society, v.10, n.2 (2003), p.221
  29. ^ a b c Mehdi, Rubya (2015). Islamization of the law in Pakistan. Routledge. pp. 122–126.  
  30. ^ Charles H. Kennedy (1988). "Islamization in Pakistan: Implementation of the Hudood Ordinances". Asian Survey (University of California Press) 28 (3): 307–316. 
  31. ^ Basuni, Izzuddin (2014-05-17). "Ta’zir offences explained". The Brunei Times. Retrieved 2015-05-09. 
  32. ^ Cronin, Stephanie (2004). Reformers and revolutionaries in modern Iran : new perspectives on the Iranian left. Routledge. p. 273.  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.