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The Impermissibility of Specifying Individuals as Being the Recipients of a Specific Punishment

Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah

It is impermissible to prescribe punishments to people because it is impossible to predict whether or not an individual will receive punishment or what it will entail.

Truly, it is permissible for those other than the prophets-(may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon all of them)- to fall into error, be it minor or major. Even if this individual is considered from among the steadfast affirmers of truth [the Ṣiddīqīn] or martyrs or the righteous. This is because what the perpetration of sin obligates [from punishment] may not occur due to:

  • Repentance
  • Sincerely seeking forgiveness
  • Deeds of righteousness that expiate [sin]
  • The occurrence of an expiating catastrophe
  • Intercession

or simply by the Will of Allāh and His Mercy.

As such, it is impermissible for us to specify a particular person that has carried out a ḥarām action saying: This specific individual will receive a specific punishment, due to the possibility of the occurrence of sincere repentance [from the perpetrator of the offense], or other than it from the articles that nullify punishment.

Source: Rafʿ al-Malām: 84, 86
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: June 1, 2023
Edited: June 1, 2023

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