Arabic sariqah In the language of the law, sariqah signifies the taking away the property of another in a secret manner, at a time when such property is in custody. Custody is of two kinds; 1st, by place, for example, a house or a shop; and, 2nd, by personal guard, which is by means of a personal watch over the property. If an adult of sound understanding steal out of undoubted custody ten dirhams, or property to the value of ten dirhams, the Muslim law awards the amputation of a band, for it is said in the Qur’an, Surah v.42: “If a man or woman steal, cut off their hands.”
With regard to the amount of the value which constitutes a theft, there is come difference of opinion. According to Abu Hanifah, it is tea dirhams; according to ash-Shafi’s, it is the fourth of a dinar, or twelve dirhams; whilst Malik holds that the sum is three dirhams.
The freeman and the slave are on equal footing with respect to punishment for theft, and the hand of the slave is to be struck off in the same manner as the hand of a free Muslim.
The theft must be established upon the testimony of two witnesses, but the magistrate must examine the witnesses as to the manner, time, and place of the theft. The thief must also be held in confinement, or suspicion, until the witnesses be fully examined.
If a party commit a theft, and each of the party receive ten dirhams, the hand of each is to be cut off; but if they receive less than ten dirhams each, they are not liable to amputation.
Amputation is not incurred by the theft of anything of a trifling nature, such as wood, bamboos, grass, fish, fowls, and garden stuff.
Amputation is not incurred by the theft of such things as quickly decay and spoil, such as milk or fruit, nor for stealing fruit whilst upon the tree, or grain which has not been reaped, these not being considered as in custody.
The hand of a thief is not struck off for stealing any fermented liquor, because he rosy explain his intention in taking it, by saying, “I took it with a view to spill it”; and also because some fermented liquors are not lawful property.
The hand is not to be cut off for stealing a guitar or tabor, these being of use merely as idle amusements.
Amputation is not incurred by stealing a Qur’an, although ash-Shafi maintains that it is.
There is no amputation for stealing the door of a mosque. Nor is the hand struck oft for stealing a crucifix or a chess board, as it is in the thief’s power to excuse himself by saying, “I took them with a view to break and destroy them, as things prohibited.” It is otherwise with a coin bearing the impression of an idol, by the theft of which amputation is incurred; because the money is not an object of worship.
The hand is not to be struck off for stealing a free-born infant, although there be ornaments upon it, because a free person is not property; but amputation is incurred by stealing an infant slave, although the stealing of an adult slave does not incur amputation, as such an act dose not come under the description of theft, being an usurpation or a fraud.
Amputation is not incurred for stealing a book, because the object of the thief can only be its contents and not the property.
The hand is not cut oft for stealing a cur-dog, because such an animal is common property; nor for stealing utensils made of wood.
There is no amputation for stealing from the public treasury, because everything there is the common property of all Muslims, and in which the thief, as a member of the community has a share. And if a person steal from property of which he is in part owner, amputation is not indicted. Nor if a creditor steal from his debt is the hand cut off.
The right hand of the thief is to be out off at the joint of the wrist and the stump afterwards cauterised, and for the second theft the left foot, and for any theft beyond that he must suffer imprisonment.
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam