Stealing More Is Better? An Economic Analysis of Islamic Law of Theft
27 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2013 Last revised: 24 Sep 2016
Date Written: April 22, 2015
This study is the first attempt (in the field of Law and Economics) to apply economic analysis to shari’a or Islamic criminal law, in particular, that aspect of the law pertaining to theft. Shari’a imposes two main punishments for theft; hadd, a fixed penalty of amputation of the offender’s right hand under certain conditions and ta’zir, a discretionary punishment, less severe than hadd. From the viewpoint of marginal deterrence and multiplier principles, lesser crimes with low social harm are punished more severely with hadd whereas crimes with high social harm are punished with ta’zir. Moreover, as the probability of detection and sanction is less in those crimes of high social harm, criminals would have more incentive to commit them. Consequently, if Islamic criminal law is to be applied in its current form, crimes of high social cost are likely to become more frequent.
Keywords: Islam, Criminal Law, Economics of Crime, Deterrence, Hadd, Ta'zir, Shari'a, Theft
JEL Classification: K14, Z12, P40, K00
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