As is reported in newspapers a Saudi cleric Fayhan al-Ghamdi tortured to death his five-year-old daughter Lama, after raping her. He has been sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes. Ghamdi’s second wife, accused of taking part in the crime, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and 150 lashes. Leave aside whether or not this is according to the law, let us have a look at the traditional ‘law’ since in Saudi Arabia Shariah law is implemented, the above sentence seems insufficient.

Though 800 lashes may be considered enough yet the Shariah law empowers a court to add the words “to death”. Hazrat Umar lashed his son for a crime he had confessed to. The son died during the lashing, but his father, the Caliph, went on until the count was completed. Stoning to death a ‘married’ rapist is not in the Quran, as usually and wrongly perceived, yet latter caliphs allowed it, given the cruelty of the crime.

In this case the cleric is not only married, his other wife is an accomplice in the rape crime, and the most tragic is that the crime was committed with his own innocent daughter, now the intent of the crime is beyond question. Shariah laws are objected to in the west as cruel, as they argue that the ‘an eye-for-an eye concept’ is against humanity but sparing here a daughter’s rapist father, with just 800 lashes and prison is negation of the concept of making it an example.

Saudi Arabia makes examples in other cases, for example the country has strict laws against narcotics trade. A drug-peddler, if caught carrying or selling narcotics is sentenced to death. Each Friday, after Jumma prayers people gather in a square and authorities execute the convict(s) in front of all, so that others learn a lessons. Narcotic trade is a crime that is considered killer of humanity, therefore any peddler caught is executed, and whether it is proved that he has supplied anyone or not.

But the case of this immoral cleric’s is clear with evidences, forensic tests and DNA. Polygamy is permissible in Islam but only in circumstances as and when most of the men are martyred in battle or and their widows needed a respectable life. Those circumstances do not exist. Why then are men still allowed to fill the house with ‘wives’ where one is not capable of imparting justice?

Why has the Saudi Arabian government shown such leniency to such a heinous criminal when Islamic law considers him fit for a death sentence? Being a cleric adds insult to injury and compounds his crime, he and his wife should both be beheaded so that never again will someone think they can get away with such a crime.

F Z KHAN,

Islamabad, October 9.