WHEN LIFE GENERATES DEATH (LEGALLY)
In Islamic law death penalty and its application into criminal and political field have had a long and contradictory history, mostly because of the overlapping of religious society and political society and because of the variety of historical periods.
The Koran, basic point of reference, summarizes prophet Mohammed's religious and social action. Also the 'Urf (local consuetudinary law) and the Shâri'a (system of the juridical-religious laws fixed on the foundations of the Koran, of the real prophetical tradictions - Hadîth -, of the communitary consent - Ijma' -, of the reasoning conducted likewise the Koran's laws and of the tradiction). The Koran provides the retaliation law for the murderers, the death penalty for the adulterous women (which must be shut at home without food or lapidated).
Still nowadays, law of Islamic countries (like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran) follows the Shâri'a, a very hard law which provides death penalty in many cases and which is strictly applied. Inequalities among Muslims and non-Muslims in law application and variety of punishments can be explained not with racism, but with the religious principle that bases the hierarchy of juridical people on the Shâri'a. The highest grade of responsability before the law is for the Muslim man sound of mind and legally married: his life is protected with precedence by the legal system. Then comes the free Muslim woman legally married, the Muslim slave-man, the Muslim slave-woman and the infidels.
Judges, depending to their opinion, can choose whether applying the Shâri'a or privileging punishments like imprisonment or penalty; rural people, instead, apply, for sexual crimes which involve the honour of a family, the 'Urf. Authorities are harder when they have to remove the old right of revenge which brings useless bloodshed.