The Inhumane ‘Eye for Eye’ Justice in Iran is Not the Justice of the Bible
This week, the Supreme Court of Iran approved a severe sentence against a woman and two men. The punishment? Blinding, because the convicted people were involved in altercations where victims lost their sight.
You may be shocked reading that. It may seem wildly inhumane to us, but not unheard of in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, retribution comprises a long-institutionalized practice — one that Iranian government might argue is, in our terms, “biblical.”
How is that possible? If you recall in the Old Testament, Leviticus 24, the law that originated from the Code of Hammurabi reads: “If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him — fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death. (Lev. 24:19-21, NKJV).
The Qesas Principle
Current Islamic law likewise adheres to the notion of an “eye for an eye” under the retribution principle called Qesas. In the case of this week’s ruling, it can result in a quite literal sentence.
In addition, the restrictions and punishments that follow the Islamic Republic’s constitution allow for extrajudicial measures such as fire bombings, beatings, torture, rape and even killing political prisoners and civilians without trial.
This constitutes Classical Islamic law (Sharia). Just a few other defining factors of this “eye for eye” injustice include:
- Punishing victimless crimes. These include “insulting the prophet,” adultery, same-sex relations, drinking alcohol and a woman’s failure to wear hijab.
- Religiously based punishment. If a Muslim converts to another religion, they may be punished by death.
- Exceedingly harsh punishments. These include stoning to death, amputation, lashing and blinding offenders.
- Unequal rights for women. A woman is not valued the same as a man in court testimony. This makes conviction of a woman’s rape in Iran nearly impossible.
But What Did Jesus Say?
In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus repudiates the “eye for eye” notion under the premise of the new law and salvation through himself: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”
What Muslims Think of Jesus
If you meet a Muslim and perhaps start talking to them about faith, you may be surprised to hear them speak of Jesus. They will likely insist Islam reveres Jesus as a great man, even a great prophet, just as Christians do.
But as with the way Iran’s Islamic justice system has inhumanely twisted the notion of “eye for eye” justice in the Bible, the assertion of embracing Christ and having common ground with Christians is wildly untrue — for they do not submit to Jesus Christ as Lord.
Advocating for the Iranian People
Iran Alive Ministries is working to advocate for the Iranian people to have the basic human rights every person should have: humane treatment, fair trial, dignity and freedom to worship as they please outside of Islam. That’s just to name a few.
We are also working to transform Iran into a truly Christian nation, one soul at a time, by getting the truth and hope of the gospel into Iran through the satellite programming of Iran Alive Ministries, and through a tightly bound underground church network to whom we are supplying discipleship through digital resources. It’s a drop in the ocean of how God is moving in the lives of the Iranian people, who are starting to divorce Islam and its brutality in droves.
You can help by praying for the people in Iran who continue to live in utmost darkness under inhumane Sharia laws. Pray that they would come to know Christ, with hope in the fullness of true justice He will bring when He comes again.
Hormoz Shariat has a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology from Jessup University. In 1987, he planted a church in San Jose, CA. With hundreds of Muslim converts, it remains one of the largest churches of its kind in the U.S. In 2000, Dr. Shariat founded Iran Alive Ministries, which uses Satellite TV to reach millions of lost and broken people in Iran and the Middle East.