Saturday, July 2, 2022

The inconsequential prevalence of Hiraba: Lessons from Abdulaziz’s banditry documentary, by Sadiya Abubakar Isa

Must read

- Advertisement -

The groundbreaking documentary by Daily Trust journalist Abdulaziz Abdulaziz has left us all astounded. My attention was drawn by some of Turji’s revelations. Although not new to me, I got the reaffirmation that terrorism most times is birthed by perpetual injustice incurred on a people. From a structuralist point of view, such construent most often necessitates the question whether one is a ‘freedom fighter’ or ‘terrorist’. Abdulaziz’s bewildering documentary brings us to the root of an overwhelming banditry that has long infested the North till date. I’m not here to do a blame game, but this recent knowledge about Turji’s metamorphic development reminds me of the selective attention our social vices get from our leaders and Ulama — the trivialization of ‘hiraba’ and lack of consequences there of. If justice was served from the onset, Turji, probably wouldn’t have been this exasperated.

What is Hiraba?

Hiraba is a type of crime committed against the sanctity of the peacefulness of a society. Such crimes include but not limited to rape, murder, trafficking, kidnapping, terrorism, mafia, robbery, thuggery etc. In short, it means any act of corruption that will endanger the peace and safety of others in a society. Technically, it applies to a certain level of such corruption, considering the criticality of its effect. With deep sorrow, Turji kept on re-emphasizing the number of Fulani women raped or murdered in broad daylight and their men killed in the marketplace. Their victimhood was for a very long time marginalised. Sadly, the media wasn’t also on their side. Thereby allowing Hiraba against them to prevail.

Jurists from the three schools generally agree on the following six points: First, ḥirābah is banditry, robbery or highway robbery. Second, the constituent crimes are either: theft, murder, theft and murder or causing fear. Third, the prime objective of the perpetrator is theft while murder and fear are collateral to that purposes. Fourth, ḥirābah is committed  openly and not in secrecy. Fifth, ḥirābah involves element of force. Sixth, generally, they agree that the punishments in al-Mā’idah 33 should correspond with each crime: cutting  off hand and foot for theft, execution for murder, crucifixion for murder and theft and banishment for causing fear.

READ ALSO:   Tipper crushes teenager to death in Maiduguri

“To  Mālikī jurists, house breaking, rape, use of intoxicants and deceitful acts to lure an immature or a person of incapable mind may, under certain circumstances, constitute  ḥirābah. Thus, the selection of the punishment is at the discretion of the judge and his wisdom to confer any sentence commensurate with the crime, deter future offence and in  the best interest of all. Except when death is involved, the authority has no alternative but to confer death sentence on the accused person.” (M. H. M. ASRI & M. K. Ruslan 2020).

How many rape victims are still waiting for justice? Not just in Shinkafi, look all over the Northern communities, and see the successful thrive of Hiraba. A rape victim committed suicide in one of Maiduguri IDP camps, what happened to the rapist till date? Nothing! The young girl Hanifa’s murderer is systematically trying to evade justice, arrested rapists and kidnappers are released on bail, how will there be sanity in our societies? How?

The Quran is very explicit with the punishment of Hiraba in Maida:33, “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and spread mischief (evil and corruption) in the land is death, crucifixion, cutting off their hands and feet on opposite sides, or exile from the land. This penalty is a disgrace for them in this world, and they will suffer a tremendous punishment in the Hereafter.”

READ ALSO:   EFCC closes case in N93.8m contract scam in Maiduguri

Our scholars maintained that the judge, court or ruler looks at the intensity of the crime committed to decide most appropriate punishment from the options given in the Quran.
These (Hiraba) are crimes that threaten social and societal order and it is normally enforced on innocent citizens.

Interestingly, Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifa interpreted the verse posing that ‘these criminals should be crucified and then killed in public (on a pole), their bodies should be left outside for everyone to see it and remember their crimes’. Eg. A rapist should be paraded on a pole (crucified), then killed publicly, allow body to be seen by one and all, then arrange a burial afterwards. The other two mazhabs are of the opinion that the criminal should be executed first before putting his body on the stake. Now, just imagine that the first ever corrupt official, rapist, highway robber, bandit/terrorist caught in the North was handled this way… Very few people would dare to commit the same crime.

Note: Islam isn’t lenient with the crimes of murder. For an ordinary murder, the murderer should be executed only, but for rape? The scholars collectively agree that he should be tormented and humiliated before/after death + a financial compensation to the victim of rape.  But what do victims of rape get in this part of the world [apart from getting blamed], despite all the proclamations of Islam.

READ ALSO:   Borno’s Child Rights bill ready for assent — Zulum

It’s so saddening that our Ulama were for long lenient (some even sympathetic) with matters of such capital crimes in our societies. It makes one sick to the stomach when a minor issue (like Rahama Sadau going semi nude) makes it to their timely lectures and sermons. I believe if they had bombarded the govt about the severity of these crimes (rape, murder, banditry for example), the govt would have taken things more serious. As with the case of Abduljabbar, we saw how state govt swung into action in no time.

Whether or not Turji’s claims are factual, we know that the government has a hand in it. As much as we do by allowing hiraba to be swept under the carpet. Lamenting on social media isn’t enough, we ought to do more. Fasad is not only indecent dressing, neither is it limited to robbery only. There is a lot more to read-in.
In a situation where our government does not care about us, and our Ulamas pay more attention to intra-religious/sectarian debates, women’s decency and subservience or blasphemy, what does our future look like? I’m not saying they don’t do anything else, we appreciate their efforts, but truth be told, this aspect of our socio-religious structures is very much neglected.

Further reading
Ibn Rushd al-Qurṭubī, Bidāyah  al-Mujtahid wa al-Nihāyah al-Muqtaṣid (Oman, Jordan:  Bayt al-Afkār al-Dawliyyah, 2007), 987-991
Muḥammad ‘Arfah alDussūqī, Ḥāshiyah al-Dussūqī ‘ala al-Sharḥ al-Kabīr (Miṣr: Dār Iḥyā’  al-Kutub al-‘Arabiyyah, 2001), 348-353.
Watch Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s lecture Punishment of Rape, 2020

opra news

- Advertisement -

More articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest article

- Advertisement -

- Website Designed By DEBORIAN.COM, a Nigerian Web Designer and Web Developer -