Hudud offenses are one of four different kinds in Islamic Penal Law:
- Qisas - meaning retaliation, and following the biblical principle of "an eye for an eye.
- "Diyya - compensation paid to the heirs of a victim. In Arabic the word means both blood money and ransom.
- hudud - fixed punishments
- Tazir - punishment, usually corporal, administered at the discretion of the judge
Hudud offenses are defined as "claims of God," and therefore the sovereign was held to have a responsibility to punish them. All other offenses were defined as "claims of [His] servants," and responsibility for prosecution rested on the victim. This includes murder, which was treated as a private dispute between the murderer and the victim's heirs. The heirs had the right to compensation and to demand execution of the murderer, but they could also choose to forgive.
Hudud offenses include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Highway robbery
- Illegal sexual intercourse/zina
- False accusation of zina
- Rebellion against the rule
- Apostasy includes blasphemy. (Unlike the five offenses listed above, not all jurists consider apostasy to be a hudud offense).
The punishments vary according to the status of the offender - Muslims generally receive harsher punishments than non-Muslims, free people receive harsher punishments than slaves, and in the case of zina', married people receive harsher punishments than unmarried.
In brief, the punishments include:
- Capital punishments - by sword/crucifixion (for highway robbery with homicide), by stoning (for zina' when the offenders are mature, married Muslims)
- Amputation of hands or feet (for theft and highway robbery without homicide)
- Flogging with a varying number of strokes (for drinking, zina' when the offenders are unmarried or not Muslims, and false accusations of zina')