I found the following image on a reddit thread.

How accurate is this comparison?

  • 2
    There are 14 different claims here, making it difficult for one person to answer all of them. Would you consider selecting just one crime in particular?
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 17, 2017 at 23:22
  • 5
    @Oddthinking why? What would be wrong with listing all 14 of them, checking them off, with an optional summary / conclusion? (The underlying question obviously being whether IS and SA are similar in severity of punishment for crimes).
    – SQB
    Mar 18, 2017 at 10:09
  • @SQB It's a valid question, but less claims would help people actually answer it, as people are hesitant to post partial answers. I looked at a couple of the claims and they check out, but something like two different types of banditry require more research.
    – tim
    Mar 18, 2017 at 10:26
  • 1
    Would citing the Koran be good enough? I understand both states follow it officially.
    – user36688
    Mar 18, 2017 at 13:44
  • 1
    There are some additional ISIS rules: (a) If a man's beard isn't long enough, he commits an act of homosexuality. (b) If a woman is raped, she commits adultery. (c) If you disagree with (a) or (b), that's treason and blasphemy.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 20, 2017 at 0:01

1 Answer 1


The graphic was made by the Middle East Eye, which explains the "MEE" in the lower corner. The entire article seems pretty sound, but I've worked hard to find other sources to verify its information.


The information on ISIS came from a penal code published by ISIS on December 16th, 2014.

I like the Independent's article, which has pictures, a good explanation, and part of the translation (the important part):

The document, entitled: "Clarification [regarding] the hudud (a set of fixed punishments), was published by the militant group as a reminder and warning to those living under its rule in Syria and Iraq, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri).

  • Blasphemy against Allah: Death
  • Blasphemy against the Prophet Mohamed: Death – even if the accuser repents
  • Blasphemy against Islam: Death
  • Adultery: Stoning until death in case the adulterer was married and 100 lashes and exile if he or she were unmarried.
  • Sodomy (homosexuality): Death for the person committing the act, as well as for the one receiving it.
  • Theft: Cutting off the hand
  • Drinking alcohol: 80 lashes
  • Slandering: 80 lashes
  • Spying for the unbelievers: Death
  • Apostasy: Death
  • Banditry:
    1. Murder and stealing: Death and crucifixion
    2. Murder only: Death
    3. Stealing (as part of banditry): Cutting off the right hand and the left leg
    4. Terrorizing people: Exile

I don't know how accurate this translation is, but there's a picture of the original document in the article for anyone who can read it (Arabic?). I think that there is some context missing, or maybe some other words would have been better choices. For example, judging from context, I think that "banditry" refers to Hirabah (a term obscure in English but less confusing here than "banditry").

Saudi Arabia

There isn't a convenient list for Saudi Arabia, but various sources indicate that the graphic is accurate, though some of these punishments can be changed depending on the circumstances. (I have most of the boxes covered, but I'm missing some.)

Murder can, but doesn't have to result in execution, since it is a Qisas crime:

Qisas crimes are also subject to fixed punishments; for example, the punishment for murder is public beheading. The murderer will only be executed, however, if all of the victim's heirs demand it, and the family has the option to collect blood money from the defendant rather than demanding the death penalty.
The Death Penalty in Traditional Islamic Law and as Interpreted in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria


Same-sex intercourse is condemned outright under Islamic law, and today, convictions of homosexual behavior are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, and Yemen.
Islam and Homosexuality (Book description)

It appears like the punishment for drunkenness is decided by the judge, as the graphic indicates:

Flogging with a cane was often imposed for offenses against religion and public morality, such as drunkenness and gambling and the neglect of prayer requirements and fasting. Although the flogging was painful, the skin was not broken. The purpose was to degrade rather than cripple the offender and serve as a deterrent to others. United States citizens have been flogged for alcohol-related offenses, usually receiving from thirty to 120 strokes.
Saudi Arabia: A Country Study

The graphic is right about adultery, but it doesn't make it clear that "not married" means "never married" as far as the law goes. The article Man Gets 100 Lashes For Adultery, Female Lover Gets Something MUCH Worse (warning: photos) is an example of both. I'm not sure, but "slander" probably refers to this punishment for false witnesses (80 lashes according to Sharia law):

The sharia sets forth rigorous requirements for proof of adultery or fornication. For the crime of adultery, four witnesses to the act must swear to having witnessed the crime, and if such an accusation does not hold up in court, the witnesses are then liable to punishment.
Saudi Arabia: A Country Study

Thieves may be amputated, but it's something they're trying to avoid doing all the time:

Under the sharia, repeated theft is punishable by amputation of the right hand, administered under anesthetic. Because of its severity, a number of qualifications have been introduced to mitigate the punishment. If the thief repents and makes restitution before the case is brought before a judge, the punishment can be reduced; furthermore, the victim can demand recompense rather than punishment or can grant a pardon.
Saudi Arabia: A Country Study

I think that "banditry with theft" might be the same thing as "aggravated theft":

Aggravated theft can be punished by cross-amputation of a hand and a foot.
Saudi Arabia: A Country Study

Also note that:

Hadd crimes are subject to the fixed punishments specified in the Qur'ān, but a judge can choose to impose a harsher punishment under ta'zir.
The Death Penalty in Traditional Islamic Law and as Interpreted in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria

That same article also seems to cover "banditry (murder and theft)", since banditry is probably referring to Hirabah:

In Saudi Arabia, those guilty of hirabah are sentenced to death, and have been executed even if the victim was not actually killed, differing from most scholars' interpretations of the proportional nature of punishment. Saudi Arabian law provides that if the armed robbers give themselves up and repent, their repentance will nullify the hadd punishment and they will be punished only in accordance with qisas as to the rights of the victim.

  • 7
    to summarise: it's accurate as far as can be determined from public sources.
    – jwenting
    Mar 23, 2017 at 7:51
  • The graphic gives a false impression since the legal system is structured around a search for mitigating circumstances, which it can then characterize as an act of mercy. Judges don't jump to chop off hands
    – Avery
    Oct 31, 2020 at 13:39
  • 1
    "Terrorizing people: Exile" Is exile supposed to be a punishment? Oct 31, 2020 at 15:03

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