Comment: ISIS bans satellite channels, threatens violators with 50 lashes

According to Iraqi News:

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) decreed that it will punish owners of satellite dishes in Deir al-Zour province (north-eastern Syria) with 50 lashes and a fine of 10,000 Syrian Pounds which is equal to approximately $46 US Dollars.

Assuming that this is true, I wonder how they arrived at 50 lashes, for it exceeds the limit set by the official opinion [mu‘tamad] of the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of law concerning discretionary punishments.

Discretionary punishments [ta‘zir punishments] are punishments for acts of disobedience which lack a specific punishment or expiation. Discretionary punishments are supposed to take into account the particulars of the crime, its perpetrator, and other variables.

According to the Shafi‘i school, discretionary punishments via lashing cannot exceed 39 lashes. Among the evidence  for limiting it to 39 is that al-Nu‘mān ibn Bashīr (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ‎ said, “Whoever reaches a prescribed punishment in [meting out] a non-prescribed punishment is among the transgressors.” [Bayhaqi  (17584)] The lowest prescribed punishment is 40 lashes – the punishment for consuming intoxicants.

According to the Hanbali school, discretionary punishments via lashing cannot exceed ten lashes. This is the official position used for fatwa according to Zad al-Mustaqni‘ and Dalil al-Talib. Among the evidence for limiting it to this is that Abu Burdah al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say, “No more than ten lashes are to given except when inflicting one of the prescribed punishments [hudud] of Allah.” [Bukhari, 175–176 [Fath al-Bari]; Muslim (1708)]

While a basis can be found in overruled opinions within those schools and elsewhere, what Iraqi News mentions is not in line with the official opinions of the Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools.

And Allah knows best.

UPDATE. The article mentions that the reason for the punishment is that

ISIS has recently stepped up its campaign to ban the use of satellite dishes in the territories under its control in Syria and Iraq because they claim to broadcast rumors among Muslims.

If so, ISIS is hardly the first and only state  to try to protect its citizens from information it deems harmful. Sadly, the ACLU seems too busy to consider expanding its services to additional territories. That said: I’m not a fan of censorship or the idea of taking private property in order to establish a monopoly on information.