Mufsid fi l-ard

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Mufsid fī l-arḍ (Arabic: مُفسِد فِی الاَرض) (lit: corrupter on the earth) is a person who, by committing some sins and inappropriate actions, destroys freedom, security, justice and public peace and distracts the society from moderation. This title is adopted from the Qur’an. A group of jurists, referring to the verse of Muharaba, considered the title of "mufsid fi l-ard" to be separate from muharaba [lit. "waging war; fighting"] and considered the punishment of execution for it. Another group considered these two titles to be the same and listed the same punishments of muharaba for it.

Shia jurists have considered actions such as kidnapping, having a habit of killing the people of dhimma, having a habit of stealing shrouds, practicing magic, and repeating prohibitions as some examples of causing corruption on the earth. From the government’s view, crimes against security, spreading lies, causing disruption in the economic system, and opening centers of corruption and prostitution are recognized as examples of corruption on the earth, and the punishment of execution is considered for them.

Importance and position

Corruption on the earth is a title adopted from the Qur’an, which is the subject of many discussions due to its severe punishment. The title corrupter on the earth[1] and the expression corruption on the earth[2] are mentioned in several verses of the Qur’an.

In Shiite hadith and jurisprudential sources, there is no independent chapter with the title of mufsid fi l-ard or ifsad fi l-ard. Hadiths related to this issue have been mentioned in different chapters such as the chapter on qisas (retaliation),[3] the chapter of hudud (prescribed punishments) of a muharib[4] and the chapter of diyat (compensatory payment or blood-money)[5]. Also, its rulings have been discussed in various jurisprudential discussions, such as ghasb (usurpation), diman (liability), ta’zirat (punishment), qisas (retaliation), muharaba (fighting), hudud (prescribed punishments) and diyyat (compensatory payment or blood-money).[6]

The difference between a mufsid fi l-ard and a muharib

A group of jurists referred to the verse of Muharaba and considered a mufsid fi l-ard to be different from a muharib, and another group of jurists considered these two titles the same. Some opinions of jurists are as follows:

  • Imam Khomeini (1902-1989), a Shiite jurist and the founder of the Islamic Republic, considered a mufsid fi l-ard to be the same as a muharib. According to him, a muharib is the one who prepares and equips himself with weapon to scare people and cause ifsad fi l-ard (corruption on the earth).[7]
  • According to Muhammad Mu'min (1938-2019), a Shiite jurist, corruption on the earth is a major subject of the verse and muharaba (fighting) is one of the examples of (ifsad fi l-ard), so whenever the title ifsad fi l-ard is realized, even if it is devoid of muharaba, it will entail the four mentioned punishments in the verse (execution, hanging, cutting off the person’s hand and foot on different sides, or exile).[8]
  • According to Muhammad Fadil Lankarani (1931-2007) a Shiite marja', the relationship between mufsid fi l-ard and a muharib, is a hypernymy; meaning that, every muharib is a mufsid fi l-ard, but not every mufsid is a muharib, and thus every mufsid is not punished as a muharib.[9]
  • Nasir Makarim Shirazi (born 1927), a Shiite marja’, believes that mufsid fi l-ard and a muharib are two separate concepts; for example, someone who distributes drugs on a large scale is a mufsid fi l-ard, but he is not a muharib; because he has not taken out a weapon, but someone who threatens people with a weapon, even once, is a muharib, but he is not a mufsid fi l-ard, unless he repeats his action.[10]


Jurists have listed some issues as examples of Ifsad fi l-ard (corruption on the earth):

  • Some jurists have considered the punishments for some crimes mentioned in hadiths, such as setting fire to people’s houses and property,[11] kidnapping,[12] and the habit of killing the people of dhimma[13] as examples of corruption on the earth.
  • From the viewpoint of government punishments, for example, crimes against public security, spreading lies, disrupting the economic system, arson and destruction, opening centers of corruption and prostitution or assisting them, in such a way as to cause a severe disturbance in public order, insecurity or major damage to public and private property, and spreading corruption and prostitution have been considered among the examples of corruption on the earth.[15]
  • Some have also considered actions such as the formation of prostitution gangs and drug trafficking and the like, which cause part of the society to leave the state of moderation, as examples of corruption on the earth.[16]


There is a difference of opinion about the punishment of a mufsid fi l-ard, due to the disagreement over the definition and relationship between the two titles mufsid fi l-ard and muharib.[17] Those who consider these two titles referring to the same person have sufficed to the punishments mentioned for muharaba (fighting).[18] Jurists, referring to the verse of muharaba, consider the punishment of muharaba to be one of four things: execution, crucifixion (tying the criminal’s hands and feet to something similar to a cross),[19] cutting off one hand and one foot of the person from different sides, or exile, and there is an agreement on it.[20] The argumentation behind the punishment of a muharib is to protect the lives of innocent and prevent extortionists acts against people’s lives, property, and honor.[21] According to the opinion of some jurists, the punishment for a mufsid fi l-ard is execution.[22]

See also


  1. Qurʾān, 2:60; 7:74; 11:85; 26:183; 29:36; 18:94; 38:28.
  2. Qurʾān, 5:33; 28:77 and 83.
  3. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 29, p. 9.
  4. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 28, p. 307.
  5. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 14, p. 277.
  6. Muʾassisa-yi Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif al-Fiqh-i al-Islāmī, Musūʿa al-fiqh al-islāmī, vol. 15, p. 297.
  7. Khomeini, Taḥrīr al-wasīla, vol. 2, p. 492.
  8. Muʿmin Qummī, kalimāt-i sadīda, p. 409.
  9. Fāḍil Lankarāni, Tafṣīl al-sharīʿa, p. 428.
  10. The difference between corruption on earth and warfare (persian)
  11. Ḥillī, Mukhtalaf al-Shīʿa, vol. 9, p. 353.
  12. Ḥillī, Mukhtalaf al-Shīʿa, vol. 9, p. 337.
  13. Ḥillī, Sharāʾiʿ al-Islām, vol. 4, p. 986; Shahīd al-Thānī, Masālik al-ifhām, vol. 15, p. 142.
  14. Fāḍil Lankarāni, Tafṣīl al-sharīʿa, p. 639.
  15. Islamic Penal Code (persian).
  16. Faraḥzadī and Fatḥullaḥī, Muqāyisa-yi muḥāraba bā Mafāhīm-i mushābih, p. 114.
  17. Shāhrūdī, Muḥāraba chīst wa muḥārib kīst?, p. 187.
  18. Shāhrūdī, Muḥāraba chīst wa muḥārib kīst?, p. 187.
  19. Mūsawī Ardibīlī, Fiqh al-ḥudūd wa l-taʾzīrāt, vol. 3, p. 609.
  20. Mūsawī Ardibīlī, Fiqh al-ḥudūd wa l-taʾzīrāt, vol. 3, p. 558.
  21. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 4, p. 361.
  22. Islamic Penal Code (persian).


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  • Ḥillī, al-Ḥasan b. Yūsuf al-. Mukhtalif al-shīʿa fī aḥkām al-sharīʿa. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1419 AH.
  • Ḥillī, Jaʿfar b. al-Ḥasan al-. Sharāʾiʿ al-Islām fī masāʾil al-ḥalāl wa l-ḥarām. Tehran: Istiqlāl, 1409 AH.
  • Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa. Qom: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt, 1416 AH.
  • Ibn Manẓūr, Muḥammad b. Mukarram. Lisān al-ʿArab. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1414 AH.
  • Imām Khomeinī, Sayyid Rūḥ Allāh. Ṣaḥīfa-yi Imām. Tehran: Markaz-i Nashr-i Āthār-i Imām, 1389 Sh.
  • Khomeini, Sayyid Rūḥ Allāh. Taḥrīr al-wasīla. Najaf al-Ashraf: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, 1390 AH.
  • Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. Qom: Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1387 Sh.
  • Muʾassisa-yi Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif al-Fiqh-i al-Islāmī. Musūʿa al-fiqh al-islāmī ṭibqan li madhhab Ahl al-Bayt (a). 1st edition. Qom: Muʾassisa-yi Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif al-Fiqh-i al-Islāmī, 1423 AH.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyya, 1374 Sh.
  • Shāhrūdī, Sayyid Maḥmūd. Muḥāraba chīst wa muḥārib kīst?. Fiqh-i Ahl Bayt magazine. No 11 and 12, 1376 Sh.
  • «وجه تفاوت «افساد فی الارض» و «محاربه (The difference between corruption on earth and warfare (persian)). Accessed: 2022/12/31