والسارق والسارقة فاقطعوا ايديهما جزاء بما كسبا نكالا من الله والله عزيز حكي
Waalssariqu waalssariqatufaiqtaAAoo aydiyahuma jazaan bimakasaba nakalan mina Allahi waAllahuAAazeezun hakeemun
As for the thief, whether man or woman, cut his hand as punishment from God for what he had done; and God is all mighty and all wise.
فمن تاب من بعد ظلمه واصلح فان الله يتوب عليه ان الله غفور رحيم5:39
Faman taba min baAAdi thulmihiwaaslaha fa-inna Allaha yatoobu AAalayhiinna Allaha ghafoorun raheemun
But those who repent after a crime and reform, shall be forgiven by God, for God is forgiving and kind.
"Qata'a means to cut, but when used with different nouns it means different things idiomatically, for which see Raghib and Taj al-'urus, such as to stop someone from speaking when used with lisan, toungue, or cut off the road when used with sabil, or become hopeless when used with rajul,man, etc. In 12:31, for instance, qata'na aidihunna means they wounded their hands or stopped peeling fruit, not cut off their hand. Hense here, in 5:38, it could also mean to stop their hands from stealing by adopting deterrent means, for the next verse, 39, speaks of repentance and forgiveness whith overtones of rehabilitation, which would be lost if the hands were cut off completely or amputated. Similarly in v.33 tuqtta'a could mean to restrain them by putting fetters on one hand and one leg.
During the Ummayyad caliphate, the punishment for theft was flogging."
Page 113, note 2. Ahmed Ali "Al Quran: A contemporary Translation" 9th edition, 1993. Princeton University Press ISBN 978-0-691-07499-3
Dr. Shabbir explains it also in QXP:
5:38 (Theft is a crime that steals away the sense of security from a
society.) A habitual thief, male or female, must have their ability (to
steal) cut off. This is the reward for their doings, and a deterrent from
God. God is Mighty, Wise.
[Saariq = Habitual thief. Nakala = Deterrent. For Qat’a yadd, the socalled
cutting of hand, please see 12:31 about Egyptian women ‘cutting
their hands’. Yadd = Hand = Ability = Power. ‘God’s hand’ at many
places in the Qur’an, of course, denotes His Power and authority. So,
consider all circumstances with wisdom, and take measures to prevent
this crime in the society. See 5:39 for repentance and making amends. If
the hand is cut off, where is the room for mercy? Here is an interesting
reference from Mathew Chapter 18, verses 8-9, The New King James
"And if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from
you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than
having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.
"And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is
better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes,
to be cast into Hell fire]
5:39 Whoever repents after the crime and makes amends, certainly,
God grants him pardon. Surely, God is Forgiving, Merciful. [If the hands
are cut off, where are the making amends, pardon and mercy?]
Page 155, 2007. QXPiv (The Qur'an as it Explains Itself (Fourth Edition) By Shabbir Ahmed, M.D.