The word Limit carries the meaning boundries or border in English. In Malay HAD also carries the same meaning. The malay word HAD must have been derived from the arabic word, Hadd, Ha dal dal or hudud in arabic …. It is pretty simple.
Laws provide limits or boundries to govern human behaviour. Trangressing the limit set, invokes certain penalties and consequences. The same applies to divine laws.
The Quran limits the maximum punishment allowable. The maximum allowable punishment for stealing is “cutting” off the hand. (Not the death penalty) The act of cutting even in English , Arabic or Malay has several different meanings and severity. It can mean a simple marking or the extreme is severing. ( how about marking in your IC or passport???) So it is not as simple as the severing of the hand.
Even after decreeing the punishment for stealing the subsequent verse states that GOD forgives after a thief repents. If God can be compassionate why can’t judges and authorities. So it is a non mandatory punishment. There is a ot of room for exercising wisdom and compassion.
Contrary to the general perception, hudud is not just about punishments. Categorised as hudud are the guidance to the limit of inheritance, the rights of women, the law of adoption, weights and measures, the limit to witnesses and judges, marriages, contracts, the rights of the poor and orphans etc. ; (I must categorically highlight nowhere could I find in the Quran the death penalty for apostasy.)