to understand, practice, and transform the world

This is for the men of understanding!

We live in a paradoxically ridden world. Consider these two cases:

1. If you talk about Shariah, you are considered as a terrorist. You loot a country, you are not a terrorist!

You annihilate a whole nation, you are not a terrorist. You talk of Islam and Shariah Law, you are a terrorist!!

Shariah has become a dreaded word today. It is made-to-appear as a dreaded entity.

2. You can carry on attacks on a foreign soil and kill hundreds of civilians. It is okay for you! The world must not question.

If one Palestinian kills a Jew, you will launch rocket attacks on the civilians killing scores of Palestinians and the Muslim world must not question!  A whole illegal “nation” is sitting upon the land of Palestinians after killings thousands of Palestinians and Muslims must not talk about the killings. About invasion. About the expansion. About bulldozing of colonies!! 

History tells us that the likes of these people were living at the time of Prophet Muhammad, sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam. And to bring justice to all, irrespective of race, colour or birth, Allah legislated the Law of Retribution which is what we are going to discuss today continuing with our series on Yaaa Ayyuhal Lazeena Aamanu. 

In this ayah, Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala commands the Believers to hold on to the Law of Retribution. This Islamic Law is also called as the Law of Equality in Punishment.

Before proceeding, please Listen to this beautiful recitation, Inshaa’Allah

“O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.” (Surah al Baqarah 2: 178)


In pre-Islamic Arabia people tried to take blood revenge upon the murderer’s family and tribe, and the retaliation corresponded to the value placed on the blood of the victim. Their desire for revenge was not quenched merely by putting the murderer to death. They preferred to put to death tens and even hundreds of people to avenge the one life they had lost. If a respected member of their tribe was killed by an ordinary member of another, it was not deemed enough to put to death the actual murderer. They preferred to kill a man of the murderer’s tribe equal in standing to the victim, and even several members of the murderer’s tribe. However, if the victim was a man of humble standing from another tribe, and the murderer from their tribe happened to be a man of high standing, they were unwilling to permit the execution of the murderer. (Refer Tafheemul Qur’an) 

Allah states: O believers! The Law of equality has been ordained on you (for cases of murder), the free for the free, the slave for the slave and the female for the female. Therefore, do not transgress the set limits, as others before you transgressed them, and thus changed what Allah has ordained for them.

The reason behind this statement is that (the Jewish tribe of) Banu An-Nadir invaded Qurayzah (another Jewish tribe) during the time of Jahiliyyah (before Islam) and defeated them. Hence, (they made it a law that) when a person from Nadir kills a person from Quraizah, he is not killed in retaliation, but only pays a hundred Wasq of dates. However, when a person from Quraizah kills a Nadir man, he would be killed for him. If Nadir wanted (to forfeit the execution of the murderer and instead require him) to pay a ransom, the Quraizah man pays two hundred Wasq of dates ﴿double the amount Nadir pays in Diyah (blood money)

So Allah commanded that justice be observed regarding the penal code, and that the path of the misguided and mischievous persons be avoided, who in disbelief and transgression, defy and alter what Allah has commanded them. (Refer Ibn Kathir for more details. In fact you must read it to understand fully.)

Points to learn and remember:

1. “Qisaas” means that treatment be meted out to the guilty which is equal to his crime. It also means “the Law of Equality in Punishment”.

2. An important point to be noted here is that the law “the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female” was later abrogated by the statement “life for life” (Refer Surah al Maa’idah 5: 45).

For murder, the Law of Allah, the Shariah demands that life be taken for life.

2. The command in the matter of retribution is addressed to the entire Islamic society, and therefore, the responsibility of punishing the murderer falls on the whole Islamic society. But since the society is represented by the government, the responsibility of enforcing this Law falls on the government.

3. Allah has given one concession. That is, if the heirs of the murdered person so desire they can accept blood-money for the life of the murdered kinsman.

So the form of the enforcement of this Law would be that the government would give to the heirs of the murdered person the option of death for death, or blood-money for death.

4. The fixed amount of money to be paid by the murderer in case the aggrieved party forgives the retaliation is called blood-money (or diyah). This blood-money must be given in a fair manner, and promptly. The claimant too should pursue the matter in a recognized manner causing no harassment to the defendant.

This law of blood-money and pardon is a relief granted by Almighty Allah in His infinite wisdom and grace, otherwise there would have been no choice but to face the punishment of death.

5. As we learn from the above mentioned background, we come to know that Islam presented this universal principle of Equality that no discrimination should be observed in the matter of retribution on the basis of colour, race and birth, and that as a punishment only the murderer must be killed.

6. Allah mentions in the very next verse that “there is for you in legal retribution [saving of] life, O you [people] of understanding, that you may become righteous.” Read this ayah

The death penalty that Islam prescribes as punishment for murder is the best in keeping with the needs and the safety of the society.

Today people take a negative stand against death penalty. Allah in His infinite wisdom proclaims that the survival of human society rests on the application of the death penalty for homicide. A society which wants to save the life of one murderer is risking the lives of many innocent human beings!

People who lack understanding cannot appreciate the reasoning behind this Shariah Law.

7. Justice is at the very core of the Islamic Law. It is in fact the marrow of Shariah. Therefore, whoever transgresses limits will have a grievous punishment.

Jazakallahu Khayra for reading this post.


Note: This ayah needs elaborate explanation. I hope I was able to facilitate understanding briefly though. For all good things I praise Allah and for any errors I seek His forgiveness.


May 19, 2013 - Posted by | O You Who Believe!, Reflections | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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