An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Explaining Blood Money and Other Forms of Kaffarah

Linked with earlier ayaat dealing with fighting and killing, all forms of killing, in the first instance, are eight in number because the person killed is covered by one of the four conditions which follow. Either, he is a Muslim; or, he is a Dhimmi (a free, protected, non-Muslim resident of a Muslim state); or, he is beneficiary of a peace pact and has been assured of the protection of his life, property, honor and religion; or, he is a belligerent disbeliever. Then, killing is of two types: intentional or accidental. Thus, we see that there are only eight possible forms of killing:

1. The intentional killing of a Muslim

2. The accidental killing of a Muslim

3. The intentional killing of a Dhimmi

4. The accidental killing of a Dhimmi

5. The intentional killing of a person with whom there was a pact of peace

6. The accidental killing of a peace pact beneficiary

7. The intentional killing of a belligerent disbeliever

8. The accidental killing of a belligerent disbeliever

Injunctions covering some of these situations have appeared earlier; some find mention later, and some others are contained in ahadeeth. Thus, the injunction relating to the first situation enforceable in this life, that is, the obligatory duty of taking ‘even retaliation’ (qisas) from him finds mention in Surah al-Baqarah and the injunction applicable to the Hereafter follows a little later in ayah 93. The second situation appears in ayah 92. The injunction covering the third situation appears in a hadeeth from Daequtni where the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam has been reported to have subjected a Muslim to even retaliation (qisas) to compensate a Dhimmi (non-Muslim resident of a Muslim state). The injunction for the fourth situation appears also in ayah 92 وَإِن كَانَ مِن قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُمْ مِّيثَاقٌ “and if he was from a people with whom you have a treaty.” The fifth situation has already been taken up in ayah 90 of the previous section under “then Allah has not made it permissible for you.” The injunction governing the sixth situation has been mentioned along with the one relating to the fourth situation because the peace covenant is general and covers the permanent and the temporary both. Thus, it includes Dhimmi and Musta’min both, irrespective of their permanent or time-bound guarantee of peace and protection. [Al-Durr-al-Mukhtar Kitab al-diyat]

The injunction relating to situations 7 and 8 is already evident from the very legalization of jihad itself which has appeared earlier (ayah 86) because belligerent disbelievers are killed intentionally. If killed accidentally, its jurisdiction will stand proved in a higher degree. [Bayan-ul-Qur’an]

Three kinds of Homicide and Their Respective Injunctions

1. Qatl al-Amad (Intentional Killing) which is done with obvious intention by a weapon made from iron or is like a steel weapon in its ability to cut off parts, such as, a sharp-edged bamboo or a sharp-edged piece of rock and things like that.

2. Qatl Shibh al-Amad (Quasi Intentional Killing) which is, no doubt, done intentionally – but, not with a weapon which could cut off parts.

3. Qatl al-Khata (Accidental Killing): It can happen under intention and conjecture when someone aims at a man taking him to be land game or belligerent disbeliever. Or, it can happen actually when one did aim at land game but ended up striking a man down. Here, khata or accident means intentional. So, this covers the second and the third kind both. Both entail the obligation to pay diyah (blood money), and sin as well. But, the two kinds do differ in the later two consequences. The diyah in the second kind of killing is 100 camels of four types, that is, 25 of each type. The diyah of the third kind of killing is also 100 camels, but it has to be of five types, that is, 20 of each type. However, it diyah is paid in cash, the amount to be realized is ten thousand dirham or one thousand dinar. This holds good for both kinds. However, the second kind is more sinful because of the intention of killing while it is lesser in the third kind because it is the result of simple heedlessness (as in hidayah). As such, the obligatory nature of freeing a slave and tawbah in the ayah 92 support this position. The fact is that the ground reality of these three kinds is conditioned by Islamic laws as promulgated in the mortal world. As for their being intentional or non-intentional in terms of their being sinful, it depends on the volition of the heart and the intention to commit the act. The punishment due against such sin is known to Allah alone. According to His knowledge these terms, the first kind may become non-intentional; and the second, intentional.


The amount of diyah (blood money) mentioned above applies to a male homicide victim. In case of a woman, it is half of it. (as in Hidayah).

The diyah of a Muslim and Dhimmi is equal.

Kaffarah (expiation) in this form of freeing a slave or fasting has to come from the killer himself. As for diyah, it is the responsibility of those who are his caretakers. In the terminology of the Shari’ah, they are known as al-Aqilah, those responsible for paying blood money.

Let there be no doubt at this point as to why the burden of a crime committed by the killer should be transferred to his guardians and supporters while they are innocent. The reason is that the guardians of the killer are not totally faultless in this case. Their shortcoming is that they did not take necessary steps to stop him from venturing into such gross heedlessness against human life. Moreover, the fear of having to pay blood money, it is likely, will make them take all necessary precautions in the future so that such recklessness does not repeat itself.

In the act of freeing a slave (kaffarah : expiation), a bondman and a bondwoman are equal. The Qur’anic word Raqabah, denoting a slave is general. However, their physique should be sound and they should not be deformed in any way.

The diyah of the person killed shall be distributed as part of the inheritance determined by the Shari’ah. A legal heir who forgives his share will cause the diyah to be forgiven upto the limit of his share. If all legal heirs forgive it, the whole diyah will stand forgiven.

The diyah of a person killed who has no legal heir as recognized by the Shari’ah will be retired to the Bayt-ul-Mal (State Treasury) because diyah is inheritance and inheritance is governed by this very ruling. [Bayan-ul-Qur’an]

As for people bound by a mutual covenant, be they Dhimmis, free non-Muslim citizens of a Muslim country; or, the Musta’min, (those given guarantee of peace for a temporary period of time) the diyah obligatory in their case is valid only when people belonging to that Dhimmi or Musta’min are present. If they have no such people, or such people be Muslims, then, given the fact that a Muslim cannot inherit from a disbeliever, this diyah, therefore, shall be deemed as non-existant. Thus, should he be a Dhimmi, his diyah shall be retired into the Bayt-ul-Mal because the inheritance of a heirless Dhimmi – which include diyah – goes to the Bayt-ul-Mal [as in al-Durr al-Mukhtar]; otherwise, it will not be obligatory [Bayan-ul-Qur’an].

If continuity is broken in fasting due to sickness or some other reason, then, one will have to fast afresh. But, for a woman, this continuity will not be deemed as broken because of her menstruation.

If, for some valid excuse, one does not have the strength to fast, then, he should keep repenting until his strength returns.

In intentional killing, there is no provision for this kaffarah; one should repent. [Bayan-ul-Qur’an]

[SOURCE: Maaruf-ul-Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani]


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