In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 178 (Part 2)
If the deceased’s family demand murder for murder but the murderer requests them to forgive his sin and take blood money instead then it should be accepted. This is the case when the murderer acknowledges his sin and accepts being guilty. It was a terrible mistake on his part and he won’t repeat the sin. In order to compensate for their loss, the aggrieved party will be paid a monetary retribution. For example, the person murdered was the sole earner of the family; how will the children sustain themselves without the father? Therefore, for the crime that has been committed and the forgiveness that the murderer desires to save his own life, he must compensate the injured party.
Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct.” Whether or not the murderer seeks forgiveness, the aggrieved party too can relent on its own and forgive the qisas. However, this does not forgive the offence. It will become necessary for the killer to pay diyah [blood money] as fixed, in a fair manner, and promptly. This means that in case of intentional murder, the victim’s family has the right to pardon the murder and accept blood money [diyah] instead.
In this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala teaches us the etiquette of accepting blood money. He says, “…then there should be a suitable follow-up ,” meaning when the relative agrees to take the blood money, he should collect his rightful dues with kindness. “…and payment to him with good conduct…” meaning, the killer should accept the terms of settlement without causing further harm or resisting the payment. It has been seen that if a member from a poor family has been murdered by a rich man, the rich man’s family seeing the weak position of the murdered man’s family gives lesser blood money. This is unfair. The law of blood-money and pardon is a relief granted by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in His grace, otherwise, there would have been no choice but to face the punishment of death.
The claimant too, should pursue the matter in a recognized manner causing no harassment to the defendant. He should not ask for more than what has been agreed. If, after all that, anyone crosses the limit set by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, such as, the filing of a false or doubtful case of murder, or a post-pardon re-opening of a murder case, he will be severely punished.
In the end, the ayah points out that wise people should have no difficulty in seeing that the law of even retaliation does not take life, instead, it gives life, for such a deterrent law will make people fear the punishment of killing somebody and thus lives will be saved.
“This is alleviation from your Lord and a mercy,” meaning the legislation allowing you to accept the blood money for intentional murder is alleviation and mercy from your Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The earlier nations did not have this legislation.
Sa’eed bin Mansur reported that Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “The Children of Israel were required to apply the qisas in murder cases and were not allowed to offer pardons (in return for blood money).”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had mercy on this Ummah by giving them the diyah which was not allowed for any nation before it. The Jews were allowed to either apply the penal code (for murder, i.e., execution) or to pardon the killer, but they were not allowed to take blood money. The Christians were required to pardon (the killer, but no diyah was legislated). This Ummah (Muslims) is allowed to apply the penal code (execution) or to pardon and accept the blood money.
- If the murderer is not killed or blood money is not accepted but rather it is decided that he be locked up in a jail then it is wastage of one’s time and money. Understand this by an example, challenging the death penalty many opponents demand that instead of killing a person imprison him. The imprisonment sentence announced in most cases is over 30 – 40 years. The person is cut off from the world for three to four decades and when later he is set free the outside world has completely changed for him. His family and friends do not want to maintain relations with him. He has no place to go. And since he has lived such a long period in isolation the new world makes no sense to him. He eventually ends up taking up his own. Moreover, being a prisoner he is fed by the tax-payers money. So a person who killed another human being and spread corruption is being raised or supported by others’ money? That does not make any sense. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gave us the perfect law and commanded us to either forgive the person and accept blood money or to kill him (through judicial orders) and not unnecessarily prolong the case. Locking up for 30 – 40 years is wastage of human life in itself.
- Crime rate is significantly low in the countries where capital punishment is executed.
“So after this whoever transgresses the limits, he shall have a painful torment,” meaning those who kill in retaliation after taking the diyah or accepting it, they will suffer a painful and severe torment from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Again, we are being reminded about our agreements and mutual contracts. Once an agreement has been made and blood money has been accepted then the murderer should be set free. He should not be killed in revenge because monetary compensation has already been made.
[Watch: Peyam e Subh (in Urdu) for detailed discussion on the law of Equal Retribution]
Notice that when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala talks about forgiveness He uses the word brother – one’s emotions have been stirred that yes, a crime has been committed but the other human being is still your brother in faith. If he is remorseful then forgive him for his mistake. Also note that while there is a law to take revenge, forgiveness is still most desired. If a person forgives another in this world then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will forgive him too for his sins and raise in his status. We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to grant us patience and wisdom, and the ability to make the right decisions, aameen.
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