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O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this

The following excerpt is taken from “The Holy Quran in Today’s English” by Yahiya Emerick:

The principle of fair retribution, or qisas, that is laid out here means that the penalty for murder is capital punishment, unless the family of the victim forgives the attacker and accepts what is called blood-money.  Some commentators think these verses refer to the deal made between two of Medina’s three Jewish tribes.  Before the coming of Islam, the two Jewish tribes of Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayzah had a war with each other, and the Banu Nadir came out the clear winner.  They forced the Banu Qurayzah to accept a very unequal concept of justice in which the murder of a person from the Banu Nadir by a person of the Banu Qurayzah would result in the killer’s execution, but if a person of the Banu Nadir murdered someone of the Banu Qurayzah, then the Banu Nadir would only have to pay a fine of several pounds of dates in compensation.   This was against the Torah, which called for capital punishment equally.  (See Genesis 9:6 where capital punishment for murder is required.  Also see the Biblical book of Numbers, verse 35:31.)

The Prophet said, “Whoever aids in the killing of a Muslim, even if by only something he said, then he will have to face God with a sign written between his eyes that will say, ‘To be left out of the mercy of God.’”  (Ibn Majah)  When one considers the sheer amount of killing that happens among people – even among Muslims – especially the killing of the innocent, one can do nothing but weep for the misguided souls who make a joke of their own religion and follow their own whims and base motivations.

The Old Testament of the Bible prescribes violent retaliation for a variety of crimes in chapter 21 of Exodus, but only the Qur’an provides a realistic way for the aggrieved family of a murder victim to modify or cancel the prescribed punishments if it so chooses.  (Perhaps the relatives want to spare the killer for some reason.)   The ‘turn the other cheek when wronged’ advice of Jesus contained in Matthew 5:38-41, while noble in spirit, is more difficult to implement, and there are few examples in Christian history to point to that would make us confident of its practicality  However, see 5:45 and 41:34.  By the way, a murderer is not entitled to inherit from the person he murdered. The Prophet said, “A murderer shall not inherit.”  (Mishkat)  This is a great disincentive to many types of murder based on greed and jealousy of one’s parents or other relatives.


Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 829). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

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