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All you need to know about the Law of Retaliation (QISAS) in Islam

Qisas is one of several forms of punishment in traditional Islamic criminal jurisprudence, the others being Hudud and Ta’zir. The legal systems of Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and some Nigerian states currently provide for qisas



There are some individuals, and groups who without adequate knowledge or reflection have sought to place some Islamic penal issues in dark light, especially the issue of (QISAS), law of retaliation.

Unfortunately, some people see the Islamic law of retaliation as plain cruelty,and brutality on the offender. They have argued that the law of retaliation is archaic, as it was established 14 hundred years ago, and should be removed from the Islamic penal code. However, it should be seen as a solution to our societal problems as it provides justice. Here is what you need to know about Qisas.

Qisas literally means accountability, following up after, pursuing or prosecuting which is an Islamic term interpreted to mean “retaliation in kind” “eye for an eye “, or retributive justice. In traditional Islamic law (sharia), the doctrine of qisas provides for a punishment analogous to the crime.

Qisas is available to the victim or victim’s heirs against a convicted perpetrator of murder or intentional bodily injury. In the case of murder, Qisas gives the right to take the life of the killer, if the latter is convicted and the court approves.

Those who are entitled to qisas have the option of receiving monetary compensation ( diyya) or granting pardon to the perpetrator instead.

Qisas is one of several forms of punishment in traditional Islamic criminal jurisprudence, the others being Hudud and Ta’zir. The legal systems of Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and some Nigerian states currently provide for qisas.

The Law of retaliation in Islam also has a basis in the Hadith of the prophet Muhammad PBUH. It is reported that he said, “Anyone who murders may either be killed or required to pay the blood-money”.
In another Hadith the Prophet said, ” Anyone who is killed or wounded has the
choice of three things : to demand QISAS, to receive compensantion or to remit.

There are evidences in the Qur’an regarding Qisas in SURATUL BAQARA (VERSE) 2:179 which says: “and there is life for you in (The Law of retaliation) O men of understanding, that you may guide yourself.”

This is because, at times execution of dangerous persons is the best option for the safety and growth of a society or community.

Be it the agricultural system, or medical system, each and every thing is based upon this rational principles. The elimination or, amputation of a dangerous and problematic entity. We observe that when a part of the body is infected or decaying, then by means of protecting the remaining body, the disease part is amputated. Or ensuring the growth of a plant, harmful branches are sawed away for the benefit of the plant.

Eliminating a murderer by QISAS is akin to severing a harmful limb or decaying branch. However, people must realise that until today, no one has ever objected to the amputation of a diseased limb or detrimental branch.

“We ordained therein for them life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, wounds equal for equal, but if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself, and if any fail to judge by the light of what Allah has revealed, they are no better than the wrong doers.”

The maxim, ‘ a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, a life for a life’, though apparently rude,marks a distinct advance towards criminal justice. It indicates a sense of proportion and to a certain degree of restraint in dealing between man and man.

The law of QISAS should not be seen as vengefulness, as it is not the victim that will carry out Justice, but a separate body, mostly the Sharia court.

Narrated Ana’s : The daughter of An Nadr slapped a girl and broke her incisor tooth. They (the relatives of that girl) came to the prophet and he gave an order of QISAS. Equality of punishment.

QISAS also implies equality and similarity. It means that the apprehension of criminals will be followed by realistic punishment. It is unreasonable that a father should lose his son by murder and that the killer should go unpunished, or that a person should lose his sight as the result of a heavy blow by another without receiving satisfaction.

Justice demands that the offender should be dealt with in a manner equivalent to that in which he has offended.

The law of retaliation is not to be stigmatized as heartless and lacking in mercy, but is to be considered as advocating that which is best for the society as a whole.

The Hadith says, ” Anyone who has no mercy is not to be given mercy.The law of QISAS also aims at satisfying the natural desire for revenge, which is done if the victim or his next of kin knows that the offender has suffered the consequences of his act. In this way a blood feud can be avoided. The aggrieved party will not be satisfied if the malefactor receives a punishment that is not equivalent to his own act.

Law in every society aims at the maintenance of social control and is established to protect the rights of the individual, as well as of the whole community. Similarly, the law of QISAS in Islam is intended to deter a potential murderer. ” If he realises that he will himself be killed if he kills another, he will refrain from killing, out of concern for himself and the preservation of his own life.

Credits: Abdulhameed Gambo

Adam Abubakar is a renowned writer and poet. He Specializes in Writing Political News. He worked for five years as a writer and editor at the national news magazine.

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