Weekly word: diyya
Rather than receiving an automatic death penalty, a Muslim man who kills his fellow Muslim brother can be pardoned by paying diyya (or diyat), which Atighetchi defines as “The sum of money to be paid to the person who has suffered injury or to the heirs in the event of death”.*
The basis for this aspect of Islamic law comes partially from the Koran, Sura 2, Verse 178: “O People who Believe! Retribution is made obligatory for you in the matter of those killed unjustly; a freeman for a freeman, and a slave for a slave, and a female for a female; and for him who is partly forgiven by his brother, seek compensation with courtesy and make payment in proper manner.”
Paying money for bloodshed is enshrined in the Hadith, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 9, Book 83 (or in some translations Book 81) entitled “Blood Money (Ad-Diyāt).” In a case where a murdered man’s family appealed to Muhammad for diyya because the deceased’s killer could not be identified, Muhammad himself settled the matter by giving 100 camels from the public zakat treasury to the family as blood money compensation (Book 83, No. 36).
This should help clear up any remaining confusion about why Saudi Arabia continues to peg the amount of compensation for a murdered man’s family at a value equal to the current price of 100 camels.
Diyya in the news
It also explains how five men could walk out of a Pakistani courtroom just last week simply by paying diyya without serving any sentence for the murder they committed. From the Pak Tribune:
Five murder [sic] accused freed after paying Diyat
LAHORE: Additional District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Sheraz Kiani on Wednesday released five murder accused after Diyat money was paid to the deceased’s family. The court released Zubair Ahmed, Muhammad Mubin, Muhammad Amir, Muhammad Munib and Ahmed Majeed, who had murdered Muhammad Shafique during a scuffle.
Accused Zubair Ahmed had visited the Nadra office to get his ID card but Shafique informed him that his ID card was not ready and it would be handed over to him within a few days. This led to a scuffle between them, which was ended by other employees of the Nadra office. The following day, Zubair Ahmed and other henchmen forced into the office and gunned down Shafique.
The deceased’s father, Muhammad Latif, registered an FIR in Chuhng Police Station against aforementioned accused. On Wednesday, the judge released them after the accused paid Rs600,000 as Diyat to the family of the deceased.
Atighetchi, Dariusch, Islamic Bioethics (The Netherlands: Springer, 2007).