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The Modern Interpretation of the Diyat Formula for the Quantum of Damages: The Case of Homicide and Personal Injuries

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Abstract Diyat is an old concept evolving from the custom of blood revenge practiced during pre-Islamic Arabia. The Qu’rān authorizes diyat as a kind of retaliation for homicide in lieu of qiṣāṣ in which the victim’s family pardons the offender, while the Ḥadīth elaborate in detail upon the typology, characteristics and quantum for murder and various types of physical injury. In reality, pecuniary compensation is an ancient practice that predates the pre-Islamic era, and, furthermore, this divine principle shows that Islam recognizes the human practice. To ensure that its dynamic is embraced in the contemporary situation, the methods of payment, i.e., value in camels and dinar, need revisiting. This article contributes to the subject thereby adding to the literature concerning diyat by reinterpreting the mechanism of restoring the value of gold dinar as an exchange for modern implementation.

1. FN11 The word qiṣāṣ as a sanction for murder was already mentioned in Tawrat, a revelation given to Prophet Musa a.s., as revealed by Sayyid Sabiq in his book Fiqh al-Sunnah. The idea of equalizing punishments with crimes finds support in the Old Testament. The concept of lex talionis appeared three times in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. See Morris J. Fish, “An Eye for An Eye: Proportionality as a Moral Principle of Punishment”, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 28/1 (2008) 57-71.
2. FN22 Chan Wing Cheong, Support for Crime Victims in Asia (New York: Routledge, 2008) 374.
3. FN33 Ahmad Fathi Bahnasi, Al-‘Uqūbah fī l-Islām (Kaherah: Dār al-Shuruq, 1989) 61-66.
4. FN44 R.A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1930), 92; Hilal Farghali Hilal, Al-Nizam al-Islāmī fī Ta‘wīḍ al-Madhrūr min al-Jarimah (Riyadh: Dār al-Nashr bi l-Markaz al-Gharib wa al-Tadrīb, 1990) 11-13.
5. FN55 Jawwad ‘Ali, Tārikh al-‘Arab Qabl al-Islām, j. 6 (Iraq: Matba‘ah al-Majma‘ al-‘Ilmi, 1956) 341; M.J.L. Hardy, Blood Feuds and the Payment of Blood Money in the Middle East (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1963) 17-19.
6. FN66 ‘Ali, ibid.
7. FN77 Ibid., 342.
8. FN88 Ibid., See diyat, qaṣāmah was also the Jahiliyyah custom and soon recognized by Islam. See Abdul Wahab Muhammad Mustafa, Al-Naẓariyyah al-‘Ammah lī Iltizām al-Dawlah bi Ta‘wīd al-Madrūr min al-Jarimah (Cairo: Dār al-Fikr al-‘Arabī, 2002) 57-59. See also “Al-Qasāmah fī l-Jahiliyyah” in: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī bi Ḥāshīyah al-Sindi, j. 2 (Damascus: Dār Ihya’ al-Kutub al-Arabiyyah), 319-320.
9. FN99 Izzat Hasanayn, Jarā’im al-I‘tidāʿ ‘alā Salāmah al-Ajsām bayna al-Sharī‘ah wa l-Qānūn, (Riyadh: Dār al-‘Ulum, 1984) 136.
10. FN1010 Ibid.
11. FN1111 See for details in M. Hamidullah, The First Written Constitution in the World (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1968) 14.
12. FN1212 The exchange rate is for one wasq equivalent to 60 sa‘ (cupak). See Abu Dawud al-Sijistani, Sunān Abū-Dāwūd, j. 2 (Cairo: Matba‘ah Mustafa l-Babi l-Halabi wa Awladuh, 1983), 520.
13. FN1313 Hilal, supra note 4, 14.
14. FN1414 Jawwad ‘Ali, supra note 5, 592-293.
15. FN1515 Ibid.
16. FN1616 Translation by Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, The Holy Qu’rān with English Translation and Selected Commentaries by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (Kuala Lumpur: Saba Islamic Media, 1998).
17. FN1717 Even though it was a letter, it was quoted and mentioned by the majority of fuqahā’ and appeared in many books of Ḥadīths under the topic of diyat, as if there is a similarity in status with ḥadīth mutawatir as mentioned by Amir Abdul Aziz, Al-Fiqh al-Jina’i fī l-Islām (Cairo: Darussalam, 1997) 177.
18. FN1818 Narrated by Al-Nasa’ī in Al-Qasāmah under the topic of al-‘uqul, cited from Al-San‘anī, Subul al-Salam Sharh Bulugh al-Maram, Vol. 3 (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘Arabī, 1987) 497-498. See also Al-Suyuṭi, Sharh Sunān al-Nasa’ī, Vol. 8 (Beirut: Dār al-Bashair al-Islāmiyyah, 1994) 58; Al-Shawkani, Nayl al-Awtar Sharh Muntaqa al-Akhbar, Vol. 7 (Cairo: Maktabah Dār al-Turath, n.d.) 57.
19. FN1919 Abdul Qadir ‘Awdah, Al-Fiqh al-Jinā’ī al-Islāmī Muqāranan bi l-Tashrī‘ al-Wad ‘i, Vol. 1 (Cairo: Maktabah Dār al-Turath, n.d.) 211; Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqh al-Sunnah, Vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub, 1977) 552.
20. FN2020 As narrated by Anas bin Malik. See Abū-Dāwūd, Sunān Abū-Dāwūd, j. 2, Kitab al-diyat (1983) 523.
21. FN2121 See for details of his achievements and contributions in Hasan Ibrahim Hasan, Tarikh al-Islām al-Siyasī, al-Dinī, al-Thaqafī al-Ijtima‘ī, Vol. 1, (Beirut: Dār al-Jayl, 1991) 238-240.
22. FN2222 Al-Imām Abī al-Hasan al-Baladhuri, Futūḥ al-Buldān (Beirut: Dār al-Kitab al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1983), 451. See also Wizarah al-Awqaf wa l-Shu’un al-Islamiyyah, al-Mawsū‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah, Vol. 1 (Kuwait: Matabi’ Dār al-Safwah, 1993) 29, s.v. “danānīr”.
23. FN2323 B. Lewis, C. Pellat, J. Schacht (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Islam (New Edition), Vol. 2 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991), s.v. “dinar”, p. 297.
24. FN2424 Ibid., s.v. “dirham”, 319-320.
25. FN2525 RM is Ringgit Malaysia, the Malaysian denomination. The gold price is cited by the Wah Chan jewellery shop in Kuala Lumpur, 25 August 2011.
26. FN2626 Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni wa l-Sharh al-Kabīr, Vol. 7 (Riyaḍ: Maktabah al-Riyadh al-Ḥadīthah, 1981) 637; Al-Khatib, Al-Iqna‘ fī Hall Alfaẓ Abī Shuja‘, Vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1994) 93; Al-Kasani, Bada’i ‘al-Sanai‘, Vol. 8 (Beirut: Dār Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabī, 1998) 166.
27. FN2727 Ḥukūmah or ḥukūmah ‘adl means unfixed amount of compensation where it is left to the judge to fix it. For Ḥadīth used as references, see, e.g., Al-Shawkani, Nayl al-Awtar Sharh Muntaqa al-Aḫbar, Vol. 7 (Cairo: Maktabah Dār al-Turath, n.d.) 5.
28. FN2828 Arsh is the term used for damages less than 1,000 dinar (one full diyat).
29. FN2929 ‘Awdah, supra note 19, 4.
30. FN3030 For Ḥadīth on the loss of a nose, see Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Sunān al-Sughra, Vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-Ma‘rifah, 1999) Ḥadīth No. 285, p. 260.
31. FN3131 Ibid.
32. FN3232 See Ibn Majah, Sunān Ibn Mājah bi Sharh al-Imām Abī al-Hasan al-Ḥanafī, (Beirut: Dār al-Ma’rifah, 2000) 280.
33. FN3333 Ibid., Ḥadīth No. 2651/1, 279.
34. FN3434 See, for details, Al-Shawkani, supra note 18, 63.
35. FN3535 Al-Tirmidhī, Sunān Tirmidhī, j. 3, 631; Abū Dāwūd, Sunān Abū Dāwūd, Kitab al-Buyu‘, j. 3, 826.
36. FN3636 Ahmad Muhammad al-Zarqa, Al-Fi‘l al-Darr wa al-Ḍaman Fih, (Damsyik: Dār al-Qalam, 1983) 33.
37. FN3737 Ibn ‘Abidin, Hashiyah Ibn ‘Abidin, j. 6, (Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1992) 586; Al-Nawawī, Rawḍah al-Talibīn, j. 9 (Beirut: Dār al-Kitab al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1985) 378; Al-Saraḫshi, Al-Mabsuṭ, j. 26, (Beirut: Dār al-Ma‘rifah, n.d.) 81; Mahmud Shaltut, Al-Islām Aqidah wa Sharī‘ah (Beirut: Dār al-shuruq, 1983) 405.
38. FN3838 Wahbah al-Zuhayli, Naẓariyyah al-Daman aw Aḥkām al-Mas’uliyyah al-Madaniyyah wa l-Jina’iyyah fī l-Fiqh al-Islāmī (Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 1998) 23.
39. FN3939 Ibid., 25.
40. FN4040 Ahmad Muhammad al-Zarqa, Sharh al-Qawā‘id al-Fiqhiyyah (Damascus: Dār al-Qalam, 1989) 219.
41. FN4141 See further discussion in Al-Shirazi, Al-Muhaḏab fī Fiqh al-Shafi‘ī, j. 2 (Cairo: Dār Ihya’ al-Kutub al-‘Arabiyyah, 1940) 192; Al-Mawardi, Al-Aḥkām al-ṣulṭaniyyah wa l-Wilāyāt al-Diniyyah (Kuwait: Dār Ibn Qutaybah, 1989) 330. However, in today’s practice, to determine whether any kind of mental effect amounts to psychiatric illness, American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) (4th edn., 1994) and International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) (10th edn.) are used. See See also “What is “P.T.S.D.” di
42. FN4242 Aharon Layish, “Interplay Between Tribal and Sharī‘ah law: A Case of Tibbawi Blood Money in the Sharī‘ah Court of Kufra”, Islamic Law and Society, 13/1 (2006) 64.
43. FN4343 Muhammad Abdul Haleem, “Compensation for Homicide in Islamic Sharī‘ah”, in: Muhammad Abdul Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif, Kate Daniels (Eds.), Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Sharī‘ah, (London: I.B. Tauris, 2003) 102.
44. FN4444 Ibid., p. 103.
45. FN4545 For example Islam is declared as the religion of Pakistan under the Pakistan Constitution, Article 2 (see (12/9/2011), while in Saudi Arabia, Article 1 of the Constitution provides that: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sovereign Arab Islamic state with Islam as its religion; Qu’rān and the Sunnah of His Prophet are its constitution, Arabic is its language and Riyadh is its capital.
46. FN4646 “SC grants Sindh govt time in Diyat case”, see (21/7/10).
47. FN4747 For more discussion on the statutory application, see W.M. Ballantyne, Commercial Law in the Arab Middle East: The Gulf States (London: Lloyds of London Press Ltd., 1986), 82-98.
48. FN4848 See more details in M.J.L. Hardy, Blood Feuds and the Payment of Blood Money in the Middle East (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1963) 69–73.
49. FN4949 See “Saudi begins blood money re-evaluation” at L1276-saudi-begins-blood-money (21/7/2010).
50. FN5050 “Penyerahan Uang Diyat Bagi TKI yang Meninggal Dunia di Arab Saudi” (Giving Away Diyat to the Indonesian Worker Who Died in Saudi Arabia) see (21/07/10).

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Affiliations: 1: Sharī‘ah and Law Department, Academy of Islamic Studies, University of Malaya 50603 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia


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