Can a Murderer Be Pardoned?
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Can a Murderer Be Pardoned?



Reply Date

Jan 07, 2019


As-salamu `alaykum. I heard that in Shari`ah (Islamic Law) a family of a killed person may pardon the murderer. Is it correct?



Can a Murderer Be Pardoned?

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

1- Qisas (retaliation) is one of prescribed penalties through which the Shari`ah aims at securing people’s lives, faiths, honor, and prosperity.

2- In murder cases, qisas is to be applied on the criminals to secure people’s lives and to prevent the re-occurrence of such a crime. However, the victim’s family or heirs may pardon the murderer.

Answering your question, Dr. Wael Shehab, PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and currently the Imam of the Downtown Toronto Masjid in Canada, states:

Islamic Shari`ah considers people’s well-being here and in the Hereafter. It is therefore based on wisdom, mercy, ease, and considerations of people’s private and public interests.

Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d. 751 AH) emphasizes,

Shari`ah is based on wisdom and consideration of people’s interests both in this world and the world to come. It is all about justice, mercy, and welfare. Therefore, any case that brings about injustice, cruelty, evil, and disorder is not of the Shari`ah, even if some people may interpret it to be so; Shari`ah signifies Allah’s mercy and justice among His people. Shari`ah reflects Allah’s wisdom, which does prove, beyond any shadow of doubt, His existence and the truthfulness of His messengers. (I`lam al-Muwaq`in, 4: 337)

In Islam, the killed victim’s wali (mostly parents or heirs) will have the right to pardon or to request the application of qisas on the murderer. It is the unique right of the victim’s family/wali. Authorities should apply what the killed person’s family opts for whether applying the qisas on or forgiving the murderer.

In his famous book, At-Tashree` al-Jina’i fi al-Islam, the great scholar Abdel-Qadr Auda says:

“All scholars agree that qisas should be applied except when the victim or his/her wali pardons the criminal.”

This way, people’s lives will be secured with full consent and satisfaction with Allah’s decree. This rule of the Shari`ah spreads the value of forgiveness in the Community.

In all situations, a criminal should repent to Allah, seek His forgiveness, feel remorse for his or her sin, and resolve not to commit it again. These are among the conditions of true repentance.

In modern laws, this is not the case. Murder crimes are the right of the state that decides the application of the penalty.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.

About Dr. Wael Shehab

Dr. Wael Shehab has a PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University. He is currently the Imam of the Downtown Toronto Masjid in Canada.

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