Forgiving a Murder in Islam

There’s a hadith in an-Nasa’i about a man who murdered a man’s brother after he insulted him. The prophet ﷺ tried to find a way for his blood money to be paid, and after it wasn’t possible he allowed the man to either forgive him or exact retribution. But if he forgave him, the murderer would carry both his sin and his brother’s sin. The man chose forgiveness. The Qur’an also mentions this in verse 5:45.

وَكَتَبْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِيهَا أَنَّ النَّفْسَ بِالنَّفْسِ وَالْعَيْنَ بِالْعَيْنِ وَالْأَنفَ بِالْأَنفِ وَالْأُذُنَ بِالْأُذُنِ وَالسِّنَّ بِالسِّنِّ وَالْجُرُوحَ قِصَاصٌ ۚ فَمَن تَصَدَّقَ بِهِ فَهُوَ كَفَّارَةٌ لَّهُ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ – 5:45

We ordained for them in the Torah, “A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth—and for wounds equal retaliation.” But whoever waives it charitably, it will be atonement for them. And those who do not judge by what Allah has revealed are ˹truly˺ the wrongdoers.

https://quran.com/5/45

In Ibn Kathir’s commentary we find that Ibn Abbas commented that
فَمَن تَصَدَّقَ بِهِ
(But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity) means;
“If one pardons by way of charity, it will result in expiation for the aggressor and reward for the victim.”


‘Alqamah bin Wa’il narrated from his father that he was sitting with the Messenger of Allah when a man came leading another man by a string. He said: “O Messenger of Allah, this man killed my brother.” The Messenger of Allah said to him: “Did you kill him?” He said: “O Messenger of Allah even if he did not confess I would have brought proof against him.” He said: “Yes, I killed him.” He said: “How did you kill him?” He said: “He and I were chopping firewood from a tree and he insulted me, so I got angry and struck him with the ax on the forehead.” The Messenger of Allah said: “Do you have any wealth with which you can pay the Diyah to save yourself?” He said: “O Messenger of Allah, I do not have anything but my ax and my clothes.” The Messenger of Allah said to him: “Do you think your people will pay to save you?” He said: “I am too insignificant to them for that.” He threw the string to the man and said: “Here, take him.” When he turned to go, the Messenger of Allah said: “If he kills him, he will be like him. “They caught up with the man, and said: “Woe to you! The Messenger of Allah said: ‘If he kills him, he will be like him. “So he went back to the Messenger of Allah and said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have been told that you said: ‘if he kills him, he will be like him. ‘But I only took him because you told me to. He said: ‘Don’t you want him to carry your sin and the sin of your companion (the victim)?’ He said: ‘Yes, if that is the case.’ He said: ‘And that is how it is.”‘

أَخْبَرَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ مَسْعُودٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا خَالِدٌ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا حَاتِمٌ، عَنْ سِمَاكٍ، ذَكَرَ أَنَّ عَلْقَمَةَ بْنَ وَائِلٍ، أَخْبَرَهُ عَنْ أَبِيهِ، أَنَّهُ كَانَ قَاعِدًا عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذْ جَاءَ رَجُلٌ يَقُودُ آخَرَ بِنِسْعَةٍ فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَتَلَ هَذَا أَخِي ‏.‏ فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ أَقَتَلْتَهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَوْ لَمْ يَعْتَرِفْ أَقَمْتُ عَلَيْهِ الْبَيِّنَةَ ‏.‏ قَالَ نَعَمْ قَتَلْتُهُ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ كَيْفَ قَتَلْتَهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ كُنْتُ أَنَا وَهُوَ نَحْتَطِبُ مِنْ شَجَرَةٍ فَسَبَّنِي فَأَغْضَبَنِي فَضَرَبْتُ بِالْفَأْسِ عَلَى قَرْنِهِ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ هَلْ لَكَ مِنْ مَالٍ تُؤَدِّيهِ عَنْ نَفْسِكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَالِي إِلاَّ فَأْسِي وَكِسَائِي ‏.‏ فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ أَتُرَى قَوْمَكَ يَشْتَرُونَكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَنَا أَهْوَنُ عَلَى قَوْمِي مِنْ ذَاكَ ‏.‏ فَرَمَى بِالنِّسْعَةِ إِلَى الرَّجُلِ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ دُونَكَ صَاحِبَكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَلَمَّا وَلَّى قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ إِنْ قَتَلَهُ فَهُوَ مِثْلُهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَأَدْرَكُوا الرَّجُلَ فَقَالُوا وَيْلَكَ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ إِنْ قَتَلَهُ فَهُوَ مِثْلُهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَرَجَعَ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ حُدِّثْتُ أَنَّكَ قُلْتَ ‏”‏ إِنْ قَتَلَهُ فَهُوَ مِثْلُهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَهَلْ أَخَذْتُهُ إِلاَّ بِأَمْرِكَ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ مَا تُرِيدُ أَنْ يَبُوءَ بِإِثْمِكَ وَإِثْمِ صَاحِبِكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ بَلَى ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَإِنْ ذَاكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ ذَلِكَ كَذَلِكَ ‏.‏

Sahih (Darussalam)
Sunan an-Nasa’i 4727


In another hadith Imam Ahmad recorded that Ubadah bin As-Samit said,
“I heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
مَا مِنْ رَجُلٍ يُجْرَحُ مِنْ جَسَدِهِ جَرَاحَةً فَيَتَصَدَّقُ بِهَا إِلاَّ كَفَّرَ اللهُ عَنْهُ مِثْلَ مَا تَصَدَّقَ بِه
Any man who suffers a wound on his body and forfeits his right of retaliation as way of charity, then Allah will pardon him that which is similar to what he forfeited.

An-Nasa’i and Ibn Jarir recorded this Hadith.

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