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FiqhRulings of Shari'aManual of Islamic lawPubertyWajibHaramMustahabMubahMakruh

Qiṣāṣ (Arabic: قِصاص, literally, Retribution) is a term in the Islamic jurisprudence which means retaliation or retribution for intentional crimes. There are two kinds of qisas: qisas for life, and qisas for body parts. The ruling of qisas is taken to be an essential ruling in Islam, supported by a number of Qur'anic verses, mutawatir hadiths, and consensus of scholars. Reasons for the permissibility of qisas in Islam are said to consist in securing criminal justice, protecting the social safety, and preventing individual revenges.


Qisas consists in retaliation or retribution for intentional crimes. If a person who has committed a murder is killed as a punishment, or if a person who has injured someone is injured in the same way, then qisas is implemented. In jurisprudential and legal works, the person who commits a crime is called "jani" (criminal), and the victim of the crime is called "majni-un alayh" (victim).

Retaliation for Life and Retaliation for Body Parts

There are two kinds of qisas: qisas for life (qisas al-nafs), and qisas for body parts (in jurisprudential terminology, the latter is called qisas al-taraf). The former is to kill someone who has intentionally murdered someone else as a punishment. The latter is concerned with intentional injuries (lower than murder), such as amputation of body members.

Reasons for the Legitimacy of Qisas

Jurists take qisas to be an essential ruling in the Islamic jurisprudence, confirmed by many Qur'anic verses and mutawatir hadiths as well as the consensus of scholars. According to Jawahir al-kalam by Muhammad Hasan Najafi, examples of Qur'anic evidence for qisas are as follows,

"O you who have faith! Retribution is prescribed for you regarding the slain: freeman for freeman, slave for slave, and female for female. But if one is granted any extenuation by his brother, let the follow up [for the blood-money] be honourable, and let the payment to him be with kindness. That is a remission from your Lord and a mercy"
  • Qur'an 2: 179:
"There is life for you in retribution, O you who possess intellects! Maybe you will be Godwary!"
  • Qur'an 2: 194:
"A sacred month for a sacred month, and all sanctities require retribution. So should anyone aggress against you, assail him in the manner he assailed you"
"In it We prescribed for them: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and retaliation for wounds. Yet whoever remits it out of charity, that shall be an atonement for him."

Proofs for a Qisas-Requiring Crime

According to jurisprudential source, a crime can be proved in three ways, in which case one can rule in favor of qisas:

  • first, by the admission of the person who has committed the crime. In this case, the person must be sane and mature, and must admit out of free will and not under duress.
  • Second, two righteous men testify that someone has committed a crime.
  • Third, a qasama is executed against the criminal, that is, fifty persons from the "authorities of the blood" (awliya' al-dam) must swear that a person has committed the crime. The latter can only be appealed to when there is an inconclusive evidence that someone has committed the crime.

Philosophy of Qisas

وَلَكُمْ فِي الْقِصَاصِ حَيَاةٌ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
There is life for you in retribution, O you who possess intellects! Maybe you will be Godwary!
Qur'an 2: 179

Reasons for the permissibility of qisas are said to include the securing of criminal justice, the protection of social safety, and the prevention of individual revenges. According to some people, the law of qisas promotes criminal justice by creating a balance between crimes and punishments. Moreover, such a punishment is inhibitory in the case of people who commit crimes and it thus leads to social safety. Finally, if the victim or his or her family are given the right for qisas or retaliation, then their individual revenges are prevented.

See Also


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from قصاص in Farsi WikiShia.