The Noble Quran > Tafseer (Science of Explaining the Meanings of the Qur\'an) > Tafseer of some verses of the Qur\'an , 282397','event_category':'FAT_EN - The Noble Quran'});" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/WebPage">

Interpretation of the verse: "..the free for the free, the slave for the slave..."
Fatwa No: 282397

  • Fatwa Date:3-2-2015 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 14, 1436
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Question

What does this ayah mean: "..the free for the free, slave for the slave..."

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

Allaah says (what means): {O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct.} [Quran 2:178]

Allaah informs us that legal retribution in murder is prescribed for us, that is, ordained for us, unless the guardians of the person killed pardon and forgive. Allaah clarified to us that the free person will be killed for the free person, so if a free person kills another free person, then the free person who is the killer will be killed. The same applies if a slave kills another slave, then this slave who killed will be killed. Likewise, if a female kills another female, then the female who killed will be killed.

The reason for the revelation of this verse is that the people in the Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic era of ignorance) were unjust towards one another. If a tribe was strong and powerful, they made a law that if a slave from their tribe was killed by a slave from another tribe, they would not kill that slave in retaliation, but rather, they would say: we will kill a free man in retaliation for our slave, because a slave from our tribe equals a free man from the other tribe as we are better than them. So, they would kill a free man from the tribe of the killer in retaliation for the slave who was killed, and they would not kill the actual slave who killed. Similarly, if a woman from their tribe was killed by a woman from the other tribe, they would say: we will not kill in retaliation for our woman anyone other than a free man from the other tribe because a woman of our tribe is equal to a man of the other tribe as we are better than them, so we will kill a male instead of the female killer. Hence, this verse was revealed to prohibit such transgression and it clarified to them that it is the slave who killed that should be killed for killing a slave, and not a free man from the tribe of the slave who killed: {the slave for the slave,}; and that the female who killed is the one who should be killed for killing a female, and not a male from the tribe of the female who killed: {the female for the female}. So no one should be punished for a crime that another person committed.

This is one of the interpretations of the above verse.

Allaah Knows best.

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