Learned this insightful ayah today in Tafseer class:
“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. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.” (2:178)
-Allah first obligates (qisaas-legal retribution) upon the murderer.
-He then gives the family of the victim 2 choices:
1-They can punish the murderer through capital punishment.
2-They forgive the murderer and require him to pay blood money.
-The family of the victim is commanded to do “ma’roof” (generally acceptable & good conduct) and the killer is required to do “ihsan” (trying his best in paying the blood money) towards the victim’s family.
-Allah then says that “this is an alleviation/concession from your Lord.”
The reason why Allah says that it is a concession is because the previous nations had it harder than us. Ibn ‘Abbas (R) said: “The Jews were required to apply the law of equality, and were not allowed to offer pardons.” For the Christians, forgiveness was wajib-they had to forgive.
I started thinking about how Christians pride themselves in the concept of forgiveness and how they preach: “If someone slaps you on cheek, give them the other.” I realized that they uphold this command that was given to them so long ago and I never considered the possibility that this command could’ve been given by Allah. If the Christians can take pride in their abrogated command, why can’t we as Muslims take pride in our ever-just and relevant command?
If only the others could see the beauty in the commands that Allah has given us: He gave us a choice to claim our rights or rise above our pain & hostility by being able to forgive others. That is true freedom.
On another note, another lesson this ayah teaches us is that the revenge for the murder of one person cannot be taken by killing others unjustly. Truly relevant right now, when for the mistakes of a few, hundreds are being murdered. Allah is the Only One Who establishes true Justice.
May Allah grant us all understanding of the Deen and keep all the Muslims in world safe and secure. Ameen.