In Saudi Arabia, justice can be swift and harsh. Depending on the nature of the crime, a person can be publicly beheaded. In other cases, towards avoiding a beheading or lengthy jail term, the family of the ‘guilty party’ may pay “diyyah” or blood money to the victim or the victim’s family. The victim or the victim’s family are the ones who set the terms and amount of the diyyah. There are also family’s who have chosen to forgive the guilty party without receiving diyyah and who wish for the guilty party to not undergo a punishment or time in jail.
So, what exactly is an eye for an eye and where did this term come from in the Muslim world?
According to Wikipedia, “An eye for an eye is the principle that a person who has injured another person is penalized to a similar degree, or according to other interpretations the victim receives the value of the injury in compensation. According to Jewish interpretations the victim in criminal law gets financial compensation based on the law of human equality eschewing mutilation and ‘lex talionis’.
The English word talion means a retaliation authorized by law, in which the punishment corresponds in kind and degree to the injury, from the Latin talio. The phrase “an eye for an eye” is sometimes trivially referred to using the Latin term lex talionis, the law of talion.”
The Qur’an mentions the “eye for an eye” concept as being ordained for the Children of Israel. The principle of Lex talionis in Islam is Qasas (قصاص) as mentioned in (Qur’an 2:178) “O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution (Qasas) 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.”. Some Muslim nations, still apply the rule, in accordance with the Mosaic Law. In some countries that use Islamic law (sharia), the “eye for an eye” rule is applied quite literally.
A judge in Jeddah is presently faced with a dilemma on whether to literally apply the law as an eye for an eye. A young Saudi woman was paralyzed in an auto accident shortly after her honeymoon. The driver of the other vehicle was convicted of speeding and reckless driving and therefore found to be responsible for the accident which left the young woman paralyzed. The driver has offered to give the young woman 6 million SAR in financial compensation.
However, the young woman has been adamant in her refusal to accept anything less than an eye for an eye. She insists that the only fair and just punishment is for the driver to receive the same fate that she herself must now live. She wants the court to sentence the driver to become paralyzed.
The verdict of the judge in charge of this case has yet to be handed down. What do you think? Is the young woman’s request fair and just? Should she accept the money?
Do you see the woman as being too vindictive? Is her attitude reflective of how Islam is to be practiced?