Surah Baqarah Ayat 178 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 178
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.
“O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty.
O Believers, the lawn of retribution has been prescribed for you in cases of murder; if a free man commits a murder, the free man shall he punished for it and a slave for a slave: likewise if a woman is guilty of murder the same shall he accountable for it. But in case the injured brother is willing to show leniency to the murderer, the blood money should he decided in accordance with the common law and the murderer should pay it in a genuine way. This is an allowance and mercy from your Lord. Now there shall be a painful torment for anyone who transgresses the limits after this. O men of understanding.
O you who believe! Al-Qisas (the Law of Equality in punishment) is prescribed for you in case of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives, etc.) of the killed against blood money, then adhering to it with fairness and payment of the blood money, to the heir should be made in fairness. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. So after this whoever transgresses the limits (i.e. kills the killer after taking the blood money), he shall have a painful torment.
O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. And for him who is forgiven somewhat by his (injured) brother, prosecution according to usage and payment unto him in kindness. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. He who transgresseth after this will have a painful doom.
O you who have believed, prescribed for you is retaliation concerning (the ones) killed: the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. Yet whoever is offered anything in clemency by his brother, then the close following after should be with beneficence, and the payment back to him should be with fairness. This (Literally: That) is a lightening from your Lord and a mercy; then, he who transgresses after that, then he will have a painful torment.
You who believe, fair retribution is prescribed for you in cases of murder: the free man for the free man, the slave for the slave, the female for the female. But if the culprit is pardoned by his aggrieved brother, this shall be adhered to fairly, and the culprit shall pay what is due in a good way. This is an alleviation from your Lord and an act of mercy. If anyone then exceeds these limits, grievous suffering awaits him.
Quran 2 Verse 178 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Baqarah ayat 178, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(2:178) Believers! Retribution is prescribed for you in cases of killing: if a freeman is guilty then the freeman; if a slave is guilty then the slave; if a female is guilty, then the female.
But if something of a murderer’s guilt is remitted by his brother this should be adhered to in fairness, and payment be made in a goodly manner. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord; and for him who commits excess after that there is a painful chastisement.
176. Retribution, that is, blood revenge, is based on the principle that what a person has done to others ought to be done to him. This does not mean that the murderer should be put to death in exactly the same manner as he killed but that the murderer should be subjected to the same act, i.e. killing, as that to which he subjected his victim.
177. In pre-Islamic Arabia people tried to take blood revenge upon the murderer’s family and tribe, and the retaliation corresponded to the value placed on the blood of the victim. Their desire for revenge was not quenched merely by putting the murderer to death. They preferred to put to death tens and even hundreds of people to avenge the one life they had lost. If a respected member of their tribe was killed by an ordinary member of another, it was not deemed enough to put to death the actual murderer. They preferred to kill a man of the murderer’s tribe equal in standing to the victim, and even several members of the murderer’s tribe. However, if the victim was a man of humble standing from another tribe, and the murderer from their tribe happened to be a man of high standing, they were unwilling to permit the execution of the murderer.
This attitude is not confined to the Ignorance of that bygone age. Even today those nations that are supposedly the most civilized will often proclaim, officially and quite brazenly, that if one of their citizens is killed they will execute scores of the killer’s compatriots. In addition we often hear that to avenge the murder of one person a large number of hostages belonging to a subject nation have been shot dead. One of the ‘civilized’ nations of the present century subjected the whole Egyptian nation to blood revenge because one of their officials, Sir Lee Stack, was killed by an Egyptian. The courts of justice of these so-called civilized nations have been known to refrain from passing the death sentence on convicted homicides when they happened to be members of the ruling nation while their victims belonged to the subject nation. It is iniquities such as these that God seeks to end by means of the directive contained in this verse. What God says here is that the killer ought to be put to death irrespective of his status and that of the victim.
178. The very use of the word ‘brother’ in this context suggests that as a general rule one ought to incline towards leniency. Despite the bitterness felt towards someone who has shed the blood of, say, one’s father, the murderer is still one’s brother by virtue of being a member of the human family. Hence if one who has been wronged can overcome the vengeful spirit aroused by his erring brother’s deed, this attitude of forgiveness will be worthy of his humanity.
This verse also makes it clear that according to the Islamic penal law the question of homicide can be settled by the mutual consent of the two parties. It is the prerogative of the heirs of the victim to forgive the murderer, and if it is exercised not even a judge has the power to insist on carrying out the death sentence. In such a case, however, as the following verse mentions, the murderer will be made to pay blood money.
179. The term ma’ruf occurs quite frequently in the Qur’an. It refers to conduct which is reckoned fair and equitable by the generality of disinterested people. The generally accepted usages and customs of life are called ‘urf and ma’ruf in Islamic terminology, and they are considered valid in all those matters not specifically regulated by the Shar’iah.
180. Excess might consist of trying to avenge the blood of the murdered man even after his heirs have settled the matter and received blood money or of efforts on the part of the murderer to delay the payment of blood money thus repaying the heirs of the victim with ingratitude for their kindness and goodwill.
177. It is not Birr that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west; but Birr is the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-Masakin (the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and to set servants free, performs As-Salah (Iqamat-As-Salah), and gives the Zakah, and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles). Such are the people of the truth and they are Al-Muttaqun (the pious).
This Ayah contains many great wisdoms, encompassing rulings and correct beliefs.
As for the explanation of this Ayah, Allah first commanded the believers to face Bayt Al-Maqdis, and then to face the Ka`bah during the prayer. This change was difficult for some of the People of the Book, and even for some Muslims. Then Allah sent revelation which clarified the wisdom behind this command, that is, obedience to Allah, adhering to His commands, facing wherever He commands facing, and implementing whatever He legislates, that is the objective. This is Birr, Taqwa and complete faith. Facing the east or the west does not necessitate righteousness or obedience, unless it is legislated by Allah. This is why Allah said:
(It is not Birr that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Birr is the one who believes in Allah and the Last Day,)
Similarly, Allah said about the sacrifices:
(It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is the piety from you that reaches Him.) (22:37)
Abu Al-`Aliyah said, “The Jews used to face the west for their Qiblah, while the Christians used to face the east for their Qiblah. So Allah said:
(It is not Birr that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers)) (2: 177) meaning, “this is faith, and its essence requires implementation.” Similar was reported from Al-Hasan and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas. Ath-Thawri recited:
(but Birr is the one who believes in Allah,) and said that what follows are the types of Birr. He has said the truth. Certainly, those who acquire the qualities mentioned in the Ayah will have indeed embraced all aspects of Islam and implemented all types of righteousness; believing in Allah, that He is the only God worthy of worship, and believing in the angels the emissaries between Allah and His Messengers.
The `Books’ are the Divinely revealed Books from Allah to the Prophets, which were finalized by the most honorable Book (the Qur’an). The Qur’an supercedes all previous Books, it mentions all types of righteousness, and the way to happiness in this life and the Hereafter. The Qur’an abrogates all previous Books and testfies to all of Allah’s Prophets, from the first Prophet to the Final Prophet, Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all.
(…and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it,) refers to those who give money away while desiring it and loving it. It is recorded in the Sahihayn that Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:
(The best charity is when you give it away while still healthy and thrifty, hoping to get rich and fearing poverty.)
(And they give food, inspite of their love for it, to the Miskin (the poor), the orphan, and the captive (saying): “We feed you seeking Allah’s Face only. We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you.”) (76:8, 9)
(By no means shall you attain Birr unless you spend of that which you love.) (3:92) Allah’s statement:
(…and give them preference over themselves even though they were in need of that) (59:9) refers to a higher category and status, as the people mentioned here give away what they need, while those mentioned in the previous Ayat give away what they covet (but not necessarily need).
(the kinsfolk) refers to man’s relatives, who have more rights than anyone else to one’s charity, as the Hadith supports:
(Sadaqah (i. e., charity) given to the poor is a charity, while the Sadaqah given to the relatives is both Sadaqah and Silah (nurturing relations), for they are the most deserving of you and your kindness and charity).
Allah has commanded kindness to the relatives in many places in the Qur’an.
(to the orphans) The orphans are children who have none to look after them, having lost their fathers while they are still young, weak and unable to find their own sustenance since they have not reached the age of work and adolescence. `Abdur-Razzaq reported that `Ali said that the Prophet said:
(and to Al-Masakin) The Miskin is the person who does not have enough food, clothing, or he has no dwelling. So the Miskin should be granted the provisions to sustain him enough so that he can acquire his needs. In the Sahihayn it is recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that Allah’s Messenger said:
(The Miskin is not the person who roams around, and whose need is met by one or two dates or one or two bites. Rather, the Miskin is he who does not have what is sufficient, and to whom the people do not pay attention and, thus, do not give him from the charity.)
(and to the wayfarer) is the needy traveler who runs out of money and should, thus, be granted whatever amount that helps him to go back to his land. Such is the case with whoever intends to go on a permissible journey, he is given what he needs for his journey and back. The guests are included in this category. `Ali bin Abu Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “Ibn As-Sabil (wayfarer) is the guest who is hosted by Muslims.” Furthermore, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Ja`far Al-Baqir, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Az-Zuhri, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Muqatil bin Hayyan said similarly.
(and to those who ask) refers to those who beg people and are thus given a part of the Zakah and general charity.
(and to set servants free) These are the servants who seek to free themselves, but cannot find enough money to buy their freedom. We will mention several of these categories and types under the Tafsir of the Ayah on Sadaqah in Surat Bara’ah ﴿chapter 9 in the Qur’an﴾, In sha’ Allah.
(performs As-Salah (Iqamat-As-Salah)) means those who pray on time and give the prayer its due right; the bowing, prostration, and the necessary attention and humbleness required by Allah. Allah’s statement:
(and gives the Zakah) means the required charity (Zakah) due on one’s money, as Sa`id bin Jubayr and Muqatil bin Hayyan have stated.
(and who fulfill their covenant when they make it,)
is similar to:
(Those who fulfill the covenant of Allah and break not the Mithaq (bond, treaty, covenant).) (13:20)
The opposite of this characteristic is hypocrisy. As found in a Hadith:
(The signs of a hypocrite are three: if he speaks, he lies; if he promises, he breaks his promise; and if he is entrusted, he breaches the trust.)
In another version:
(If he speaks, he lies; if he vows, he breaks his vow; and if he disputes, he is lewd.)
(. ..and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles).) means, during the time of meekness and ailment.
(…and at the time of fighting (during the battles).) means on the battlefield while facing the enemy, as Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Murrah Al-Hamdani, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi, Muqatil bin Hayyan, Abu Malik, Ad-Dahhak and others have stated.
And calling them the patient here, is a form of praise, because of the importance of patience in these circumstances, and the suffering and difficulties that accompany them. And Allah knows best, it is He Whom help is sought from, and upon Him we rely.
(Such are the people of the truth) means, whoever acquires these qualities, these are truthful in their faith. This is because they have achieved faith in the heart and realized it in deed and upon the tongue. So they are the truthful,
(and they are Al-Muttaqun (the pious).) because they avoided the prohibitions and performed the acts of obedience.
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