Quesas Legal Definition:

Muslim law: the right of a person who has suffered corporal injuries by the act of another, to inflict, or have inflicted similar injuries upon the aggressor.

Related Terms: Diyya

Also spelled qisas or kisas.

In Muslim law, this is a reiteration of the Biblical principle of criminal justice of an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth.

The quesas crimes are murder, manslaughter and any physical injury to another, intentional or unintentional.

However, as Milliot and Blanc write in their 2001 book on Muslim law:

“The Muslim religion has legalized retaliation punishment. But the retaliation is applied, now, by some public authority and no longer by the members of the victims family or community. For example, in the case of an assault and battery with personal injuries, the court will name a medical doctor who will legally mutilate the guilty party.”

In Islam and the body of Muslim law, crimes are categorized by the severity of their respective punishments. Hudud crimes invite the most severe and, indeed, in most cases, horrific forms of punishments. At the other end of the scale are ta’azir offences.

Quesas is often described as a middle category of criminal offences.

The quesas offences, according to Bassiouni:

“.... are ... specifically listed in the Koran. They are murder, manslaughter, intentional crimes against the person and ... crimes against the person (eg. assault and battery).”

For those who may be subjected to the sometimes severer if not barbaric punishments provided for quesas, the option of a diyya resolution may be available, particularly if the victim or the victim’s family are prepared to accept financial settlement.

Obviously, this option is not available to the poor.

If the victim of a quesas crime is a woman, then the physical or corporal punishment retaliatory punishment is unavailable and only diyya may be imposed and then, according to Bassiouni:

“... the amount being equivalent to half that of a male.”

REFERENCES:

  • Bassiouni, C., “Sources of Islamic Law and the Protection of Human Rights in the Islamic Criminal Justice System” and “Quesas Crimes”, both published in The Islamic Criminal Justice System (Rome: Oceana Publications Inc., 1982), pages 24 and 203
  • Blanc, F.-P. and Milliot, L., Introduction à l’Étude du Droit Musulman (Paris : Dalloz, 2001), page 590 (translated)
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Legal Definition of Diyya

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