Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Ta'azir Definition:

Muslim law: discretionary and corrective punishments for minor crimes.

Related Terms: Diyya

Also presented as ta'zir, tazir, taa'zir, ti'zar, tazar or ta'azar.

In Muslim law, a set of serious crimes is established for which very strong corporal punishment is provided. These punishments are called hudud. It is customary in Muslim law to classify crimes based on the applicable punishment. Hudud is considered to be a religious punishment and for which there is no leniency once the crime has been proven.

Next on the scale of crimes is the middle category of quesas.

In contrast, lesser crimes are punished at the discretion of the court and are called ta’azir.

No penalty is prescribed, within the relevant religious Islamic religious-legal texts, for ta’azir crimes. That is left to the judge in keeping with the rehabilitative or corrective goal of sentencing in a ta’azir conviction.

Bassiouni writes that the point of ta’azir, as opposed to hudud or quesas, is that:

“... the penalty is to be rehabilitative. Such a penalty could be imprisonment, the infliction of physical punishment or the imposition of compensation....

“Unlike hudud and quesas crimes, retribution is not a guiding principle.”

In Islamic law, according to al-Saleh, hudud and quesas can only be imposed for specified prohibited conduct:

“... Islamic jurisprudence recognizes ... that ta’azir may be imposed for actions which are not prohibited per se if the general good so requires.”

For example, on this basis, the use of narcotics such as cocaine, hash and marijuana has more recently been added to the list of ta’azir crimes.

Ta’azir offences can attract the death penalty such as, for example, in the event of conviction for heresy or espionage.

Where whipping or lashes are prescribed, the person is subjected to between 3 and 75 lashes although this can vary in different schools of Islamic law.

Many contemporary Muslim jurisdictions have rejected and repealed all reference to the harshness and barbarity of hudud and quesas and the unfairness of diyya, and instead have constructed the whole of their criminal law upon the principles of ta’azir.


  • Al-Saleh, Osman Abd-el-Malek, “The Right of the Individual to Personal Security in Islam”, published in The Islamic Criminal Justice System (Rome: Oceana Publications Inc., 1982), page 60
  • Bassiouni, C., “Sources of Islamic Law and the Protection of Human Rights in the Islamic Criminal Justice System”, published in The Islamic Criminal Justice System (Rome: Oceana Publications Inc., 1982), page 24
  • Blanc, F.-P. and Milliot, L., Introduction à l’Étude du Droit Musulman (Paris : Dalloz, 2001), page 589

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