The Punishment for Spilling Acid on Someone
Islamic Punishments
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Recently a person threw acid on a film actress while seriously deforming her face. What is the punishment for such a horrendous crime?



The basic purpose of all punishments is to prevent a criminal from committing the crime in future as well as to discourage others from doing so. Islam prescribes the punishment of Qisās for criminals who intentionally murder or hurt someone. Qisās is from Qisās, which means to follow someone along his footsteps. From this meaning, the word was used for the punishment in which the criminal is treated in the same way as he himself had treated the other person while committing the crime. While referring to the Torah in Sūrah Mā’idah, the Qur’ān says:

And We enjoined for them therein: life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and similarly Qisās for other wounds. Then he who forgoes [retaliation], his remission is an atonement for the criminal. And those who do not judge according to what Allah has revealed, it is they who are the wrongdoers. (5:45)

The verse alludes to a fundamental principle of the Islamic penal code: Complete equality should be observed in exacting Qisās from a criminal in all cases. Consequently, if in a certain case, due to the nature of the wound, it cannot be guaranteed that the amount of damage inflicted on the criminal will not exceed the damage he himself had caused, a lesser form of the punishment should be administered, or the affair should be settled by demanding Dīyah from the criminal.

In the light of these details, it is up to the judge to decide whether, in the case of someone spilling acid on a person, the criminal can be punished in exactly the same way. If he is satisfied with the ‘equality of the outcome’, he can order for such a punishment. If this equality cannot be guaranteed, a lesser form of the same punishment should be given.

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