Doctors and the Punishment of Unintentional Murder
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

How does the punishment of unintentional murder apply to doctors. Could you help clarify?


The case of death caused unintentionally has been dealt in the Qurān in the following verse:


وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ أَنْ يَقْتُلَ مُؤْمِنًا إِلَّا خَطَأً وَمَنْ قَتَلَ مُؤْمِنًا خَطَأً فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مُؤْمِنَةٍ وَدِيَةٌ مُسَلَّمَةٌ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ إِلَّا أَنْ يَصَّدَّقُوا فَإِنْ كَانَ مِنْ قَوْمٍ عَدُوٍّ لَكُمْ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مُؤْمِنَةٍ وَإِنْ كَانَ مِنْ قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُمْ مِيثَاقٌ فَدِيَةٌ مُسَلَّمَةٌ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ وَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مُؤْمِنَةٍ فَمَنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ شَهْرَيْنِ مُتَتَابِعَيْنِ تَوْبَةً مِنْ اللَّهِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا  (٤ :٩٢)

And it is unlawful for a believer to kill a believer except if it happens by accident. And he who kills a believer accidentally must free one Muslim slave and pay diyat to the heirs of the victim except if they forgive him. If the victim is a Muslim belonging to a people at enmity with you, the freeing of a Muslim slave is enough. But if the victim belongs to an ally, diyat shall be given to his heirs and a Muslim slave shall also have to be set free. He who does not have a slave, must fast two consecutive months. This is from Allah a way to repent for this sin: and He is Wise, All-Knowing. (4:92)


As per this verse, a person who is responsible for the accidental death of someone is liable to:

1. Pay diyat (a penalty) to the family of the deceased to atone for his mistake

2. Repent before the Almighty

3. Free a Muslim slave

If the person does not have a slave, he should consecutively fast for two months.

Today in the absence of slaves and slavery, it is recommended by some scholars that in its place the said person can pay to bail out a criminal from jail who needs money for his liberation and cannot afford to furnish the money for this. The amount of money given should be decided keeping in view the financial circumstances of the person who is responsible for the accidental death.

The option of fasting can be used if a person does not even have the money for this purpose.


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