Why is Blood Money for Women half that for Men?


Some individuals might possibly object that in the verses of qisas (retaliation) it has been ordered that a man should not be subjected to retaliation for the murder of a woman; but is a man superior to a woman? Why should a criminal, having killed a woman and shed unwarranted blood of a gender constituting more than half the global population, not be subjected to retaliation for his crime?

In answer to this it must be stated that the verse does not intend that a man should not face retaliation for killing a woman, rather – as has been explicitly explained in the Islamic jurisprudence – the guardians of the murdered woman can seek retaliation from the male murderer, but upon the condition that they pay half the blood money (to the heirs of the murder).

In other words, when it is said that a man cannot be subjected to retaliation for the murder of a woman, what is intended is ‘unconditional retaliation’. However, if half of the blood money is paid, then it is permissible to have him killed in retaliation (for the crime committed by him).

There is no need to explain that the payment of the abovementioned sum for seeking retaliation is not because the woman is any less human than man or inferior to him. This is a perception which is totally misplaced and illogical, and perhaps the expression ‘blood money’ is the basis for this misleading notion. The payment of half the “blood money” is only to compensate the loss, which is suffered by his family, after the retaliation has been extracted.

Predominantly, it is the men who are the instrumental members of households monetarily and who, by means of their activities, shoulder the expenses of their families. Thus, the difference between the death of a man and that of a woman, in financial terms, is something which is not concealed from anyone, and which, if not taken into account, would cause unjustified damage to be inflicted upon the survivors of the dead man and his innocent children.

Hence, Islam, by stipulating the payment of half the blood money in the case of retaliation against a man, has taken into consideration the rights of all the individuals and has prevented this economic vacuum and irreparable blow to fall upon a family. Islam never permits that the rights of other individuals – like the children of the person facing retaliation – to be trampled under the pretext of the term ‘equality’.

Of course, it is possible that some women may be higher earners for their families than men, but as we do know, rules and regulations are not determined by (a few) individuals but rather, the entire category of men is compared with the entire category of women (take note).