4 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439
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Threatening and kidnapping others to claim rights

Every community has its inherited customs and traditions that have endured across successive generations. However, due to cultural and conceptual changes, these customs and traditions have changed for the better except in our community (the tribes of Awlad Ali). The tribes in our community still hold on to both their good and bad customs.
It is known that every tribe is divided into families. If, for instance, a member of one family steals or commits an immoral act, his entire family is punished for the crime. In the case of murder (such as when a person from one family kills another from a different family and tribe) a punishment called 'Nizala' [settlement], is imposed. It consists of having the offender's family settle with a different tribe for one year. This is considered injustice and oppression for the offender's family who leave their homes and interests—commercial, agricultural etc...
Please clarify the legal ruling prescribed by Allah Almighty and commanded by His Messenger [pbuh] which states that only the offender is to be punished and not his whole family.

Answer : English Mufti


Such procedures for claiming and gaining rights are prohibited in Islamic law; rather, they are considered major sins. Punishing people for crimes committed by others is corruption on earth and considered judgments based on capriciousness and injustice.

It is established in the principles of Islamic law that a person is not to be punished for another's crime and that it is impermissible to blame a person for a sin he did not commit. Allah the Almighty says, Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another's burdens if one heavily laden should call another to (bear) his load. Not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other). Even though he be nearly related. [Fatir: 18]
and, And if any one earns sin. He earns it against His own soul: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. But if any one earns a fault or a sin and throws it on to one that is innocent, He carries (on himself) (Both) a falsehood and a flagrant sin. [An-Nisaa`: 111-112]

Islamic law forbids banishing people from their homes unjustly and regarded this act an aggression deserving of punishment. Allah Almighty says, After this it is ye, the same people, who slay among yourselves, and banish a party of you from their homes; assist (Their enemies) against them, in guilt and rancor. [Al-Baqarah: 85]

The Prophethighly honored the sanctity of Muslims. Once when he was looking at the Ka'ba, he said, "How great you are and how great your sanctity! By Him in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad! The sanctity of a believer is far greater in Allah's sight than yours."[1]

Therefore, we call upon every rational and honest person from this tribe and others to endeavor to repudiate this evil custom in which a person bears the burden of another.

We call upon them to stand united as one against whoever lets himself be seduced into frightening those living in security, punishing the innocent for their relatives' or acquaintances' crimes or transgressing the limits in claiming and obtaining rights.

Everyone must abide by the rulings of Islamic and public laws regulating rights. The purpose is to avoid complete chaos that gives oppression the upper hand and turns communities into a jungle where rights, principles and values are lost.

Allah the Almighty knows best.



[1] Narrated by Ibn Majah from the hadith of Ibn 'Umar [may Allah be pleased with them both].

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