Saturday, June 06, 2009

'Diyyah' and The Value of Human Life According to the Arabs!

Most Arab countries, including the UAE still practice the 'blood money' or diyyah. I have been reading the reports on this diyyah since a mum was sentenced to pay diyyah for the death of her unborn baby due to her careless driving recently.

A woman has been ordered to pay diyyah, or blood money, for the death of her unborn child in what prosecutors say may be the first case of its kind.

The Dubai Traffic Court yesterday fined a bereaved mother Dh1,000 (US$270) for causing the road accident in which her near-term baby died. It also ordered her to pay Dh20,000 as legal diyyah for the dead child.

The judge, Ahmad Hassan al Mutawaa, issued his ruling according to Sharia, which sets diyyah for an unborn child at a 10th of that for the mother. In Dubai, diyyah for a woman is Dh200,000.


One American blogger wrote that:-

According to Wikipedia, Diyya (plural: Diyyat; Arabic: دية‎) is compensation paid to the heirs of a victim. In Arabic the word means both blood money and ransom. Diyyah comes into effect when the death of one person has been caused by another such as committing an act of murder or a driver being held responsible for ones who died in an auto accident with him. Under Shari’a or Islamic law which follows the “eye for an eye” precept, the surviving family members of the deceased will hold the fate of the one who is responsible for deaths on whether that individual will live or die. If the family wishes to avenge the death of their loved one through death then the responsible individual will be put to death through public execution. However the family of the person held responsible for a death may also try to appeal to the deceased family by offering up ‘diyyah’ in order to save the life. Naturally Islam prefers that a family seek diyyah rather than retribution.

It is unlawful for a believer to kill a believer except if it happens by accident. And he who kills a believer accidentally must pay diyyat to the heirs of the victim except if they forgive him. The tradition finds repeated endorsement in Islamic tradition; several instances are recorded in the Hadith, which are the acts of Muhammad.

There is no specific amount for Diyyat and the fine does not differ based on the gender, victim, or state of freedom of the victim. However, the Qur’an leaves open its quantity, nature and other related affairs to the customs and traditions of a society. The Qur’an directs to pay Diyyat according to this law both in case of intentional as well as unintentional murder.

However in direct contradiction to the above paragraph citing from the Quran, in Saudi Arabia, when a person has been killed or caused to die by another, the prescribed blood money rates are as follows[7]:

  • 100,000 riyals if the victim is a Muslim man
  • 50,000 riyals if a Muslim woman
  • 50,000 riyals if a Christian man
  • 25,000 riyals if a Christian woman
  • 6,666 riyals if a Hindu man
  • 3,333 riyals if a Hindu woman.

Although Wikipedia states that the amount of Diyyah is open, I found it interesting that according to Encyclopedia Britannica in pre-Islāmic times, the compensation or diyyah required for taking a life was 10 she-camels.

Frankly speaking, the whole issue of diyyah brings up the question, how can one put a price on a life?


And another blogger in Saudi lamented:-

The answer – at least here in Saudi – might shock you – it sure shocked (and angered and disgusted and a whole list of other similar reactions) me!

But before I get to that, let me share with you some other perspectives on the value of life.

For example, when an American soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, his or her surviving family receives a $500,000 death benefit from the US government.

Health insurance groups – both in the States and around the world – value a human life at around $50,000 a year. With the average American life expectancy at just over 78 years, that works out to about 3.9 million USD.

In California, Stanford University economists have calculated the value of human life is a little higher – about $129,000 per year or a tad over 10 million USD over a lifetime.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has set a value of $5 million for a human life – or more specifically a typical American life, while the Environmental Protection Agency is a little more optimistic, valuing a human life at about 7.2 million.

Which gets me back to Saudi Arabia where, according to American Bedu, the price for a human life is a little bit lower.

Ok, a lot lower.

Saudi Arabia – and the rest of the Muslim world apparently – has devised a system of “blood money” – basically how much someone has to pay if they take another person’s life.

According to American Bedu:
There is no specific amount for Diyyat and the fine does not differ based on the gender, victim, or state of freedom of the victim. However, the Qur’an leaves open its quantity, nature and other related affairs to the customs and traditions of a society. The Qur’an directs to pay Diyyat according to this law both in case of intentional as well as unintentional murder.
But, of course, that hasn’t stopped Saudi from setting up it’s own value scale for a human life.

Under that system…

The life of a Muslim man is worth $26,222 USD, while the life of a Muslim woman comes in at just under 13 grand – a 50% discount based solely on gender.

The life of a Christian man is worth as much as the life of a Muslim woman, some $13,333 USD. And again, the life of a Christian woman is about half of that of a Christian man, or $6,666 USD.

And here’s where things get tricky – and telling.

In Saudi Arabia, the life of a Hindu man is worth just $1,777 USD.

The life of a Hindu woman, on the other hand, is worth only half that, or about $888 USD.

Let me recap.

In Saudi Arabia, the life of a Muslim man is about equal to the cost of my Hummer H3 while the life of a Christian man is worth about the same as a second-hand Chevy. For the life of a Hindu man, however, you couldn’t even buy a good moped.

In Saudi Arabia, the life of a Muslim woman is about equal to the cost of a hand-tied Iranian rug, while the life of a Christian woman like myself might cover the cost of the designer watch so many of the locals here adore. For the life of a Hindu woman, however, you couldn’t buy a month’s worth of groceries for a family of four.

So, tell me again that all lives are precious and have value in Saudi Arabia?

Oh, and did I mention that a well-bred camel can go for several hundred thousand US dollars at auction?

Go figure!

Dari Berita Harian 6 Jun 2009 - Alumni Burj Al Haram

Cerpen: Alumni Burj Al Haram

Oleh Fudzail

SUDAH hujung tahun. Cuaca yang sepatutnya lebih nyaman masih pada tahap musim panas. Iklim berubah drastik selepas tsunami mengubah sedikit geografi. Suhu menjadi ekstrim.

Mungkin bumi sudah terlalu tua dan letih setelah begitu lama beredar berpaksikan matahari. Terlalu tua kerana dinasor yang pernah menghuni juga telah lupus jutaan tahun dahulu. Yang tinggal hanyalah tulang-tulang dan minyak daripada limpahan fosil. Minyak yang membawa limpahan kekayaan kepada bumi bernama UAE ini dan terus melincirkan perjalanan hayat manusia. Minyak menjadi ekonomi dunia turun naik. Harga setong minyak yang turun naik membawa impak ke setiap manusia.

Minyak turut membawa jutaan ekspatriat berdagang mencari rezeki. Mencari wang untuk sesuap nasi. Wang menjadikan bumi berpusing mengikut turun naik ekonomi. Wang juga menjadikan UAE tarikan untuk jutaan tubuh, walau kekadang tidak lebih sebagai hamba kepada pembangunan. Hamba kepada ramai Arab-arab tempatan atau Emirati yang masih berfikiran jahiliah hanya kerana mereka itu berbangsa Arab yang diberikan minyak.

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