What is the penalty for accidental killing?

I assure you this did not happen. I’m asking so that I’d know what to do if something like it ever happens to me.

Suppose I was walking down the street carrying groceries and a man grabs the bag from my hand and runs up the street. I run after him but he is faster than me so I grab a rock and throw it hoping to stop him. The rock hits his leg and trips him. He falls and hits his head on the cement and dies instantly.

My question is am I accountable for his death? Would it be considered self defense or murder? Obviously it was not intentional on my part to kill him. I was only trying to make him stop or at the very least drop my groceries but things went bad. What does Islam say about this situation?

This is called in Sharia ضرب أفضى إلى موت (a beating that resulted in death), which was translated in English common law as “man slaughter.” If a judge determines in court that the death was truly accidental, there are punitive damages. But if the defendent cannot afford the punitive damages, then there is religious penance. God explains all that in the holy Quran,

“And never is it for a believer to kill a believer except by mistake. And whoever kills a believer by mistake – then the freeing of a believing slave and a compensation payment presented to the deceased’s family [is required] unless they give [up their right as] charity. But if the deceased was from a people at war with you and he was a believer -then [only] the freeing of a believing slave; and if he was from a people with whom you have a treaty – then a compensation payment presented to his family and the freeing of a believing slave. And whoever does not have [neither] – then [instead], a fast for two months consecutively, [seeking] acceptance of repentance from God. And God is ever Knowing and Wise. ” (4:92)

The Quran tells us the story of Moses and how he hit that man and accidently killed him

Great observation. This is told in verse 28:15. You will notice that nowhere in the Quran does God tell us that Moses was punished for it or was supposed to be punished for it. Moses must have done the penance mentioned in 4:92, peace be upon him.

2 Responses to “What is the penalty for accidental killing?”

  1. Badr says:

    I have a question regarding the consecutive fast of 2 months. What happens if i fasted for 20 days and did not fast one day. If i did not fast one day because i was sick; do I have to start fasting the 60 days again? Or do I continue fasting? Also if i did not fast a day for other reasons that are not urgent. Do i need to fast from the beginning again? Or do I just continue?
    Please help me?
    Thank you

    • noclash says:

      If the reason for breaking the fast is legitimate, such as sickness or necessary travel, then, by analogy (Qiyaas) to the Ramadhaan fast, a ransom may be offered. The fasting ransom, as stated in the Ramadhaan fasting verses (2:183-185), is either fasting other days or feeding a needy person per day missed. Fasting is preferred unless the person is genuinely unable to do it or if it would cause him illness.

      If the reason for breaking the fast, however, is not legitimate, then the fast must be restarted because the accidental death verse (4:92) makes it clear that the fasting must be two consecutive months. BTW, those months are lunar. Thus, the accidental death required ransom period is 59 or 60 consecutive days. So, pick a day when you feel strong ans healthy and star then. For example, if you start say, which is 22nd of Muharram, you will finish on the 21st of Rabee`-ul-Awwal.

      This is my humble opinion based on available evidence and after reading scholars opinions, but check with your imaam too if you can. God knows best.

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