The indemnity and its assessment

source :Osoul Global Center


The important point when imposing a punishment is to be a deterrent, courts assess the indemnity payable according to the extent of the damage caused and suffering of the victim.

The indemnity and its assessment

The indemnity was originally assessed by a number of camels. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to Amr ibn Hazm:

‘The indemnity for the killing of a believer is 100 camels....’

:He also says

‘In the case of a semi-deliberate accidental killing, which is caused by using something like a whip or a stick, [the indemnity] is 100 camels.’

Related by Ahmad, hadith No. 6,719; Abu Dawud, hadith No. 4,541; al-Nassa’i, hadith No. 4,793.

 Amr ibn Shu'ayb reports: ‘During the Prophet’s (peace be upon him)  lifetime, the indemnity was 800 dinars (the gold currency) or 8,000 dirhams (the silver currency) [...] It remained so until Umar’s reign. He addressed the people and said: “Camels are now more expensive.” He assessed the indemnity for those who pay in gold as 1,000 dinars, and who pay in silver as 12,000 dirhams, and those whose business is in animals as 200 cows or 2,000 sheep, and those who trade in clothes as 200 suits.’[1] 

This means the standard by which the indemnity is assessed was camels, while the other options are supposed to be of equal value. [Umar did this in the presence of other Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and none objected to him, thus unanimity was achieved. Therefore, the indemnity should be paid in the form of camels or their value.[2]

The basis of assessment is the indemnity for killing a free Muslim, which is 100 camels. It is increased in the case of murder and manslaughter by requiring 40 of these camels to be pregnant females.

It is clear on the basis of Umar’s ruling specifying different types of property that the important point is to impose a severe punishment to serve as a deterrent. Scholars have given extensive details of the amount of indemnity required for different offences and the extent of the damage suffered by the victim. Courts assess the indemnity payable according to the extent of the damage caused.


  1. [1] Related by Abu Dawud, hadith No. 4,542; al-Bayhaqi in Al-Sunan al-Kubra, vol. 8, p. 77.
  2. [2] Al-Bahuti, Kashshaf al-Qina, vol. 6, p. 17.



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