RIYADH — Some members of the Shoura Council have recommended adding a new paragraph to the draft Civil Transactions Law to prohibit discrimination in the amount of compensation for a crime between a woman and man, and a Muslim and non-Muslim, Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learnt from well-informed sources.

The Shoura members — Latifa Al-Shaalan, Faisal Al-Fadel, and Atta Al-Subaiti — have made the recommendation to add a new paragraph to Article 138 of the draft Civil Transactions Law, which is currently being studied in the Shoura Council.

The proposed amendment in the draft law will be as follows: “It is prohibited to show discrimination in the amount of compensation in a felony against a person on the basis of gender, religion, or any other forms of discrimination.”

It is noteworthy that the Civil Transactions Law, which is yet to be enacted, is one of the four key legislations, about which announcement was made by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in February 2021.

He had said then that these laws are being introduced as part of the government’s landmark measures to reform judicial institutions as well as to improve the legislative environment in the Kingdom.

The Crown Prince noted that the new laws — the Personal Status Law, the Civil Transactions Law, the Penal Code for Discretionary Sanctions, and the Law of Evidence — would represent a new wave of judicial reforms in the Kingdom.

Later, the Council of Ministers approved the Personal Status Law, which regulates issues related to engagement, marriage, divorce and children's custody, and the Law of Evidence.

In their justifications for the recommendation, the Shoura Council members indicated that there is discrepancy in the judicial provisions vis-a-vis the assessment of blood money between a man and woman and between a Muslim and non-Muslim, unlike the other Arab and Islamic countries and the rest of the countries of the world.

The Shoura members justified their recommendation, saying that this is based on an analysis of the current situation and clarification of the issues related to implementation of laws.

These issues include the independent reasoning (ijtihad) followed by the Islamic jurists that led to discrimination in the assessment of blood money between man and woman and between Muslims and others, they said while noting that these are not appropriate for the present day world.

The Shoura members emphasized that their recommendation contributes to empowering women and promoting human rights and the values of tolerance, moderation and quality of life, as it is in line with international conventions and charters to which the Kingdom has accession.

They said that this would further improve the position of Saudi Arabia in general, and the Saudi judiciary in particular, at the international level, and at the relevant UN indices.

The members noted that what is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an regarding blood money is one absolute verse that does not show any difference between men and women.

The Almighty God is saying in the Qur’an: “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 (diyah) presented to his family, unless they give (up their right as) charity.

“But if he 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 find (one or cannot afford to buy one) — then (instead), a fast for two months consecutively, (seeking) acceptance of repentance from Allah, and Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.”

The Shoura members also emphasized that the opinion that the blood money of a woman is the same as that of a man in Islam is backed by a number of contemporary religious scholars, including Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali.

“The act of the people of Hadith to consider the blood money of a woman to half of the blood money of a man is an intellectual and moral evil that was rejected by jurists. The blood money prescribed by the Holy Qur’an for man and woman is the same,” he said.

The blood money prescribed in the Qur’an is the same for a man and woman, and the claim that a woman’s blood is cheaper and her right is inferior is a false claim that contradicts the apparent meaning of the holy book.

The killing of a man by a woman is the same just as the killing of a woman by a man and hence the blood of the woman and the blood of the man are the same, so what makes the blood money of a woman below that of a man? he asked.

Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltout and several other scholars and researchers are also of the same view. They all emphasized that there is no reference to any halving of the blood money as the Qur’anic verse made the blood money absolute and not specific to man or woman, and the word blood money in the Qur’anic verse is not restricted to any specific gender of men or women. There is also no authentic Hadith that indicates the halving of the blood money of a woman.

The Shoura members pointed out that a number of contemporary religious scholars have gone to the opinion of equality in blood money between a Muslim and non-Muslim. They cited the fatwa (religious edict) by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, while replying to queries of a person with regard to equality in blood money between Muslims and others.

The fatwa drew attention to the directive issued by the fourth Caliph of Islam Ali Bin Abi Talib who ruled to make the blood money of the People of Book (Jews and Christians) like the blood money of a Muslim as they enjoy safety and security within the country from the ruler.

“So a non-Muslim deserves equality with a Muslim in the blood money, and this is what we judge by and believe in its correctness. That is why the pagans, and people of the Book are equal with Muslims in terms of blood money,” Sheikh Abdullah ruled.

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