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Yusuf al-Qaradawi has called for “equality” in the allotment of blood money on account of manslaughter during a forum in Qatar’s Supreme Council for Family Affairs. (I’m commenting on this here because Al-Muhajabah’s blog, where attention is drawn to this, no longer allows comments.) The issue of “inequality” of the blood money is one which is routinely brought up by non-Muslims in “critiques” of Islam, and it’s depressing to see that some Muslims feel the need to alter those areas of Islam which make the deen look “old fashioned” to some people. In fact, blood money is a secondary issue, because the actual penalty is the same whether the victim is male or female: retaliation, that is to say, death. I once spoke to a Yemeni about this subject, and he told me that taking blood money is a source of shame for people of his background. If you forgive someone, forgive them for free; don’t sell your brother. (On top of this, I’ve never heard it said that killing a man was a greater sin than killing a woman. The threat of eternal hell in the Qur’an for whoever kills a believer deliberately does not mention a believing man or woman.)
The scholars of Islam have always been clear that the blood money for a woman is the same as a man’s for minor injuries and half for major. As for why, it’s not my place to speculate, but it’s worth noting that a man is more often a breadwinner for a whole family, possibly including children in double figures. If you kill a woman, you deprive a family of a loved one and a mother; if you kill a man, you may put a family into destitution.