Victims’ Justice Like Christians, Muslims share the scriptures of the Old Testament with Jews, although these texts are seen through the filter of the subsequent teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and other thinkers. The great sacred book of Islam, the Koran, contains the thoughts of God, or Allah, as dictated to the Prophet by an angel, and offers a view of punishment that is similar to biblical tradition. “The free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female,” says the famous text, but many scholars insist that this does not mean “a life for a life.” The principle, they say, is payment, not punishment; restitution, not revenge. The offender has to do everything in his power to make up for his wrong. So, while allowing the death penalty for various crimes, including murder, shari’a (the formal laws of Islam) has never seen execution as its first preference. For example, the families of murder victims have always been urged to accept financial compensation in- stead. It is assumed that the decision should rest with them, however, rather than with the court. As the sufferers in the case, it is for their benefit that justice is administered.
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