Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Mauro Bussani and Anthony J. Sebok
Chapter 19: Islamic tort law
Islamic tort law is not too different in general from Western tort law in its scope, liability and discussion. It is a body of law concerned with civil injury or wrong. Civil injury means any injury, for which a legal action is brought before a civil court by the injured party himself, not by the state. Any injury or wrong which is designed to punish the defendant and for which the legal action or legal proceedings are taken and conducted in the name of the state, is called a crime. Islamic tort law recognizes misdeeds or wrongs committed against individual members of the public, while crime is considered in terms of a violation of the public interest as a whole. In more elaborate terms, it could be said that in the case of violation of the public interest, the ruler, or as commonly referred to in the modern time by current lawyers – the state – has the absolute power to prosecute and inflict the punishment upon the criminal on behalf of the public. These cases in Islamic law are named as divine prescribed punishments (hudud). They are categorically stipulated by the verses of the Qur’an (the Book of God) and the texts of the traditions of the Prophet, and they are called and recorded, in the writings of the Muslim jurists, as the fixed punishments.
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