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Development of Criminal Law

Early Muslim Criminal Law Source of Law Quran, is believed to be of divine origin. It is the first source of Muslim law. Rules of conduct deduced from oral precepts, actions and decisions of the Prophet constituted the secondary source.

Rules and regulations composed by disciples of Mahammed for the betterment of Muslim society constituted respectively third and fourth source of Muslim Law.

Classification of Offences Under four broad principles, Mohammedan Criminal Law classified all offences for punishment, namely

1. Qisas or retaliation
2. Diya or blood-money ( the fee paid to a hired killer)

3. Hadd or fixed penalties

4. Tazir or discretionary punishment.

Incomprehensibility of Principle Though certain broad principle of Mohammadan criminal law where laid down, still many cases the criminal law was not certain and uniformity. In actual practice it was realized that the law laid down in Hidayah (guidance) and Fatwa-i-Alangiri was mostly conflicting, confusing and incompatible. In each case the interpretation of law depended on the Quzi who presided over the court.

Hidayah is an Arabic word meaning "guidance". According to Islamic belief, guidance has been provided by Allah to humans primarily in the form of the Qur'an. Fatawa-e-Alamgiri is a compilation of law created at instance of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (who was also known as 'Alamgir)

Unscientific classification The inherent defect of Mohammedan criminal law was the in its conception and classification of crimes were these kinds a. Crimes against god b. against the state c. against private individuals

No distinction between private and public Law This weakness of Mohammandan law was sufficient to encourage many persons to commit murders.
Blood money and pardon (forgive guilty party) The law of Diya or blood-money was also highly unscientific in the interests of the society.

The Mohammadan law made no distinction between crime and tort. No distinction between murder and homicide
The punishment for these offences were also very severe by the Mohammadan law confused sin and crime. Mutilation, Tusheer or public exposure and beating of females were other severe punishments and common for minor offences under Muslim Criminal law.

Irrational law Evidence


The law of evidence, under Muslim criminal law was also very technical, defective and unsatisfactory. Ex: Evidence of two women was regarded as being equal to that of one man. Evidence must be direct (i.e. eye witness and not circumstantial) and murder the evidence of a woman was inadmissible. It led to corruption, bribery and injustice.

Reforms by English administration First interference with Mohammedan criminal came in 1772 when Warren Hastings changed the existing law regarded dacoity to suppress the robbers and dacoits. To regulate the machinery of justice in Bengal, Warren Hastings prepared plans and introduced reforms in 1772, 1774, 1780 and 1781 respectively. From 1772-1790 no special effect was made to change the Modammadan criminal law.