Arabic qatl. Homicide of which Muslim law takes cognisance is of five kinds: (1) Qatlu ‘l-‘Amd:
(2) Qatl shibhu ‘l-Amd; (3) Qatlu ‘l-Khata; (4) Qatl qa’im maqama ‘l Kahata; (5) Qatl bi-Sahab.
(1) Qatlu ‘l-‘Amd قتل العمد, or willful murder,” is where the perpetrator willfully kills a person with a weapon, or something that serves for a weapon, such as a club, a sharp stone, or fire. If a person commit willful murder, two points are established: first, that the murderer is a sinner deserving of hell, for it is written in the Qur’an (Surah iv. 95), “Whosoever slayeth a believer purposely, his reward is hell”; and secondly, that he is liable to retaliation, because it is written in the Qur’an (Surah ii. 173), “It is incumbent on you to execute retaliation (Qisas) for murder.” But although retaliation is the punishment for willful murder, still the heir or next of kin can either forgive or compound the offence; as the verse already quoted continues —” Yet he who is pardoned at all by his brother must be prosecuted in reason, and made to pay with kindness. In this respect Muhammad departed from the Old Testament law, which made the retaliation compulsory on the next of kin.
One effect of willful murder is that the murderer is excluded from being heir to the murdered person.
According to Abu Hanifah there is no expiation for willful murder but ash-Shafi’i maintains that expiation is incumbent as an act of piety.
(2) Qatl shiblu’ l-‘Amd قتل شبل العمدor “manslaughter.” or, as Hamilton more correctly renders it, “A semblance of willful murder, is when the perpetrator strike a man with something which is neither a weapon nor serves as such.”
The argument adduced by Abu Hanifah is a saying of the Prophet: “Killing with a rod or stick is not murder, but only manslaughter, the fine for it is a hundred camels, payable within three years.”
Manslaughter is held to be sinful and to require expiation, and it excludes the manslayer from inheriting the property of the slain.
(3)Qatlu ‘l’Khata’ قتل الخطا, or “homicide by misadventure,” is of two kinds: error in intention, and error in the act. Error in the act in where a person intends a particular act, and another act is thereby occasioned; as where, for instance, a person shoots an arrow at a mark and it hits a man. Error in intention, on the other hand, is where the mistake occurs not in the act, but with respect to the subject; as where a person shoots an arrow at a man supposing him to be game; or at a Muslim, supposing him to be a hostile infidel. The slayer by misadventure is required to free a Muslim slave, or fast two months successively, and to pay a fine within three years. He is also excluded from inheriting the property of the slain.
(4)Qatl qa’im maqamq ‘l-Khata قتل قاىم مقام الخطا, or “homicide of a similar nature to homicide by misadventure,” is where, for example a person walking in his sleep falls upon another, so as to kill him by the fall. It is subject to the same rule as homicide by misadventure.
(1) Qatl bi-Sabab قتل بسبب or, homicide by intermediate cause,” is where, for instance, a man digs a well, or sets up a stone, and another falls into the well, or over the stone, and dies. In this case a fine must be paid, but it does not exclude from inheritance, nor does it require expiation.
No special mention is made in either the Qur’an or in Muslim law books, of taking the life by poison. (The same remark applies to the Mosaic law. See Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, Article “Murder.”)
According to Abu Hanifah, a Muslim is put to death for killing an unbeliever, but ash-Shafi’i maintains otherwise, because the Prophet said, “A Muslim shall not suffer death for an unbeliever.”
If a person immerses another into water whence it is impossible for him to escape by swimming, according to Abu Hanifah retaliation is not incurred, but ash Shafi’i maintains that the murderer should be drowned.
Al-Baizawi the commentator in writing on Surah ii. 174, “This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy,” says that in the Jewish law retaliation for murder was compulsory, but in the law of Christians were enjoined to forgive the murderer whilst in the Qur’an the choice is given of either retaliation or forgiveness.
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam