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The forgotten sunnah practice of Ghurrah (Diya) for aborted fetuses

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

أَخْبَرَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادٌ، عَنْ عَمْرٍو، عَنْ طَاوُسٍ، أَنَّ عُمَرَ، اسْتَشَارَ النَّاسَ فِي الْجَنِينِ فَقَالَ حَمَلُ بْنُ مَالِكٍ قَضَى رَسُولُ

اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي الْجَنِينِ غُرَّةً ‏.‏ قَالَ طَاوُسٌ إِنَّ الْفَرَسَ غُرَّةٌ ‏.‏

Hamal bin Malik said: "The Messenger of Allah ruled that a slave (should be given as Diyah) for a fetus." Tawus said: "A horse would do in place of a slave."

Sunan an-Nasa'i 4816

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ بِشْرٍ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو، عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَضَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي الْجَنِينِ بِغُرَّةٍ عَبْدٍ أَوْ أَمَةٍ فَقَالَ الَّذِي قُضِيَ عَلَيْهِ أَنَعْقِلُ مَنْ لاَ شَرِبَ وَلاَ أَكَلْ وَلاَ صَاحَ وَلاَ اسْتَهَلّ وَمِثْلُ ذَلِكَ يُطَلّ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ إِنَّ هَذَا لَيَقُولُ بِقَوْلِ شَاعِرٍ فِيهِ غُرَّةٌ عَبْدٌ أَوْ أَمَةٌ ‏"‏ ‏.‏

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ruled concerning a fetus that (the blood money) was a slave, male and female. The one against whom this verdict was passed said: ' Should we pay blood money for one who neither ate, drunk, shouted, nor cried, (at the moment of birth)? One such as this should be overlooked .' The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: 'This man speaks like a poet. (But the blood money for a fetus is) a slave, male, or female.'”

Sunan Ibn Majah 2639

There are many more ahadith on the topic of Janeen Uqtallu Fee Batni Ummihi - a fetus killed in the womb of its mother. In every case, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) imposed the blood money (called Ghurrah for fetuses) of a slave.

Studying the Prophet Muhammad's sayings on this website has a complete list of who this Ghurrah will be payable to however the important point to remember is that there is a Ghurrah - a blood money, an expiation, an atonement, a Kuffarah, a recognition that a life was taken. An atonement is ALWAYS for something wrong a person does.

For those that argue that no crime was done before the baby was 'ensouled' at 40 days or 120 days would note that our great Prophet Muhammad (saw) made NO SUCH DISTINCTION for the fetuses for which he issued commandments. Killing of 'ensouled' fetuses has ramifications on two important practices of Aqeeqah and Janazah - but NONE on the Kuffarah. If a fetus was aborted - a crime was commited - offer the blood money equivalent to slave.

But what now - we don't own slaves. Here is where analogy can be drawn to a similar punishment given for manslaughter in verse 4:92 of the Quran - I will also reproduce 4:93 here while we are at it:

It is not lawful for a believer to kill another except by mistake. And whoever kills a believer unintentionally must free a believing slave and pay blood-money to the victim’s family—unless they waive it charitably. But if the victim is a believer from a hostile people, then a believing slave must be freed. And if the victim is from a people bound with you in a treaty, then blood-money must be paid to the family along with freeing a believing slave. Those who are unable, let them fast two consecutive months—as a means of repentance to Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. [Quran 4:92]
And whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell—where they will stay indefinitely.1 Allah will be displeased with them, condemn them, and will prepare for them a tremendous punishment. [Quran 4:93]

We can see in the verse [4:92] that when a believer is killed by mistake, 1) a believing slave has to be freed PLUS blood-money (Diya) is paid. It's a little different for the aborted fetus where the value of the slave is the blood-money (Ghurrah) ONLY.

However 4:92 and 4:93 also alerts us to something else:

a) For those that could not afford a believing slave, could fast for two consecutive months. We can also note from Quran (58:4) that who can't fast for two months can feed 60 people.

b) the verse 4:92 refers to un-intentional killing but abortion is intentional killing. It reminds us that although the Prophet Muhammad (saw) made it a mercy of imposing Ghurrah for aborted fetuses - intentionally killed babies - but Allah reminds us in 4:93 that when a believer takes a life of another believer willfully, Allah is displeased with them immensely.

Those that have aborted - please calculate your Ghurrahs and abstain from aborting more. Abortion is a moral crime and that's why the Prophet Muhammad (saw) imposed a fine. Please remember insha'Allah!


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