Maliks Muwatta Book 44, Hadith Number 2A.

Section : Beginning With the People Seeking Blood Revenge in the Oath.

Yahya said from Malik from Yahya ibn Said that Bushayr ibn Yasar informed him that Abdullah ibn Sahl al-Ansari and Muhayyisa ibn Masud went out to Khaybar, and they separated on their various businesses and Abdullah ibn Sahl was killed. Muhayyisa, and his brother Huwayyisa and Abd ar-Rahman ibn Sahl went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and Abd ar-Rahman began to speak before his brother. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The older first, the older first.

Therefore Huwayyisa and then Muhayyisa spoke and mentioned the affair of Abdullah ibn Sahl. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to them, “Do you swear with fifty oaths and claim the blood-money of your companion or the life of the murderer?” They said, “Messenger of Allah, we did not see it and we were not present.” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Will you acquit the jews for fifty oaths?’ They said, “Messenger of Allah, how can we accept the oaths of a people who are kafirun?”

Yahya ibn Said said, “Bushayr ibn Yasar claimed that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, paid the blood-money from his own property.”

Malik said, “The generally agreed on way of doing things in our community and that which I heard from whoever I am content with, concerning the oath of qasama, and upon which the past and present imams agree, is that those who claim revenge begin with the oaths and swear. The oath for revenge is only obligatory in two situations. Either the slain person says, ‘My blood is against so-and-so,’ or the relatives entitled to the blood bring a partial proof of it that is not irrefutable against the one who is the object of the blood-claim. This obliges taking an oath on the part of those who claim the blood against those who are the object of the blood-claim. With us, swearing is only obliged in these two situations.”

Malik said, “That is the sunna in which there is no dispute with us and which is still the behaviour of the people. The people who claim blood begin the swearings, whether it is an intentional killing or an accident.”

Malik said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, began with Banu Harith in the case of the killing of their kinsman murdered at Khaybar.”

Malik said, “If those who make the claim swear, they deserve the blood of their kinsman and whoever they swear against is slain. Only one man can be killed in the qasama. Two cannot be killed in it. Fifty men from the blood-relatives must swear fifty oaths. If their number is less or some of them draw back, they can repeat their oaths, unless one of the relatives of the murdered man who deserves blood and who is permitted to pardon it, draws back. If one of these draws back, there is no way to revenge.”

Yahya said that Malik said, “The oaths can be made by those of them who remain if one of them draws back who is not permitted to pardon. If one of the blood-relatives draws back who is permitted to pardon, even if he is only one, more oaths can not be made after that by the blood-relatives. If that occurs, the oaths can be on behalf of the one against whom the claim is made. So fifty of the men of his people swear fifty oaths. If there are not fifty men, more oaths can be made by those of them who already swore. If there is only the defendant, he swears fifty oaths and is acquitted.”

Yahya said that Malik said, “One distinguishes between swearing for blood and oaths for one’s rights. When a man has a money-claim against another man, he seeks to verify his due. When a man wants to kill another man, he does not kill him in the midst of people. He keeps to a place away from people. Had there only been swearing in cases where there is a clear proof and had one acted in it as one acts about one’s rights (i.e. needing witnesses), the right of blood retribution would have been lost and people would have been swift to take advantage of it when they learned of the decision on it. However, the relatives of the murdered man were allowed to initiate swearing so that people might restrain themselves from blood and the murderer might beware lest he was put into a situation like that (i.e. qasama) by the statement of the murdered man.'”

Yahya said, “Malik said about a people of whom a certain number are suspected of murder and the relatives of the murdered man ask them to take oaths and they are numerous, so they ask that each man swears fifty oaths on his own behalf. The oaths are not divided out between them according to their number and they are not acquitted unless each man among them swears fifty oaths on his own behalf.”

Malik said, “This is the best I have heard about the matter.”

He said, “Swearing goes to the paternal relatives of the slain. They are the blood-relatives who swear against the killer and by whose swearing he is killed.”