Forgiveness and Restorative Justice in Islam and the West: A Comparative Analysis
Keywords:Restorative justice, Retributive justice, Islamic criminal law, forgiveness, Qisas, ta'zir
Restorative justice, as a viable alternative to retributive justice, emerged in the West during the 1970s and 1980s. It emphasises respect, dialogue, and collaborative decision-making. This study explains the principles of the restorative justice system and describes various Islamic principles and values akin to restorative justice. Such a study is warranted by the fact that the compatibility of restorative justice with Islamic principles and values is under-researched in the social sciences and humanities. This study, based on primary sources and case studies, found that Islam encourages amicable settlement of disputes through mediation and arbitration while ensuring justice, fairness, and equity in all situations. Similar to restorative justice, Islamic principles emphasise respect, honour and dignity, and mutual obligations and responsibilities in righting wrong. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his successors applied these principles, and such a system continues to be practised in certain small villages in contemporary Muslim societies. However, unlike Western restorative justice, Islam places particular emphasis on forgiveness as a value, thus limiting the cycle of retribution and retaliation detrimental to society. Islam considers forgiveness as a great virtue that brings forth gratitude, heals broken relationships, and establishes peace at individual and social levels. Islam aims at constructing a just society which empowers victims, offenders, and the community. Unlike the Western concept of restorative justice, the shariah incorporates elements of restorative justice with a heavy emphasis on forgiveness, with or without an apology.
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