Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran,
‘O you who believe, retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain, the free for the free, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female but if any remission is made to anyone by his (aggrieved) brother then prosecution (for the blood wit) should be made according to the usage; and payment should be made to him in a good manner, this is an alleviation from your lord and a mercy so whoever exceeds the limits after this shall have a painful chastisement’. (TMQ-2:178)
During the period of Jahilliyah, lawlessness and indiscipline was rampant in the society. Therefore, the powerful tribes used to inflict injustice upon the weaker tribes in whatever way they wished. One form of injustice and cruelty that prevailed during those times was that if a man from a powerful tribe got killed then, in retaliation, his tribesmen used to kill not only the murderer from the weaker tribe but many other of his tribesmen. In some cases, the powerful tribe used to take revenge of the murder by wiping out the entire tribe of the murderer. Islam brought to an end this injustice. In the verse 2:178, Allah (swt) put to an end this cruelty, injustice and barbarism and said that it is only the murder who is supposed to be killed in revenge. If the murderer is a freeman then the same freeman, if the murderer is a slave then the same slave and if the murderer is a woman then the same woman will be killed in revenge. The unfair custom of killing a slave instead of a freeman, a woman instead of a man or many men instead of a single man was thus brought to an end. This means that if a man kills a woman then it is the man who will be killed in revenge and not some woman. To put it simply, just the murderer can be killed according to the Islamic law and not some other innocent people, as was prevalent during the Jahilliyah period.
In case the victim’s heirs pardon the murderer to obtain Allah (swt)’s Goodwill or in return of financial compensation, then the murderer is expected to pay the money to the victim’s heirs respectfully. Since the victim’s heirs oblige the murderer by pardoning him so it is enjoined upon the murderer to oblige the victim’s heirs too.
This verse lays down the law of equal retaliation in a clear cut manner. Hence, if someone transgresses the limits set by this verse and kills the murderer even after the matter regarding the compensation money has been settled or the money has already been taken then this will be considered to be a punishable offence in the Eyes of Allah (swt).
So in light if this verse, we can conclude that Islam brought about a positive change in the society and it put to an end the barbarism, through its perfect laws.
We, as Muslims should be proud of the fact that not only are the Quranic rulings perfect and fair but the justice dispensed by the Islamic lawyers, attorneys and judges is swift, economical and fair as compared to the western courts where there are often long-drawn battles in the courts.