Why blood money is spread over three years

In a fiqh lesson last week, someone asked why the Shafiis (and others) say that the reduced blood money [diyah mukhafafah] is spread over three years. This issue is discussed in The Ultimate Conspectus and The Accessible Conspectus at the end of the first section of chapter 10.

The reasoning presented in Kifayat al-akhyar is as follows:

As for the blood money being paid over three years: This has been conveyed from Umar, Ali, Ibn Umar and Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them). Imam al-Shafii (may Allah grant him His mercy) said that he was not aware of any disagreement related to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) judging that the extended family [aqilah] pays the blood money over three years. If clear evidence [from the Prophet (peace be upon him)] has been conveyed related to this – as Imam al-Shafii mentioned – then there is nothing else to say. Otherwise, Umar, Ali, Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) acted according to this without anyone objecting – making it a matter of consensus – and they would never have done this without basing it on a prophetic practice.

One objects that Ibn al-Mundhir said, “we scholars do not know of a basis for Imam al-Shafii’s opinion,” or that Imam Ahmad, when asked about this, said, “I do not know anything to support it.” The response is that one who does know is proof over one who does not – so how could this rebut Imam al-Shafii’s opinion… especially seeing how he [among] the most knowledgable people when it comes to reports and history related to these things.

And Allah knows best.

Other Shafii scholars repeat the same argument. It is the same one I present from Ibn Mulaqqin in The Evident Memorandum:

It is reported that payment over three years agrees with the practice of Umar, Ali, Ibn Umar, and [Ibn] Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them all). No one objected to it, so there is a consensus. Also, they (may Allah be pleased with them) would not have held that opinion in a matter such as this without them knowing it from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Imam al-Shafii (may Allah grant him His mercy) said, “I do not know of anything contradicting that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ decided that blood money is owed by the aqilah [the perpetrator’s male relatives] and paid over three years.”

And Allah knows best.

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