The 40th call: Prohibition of Killing Games in a State of Ihram

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Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “O you who have believed, do not kill game while you are in the state of ihram. And whoever of you kills it intentionally - the penalty is an equivalent from sacrificial animals to what he killed, as judged by two just men among you as an offering [to Allah ] delivered to the Ka'bah, or an expiation: the feeding of needy people or the equivalent of that in fasting, that he may taste the consequence of his deed. Allah has pardoned what is past; but whoever returns [to violation], then Allah will take retribution from him. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Owner of Retribution. Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travelers, but forbidden to you is game from the land as long as you are in the state of ihram. And fear Allah to whom you will be gathered.” (Al-Ma’idah: 95-96)

 

Allah prohibits land-games when the Muslim is in a state of Ihram. He forbids the believer to hunt or kill games intentionally. Whoever kills a game intentionally in a state of Ihram has to give an equivalent for what he killed (if the animal he killed has an equivalent in the domestic animals). This should be judged by two just men (some of them ruled to slaughter a he-goat as a penalty for killing a deer). Whoever has to pay this penalty should bring the equivalent to slaughter at the Ka'bah and give the meat to the poor. If the one in a state of Ihram could not find an equivalent to the animal he killed, or if the killed animal did not have a match, then there are several choices:

 

A- To estimate the killed game and estimate the price of the equivalent in the place where the hunting took place or the nearest place, then the one in a state of Ihram should buy food with the estimated price and give it to the needy and poor in the al-Haram (Sacred Mosque).

 

B- To feed the poor, their number may differ according to the importance of the killed game. It was said that who killed a deer, should slaughter a sheep. If he cannot afford it, then he should fast for three days. If he kills an ostrich or a zebra, then he should slaughter a camel, and if he cannot find or afford then he should feed thirty people of the needy.

 

C- If he cannot find or afford feeding the needy, then he should fast days as a penalty.

 

 

Fasting varies from three days for killing the deer to thirty days for killing the ostrich or zebra. (The one in state of Ihram should fast a day for feeding each needy person).

Almighty Allah says that He obligates this expiation so that the violator who committed this sin may taste (the consequence of his deed).

The Prophetic tradition added killing the game by accident to the intentional killing as they both require expiation, yet the one who did the killing by accident carries no sin for what he did.

 

Almighty Allah pardoned them for what happened in the past when they killed games in a state of Ihram before the revelation of this prohibition in the Qur’an and before the people are notified by this prohibition. Whoever goes back to this violation, Almighty Allah will take retribution from him. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Capable of Retribution against the disobedient.

 

The pro­hi­bi­tion ap­plies to killing game de­lib­er­ate­ly when a per­son is in the state of conse­cra­tion, or Ihram. 

 

If a game an­imal is killed by ac­ci­dent, the per­son in a state of Ihram nei­ther in­curs a sin nor has to give any com­pen­sa­tion (scholars have different religious opinions in that regard). For de­lib­er­ate killing, the com­pen­sa­tion is an of­fer­ing of cat­tle or oth­er animals’ equiv­alent to the game he has killed. Thus, if a per­son in a state of Ihram kills a deer, the com­pen­sa­tion may be an of­fer­ing of a sheep or a goat; for a camel, a cow or an ox is ap­pro­pri­ate; for an os­trich or a gi­raffe or a sim­ilar­ly large animal, a camel may be of­fered; for a rab­bit or a cat the of­fer­ing may be a rab­bit. What has no equiv­alent among an­imals how­ev­er, an of­fer­ing of its cash val­ue is ac­cept­able in com­pen­sa­tion.

 

The com­pen­sa­tion is ad­judged by two Mus­lim men of pro­bity. Should they rule that a par­tic­ular type of an­imal be slaugh­tered, that an­imal is set loose un­til it reach­es the Ka'bah where it is slaugh­tered and giv­en to the poor to eat. If such an an­imal is not avail­able, the ar­biters may rule that the com­pen­sa­tion be giv­en in the form of food given to the poor, pro­vid­ed that its quan­ti­ty is equiv­alent to the val­ue of ei­ther the animal to be slaugh­tered or the game an­imal killed. If the of­fend­er who has to make this com­pen­sa­tion can­not af­ford this, he should fast a num­ber of days to be de­cid­ed as fair com­pen­sa­tion. To do so, the val­ue of the an­imal is first es­ti­mat­ed, and then the num­ber of poor peo­ple that could be fed by this amount is de­ter­mined. He fasts one day for every poor per­son. As for how much mon­ey is suf­fi­cient to feed one poor per­son, this is a mat­ter on which schol­ars have dif­fered. How­ev­er, it can­not be a fixed sum, as it dif­fers ac­cord­ing to place, time and con­di­tions. The verse states the pur­pose of this compensation: “…that he may taste the consequence of his deed.” (Verse: 95)

 

The re­quire­ment of com­pen­sa­tion im­plies pun­ish­ment. The of­fence is a breach of a strict pro­hi­bi­tion. Hence, it can­not be left un­pun­ished. How­ev­er, Allah makes it clear that He has for­giv­en of­fences of the past, but He threat­ens those who do not de­sist from com­mit­ting such vi­ola­tions with se­vere pun­ish­ment: “Allah has pardoned what is past; but whoever returns [to violation], then Allah will take retribution from him. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Owner of Retribution.” (Verse 95) Thus, if the killer of game wants to boast of his hunt­ing abil­ity by killing game an­imals which Allah wants to en­joy se­cu­ri­ty in the vicin­ity where all are se­cure, he should know that it is Allah who is almighty and who ex­acts ret­ri­bu­tion. All this ap­plies to hunt­ing on land. Fish­ing, on the oth­er hand, is per­mis­si­ble in all sit­ua­tions: “Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travelers...” (Verse 96) This means that all types of water an­imals are per­mis­si­ble to catch and use for food whether a per­son is in the state of Ihram or not. With this men­tion of the per­mis­si­bil­ity of wa­ter-​game and food from the sea, the verse re­states the pro­hi­bi­tion of killing game on land dur­ing the time of Ihram: “…but forbidden to you is game from the land as long as you are in the state of ihram.” (Verse 96)

 

All schol­ars are unan­imous that killing an­imal game is for­bid­den for any per­son in Ihram. How­ev­er, schol­ars have dif­fer­ing views as to the per­mis­si­bil­ity of eat­ing game, should the an­imal be killed by an­oth­er per­son who is not in Ihram. More­over, schol­ars dis­agree as to the ref­er­ent of the term “game” as used in this verse: does it ap­ply on­ly to an­imals that are nor­mal­ly pur­sued as game; or does the pro­hi­bi­tion ap­ply to all an­imals, including those which are not nor­mal­ly con­sid­ered game and are not re­ferred to as game. These rules of per­mis­si­bil­ity and pro­hi­bi­tion are con­clud­ed with a state­ment that ap­peals to the be­liev­ers’ sense of fear­ing Allah and re­minds us of the Day of Judg­ment and the reck­on­ing; we will then have to face: “And fear Allah to whom you will be gathered.” (Verse 96)

 

It is per­haps per­ti­nent to ask about the pur­pose be­hind these pro­hi­bi­tion rules. Well, Allah wish­es to pro­vide a se­cu­ri­ty zone for mankind, where they seek refuge from life’s wor­ries. This zone is rep­re­sent­ed by the Ka'bah, al-Masjid al-Haram (the In­vi­olable House of Wor­ship), and the sa­cred months. They of­fer a haven of peace in the midst of the rag­ing bat­tle be­tween those in com­bat through life, re­gard­less of their race and ethnic ori­gin. Their de­sires, am­bi­tions and needs con­tin­ue to fu­el their strug­gle, but this se­cu­ri­ty zone beck­ons to them so that it may sub­sti­tute re­as­sur­ance for their wor­ries, love for con­flict, broth­er­hood and se­cu­ri­ty for hos­til­ity and fear. What is more is that such con­cepts are not con­fined to the realm of the­ories and ide­als; peo­ple are giv­en prac­ti­cal train­ing in re­al life to grab such feel­ings and main­tain them. Thus, they are seen as a re­al­ity, not mere words and vi­sions that have no bear­ing on re­al life.

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