Al-Maidah · Juz 6 · Qur'an Tafseer

Lessons from Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 4

From this ayah we learn:

– the love and desire that the Sahabah radhiAllahu ‘anhum had for acquiring knowledge whereas our condition is that when we don’t know something, we don’t bother checking or seeking knowledge.

– the matter of deciding what’s haram and halal exclusively rests with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam didn’t have the authority to make anything haram or halal. In this ayah, the question was put to the Prophet but Allah ssubhanahu wa ta’ala replied to it. Therefore, we cannot call anything haram or halal on our own, we have to look at the authentic evidence. We have to be very careful about passing judgments. If you disagree or have doubt don’t term something as haram without evidence.

– whatever Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has made for us is good for us. He created us, He knows our bodies, what He has made lawful is Nafey meaning beneficial. Similarly, whatever He has prohibited there’s some logical hikmah [wisdom] behind it.

– an animal caught by a hunting animal is halal provided the animal caught is halal in itself. The conditions which make this halal are:

1. The animal must be trained and disciplined to hunt.

2. You must have said Basmallah before  sending the animal. If you forget to say Basmallah, the animal becomes haram even if it’s a halal animal otherwise.

3. The animal must not eat from the prey. If it eats this means the hunting animal was hungry. It also means that it was not trained to hunt, (as we learn from the hadeeth of Rasoolullah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam]). This portrays the kindness and mercy Islam has even for animals.

4. The hunting animal must have wounded the animal either with its claws or its teeth. If it slams the animal against something and the prey dies, this becomes haram because this comes under مَوْقُوذَةُ [Animal killed by a violent blow]. For example, the animal catches the prey with its teeth and hits it on a rock and the prey dies. Or the hunting animal is catching the prey and there is water nearby [a lake or a river]. The prey jumps in the water and dies. This becomes unlawful.

5. Whatever tool is used for hunting the animal must tear through its skin so that the blood flows out whether it’s an arrow, a knife or a bullet. Similarly, a hunting animal’s claws and teeth leave a mark or tear through the prey’s skin.

6. If another animal joins the hunting animal and grabs the prey, the food becomes unlawful because now a doubt has risen. We don’t know who caught the prey first. And since we only said Basmallah for our trained dog, we don’t know if the animal was sent by another person who said Basmallah or not. We don’t know whether that animal came on its own. Due to doubt, we will have to give up this food.

7. If when you reach near the prey and find it still alive, you have to slaughter it. If however, the prey has died, you have to look for a tear mark on its skin.

– We learn the virtue of acquiring ilm. A prey caught by a “trained dog” is lawful, but a prey caught by an untrained dog is unlawful. Even in animals training makes the difference, so how much difference will there be between a human being who acquires knowledge and the one to whom it doesn’t matter? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah az-Zumar ayah 9 “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?”

– We learn about the Barakah of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. When we mention Basmallah the food becomes halal, when we don’t say Basmallah before catching or slaughtering the animal, even halal food becomes haram. If a person shoots an arrow and later recalls he didn’t say Basmallah, then that food is wasted. It is haram now because Basmallah was not pronounced.

– At the end of this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us to stay humble. He cuts off any chances of associating our success or accomplishment to ourselves. We were able to train a hunting animal because of the favor of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. If He had not allowed this we would not have ever managed. (May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala prevent us from arrogance, pride and thinking too high of ourselves, ameen).

– It is a great mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to allow us to eat from that which a hunting animal catches. Not everyone lives in a city where there are halal meat shops. People living in the countryside or places such as the Arctic Ocean have to hunt animals and then eat. If a halal animal is standing 1 mile away from you, you can’t run and catch it and then slaughter it. The animal will run away, we can’t catch up with an animal’s speed, therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala provided a relaxation here that we can send a trained hunting animal after it.

– This ayah also indicates that we should be careful about food regarding what we eat and how we eat. We will be questioned in the Hereafter regarding wastage of food. Similarly, some people hunt only for sports, fun or entertainment and not for food. They then leave the poor animal in the open land to rot and become poisonous for others. We are also forbidden from treating an animal harshly, we will be accountable in the Hereafter.

Exercise caution as much as you can.


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