Prohibited Hunting in the Sacred Area
This ayah was revealed in regards to the journey of the Sahabahs radhiAllahu anhum with the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam from Madina to Makkah in order to perform Umrah. This is when the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah was made.
يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَيَبْلُوَنَّكُمُ اللَّهُ بِشَىْءٍ مِّنَ الصَّيْدِ تَنَالُهُ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَرِمَـحُكُمْ لِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ مَن يَخَافُهُ بِالْغَيْبِ
“O you who believe! Allah will certainly make a trial for you with something in the game that is well within reach of your hands and spears lances, that Allah may test who fears Him in the unseen.”
The journey of Umrah is a peaceful journey because it is a journey of Ibaadah. Things which are permissible otherwise are not permissible in a state of ehraam, such as cutting of nails and hair, any kind of relationship with the husband and his wife. Now, the focus is on the purpose of undertaking this journey.
When a person tries to do something good he is tested. For example, the Salah. When we stand up for Salah our mind is drifted towards all directions.
In a state of Umrah, a person is not allowed to hunt. The place where the Sahabahs were camping there were wild animals and birds which could be caught by hand. They could shoot the spear and easily catch the animal. But they were not allowed to catch. Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, He will definitely test us. He made the life to gauge what we will do in different situations. What will we do in a situation where committing a crime is possible? What will we do in a situation where committing a sin is easy? Every situation is a test to determine who does good and who falls for his desires; who obeys Allah and who disobeys Him.
Sometimes these tests are obvious and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes they are external and sometimes they are internal; we have to fight with our nafs. Sometimes these tests are huge we find it impossible to pass them and sometimes they are small.
In our Deen, hunting is not permissible as a sport. One can only hunt for the purpose of eating it. So while the Sahabahs were camping there were some animals that were so close by that they could catch them by their hands. And some were distant but they could be caught by a spear. This was a test from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to see who will fear Him in the unseen.
What does it mean by fearing Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in the unseen?
It means that fearing Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala when he is alone and other people cannot watch him. it also means that while we cannot see Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Praying with full khushu despite the fact that we cannot see Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. A person cannot see Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala yet he fears Him. We fear people more than Allah. When we are in a crowd we cannot dare to commit a crime or a sin. But when we are alone we don’t mind our conduct. We should fear Allah and not the people.
This is how the obedience of those who obey Allah in public and secret becomes apparent and tested. In Surah Yaseen, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said;
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَيْبِ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ
“Verily! Those who fear their Lord in the unseen, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise).”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends this ayah by saying,
فَمَنِ اعْتَدَى بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَلَهُ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
“Then whoever transgresses thereafter, for him there is a painful torment.”
This is a warning and threat for the defiance of Allah’s command, for a person who doesn’t take care about permissible and impermissible after knowing and learning a command.
– How Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala makes it easy for a person to commit a sin. He provides the opportunity and enables him. And this IS the test for the person. Bani Israel were tested with the test of Sabbath Day. They were not allowed to catch fish on Saturday but they ignored the warning.
There may be something that we like, a place, person, food or anything but it’s not permissible. What is our reaction? Let me just touch it or try. But Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says don’t even go near it. During Ramadan we can be tempted to eat but it’s a test for us. We can’t eat it even if no one is watching us. Whenever an opportunity comes we need to evaluate whether we are falling for a sin. On the one hand, the nafs is pulling us and on the other there is the command of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We should submit to the command of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
– A person should be careful when a sin or an act of disobedience is made easy for him. He should hold himself back and not fall for Shaytan’s trap. At such a time, we should remember the story of Yusuf aalyhi salaam. When the woman was calling him, he said, “I seek refuge from Allah.” When a person holds himself back despite the temptation due to the fear of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, he will be rewarded with something better. We read in Saheeh Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim that among the seven who will be under the shade of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position [for illegal intercourse], but he says: “I fear Allah.”[Bukhari Vol.1, p.356, # 629, Muslim Vol.2, p.493, #2248]
– A person should fear Allah even when others are not watching. For example, people don’t watch certain channels when they are sitting with family. They will watch the sports’ channel or the news, but when they are alone in their room they will visit websites that they should not be browsing. We have the fear of people and not of Allah. It is the fear of Allah that holds us back from sin or a bad deed.
– A person who commits a bad act after learning about its impermissibility for him there will be painful punishment. He should abandon all such acts which can take him to the hellfire. This is why Prophet Yusuf said, “O my Lord! The prison is more preferred to me.”
– Anyone who cooperates with another in an act of sin is sinful as well. There are no compromises in deen.
– The one who sticks to the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the one who is going to be successful.
[SOURCE: Tafseer Ibn Katheer and Tafseer Lecture of Taimiyyah Zuberi]