Al-Maidah · Juz 7 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 95

The Penalty of Killing Game in the Sacred Area

In the previous ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala warned us that we will be tested. In the present ayah, He mentions the rulings of hunting and expiation if a person hunts while being in a state of ehram.

يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لاَ تَقْتُلُواْ الصَّيْدَ وَأَنْتُمْ حُرُمٌ

“O you who believe! Kill not game while you are in a state of ehram…”

The word Sayd صَّيْد includes land animals which are wild and do not habitually live close to human beings, but they are halal in nature such as deer, zebra, giraffe and rabbit. Animals which have fangs and hunt other animals are not permissible to eat. Only herbivores are permissible.

A person who has left for pilgrimage is not allowed to hunt these animals while being in a state of ehram because killing game is a form of waste and requires expiation. Those who intentionally killed a hunting animal have sinned.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then explains the penalty for such an act.

وَمَن قَتَلَهُ مِنكُم مُّتَعَمِّداً فَجَزَآءٌ مِّثْلُ مَا قَتَلَ مِنَ النَّعَمِ

“… and whosoever of you kills it intentionally, the penalty is an offering, brought to the Ka`abah, of livestock equivalent to the one he killed…”

The penalty is offering an animal that is similar to the one sacrificed. This animal will be from the grazing livestock. Why? It is because he can’t be expected to go and find another deer in the same area. Therefore, he will sacrifice an animal from the grazing livestock.

The Companions gave rulings that the camel, for instance, is the equivalent of the ostrich, the cow is the equivalent of wild cattle, and the goat for the deer. As for the cases when there is no equivalent for the killed animal, Ibn Abbas radhiAllahu anhu said that one should spend its amount in Makkah (i.e. give charity).

Now the question arises who will judge how much amount is to be given? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala answers this question by saying,

يَحْكُمُ بِهِ ذَوَا عَدْلٍ مِّنْكُمْ هَدْياً بَـلِغَ الْكَعْبَةِ أَوْ كَفَّارَةٌ طَعَامُ مَسَـكِينَ أَو عَدْلُ ذلِكَ صِيَاماً لِّيَذُوقَ وَبَالَ أَمْرِهِ

“…judging it by two just men among you; or, for expiation, he should feed the poor, or its equivalent in fasting, that he may taste the heaviness (punishment) of his deed…”

Adl means justice, steadfastness in deen, having good relations with people i.e. a person who is known for his religiosity and is also known as a good person in general. He performs the faraid and abstains from sins. Two just Muslim men should determine an animal equivalent to the game killed, or the amount of its price.

Ibn Jareer recorded that Abu Jarir Al-Bajali said, “I killed a deer when I was in the state of ehram and mentioned this fact to Umar, who said, `Bring two of your brethren and let them judge you.’ So I went to Abdur-Rahman and Sa`d and they said that I should offer a male sheep.”

Ibn Jareer recorded that Tariq said, “Arbad killed a deer while in the state of ehram and he went to Umar to judge him. Umar said to him, `Let us both judge,’ and they judged that Arbad should offer a goat that was fed on abundant water and grass.”

The sacrificial animal will be slaughtered in the area of haram, and its meat will be divided between the poor of the area. It cannot be slaughtered before it has reached its destination.

If an animal equivalent to that killed cannot be found or the animal hunted is not comparable to anything else then poor people should be fed [it can be any kind of food] or fasting be done. Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn Abbas radhiAllahu anhu commented on the ayah, “If the Muhrim killed game, then his judgment is its equivalent. If he kills an antelope, he offers a sheep slaughtered in Makkah. If he cannot, then he feeds six poor people, otherwise he should fast for three days. If he kills a deer, he offers a cow. If unable, he feeds twenty poor people, or otherwise if unable, he fasts for twenty days. If he kills an ostrich or zebra, he offers a camel, or he feeds thirty poor people, or fasts thirty days.” Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jareer recorded this statement, and in Ibn Jareer’s narration, the food measurement is a Mudd [4 handfuls of food] each that suffices for the poor.

This expiation has been provided so that the person can cleanse himself of the sin that he committed. This expiation will save him from the punishment of the Hereafter.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends this ayah by saying,

عَفَا اللَّهُ عَمَّا سَلَف وَمَنْ عَادَ فَيَنْتَقِمُ اللَّهُ مِنْهُ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ ذُو انْتِقَامٍ

“Allah has forgiven what is past, but whosoever commits it again, Allah will take retribution from him. And Allah is Almighty, All-Able of Retribution.”

Sins committed during the time of ignorance are forgiven. When one enters the fold of Islam and gains knowledge then he must follow Allah’s commands all the while avoiding the sin. However, who repeats the same sins after gaining knowledge Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will take retribution. He is Invincible and Controller of everything. None can resist Him, or stop Him from punishing anyone. All creation is His creation and the decision is His, His is the might, and His is the control. He punishes those who disobey Him.

LESSONS:

– We learn about prohibition of hunting in the state of ehraam.

– Hunting in the state of ehram goes against emaan because the ayah begins with, “O you who believe.”

– Not hunting in ehram perfects emaan. When a person leaves haram or an act of disobedience it strengthens his emaan. A person can

[SOURCE: Tafseer of Ibn Katheer, and tafseer lecture of Taimiyyah Zuberi]

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