Al-Maidah · Juz 7 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 96

Water Game is Allowed for Muhrim

In this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says that eating of sea animals is permissible. These are those animals which are born in water and that is where they live.

أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ صَيْدُ الْبَحْرِ وَطَعَامُهُ مَتَـعاً لَّكُمْ وَلِلسَّيَّارَةِ

“Lawful to you is water game and its use for food — for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel…”

Why are the Muhrim allowed to do fishing? It is because the sea journey is longer than land. One can only take a limited provision especially when the boat is not too big or there is no storage facility. This shows us the ease in our Deen.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Al-Lateef, He takes care of the finest details.

The word Sayd صَيْدُ has been used for those animals which are alive when you catch them. The word Ta’aam وَطَعَامُهُ  on the other hand means those animals which are caught dead. Ibn Abbas radhiAllahu anhu said, “It refers to what the water throws ashore dead.” Therefore sea animals, alive or dead both are permissible.

The word Siyara is used for the people who are traveling. So sea animals are permissible for those who are traveling through the sea and those who are traveling along it.

Imam Malik bin Anas recorded that Jabir bin Abdullah radhiAllahu anhu said, “Allah’s Messenger sent an army towards the east coast and appointed Abu Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah as their commander, and the army consisted of three hundred men, including myself. We marched on until we reached a place where our food was about to finish. Abu Ubaydah ordered us to collect all the food for our journey, and it was collected in two bags of dates. Abu Ubaydah kept on giving us our daily ration in small amounts from it, until it was exhausted. The share of each of us used to be one date only.” I (one of the narrators from Jabir) said, “How could one date suffice for you?” Jabir replied, “We came to know its value when even that finished.”

Malik recorded that Abu Hurayrah radhiAllahu anhu said, “A man asked Allah’s Messenger, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! We go to sea and carry little water with us. If we use it for Wudu, we get thirsty, so should we use seawater for Wudu?” The Messenger of Allah said,

هُوَ الطَّهُورُ مَاؤُهُ الْحِلُّ مَيْتَتُه

“Its water is pure and its dead are lawful.” The two Imams, Ash-Shafi`i and Ahmad bin Hanbal, recorded this hadeeth, along with the Four Sunan compilers. Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban graded it Sahih. This Hadith was also recorded from the Prophet by several other Companions.

Moving ahead, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala again reminds us of the prohibition to eat land animals in a state of ehram,

وَحُرِّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ صَيْدُ الْبَرِّ مَا دُمْتُمْ حُرُماً

“…but forbidden is land game as long as you are in a state of ehram…”

As we learned previously, if someone who is in the state of ehram hunts, he will have to pay expiation, along with the sin he earns if he does it intentionally. If he hunts by mistake, he will have to pay the expiation and is not allowed to eat from it, because this type of game is just like dead animals, be he a Muhrim or a non-Muhrim. If someone who is not in the state of ehram hunts and gives the food to a Muhrim, the Muhrim is not allowed to eat from its meat if it was killed for him in particular.

As-Sa`b bin Jaththamah said that he gave a zebra as a gift to the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam in the area of Waddan or Abwa the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam gave it back. When the Prophet saw the effect of his returning the gift on As-Sa`b’s face, he said,

إِنَّا لَمْ نَرُدَّهُ عَلَيْكَ إِلَّا أَنَّا حُرُم

“We only gave it back to you because we are in a state of ehram.” This hadeeth was collected in the two saheehs. The Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam thought that As-Sa`b hunted the zebra for him, and this is why he refused to take it. Otherwise, the Muhrim is allowed to eat from the game if one who is not in ehram hunts it. For when Abu Qatadah hunted a zebra when he was not a Muhrim and offered it to those who were in the state of ehram, they hesitated to eat from it. They asked the Messenger of Allah and he said,

هَلْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ أَحَدٌ أَشَارَ إِلَيْهَا أَوْ أَعَانَ فِي قَتْلِهَا

“Did any of you point at it or help kill it?” They said, “No.” He said,


“Then eat.” and he also ate from it. This hadeeth is also in the two saheehs with various wordings.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then concludes this ayah by saying,

وَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ الَّذِى إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ

“…And have Taqwa of Allah to Whom you shall be gathered back.”

Allah says, fear Allah, O people, and beware of His might, by obeying what He commands you and avoiding what He prohibits for you in these Ayat revealed to your Prophet. These Ayat forbid Khamr, gambling, Al-Ansab and Al-Azlam, along with hunting land game and killing it while in the state of ehram. To Allah will be your return and destination, and He will punish you for disobeying Him and will reward you for obeying Him.


– We learn about the permissibility of hunting sea animals i.e. fishing. it is permissible to eat both in a state of ehram and while not being in state of ehram.

– We also learn about the permissibility of eating all sea animals whether it’s a small fish or big, dead or alive, and regardless of their shape and form. Now here the condition is that this animal shouldn’t be able to survive when taken out of water for example, crocodiles, frogs, seals, crabs, shell fish live in water as well as land. These are not permissible to eat.

– When one is faced with a circumstance where haram is before him, he should remember that the haram can only benefit him for a short time, eventually he has to return to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The fear of Allah prevents us from doing the unlawful.

[SOURCE: Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Tafseer Lecture of Taimiyyah Zuberi]


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