Al-Baqarah · Juz 2 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Prohibited is allowed in Cases of Emergency


Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 173 [Part 2]

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala permits eating the unlawful when needed for survival or when there are no permissible types of food available. However, there are some conditions to this eating. He says,

فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلاَ عَادٍ

“But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits,” meaning, without transgression or overstepping the limits.

Explaining this Mujahid said, “If one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing the set limits. For example, if he didn’t, then he would have to resort to highway robbery, rising against the rulers, or some other kinds of disobedience to Allah, then the permission applies to him. If one does so transgressing the limits, or continually, or out of disobedience to Allah, then the permission does not apply to him even if he is in dire need.” The same was reported from Sa’eed bin Jubayr. Sa’eed and Muqatil bin Hayyan are reported to have said that without willful disobedience means, “Without believing that it is permissible.”

Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented: Without willful disobedience means eating the dead animal and not continuing to do so.

[Permissibility of Haram in Case of Necessity and the Conditions]

Issue: When one is in a dire state, he finds both dead animals and food that belongs to someone else (stealing it would result in his hands being cut or other harm), then it is not allowed for him to eat the dead animals.

Ibn Majah reported that ‘Abbad bin Shurahbil Al-Ghubari said, “One year we suffered from famine. I came to Madinah and entered a garden. I took some grain that I cleaned, and ate, then I left some of it in my garment. The owner of the garden came, roughed me up and took possession of my garment. I then went to Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and told him what had happened. He said to the man:

مَا أَطْعَمْتَهُ إِذْ كَانَ جَائِعًا أَوْ سَاغِبًا وَلَا عَلَّمْتَهُ إِذْ كَانَ جَاهِلًا

“You have not fed him when he was hungry (or he said starving) nor have you taught him if he was ignorant.”

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded him to return ‘Abbad’s garment to him, and to offer him a Wasq (around 180 kilograms) – or a half Wasq – of food. This has a sufficiently strong chain of narrators and there are many other witnessing narrations to support it, such as the hadeeth that ‘Amr bin Shu’ayb narrated from his father that his grandfather said: Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was asked about the hanging clusters of dates. He said:

مَنْ أَصَابَ مِنْهُ مِنْ ذِي حَاجَةٍ بِفِيهِ غَيْرَ مُتَّخِذٍ خُبْنَةً، فَلَا شَيْءَ عَلَيْه

“There is no harm for whoever takes some of it in his mouth for a necessity without putting it in his garment.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends the ayah by saying, “Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Sa’eed ibn Jubayr said, “Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is pardoning for what has been eaten of the unlawful, and Merciful in that He allowed the prohibited during times of necessity. Masruq said, “Whoever is in dire need, but does not eat or drink until he dies, he will enter the Fire.” This indicates that eating dead animals for those who are in need of it for survival is not only permissible but required.


We learn that Islam is not a rigid religion as many declare it to be. Saving one’s life is important in Islam. Therefore, when such a situation arises a person is permitted to eat the impermissible to save his life.

Since it is only a permission to save life, therefore the person should not eat the impermissible to his fill or with pleasure. One should take as is sufficient for his needs and despise it.

The real worship is obeying Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in all matters. When He instructs us to eat, we eat. When He forbids us, we stay away from it.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 173 [Part 2]

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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