When defense is considered a legitimate one?

Legitimate defense, in other words persons defending him/herself is one of the basic principalities of Islamic Law. There are three conditions for which defense would be considered a legitimate one, Self-defense, defense of possessions, and chastitys defense.

1.Self-Defense: The act of defending ones person when physically attacked, as by countering blows on overcoming an assailant. The decree over this issue, If one kills a person who draws a gun on him/her, it cannot be imposed any penalties, such as retaliation, blood money, or reprimand upon him/her. In legal contemplation, it does not make any difference whether the incident takes place in daytime or nighttime and in town or outside the town. If the assailant cannot be overcome instead of killing, and if the assaulted knows that he is going to be killed if he does not react, in that case killing is legitimate. However, if there is a possibility of overcoming the assailant by chasing him after, wounding him, or any other way killing is not religiously permissible. (1)

2.Defense of Possessions: The second condition of legitimate defense is defending or protecting ones own possessions and properties while under an assault. For example, if a person chases after and catches a thief who sneaks his house at nighttime and steals his possessions; he can kill the thief if he does not give his possessions back. And he cannot be regarded as a murderer; he is innocent according to Islamic law. However, if there is a possibility of rescuing his possessions by wailing and gathering neighbors and security forces around, he cannot kill the thief; if he does, it is a felony or it is even needed retaliation according to Islamic law. (2)

3.Chastitys Defense: Third condition of legitimate defense is ones protecting his/her chastity under an attack. A person, who kills a rapist, cannot be considered a murderer. Islamic Law does not perform a legal act under these circumstances. The base regarding the matter is mentioned as, If a person kills an assailant who forces him/her to adulteration, when there are no other options to do, he/she cannot be regarded as a murderer. (3) And a persons defending his/her close relatives (by blood and by marriage) privacy by killing their assailant does not accrue any decree against him/her. For who cannot kill the assailant, under the condition of the victims death, there is an ethereal reward for him/her. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) decrees for this matter as, One who is killed in the cause of his/her religion and life is a martyr. (4) When a person is killed unjustly in the cause of protecting his/her possessions, he/she will be admitted to heaven. (5)

It should be mentioned carefully that according to Islamic Law, legitimate defense resulting with killing an assailant could only be accrued when there is no other possibility. Otherwise as he could not escape from responsibility in this world, he/she will be punished severely in the hereafter as this Quranic verse states,Whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense (in the Hereafter) is Hell (An-Nisa Surah, 4:93)

1. İbni Abidin, Reddü'l-muhtar, 5:351.
2. Feteva-yı Hindiyye, 6:7.
3. Istılahalat-ı Fıkhiyye Kamusu, 3:125.
4. Tirmizi, Diyat:21.
5. Müsned, 2:221

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