Do zarurahs (necessities) render harams halal? Is it possible in Islam to abandon fards for harams or to commit a haram deed for something fard? If yes, when?

Details of the Question

Do zarurahs (necessities) render harams halal? Is it possible in Islam to abandon fards for harams or to commit a haram deed for something fard? If yes, when?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Halal (legitimate/permissible) means something that is not forbidden to do, eat or drink religiously, that is allowed. If Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) state that something is halal or that it is not a sin to do something, it means that thing is halal. Similarly, if there is no evidence that something or a deed is forbidden, it also means that thing or deed is halal. For, being halal is essential in things. Accordingly, something is regarded as halal and legitimate unless it is contrary to a clear decree, prohibition and principle of the religion.

As a religious term, haram means a deed that Allah and the Prophet (pbuh) prohibit with a definite and binding style. If the prohibition is through a clear and definite style and based on evidence, it is haram; if it is through a flexible and soft style or based on weak evidence it is regarded as makruh.   

Allah Almighty rendered good, clean and things useful to human health halal, and bad, dirty and harmful things haram. The authority to render things haram belongs to Allah only. The following is stated in the Quran: 

“Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment. Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand.”(al-A'raf, 7/36)

The Prophet also rendered some things haram based on the Quran and the information he received from Allah outside the Quran.  However, this is also regarded within the scope of the prohibitions by Allah since he does it under the supervision of Allah. Therefore, it is regarded as unbelief to say haram for the things that Allah rendered halal and to say halal for the things that Allah rendered haram.

It is necessary to avoid harams and things that lead to harams; we are also advised to keep away from things and profits having the doubt of haram. The Prophet states the following:

“Haram things are clear and halal things are clear too. There are doubtful things between them. He who avoids doubtful things protects his religion.” (see Bukhari, Iman 39, Buyu' 2; Muslim, Musaqat 107, 108)

Having a good intention, indirect ways and means do not render harams halal related to committing harams and reaching harams. The following is stated in the Quran:

“Say: "I find not in the message received by me by inspiration any (meat) forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be dead meat, or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine,- for it is an abomination - or, what is impious, (meat) on which a name has been invoked, other than Allah´s". But (even so), if a person is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- thy Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (al-An'am, 6/145)

Associating partners with Allah, unbelief and hypocrisy are among the main harams and biggest sins. Allah will not forgive those sins unless a person repents. Killing a person is also among major sins. It is stated in the Quran that killing a person unjustly is like killing all human beings. It is haram to kill a person and to grab people’s money/property unjustly. The following is stated in the Quran:

“O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful.” (an-Nisa, 4/29)

In the religion of Islam, both fornication and the words, deeds and acts that lead to fornication are haram. The following is stated in the Quran:

“Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).”(al-Isra, 17/32)

Interest, usury and grabbing others’ money/property unjustly are forbidden. The following is stated in the Quran: “Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury.” Fortunetelling, drinking alcohol, gambling, earning money through gambling, lottery, football pools, pari-mutuel betting and similar games of chance are also haram. Along with gambling, alcoholic drinks and drugs, which are materially and spiritually harmful to the individual, family and community, were rendered haram.

In addition, it is also haram to abandon the duties like daily prayers, fasting, hajj and zakah, to disobey one’s parents, to steal, to tell lies, to commit perjury, to slander, to oppress people, to misappropriate, to give and accept bribe, to deceive while weighing and measuring goods, to waste, to backbite, to commit tale-bearing and to eat up the property of orphans.

Every issue has a separate place and value in Islamic decrees. Therefore, no fard is abandoned and no haram is committed without any excuse. However, they can be allowed in cases of zarurah (obligation/necessity). What is regarded as zarurah and when are based on certain conditions. 

ZARURAH (NECESSITY)

Zarurah means severe problem, necessity (obligation), and in poetry, a poet feeling obliged to use words in poems that are not permissible in prose. Its plural form is "zarair". Zarurah is a noun derived from the word izdirar. Izdirar means to cause someone/something to need, to be obliged. (Ibn Manzur, Lisanul-Arab, Beirut 1374/1955, IV, 483). As a fiqh term, zarurah means a state that forces a person to do or eat something forbidden by the religion. If a person faces the risk of dying or approaching death when he does not eat a haram food or drinks a haram beverage, the state of zarurah occurs. (Ali Haydar, Dürerü'l-Hukkâm Şerhu Mecelleti'l-Ahkâm, 3rd impression, İstanbul 1330, facsimile, I, 76, 79)

In Islam, the principle "Zarurahs (necessities) make haram things permissible" (see Majalla, item 21) regarding zarurah is applied. In fiqh methodology, zarurah making a haram thing permissible is called "rukhsah (permission/exemption)".  Rukhsah is something that is rendered legitimate secondarily due to an excuse. For instance, it is forbidden to destroy things belonging to others but it is rendered permissible secondarily due to zarurah and excuse when a person is forced fully. Rukhsah is something that is permissible though it is still haram. A person who does something that is permissible is not held responsible; similarly, a person who acts in accordance with rukhsah is not held responsible. If a person destroys something belonging to somebody else under full pressure, it is still haram to destroy something belonging to somebody else. This haram continues but the person is not held responsible. If a person who is about to starve to death takes some food belonging to somebody else without permission or by force with the intention of paying the equivalent to its owner or telling him about it later, or if a person kills an animal that belongs to somebody else and that attacks him with the intention of saving his life and paying the equivalent to its owner, he is regarded to have acted in accordance with rukhsah.   It is permissible to take something belonging to somebody else due to hunger and to kill an animal with the intention of saving his life. (Ali Haydar, ibid, 76, 77).

In Islam, azimah (strict rule) is essential and it is the general decree. It interests everybody and believers have to act in accordance with it. Rukhsah is not the essential decree. A person may be in zarurah due to problems, hardships and similar reasons, for instance, if he faces the risk of death, and has to eat forbidden meat. If he faces a hardship, he can break his fast. A doctor may look at private parts of a woman for treatment. 

Some food and drinks are rendered haram in the Quran: animals slaughtered contrarily to Islamic rules, blood, pork, wine, etc. However, in case of zarurah, they become permissible. Allah states the following:  "He (Allah) hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah, but if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits―then is he guiltless…" (al-Baqara, 2/173) "Why should ye not eat of (meats) on which Allah's name hath been pronounced, when He hath explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you,― except under compulsion of necessity? But many do mislead (men) by their appetites unchecked by knowledge. Thy Lord knoweth best those who transgress." (al-An'am, 6/119)

The word iztirar (necessity) mentioned in the verse means to be in great difficulty to be forced to do something. According to al-Qurtubi (d. 671/1273), this difficulty takes place when a person is forced wrongfully by somebody else or when a person cannot find halal food when he is about to starve to death." (al-Qurtubi, al-Jami' li Ahkamil-Qur'an, 3rd impression, Egypt 1387, II, 275). Qurtubi determines the scope and boundaries of zarurah as follows: "During zarurah, a person cannot reach permissible things; therefore, Allah renders all harams permissible for him." (al-Qurtubi, ibid, II, 232) While interpreting the verse "…except under compulsion of necessity....", he says, "Allah means animals slaughtered contrarily to Islamic rules and all of the other similar haram things." (al-Qurtubi, ibid, VII, 73)

After stating that it is permissible for a person who is in great difficulty to eat the meat of animals slaughtered contrarily to Islamic rules, Ibn Qudama (d. 620/1223) enlarges the scope and states the following: "....Other harams and forbidden things are also like that." (Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, 2nd impression, Egypt 1367, VIII, 595)

However, mujtahids of madhhabs do not enlarge the scope and lay some conditions for drinking wine or eating human flesh. 

Taking into consideration that wine causes thirst, Imam Shafii and Imam Malik say it is not permissible for people who are in great difficulty to drink wine. Ash-Shafii (d. 204/819) states the following: "It is not permissible for a person who is in great difficulty to drink wine because it makes a person thirsty and hungry." (ash-Shafii, al-Umm, Egypt, t.y., II, 253). Imam Malik holds the same view considering that it does not eliminate thirst.

Scholars like Ibnul-Arabi (d. 543/1148) hold the view that wine will meet the need of necessary water and state that a person who is in great difficulty can drink wine. (Ibn-Arabi, Ahkamul-Qur'an, Egypt 1376, I, 57)

On the other hand, despite the disagreement about drinking wine in case of thirst, it is unanimously agreed that wine can be drunk in case of unbearable force. For, it is unanimously agreed that a person who is forced like that can eat the meat of animals slaughtered contrarily to Islamic rules, pork and similar food and drink wine. (Ibnul-Arabi, ibid, I, 56; as-Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut XXVI, 48)

It is permissible for a person who is in great difficulty to eat the meat of a human being who died on his own and whose blood is not halal according to the most famous and sound view of Shafiis, and Abul Khattab, a Hanbali scholar. The evidence they base their view on is that eating the meat of a dead person is not contrary to the right to live. 

According to Malikis and Zahiris, it is not permissible for a person who is very hungry and who fears that he will die of hunger to eat the meat of a dead person.  Ad-Dusuki, a Maliki scholar, states the following in his explanation: "As for a human being, it is not permissible to eat human flesh whether he is dead or alive. Even if a person who is in great difficulty dies of hunger, the decree does not change." (ad-Dardir, ash-Sharhul-Kabir maa Hashiyatid-Dusuki. I, 59). Ibn Hazm (d. 456/1063), a Zahiri scholar holds the same view. (Ibn Hazm, Mu'jamul-Fiqhi, I, 57)

According to the view of the majority of Hanbalis, a person who fears that he will die of hunger can eat the meat of the people whose blood is halal like enemy soldiers. The evidence for this is as follows: The meat of a person who is halal to kill becomes halal to eat when he dies in case of zarurah. The same decree is valid when he dies on his own. However, if he is not a person whose blood is halal to eat, it is not halal to eat his meat after his death. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in a hadith: "Breaking the bone of a dead person is like breaking the bone of a living person." (Malik, Muwatta', Janaiz, 45; Abu Dawud, Janaiz, 60; Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 63; Ahmad b. Hanbal, VI, 58,100,105,169, 200, 264) It is haram to kill such a person; similarly, it is haram to eat his flesh.

According to those who say that it is permissible to eat the meat of a dead person, the hadith above does not indicate that it is haram to eat the meat of a dead person because what is eaten is meat, not bone. On the other hand, what is meant in the hadith is the fact that a dead person deserves respect like a living person. A dead person is not given rights like a living person. As a matter of fact, there are differences between a dead person and a living person in qisas (retaliation), compensation and right of protection. (Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, VIII, 601; an-Nawawi, al-Majmu Sharhul-Muhadhdhab, IX, 41; Abdülkerîm Zeydan, İslâm Hukukunda Zaruret Hali, Irak İslâm Araştırmaları Fakültesi Dergisi, Issue: 3, year 1970)

Is it necessary for a journey to be a legitimate journey for a person who fears that he will die of hunger during a journey to eat the meat of an animal slaughtered contrarily to Islamic rules and similar haram food or drink haram beverage to be permissible? In other words, can a person who starts a journey in order to waylay, steal, kill an innocent person or commit fornication and who faces the risk of death due to hunger or thirst make use of the rukhsahs (permissions) of Islam? 

According to the majority of mujtahids, a person who starts a journey in order to commit a sin cannot make use of the rukhsahs of zarurah. For, these rukhsahs are given to help people who are in great difficulty. A person who travels in order to commit a sin does not deserve this help. However, if he repents and returns to the true path, he can make use of them. For, Allah lays it as a condition for a person who is in a great difficulty not to be a "baghi" (willful disobedient).  (see al-Baqara, 2/173) The word "baghi" in the verse means a person with bad intentions, a person who wants to commit sins; the words "adi" in the verse means a person who transgresses the limits of permissibility. Imam ash-Shafii (d. 204/819) states the following regarding the issue: "No matter what the state of a person who starts a journey with the intention of committing a sin is, nothing rendered haram by Allah is permissible for him because He renders haram things halal for a person who is in a great difficulty based on the condition that he will not transgress limits and not commit sins." (ash-Shafii, al-Umm, Egypt, n.d., II, 253)

According to some fiqh scholars, those who start a journey with the intention of committing a sin can make use of the rukhsahs of zarurah because to let oneself die without eating is a bigger sin. Allah states the following: "…Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves…" (an-Nisa, 4/29) This command includes both those who worship and who commit sins.

On the other hand, a person who commits a sin can repent; and Allah forgives his sins. (al-Qurtubi, ibid, II, 232-233)

A person who starts a journey with the intention of committing a sin should regret and repent of his sin and then make use of the rukhsahs of zarurah like normal travelers. For, there is no discrimination between a traveler and a resident, a person who travels for something good and a person who travels to commit a bad deed in the verses and hadiths that mention zarurah.

The amount that a person who is in a great difficulty can eat the meat of an animal slaughtered contrarily to Islamic rules and similar haram food is the amount that will save him from death and make him survive. He can eat a little amount. However, Hanafis say he cannot eat so much as to fill his stomach because what is rendered halal because of zarurah is the amount that meets the need, not more. (Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah, wan-Nazair, Egypt, 1387, 86; Shafii, ibid, II, 252; Ibn Qudama, ibid, VIII; 595).

This principle is expressed as follows in Majalla item 22: "Zarurahs are determined based on their own amounts." It means what is rendered permissible for zarurah is determined based the amount of zarurah. For instance, a person who faces difficulty due to hunger can make use of the rukhsah of zarurah based on the degree of his hunger. To conclude, something that is rendered permissible for zarurah can be done only to meet zarurah; more than it cannot be done using zarurah as an excuse. For instance, if a person is about to starve to death has to eat the food of somebody else without his permission with the intention of paying the equivalent to its owner or telling him about it later can eat an amount that is enough to save him from death. He cannot eat more using hunger as an excuse. (Ali Haydar, Dürerü'l-Hükkâm Şerhu Mecelleti'l-Ahkâm, I, 78, 79)

On the other hand, zarurah expresses the state that will cause the death of a person if he does not eat the thing that is haram; need expresses the state that will put a person  into great difficulty, though not death, if he cannot find food. The state of need does not render something haram permissible but it makes it permissible for a person who is fasting to break his fast. For instance, a person who is not in the state of starvation (dying due to hunger) cannot take and eat mutton, fatty food and dessert belonging to another person without permission just because he wants to eat them. If he does, he will be a grabber and commit a deed forbidden by Islam. (Ali Haydar, ibid, I, 79, 80).

Is it fard to commit a harm in case of zarurah?

In some cases of zarurah, a person does not have to right to choose between azimah and rukhsah. He needs to eat or drink the haram thing acting upon rukhsah. Otherwise, he becomes a sinner. This is the view of the majority. As-Sarakhsi (d. 490/1097), the great Hanafi scholar, states the following regarding the issue: "If a person is forced to eat the meat of a dead animal, pork or drink wine under the threat of death, and if he does not do it knowing that it is halal under these circumstances and if he dies, he will be a sinner. For the state of zarurah is exempted from the state of haram. In that case, haram meat and wine becomes like the other food and drinks outside the state of zarurah. It is not permissible for a person to refrain from them and to die. If a person who fears that he will die of hunger or thirst finds a dead animal, pork or blood and does not eat or drink them though he knows that they are permissible and if he dies, he will be a sinner. This view is also reported from Masruq." (as-Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut, 3rd impression, Beirut, n.d., XXIV,151; al-Qurtubi, ibid, II, 232)

A group of Shafiis hold the view that a person who is in great difficulty can resist and if he dies he will not be a sinner. The same view is reported from Abu Yusuf. (see as-Sarakhsi, ibid, XXVI, 48; Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, VIII, 596)

According to the majority of fiqh scholars, zarurah eliminates the state of haram of the haram food and drinks; it makes them permissible for the people who are in great difficulty like mutton and bread. Their evidence is the following verse: "...He hath explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you,― except under compulsion of necessity…" (al-An'am, 6/119). The exception here shows that some harams become halal for the people who are in great difficulty. Accordingly, it is understood that being haram is related to normal cases.

In short, man’s body and life is entrusted to him. A person who does not use this trust to the last minute and chooses death causes himself to die, which is not allowed except in war and similar cases. For, the following is stated in a verse: "…Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves…"  (an-Nisa, 4/29) The following hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) also supports it: Some Companions said for a Companion who fought heroically in a war: "None of us has fought as heroically as he did today." Hz. Prophet (pbuh) said, "He is a person of Hell." One of his friends, who was surprised by the statement of the Prophet, watched him closely. Finally, this warrior was wounded heavily. He wanted to die as soon as possible, put the handle of his sword on the ground, thrust his breast on the tip of the sword and committed suicide. When the Messenger of Allah was informed about what happened, he said, "A person may do the deeds of the people of Paradise in appearance but he is a person of Hell; a person may do the deeds of the people of Hell according to people but he is a person of Paradise." (Muslim, Sahih, (with Nawawi Sharh), al-Misriyya Print, VIII, 49)

Accordingly, it is not permissible for a person to go on a “hunger strike” by abandoning eating legitimate food and drinking legitimate beverages with thoughts like reaching a target, making his voice heard or expressing the rights of certain people. It is not a deed of worshipping; besides, if it ends with death, it will be committing suicide for that person. However, abandoning one or two meals or boycotting meals that will not lead a person to death in order to express some legitimate demands should be evaluated based on the intention and purpose of the people taking part in it.  

States when death can be preferred in cases of zarurah

In some cases, preferring azimah can lead to death but it will be permissible to prefer azimah. However, such a person can save his life by preferring rukhsah. For instance, if a person is forced to become an unbeliever by a weapon, he can accept it in appearance. The following is stated in the Quran: "Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters unbelief― except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith― but such as open their breast to unbelief― on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty." (an-Nahl, 16/106). As a matter of fact, Ammar b. Yasir, one of the Companions, had to utter some words that necessitated unbelief under the severe torture of the polytheists. When he informed the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about what had happened, the Messenger of Allah asked him, "What was behind you?" He said, "There was evil. They did not leave me until I mentioned your name badly and their gods in a god way." Hz. Prophet said, "How do you find your heart?" He said, "I find it full of belief." Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "If they do the same thing to you, you can say the same things." (as-Sarakhsi, ibid, XXIV, 43) Accordingly, if a Muslims utters words of polytheism though his heart is full of belief when he is under torture and pressure, he does not exit the religion of Islam. However, it is more virtuous if he shows patience, continues telling the truth and keeping silent. As a matter of fact, Hubayb b. Adiyy, one of the Companions, was killed when he did not say that he exited his religion despite all kinds of tortures and pressure by polytheists. When Hz. Jibril informed the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about the state of this martyr, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "He is the most superior one among martyrs; and he is my friend in Paradise." (as-Sarakhsi, ibid, XXIV, 44)

In some countries and eras, it becomes impossible to do the duty of enjoining the good and forbidden the evil. Those who tell the truth are pressurized, threatened and killed. It becomes permissible for a believer to practice "taqiyya" and act in accordance with rukhsah. The following is stated in the Quran: "Let not the Believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers; if any do that, shall have no relation left with Allah except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them…" (Aali Imran, 3/28) However, not to fear, not to keep silent and to show the right path means to act in accordance with azimah. As a matter of fact, Hz. Prophet (pbuh) stated the following: "The leader of martyrs is Abdulmuttalib's son Hamza and a person who is killed by a cruel sultan because he tells the truth." (Abu Zahra, Usulul-Fiqh, Cairo, n.d., translated by Abdulkadir Şener, 4th impression, Ankara 1986, 51)

Zarurahs related to treatment

When a person becomes ill, he has the right and even duty to undergo treatment. For, the body is something entrusted to man. The body needs to be healthy in order to worship and fulfill some Islamic commands and avoid prohibitions. If a believer becomes ill though he takes care, he has to be treated. For, the Prophet (pbuh) said, "O slaves of Allah! Be treated!" (see Tirmidhi, Tibb, 2; Abu Dawud, Tibb, 1, II; Ibn Majah, Tibb, 1; Ahmad b. Hanbal, III, 156, IV, 278)

Treatment includes all methods of treatment like use of medicines, cleaning the wound with surgery, blood transfusion when necessary, amputation of a limb, or removal of a limb that has to be separated from the body. During such an operation, the doctor can look at the private parts of the patient as much as it is necessary. However, it is essential for women to be treated and operated by female doctors and nurses as much as possible. For, there are various warnings of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the issue.

The Companions asked the Prophet (pbuh), "O Messenger of Allah! Do we need to be careful about covering our body even when we are alone?" He answered as follows: " It is definite that Allah is worthy of being ashamed of more." (Bukhari, Ghusl, 20; Tirmidhi, Adab, 22, 39; Ibn Majah, Nikah, 28). Once, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) went to the place where camels given as zakah were kept. When he saw that the shepherd had taken off his clothes under the sun, he dismissed the shepherd and said, "A person who has no shame should not work for us." (as-Sarakhsi, ibid, X, 156)

However, it is permissible to look at the private parts of a man or a woman when there is a necessity. For example, it is permissible for the doctor to look at a man's private part for circumcision or for treatment. Similarly, the midwife looks at the private parts of the woman during birth; when there is no female doctor, a male doctor can treat a woman if it is necessary. For, the Prophet allowed midwives to be present during birth and witness the birth when necessary. This state includes looking, too. (as-Sarakhsi, ibid, X, 156)

As- Sarakhsi (6. 490/1097) states the following about the treatment of a woman by a man: "If it is not possible to find a woman (doctor) who will cure a boil on the body of a woman, if it is not possible to teach another woman how to treat it, and if the sick woman might die or become exhausted or suffer a pain that she cannot stand, it is permissible for a man to treat it by covering the body of the woman except the place where the boil is. This man avoids looking at the other parts of her body. For, it is worse for a person to look at the opposite gender. Here, it is necessary to decide whether there is a necessity or not. The necessity is the risk of death. When such a risk occurs, it is not permissible to look at her more than what is necessary." (as-Sarakhsi, ibid, X /157)

Treatment with haram things.

There is a disagreement whether it is permissible to use things that are haram to eat and drink, whether they are dirty or not, in treatment.

According to Hanafis, it is permissible to be treated by something haram if it is definitely known that it will cure. Al-Qasani (d. 587/1191), a great Hanafi scholar, states the following:

"It is permissible to eat carrion for a person when he is about to starve, to drink wine when one is too thirsty and to remove the morsel in the throat; similarly, it is permissible to be treated by haram food and drinks if it is definitely known that they will cure. However, if it is not definite that it will cure, treatment with it is not possible. On the other hand, Abu Yusuf regarded drinking urine of camel with the purpose of treatment permissible.  For, the Prophet (pbuh) ordered Uranis, who got sick due to climate difference, to drink the urine of camels of zakah. (al-Qasani, ibid, I, 61)  According to Abu Hanifa, it is not permissible because it is not definitely known that it will cure. According to him, it is possible to understand the hadith about Uranis as follows: "Hz. Prophet (pbuh) stated that this urine will cure only them." (al-Qasani, ibid, I, 61-62)

According to Hanbalis, it is not permissible to be treated with the food and drinks rendered haram in Islam. Ibn Taymiyya gave the following answer to the question whether it was permissible to be treated by wine, pork and similar things: "Treatment with them is not permissible." (Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa, Egypt, 1329, I, 270) Ibnul-Qayyim gave the same answer. (Ibnul-Qayyim, Zadul-Maad, II, 114) After quoting, Sahnun's statement, "Wine and pork cannot be used in treatment", Ibnul-Arabi adopted the same view. (Ibnul-Arabi, Ahkamul-Quran, I, 59)

The evidence they base their view on is the Sunnah. According to what is reported from Tariq b. Suwayy al-Jufi, he asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about wine and the Messenger of Allah prohibited it. Tariq said, "I produce it as medicine." Thereupon, he said, "It is no medicine, but an ailment." (Darimi, Ashriba, 6; Muslim, Ashriba, 12; Abu Dawud, Tibb, II; Tirmidhi, Tibb, 8)

Abud-Darda states that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Allah sent both illness and cure; He created a cure for each illness; be treated but do not use haram things in treatment." (see Malik, Muwatta', Ayn, 12; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad I,13, 446, III, 156)

The following was reported from Ibn Mas'ud: "Allah did not create cure in the things that He rendered haram." (ash-Shawkani, Naylul-Awtar, VIII, 203). In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah prohibited dirty medicine and said, "Allah did not create cure of my ummah in the things that He rendered haram to them." (see Abu Dawud, Tibb, II; Tirmidhi, Tibb, 7; Ibn Majah, Tibb, II, Ahmad b. Hanbal, II, 305, 446, 478; ash-Shawkani, ibid, VIII, 203; Ibn Taymiyya, I, 270)

According to those who hold this view, when there is nothing else but haram things to overcome hunger and thirst for a person who is in great difficulty, the only remedy is to eat or drink haram due to necessity. As for the treatment of diseases, medication is not only this haram thing. There are usually alternative medication or methods of treatment. Therefore, hunger and disease are not the same. For, it is certain that hunger can be removed with the haram food but it is not known beforehand in the same certainty that this disease will be treated with this medication. On the other hand, it is fard for a person who understands that he will die of starvation to eat haram food; it is controversial whether it is fard to be treated with haram in case of illness. For, many Companions and Tabiun did not undergo treatment and no scholar blamed them. (Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa, I, 259-260, 268-270)

According to Zahiris, it is permissible to be treated with haram things. Ibn Hazm, a Zahiri scholar, says, "Wine becomes permissible for a person who is in great difficulty. A person who drinks wine in order to overcome his thirst, to be treated or to prevent being choked is not punished." (Mu'jamul-Fiqhi Ibn Hazm, Ta'lif, committee, Damascus University) The evidence Ibn Hazm bases his view on is as follows: "To eat and drink urine is haram at normal times but it is not haram in cases of treatment and similar necessities. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) rendered urine of camel permissible to Uranis for the treatment of their illnesses." (Mu'jamul-Fiqhi Ibn Hazm, I, 353; al-Qasani, ibid, I, 61) Ibn Hazm analyzed the hadiths that those who did not regard treatment with haram things permissible based their views on and stated that some of them were weak; he interpreted the others as follows:  "It is permissible to drink haram things when there is a necessity for treatment. When they are permissible, they should not be included among “dirty medicines”, which are forbidden to use in treatment; therefore, they cannot be called “dirty”. (see Abu Dawud, Tibb, II; Tirmidhi, Tibb, 7; Ibn Majah, Tibb, II; Ahmad b. Hanbal, II, 305, 446, 478; Mu'jamul-Fiqh, I, 353)

In conclusion, the moderate way about treatment with haram things is the view of Hanafis. If it is possible to treat the illness with legitimate food, drinks and medicine, they are used. If it is known through experience that the illness can be treated by haram food, drinks or medicine, it is permissible to use them in treatment. In this case, the rule "Necessities make impermissible things permissible" is applied. For, an illness is included in the scope of the concept of necessity when it is grave.

Adding intoxicants into medicine

Alcohol and other intoxicants are added to some medicine and they are advised to patients by doctors. First of all, if there is an alternative medicine without alcohol, it should be preferred. If there is no alternative and if it is certain that it will cure or relieve the patient, it is permissible for the patient to use that medicine. Today, most of the drugs used in depressive and neurological cases include tranquilizers. The nervous system of the patient is tranquilized; he is prevented from feeling pain; his sleeplessness is eliminated and the state of panic and anxiety in operations is reduced to a minimum. 

If the tranquilizer used in drugs undergo some changes through metamorphosis, the quality of “dirtiness” of it can change. Al-Qasani (d. 587/1191), the great Hanafi fiqh scholar, states the following while explaining the view of Muhammad b. Hasan ash-Shaybani (d. 189/805):

"According to Imam Muhammad, if something dirty undergoes a change in the course of time and if its properties change, it becomes something else and clean. When something dirty undergoes a change, its properties and meaning change, it ceases to be dirty. For, the word dirty is used for it due to a certain property. When that property changes, its name changes too, like wine transformed into vinegar." (al-Qasani, al-Badayi, 85)

Ibnul-Arabi, a Maliki fiqh scholar, states the following: "If somebody has to be treated by a dirty animal, he can use it as it is or after burning it. If it undergoes a change when it is burnt, it is permissible to use it in treatment and to perform prayers when it is on him." (Ibnl-Arabi, Ahkamul-Qur'an, I, 59)

Ibn Taymiyya, a Hanbali scholar, states the following: "If a dirty animal, blood, pork, and similar substances rendered haram by Allah fall into water or another liquid, break up in it and lose their property and traces, no dirty animal, blood or pork exists in it any longer. When wine falls into a flowing substance, disappears in it and loses all of its properties that can be perceived by sense organs, if a person drinks that substance, he is not regarded to have drunk wine." (Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa, I, 20)

In conclusion, if a small amount of something that is haram to eat and drink is mixed with a medicine in a way that it will melt and disappear and its color, taste or trace will disappear or its properties that are haram will disappear, compared to a dirty substance that is transformed into something else by melting or boiling, it becomes permissible to be used as medicine. (For detailed information, see Abdülkerim Zeydan, İslâm Hukukunda Zaruret Hali, Translated by H. Karaman, İslâm'ın Işığında Günün Meseleleri, İstanbul 1982, I, 312 ff)

To kill an attacker in self-defense

In general, all legal systems give a person the right to kill an attacker in self-defense if there is nothing else to do. For, a person who is attacked cannot be expected to show patience and to be killed. The attack may be against a person himself or his property. The evidence is the following verse: "If then anyone transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him." (al-Baqara, 2/194)

Questions on Islam

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