I have a question. I once heard that there is a hadith that prohibits killing locusts because they are among the biggest soldiers of Allah. My question is, if the hadith is true, isn’t it a contradiction to the hadith which permits eating it? Hope for an explanation pertaining to this matter.
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
First and foremost, we would like to emphasize that there are several hadiths which state the permissibility of eating locusts. Among them is the hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Abi Aufa RA that:
غَزَوْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم سَبْعَ غَزَوَاتٍ نَأْكُلُ الْجَرَادَ
We went on seven expeditions with Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and ate locusts
Sahih Muslim (1952)
We have already discussed the issues pertaining to the permissibility of eating locusts and the related matters in-depth in our previous articles:
- Al-Kafi li al-Fatawi Series 963: The Ruling of Eating Locusts
- Al-Kafi li al-Fatawi Series 1670: Is it Necessary to Slaughter Locusts and Is it Permissible to Eat Them Alive?
Hadith on the Prohibition to Kill Locusts
لَا تَقْتُلُوا الْجَرَادَ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْ جُنْدِ اللهِ الْأَعْظَمِ
Do not kill locusts because they are among the biggest soldiers of Allah
Narrated by al-Baihaqi (9654) in Syu’ab al-Iman
This hadith is also narrated by Imam al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, 22/297 and al-Mu’jam al-Ausat, 9/111; also by Imam Abu Nu’aim al-Asbahani in Ma’rifah al-Sahabah, 5/2898; also by Imam Abu al-Syeikh al-Asbahani in al-‘Azmah, 5/1788; also by Imam Ibn Mandah in Ma’rifah al-Sahabah, 1/870; and by Imam Ibn Abi ‘Asim in al-Ahad wa al-Mathani, 3/118.
Here, we include some opinions from scholars on this hadith:
- Abu al-Hassan al-Haithami said that there is a narrator named Muhammad bin Ismail bin ‘Ayyash in it, and he is weak. (See Majma’ al-Zawaid wa Manba’ al-Fawaid, 4/39)
- Imam al-Tabarani narrated that this hadith is not narrated from Abu Zuhair except through this sanad, and Ismail bin ‘Ayyash is thiqah (trustworthy) in narrating from the people of Syria and this hadith is one of them. Also, the narrators from before him are also thiqah. Especially, there is a narration from Abdullah bin ‘Amru al-Hadrami who becomes mutabi’ tam to this narration. Therefore, hadith of this kind of mutaba’ah is strong. (See Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, 5/554)
How to understand the contradiction between this hadith and the other hadith which permits eating it?
Coming back to the above question, basically, there is no contradiction between hadith Abu Zuhair al-Numairi and the hadith which permits eating locusts. However, both hadiths should be seen and understood in two different contexts. This is because, the scholars understand the hadith which prohibits killing locusts is when they are killed for fun or in vain without any reason permitted by syara’. Isn’t this what has been stated by the Prophet PBUH:
مَا مِنْ إِنْسَانٍ قَتَلَ عُصْفُورًا فَمَا فَوْقَهَا بِغَيْرِ حَقِّهَا إِلاَّ سَأَلَهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَنْهَا " . قِيلَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا حَقُّهَا قَالَ " يَذْبَحُهَا فَيَأْكُلُهَا وَلاَ يَقْطَعُ رَأْسَهَا يَرْمِي بِهَا "
"There is no person who kills a small bird or anything larger for no just reason, but Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, will ask him about it." It was said: "O Messenger of Allah, what does just reason;' mean?" Her said: "That you slaughter it and eat it, and do not cut off its head and throw it aside."
Sunan al-Nasai’e (4349)
Therefore, it is haram to kill locusts in vain or without any permissible excuse, but it is permissible to kill them if it is to benefit from them like to eat and etc.
Imam al-Baihaqi also stated in his book that if this narration is sahih, it can be understood that it (probably) means that if there is no harm towards the crops (due to these locusts). If there is a contradiction between these two, then it is permissible to avoid the harm from taking place by destroying or killing them, or (probably) it is also a sign to never destroy (put an end to) them, whether by destroying or killing. (See Syu’ab al-Iman, 12/409)
However, the majority of scholars permit killing locusts if they cause harm towards others’ property like destroying crops and etc. Pertaining to this matter, Imam al-Qurtubi brought upon in his tafsir book the arguments of those who permit killing locusts if they cause harm through his words:
وَاحْتَجَّ الْجُمْهُورُ بِأَنَّ فِي تَرْكِهَا فَسَادَ الْأَمْوَالِ، وَقَدْ رَخَّصَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بقتال المسلم إذا أراد أخذ مال، فَالْجَرَادُ إِذَا أَرَادَتْ فَسَادَ الْأَمْوَالِ كَانَتْ أَوْلَى أَنْ يَجُوزَ قَتْلُهَا. أَلَا تَرَى أَنَّهُمْ قَدِ اتَّفَقُوا عَلَى أَنَّهُ يَجُوزُ قَتْلُ الْحَيَّةِ وَالْعَقْرَبِ؟ لِأَنَّهُمَا يُؤْذِيَانِ النَّاسَ فَكَذَلِكَ الْجَرَادُ.
“Majority of the scholars present their argument by saying that leaving it (which is by not killing them) will cause destruction to property. Verily, the Prophet PBUH gave facility (rukhsah) to kill a Muslim if he wants to take unjustly (seize or steal) one’s property (the person himself kill him or any other person). Hence, for locusts if they cause destruction to the property is more just (or prioritised) to make it permissible for them to be killed. Have you not seen them (the scholars) have decided on the permissibility of killing snakes and scorpions? This is because, both of them harm humans. So, the same is the case (the ruling) for locusts.” (See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 7/268).
Based on the above discussion and arguments, we are inclined to the opinion that this hadith of Abu Zuhair al-Numairi, its sanad is good and does not contradict with the other hadith which permits eating locusts. However, both hadiths should be seen and understood in two different contexts in which we are prohibited to kill locusts in vain and without any reason permitted by syara’. However, if it is for the purpose of benefiting from them such as eating them, then it is permissible to kill them. The same is when they cause harm and destruction towards others’ property. So, majority of the scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible or not prohibited to kill them.
May Allah SWT give us all clear understanding in practicing the hadith of the Prophet PBUH. Ameen.