What Is the Ruling of Bestiality in Islam?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

I saw a few assumingly Islamophobes claiming that zoophilia and intercourse with an animal are permissible as long as one kills it afterward. They quote Dr. Zakir Naik saying that he said that a man that has intercourse with animals stays pure and merely has to kill the animal afterward. Ruhollah Khomeini is also being quoted quite a lot. One of them also apparently said that sexual intercourse with animals is permissible if no women are around and lust must be quenched. Could you shed light on this? I couldn’t find much about bestiality in Islam, although I believe it to be strictly impermissible.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

All sexual intercourse, or the like, with animals is strictly and categorically prohibited (haram). Sexual intercourse or any form of sexual pleasure is only permitted with one’s lawful, Islamically recognized spouse. [Ala al-Din Abidin, Al-Hadiyya al-‘Alai’yya]

Allah Most High says, “And those who guard their chastity except with their wives or those [bondwomen] in their possession, for them, they are free from blame, but whoever seeks beyond that are the transgressors.” [Quran, 70:29-31]

Every sexual practice done with anyone beyond what is listed in this verse (one’s spouse or one’s bondwoman (who are akin to the spouse, in regards to rights and responsibilities due upon the husband) is strictly prohibited. [Qurtubi, Al-Jam‘i li Ahkam al-Quran]

No text or recognized scholarly opinion states the permissibility of such an evil act, regardless of the circumstances.

Understanding the Quoted Statement

The statement you quoted above that a person who has intercourse with an animal is pure (i.e., not in a major state of ritual impurity) – is in no way permission to do the act. It is merely a ruling that addresses the legal issue, “Is such a person required to perform the ritual bath (ghusl) or not?’”

There is no doubt that such a person is a major sinner and must repent, even if no ritual bath is required (unless there was ejaculation). [Maydani, Al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

To further emphasize Islam’s categorical opposition to such an evil action, the animal with which this sin has been committed is to be slaughtered (the meat of the animal can then be given to eat). [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Additionally, under Islamic governance, the person is to be penalized (t’azir) as the caliph sees fit within his discretion. [Ibid.]

This is because if the animal remains alive, it will continue to remind people of such an act, and that act may take roots in their minds and thus lead to it being committed again. Slaughtering the animal is a means to close the door to this crime spreading in society.

Categorically Prohibited

As for your mention, some said that bestiality is permissible if no humans are available for licit marital relations – nothing in the Sacred law supports such a statement.

Even if one were to misuse the principle “if one has to choose, they must choose the lesser of the two harms” as a support for such an evil act, this, too, is absurd. Why? Because even lesser harms could be taken, such as masturbation.

Masturbation is clearly prohibited as well, but if one must choose between fornication or masturbation, masturbation is the lesser of the two evils. This is even more evident if the choice is between an evil act that goes against human nature and masturbation. [Ibn Nujaym, Al-Ashbah wal-Nadhai’r]

Intercourse with another human is rationally fathomable, even when sinful, but no sound-minded individual would incline toward animal intercourse.

Summary

We must understand the rulings of Islam holistically, and we must not be swayed by people who take things out of context or those who speak without knowledge, whether Muslim or non-muslim.

Allah Most High and His Messenger (may Allah bless him and give him peace) warn us, in various texts, about speaking about that which we have no knowledge, thus leading us to lie against Allah and His Messenger.

Bestiality is categorically prohibited in Islam.

Hope this helps

Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.