Is It Unlawful To Hunt Animals and Insects for Fun?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


Is it haram to kill pests for fun, especially if they’re in a forest and aren’t bothering you? What about house lizards that want nothing from you because there is a reward for killing them?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that what is pleasing to Him. Amin.

It is unlawful to hunt or kill animals and insects for fun. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Don’t treat anything that has a soul as a target.“ [Muslim; Mawsu’a Al-Fiqhhiyya]

Caring for Living Creatures

Among the compassionate teachings of our religion is kind treatment towards living creatures. Many narrations testify to this, including the care of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) towards cats and riding mounts, as well as his reminder of the man who was forgiven of his sins because he quenched the thirst of a dog and the woman who was punished for harming and neglecting a cat.

The general rule is that all living things should be treated well. However, if an animal or insect is harmful towards one, then it is permissible (and possibly recommended or necessary, depending on the circumstance) to kill it appropriately.

Animal Cruelty Is Impermissible

Treating animals with cruelty is impermissible and a form of wrongdoing. This applies more so when people make animals fight and get injured. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) passed by a donkey that had been branded on its face, and he said, “Allah has cursed whoever branded it.” [Muslim]

Killing Harmful Animals and Insects

To kill animals and insects harmful to one’s self or belongings (such as pests) is permissible. At the same time, maximum effort should be made to minimise suffering and pain. Abu Hurayra narrated, “The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) forbade making animals suffer.” [Bukhari]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said, “Do not harm the creation of Allah.” [Abu Dawud] This is why the Shafi‘i Jurist, Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami (Allah have mercy on him), mentions in his work on the major sins, Al-Zawajir, that the scholars have explicitly stated that causing animals undue harm, such as hitting them painfully, without a sound reason is a major sin (kabira). [Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, al-Zawajir ‘an Iqtiraf al-Kaba’ir, 2/140]

Protecting Oneself from Geckos

The Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) commanded the killing of the geckos and called them corrupt (fuwaysiqa).” [Muslim] The word corrupt (fasiq) in Arabic means anything ‘beyond the bounds’. Because it is poisonous, the Messenger (may Allah bless him and give him peace) called it fasiq or corrupt and encouraged killing it. [‘Ali Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih]

Note that the permission and encouragement to kill these poisonous lizards applies whether the threat is actual or even potential.

Imam Al-Bukhari (Allah have mercy on him) narrates from Umm Sharik (Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) instructed her to kill the gecko and said, “It used to blow on (the fire of) Ibrahim (peace be upon him).” [Bukhari; Muslim]

In the commentary of this narration, Mulla ‘Ali Qari quotes al-Qadi ‘Iyad (Allah have mercy on them), saying, “This (final) statement indicates to the foulness of this type of gecko, its harms, and that it has reached such a level that it is was used by Shaytan to blow on the fire – which the ‘friend of Allah’ Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was thrown into – to make it burn more.” [‘Ali Qari, Mirqat Al-Mafatih]

Mulla ‘Ali Qari then quotes Ibn al-Malak (Allah have mercy on them), saying, “One of its (the gecko’s) obsessions is to spoil food, especially salt. If it can’t get to the food to spoil it, it will climb on the ceiling and drop its droppings near it. Also, this narration explains that its nature is to cause harm.” [Ibid.]

With the above, we can see that the nature of the gecko is to cause harm, it’s dangerous, and we are encouraged to kill it to protect ourselves and others from its harm.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.