Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fish for food, not sport...

******************* In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ************* Reflection ***************** There is no god but He, Praise and glory to Him; Far is He from having the partners they associate unto Him. (Tauba 9:31) ******************** ALMOST every Sunday morning I attend ‘Kuliah Subuh’ (Dawn Classes) at a masjid near my house. The ‘ustaz’ (religious teacher)would give talks based on a collection of hadiths compiled by At-Tirmidhi which were discussed and written in huge volumes of books named ‘Bahru Al-Madzi’ by a renowned Malay ulema from Lubuk Merbau, Perak; Syeikh Muhammad Idris Al-Marbawi. ************************ Recently, while discussing the topic of ‘jihad’, the ustaz mentioned briefly that Muslims should not be cruel to animals. He said it is ‘haram’ (forbidden) to even slap an animal on its face what more to kick it on a part of its body. For example when your pet cat tries to steal a fish placed on the eating table, you could chase it away, but never, never hit it on its face! In short Islam is totally against cruelty to animals. **************** When the ustaz opened the floor for questioning, I asked him about, perhaps a new craze among Malaysian that is fishing without a purpose as compared to consuming the catch. It is just for fun. Fishing is just a hobby or a kind of sport; the question is whether catch-and-release-fishing allowed in Islam? ***************** The ustaz said: “We are asked not only to treat human beings with dignity and respect but also towards other creatures. If we want to have animals for our food we have to follow the syariah for example reciting Bismillah (in the name of Allah SWT) and slaughtering them in a polite (humane) manner such as having our knives sharpened but never do it in front of the animals. ******************* “As a basic principle, all acts of killing are forbidden in Islam. But Allah SWT upon His Mercy on us, allowed us to kill certain animals for our food but only under His name. Animals killed not in the name of Allah, could not consumed by Muslims. ******************** “Killing animals is only allowed for food with the exception of certain animals that are harmful to us such as snakes, mosquitoes, centipedes and so on. These harmful animals too have to be killed in proper way. You killed them instantly; do not be cruel to them. ********************* “So regarding to catch-and-release-fishing, it is unethical for Muslims to be involved in such an activity. If fishing is your hobby and the fish you catch is for consumption, then it is okay. It is also not wrong for you to sell your catch for an income. ******************* “But to catch fish just for fun and then release them, what more injure the fish during the process, then it is not permitted. Islam forbids cruelty to animals. Why feel triumphant at the expense of exposing the fish to death and pain?” ********************* In a question posted is quite similar to mine. A reader asked: “Is fishing as a hobby allowed in Islam? This means catching fish with a rod and reel, but not to eat them, but rather to return them to the sea, river or lake.” ******************* The Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî responded: “Fish are among the creatures in Allah’s creation that He blessed us to derive benefit from. Allah says: “Lawful to you is the pursuit of water-game and its use for food.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 96] ****************** If any kind of sport with these fish brings any sort of harm to them, then this is unlawful to engage in such a sport. These fish represent populations of beings that glorify and praise Allah. We can, therefore, fish as long as we eat the fish we harvest or give them to others to eat. ************************* If we have no purpose behind our pulling these fish out of the water with a hook – thereby injuring them – except to amuse ourselves, then it is unlawful for us to do so. **************** Muslims are prohibited from abusing animals. The Prophet (peace be upon him) informs us of how a woman earned Allah’s wrath for her mistreatment of a cat. She entered the Hellfire on account of a cat that she imprisoned, neither feeding it nor letting it hunt for food. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî] ******************* The Prophet (peace be upon him) even forbade the cursing of animals: Once, while the Prophet (peace be upon him) was on a journey, he heard a woman invoke Allah’s curse upon a camel that she was riding. He said: “Offload the camel and let it go, since it has been cursed.” [Sahîh Muslim] ******************* Sport fishing, which at the very least brings pain to the animals, and at worst serious infection or death, is clearly a transgression against these principles. ******************* As a general rule, it is unlawful to kill animals except for food or to protect ourselves from harm. Even when we slaughter an animal for food, we must do so in the best, most humane manner possible. The Prophet (peace be upon him)) said, “When you kill, you should kill well, and when you slaughter, you should slaughter well. Sharpen your knife and give relief to your slaughtered animal. [Sunan Abî Dâwûd] ********************* We cannot even kill insects except if they cause harm to us in some way, and then we may kill them only to the extent that we must in order to safeguard ourselves from their harm. Evidence for this is that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “A prophet once sat under a tree when he got bitten by an ant so he burnt the ant’s village. Allah inspired to him: Why not only one ant?” [Sahîh Muslim] “ ************************ People for the ethical treatment of animals (Peta) said catch-and-release-fishing is cruelty disguised as ‘sport’. Studies show that fish which are caught and then returned to the water suffer such severe physiological stress that they often die of shock. ******************** Fish often swallow hooks, and anglers may try to retrieve a hook by shoving their fingers or pliers down the fish's throat, ripping out not just the hook but some of the fish's throat and guts as well. When fish are handled, the protective coating on their bodies is disturbed. These and other injuries make fish easy targets for predators once they are returned to the water. ********************* Fish feel pain because, like all animals, they have nerves. Hooked fish struggle out of fear and experienced physical pain, desperate to breathe. Once fish are hauled out of their aqueous environment and into ours, they begin to suffocate, and their gills often collapse. In commercial fishing, fish’s swim bladders can rupture because of the sudden change in pressure. ******************** Angling hurts other animals too. Every year, anglers leave behind a trail of tackle victims that includes millions of birds, turtles, and other animals who suffer debilitating injuries after they swallow fishhooks or become entangled in fishing line. Wildlife rehabilitators say that discarded fishing tackle is one of the greatest threats to aquatic animals. ******************* An article approved by Mufti Ebrahim Desai from Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah, Australia noted: “It is not permissible to do fishing just to pass time and to have fun when one does not have a valid shar’ee purpose such as to keep the fish for consumption etc. ************************* Therefore, recreational fishing and sport fishing in which one catches fish merely to release them again is not permissible. Releasing the fish due to it being undersized according to the law of the country is a different issue. ******************** To persistently spend a lot of time on fishing is not permissible as it causes ghafla (heedlessness) because of which the person is distracted from and deprived of praiseworthy as well as compulsory acts. Ibn Abbas (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said, “Whoever pursues the game (i.e. hunted animal, fish etc.) becomes heedless.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i). *********************** Mulla Ali Qaari (May Allah be pleased with him) explains the hadith thus: “i.e. whoever persistently pursues (the animal, fish etc.) and engrosses himself in it and mounts himself in order to pursue it -- such as a pigeon etc. -- for amusement and delight, becomes heedless: i.e. of Allah’s obedience, His worship, the congregation, and Jum’ah; and he distances himself from gentleness and mercy because of his resemblance with a predatory animal and a beast.” (Mirqaatul Mafaatih vol. 7 pg. 279) ******************* In short, to fish with a valid syariah purpose, such as to keep the fish for eating, is permissible. To incessantly and persistently spend a lot of time on fishing is not permissible. To fish just for the sake of fishing without the intention of keeping the fish is also not permissible.”

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