I ask this question is in concern that the story of Abel (هابیل) and Cain (قابیل) when the first murder on earth happened between mankind. In that case, one side didn't fight back the murder but simply warn the other side of the hell fire.

However; I don't understand why we should not allow self defense even against Muslims.

For example, if a Muslim is shooting at you or going to stab you, are one suppose to just let the other side do it? Or any type of self defensive actions are allowed in Islam in this type of scenario?

Please state authentic Qur'an n hadith reference. Jazakallahir!


4 Answers 4


In regard to the initial part of your question that you pointed to the story of Habu and Kabu (abel & cain) (هابیل و قابیل ), you also mentioned that " one side didn't fight back the murder but simply warn the other side of the hell fire"

So, the verse below (4:93) could be related with that story:

وَمَن يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا ٩٣

But whoever kills a believer intentionally - his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment. (93)

or even we can pay attention to the following verse (Surah al-Nisa:94) which could be related with the issue of Takfir (excommunication)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَتَبَيَّنُوا وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ أَلْقَىٰ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا تَبْتَغُونَ عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فَعِندَ اللَّـهِ مَغَانِمُ كَثِيرَةٌ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلُ فَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَتَبَيَّنُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا﴿٩٤﴾

O you who have believed, when you go forth [to fight] in the cause of Allah, investigate; and do not say to one who gives you [a greeting of] peace "You are not a believer," aspiring for the goods of worldly life; for with Allah are many acquisitions. You [yourselves] were like that before; then Allah conferred His favor upon you, so investigate. Indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted. (94)

On the other hand, rationally (and even canonically) it is Wajib (mandatory) for us to defend ourselves. (of course by observing some points…). Even according to a Hadith from Imam Ali (a.s.):

(briefly): whoever of you who is able to defend his friend (against the enemy), So he should defend him(his friend) as he defend himself.

احد من اخوانه فشلا، فليذب عن اخيه بفضل نجدته التي فضل بها عليه، کما يذب عن نفسه، فلوشاء الله لجعله مثله. ان الموت طالب حثيت،...

The Hadith(tradition) above shows that as well as ourselves, it could be our duty to defend our friends too (of course by paying attention to its conditions according to the positions and so on)

Accordingly, even as you gave an example "if a Muslim is shooting at you or going to stab you, are one suppose to just let the other side do it? Or any type of self defensive actions are allowed in Islam in this type of scenario?"

Then this is your duty as an obligatory deed to save your life.

Or let me give you another example which is related with your question (but in a larger field):

In the war between Iran and Iraq (some years ago), Iraq attacked Iran. As you probably know, Iraq is an Islamic country, then shall we say Iran ought not defend itself because the soldiers of Iraq were Muslims? (and allowed them to kill themselves?)


  • Excuse me that I only know english (for now) :) Would you plz reference the exact number and hadith book name for that piece you referenced 'briefly' ? I can't find the phrase in your reference.
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 15:42
  • @Adam i found this narration in an explanation/sharh of Nahj al-Balagha (Chapter7 /122 what he (Ali Peace be upon him) said to his companions at the battle of Sefyn) haydarya.com/maktaba_moktasah/07/book_07/index.htm I guess you can find an English translation for it
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 9:39
  • 1
    The Iraq/Iran example is irrelevant, and it involves politics more than religion.
    – user13592
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 4:18
  • 1
    Nahj Al-Balagha is not a religious reference for majority of Muslims, Muslims do not call the words of Ali Ibn Abi Taleb (Peace be upon him) a Hadith. Hadith is only the words of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
    – user13592
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 4:24

It's completely justified and accepted to defend yourself, against non-Muslims and fellow Muslims who ever attack you.

A person came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: Messenger of Allah, what do you think if a man comes to me in order to appropriate my possession? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Don't surrender your possession to him. He (the inquirer) said: If he fights me? He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: Then fight (with him). He (the inquirer) again said: What do you think if I am killed? He (the Holy Prophet) observed: You would be a martyr. He (the inquirer) said: What do you think of him (Messenger of Allah) If I kill him. He (the Holy Prophet) said: he would be in the Fire.

جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ جَاءَ رَجُلٌ يُرِيدُ أَخْذَ مَالِي قَالَ ‏"‏ فَلاَ تُعْطِهِ مَالَكَ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ قَاتَلَنِي قَالَ ‏"‏ قَاتِلْهُ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ قَتَلَنِي قَالَ ‏"‏ فَأَنْتَ شَهِيدٌ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ قَتَلْتُهُ قَالَ ‏"‏ هُوَ فِي النَّارِ

Sahih Muslim: Hadith 267

Some scholars debate different conditions related to this hadith and situation; what if you can give some money to send him away? what if you can dismiss him by giving him your money and save your life? what if you can't physically fight him back? these are some conditions that give you "the choice" not to fight back according to some schools. but the hadith is crystal clear that you are allowed to fight for you money in the first place, and for your life if it turns into a fight, and that if you get killed you are a martyr, it's obvious that you do not have to be sure that fighting back is a guaranteed win, just defend your money and your self.

Now come to the Habu/Kabu incident, first of all you should know that whatever shari'a and acts of prophets or good people prior to prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is not a part of Islamic shari'a unless stated clearly in Quran or Hadith that it's a shari'a, this means that whatever Habu said and did is not to be followed by Muslims just because we know about. the next hadith is mistakenly taken as an order to act like the good son of Adam who did not defend himself.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Before the Last Hour there will be commotions like pieces of a dark night in which a man will be a believer in the morning and an infidel in the evening, or a believer in the evening and infidel in the morning. He who sits during them will be better than he who gets up and he who walks during them is better than he who runs. So break your bows, cut your bowstrings and strike your swords on stones. If people then come in to one of you, let him be like the better of Adam's two sons.

إِنَّ بَيْنَ يَدَىِ السَّاعَةِ فِتَنًا كَقِطَعِ اللَّيْلِ الْمُظْلِمِ يُصْبِحُ الرَّجُلُ فِيهَا مُؤْمِنًا وَيُمْسِي كَافِرًا وَيُمْسِي مُؤْمِنًا وَيُصْبِحُ كَافِرًا الْقَاعِدُ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ مِنَ الْقَائِمِ وَالْمَاشِي فِيهَا خَيْرٌ مِنَ السَّاعِي فَكَسِّرُوا قِسِيَّكُمْ وَقَطِّعُوا أَوْتَارَكُمْ وَاضْرِبُوا سُيُوفَكُمْ بِالْحِجَارَةِ فَإِنْ دُخِلَ - يَعْنِي عَلَى أَحَدٍ مِنْكُمْ - فَلْيَكُنْ كَخَيْرِ ابْنَىْ آدَمَ ‏

Sunan Abi Dawud 4259

The hadith tells about the time of Fitna just before the last hour, and since we do not know for sure if we are at this specific time, we do not have to follow the instructions of that situation, and we are meant to follow the previous hadith.


No, it isn't wrong to accidentally kill the attacking person, but it is said in the Quran that if you accidentally kill a Muslim then you should free a slave, and if his/her family asks for blood money then pay it, You should avoid killing as far as possible as is said in Surah - An_Nisa (92)

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And never is it for a believer to kill a believer except by mistake. And whoever kills a believer by mistake - then the freeing of a believing slave and a compensation payment presented to the deceased's family [is required] unless they give [up their right as] charity. But if the deceased was from a people at war with you and he was a believer - then [only] the freeing of a believing slave; and if he was from a people with whom you have a treaty - then a compensation payment presented to his family and the freeing of a believing slave. And whoever does not find [one or cannot afford to buy one] - then [instead], a fast for two months consecutively, [seeking] acceptance of repentance from Allah . And Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.


Reading from chapter Ma'edeh verses 27-30:

If you should raise your hand against me to kill me - I shall not raise my hand against you to kill you. Indeed, I fear Allah , Lord of the worlds.https://quran.com/5/28

Now we need a little imagination here. Imagine your brother says I'll kill you. What would you do? Would you say I'll kill you before you even pick up your sword? Or would you say "Oh my brother why would you say that? Have I done something that made you mad? If you want to kill me... know that I won't ever want to kill you. You're my brother!". You basically try to cool down the situation.

It's a story of love there. One side really loves his brother his kin, while the other hates him. It's a great story for everyone. Even for kids.

If there classmate says I'll hit you they can respond back well I wouldn't want to hit, it's not the right thing to do. A husband/wife can tell their spouse even if you want destroy my life, I wouldn't do that to you. It's not right. (I'm fearful of Allah... as Allah would only انما یقبل الله من المتقین/ Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him].)

The verses are a discussion between 2 brothers. There's love between them, or at least one way. One is pious as mentioned in verse 27 and the other isn't. He's saying my brother (that I love), IF would want to kill me then I wouldn't want to kill you. He's trying to say I won't fight you... so he wouldn't fight either. It's not like if he starts bashing him he would just stand until he's done. He would defend himself and ultimately if needed if it gets to a point where he needs to kill his brother so he can defend himself he would do it. I think Abel defended himself as that's a rational thing to do... which is also mentioned in the other answers... but ultimately he was killed by his brother.

So to answer specifically, it's best to avoid it as Abel tried to avoid, but if it's inevitable then must defend yourself to a fair extent.

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