There is a well known hypothetical legal case in philosophy of law known as The Case of the Speluncean Explorers

In the hypothetical case, a trapped team of five spelunkers determine via radio contact with physicians that they will have starved to death by the time they are rescued, and thus elect to eat one of their party. Once the remaining four spelunkers are rescued, they are all indicted for the murder of their fifth member. The article proceeds to examine the case from the perspectives of five different legal principles, with widely varying conclusions as to whether or not the spelunkers are guilty, and whether or not they should be executed (as is the mandatory punishment for murder in the fictitious commonwealth where the case takes place).

What is Islam's take on this case? Is it justifiable to eat according to sharia.

2 Answers 2


I believe we can separate the act described in the question in two parts: 1) Killing of a person and 2) Eating that person after his/her death.

Islam prohibits killing of another human without a legit reason (Verses 2:178, 4:92-93, 5:32, 6:151, 17:33, 25:68). The legit reasons are explained in those verses, "fear of death by poverty" is not among them. Verse 6:151 mentions not to kill your children out of the fear of poverty - I guess it was something that was done in that times, perhaps still done in our day.

Verse 49:12 indirectly prohibits eating the flesh of another person by referring to it as a detestable action.

With the guidance of above verses:

"spelunkers determine via radio contact with physicians that they will have starved to death by the time they are rescued"

The physicians can only make a guess, they can't know for 100% certainty that those people will have died by the time they are rescued. Only Allah knows when a person will die (Verse 31:34). We can say it's a "strong" guess, backed up by scientific observations, but it is still a guess.

I would rather die of hunger, than eat another human being. May Allah not put anyone in such hunger which may result in terrible, inhumane acts.


Islam cherishes life and those who saves the lives of others.

Islam highly condemns the spilling of a human's blood.

Islam raises the status of those who struggle for the truth and for the cause of others even in the face of death.

Islam disgust those who eat one's brothers meat (allegorically, let alone concretely)

As for the verses I'll leave others to fill in, or if i have time to reedit this post, i hope to revisit it.

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