IslamQA.org Logo

Is it Permissible to Use Pepper Spray to Defend Oneself?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Daruliftaa.com

Is it permissible to use pepper spray to defend oneself?

ANSWER

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Pepper spray is a non-lethal chemical agent which is used in riot control and personal self-defence. The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, including chillies. Pepper spray is also known as OC spray or OC gas. In the UK, where it is classed as an offensive weapon, the sale and possession of pepper spray is illegal.

OC has proven itself to be the absolute best deterrent available for attacking dogs and wild animal control. Another advantage of OC is that it is not volatile and will not emit a lot of fumes like tear gases.

Islamically speaking, one should always remember that although Shariah gives us permission to kill harmful animals, it never permits making animals suffer. So much so that even regarding animals that are for human consumption, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) advised us not to slaughter one animal in the presence of the other, and that one should sharpen the knife as much as possible in order to hasten the act of slaughtering and avoiding any unnecessary harm to the animal.

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that “the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) forbade making animals suffer.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Hence, harming animals, causing them undue pain or making them suffer is not permitted. Yes, Islam does allow us to defend ourselves and kill harmful animals, but this should be done in a way that does not make the animal suffer.

The following is mentioned in the renowned Hanafi Fiqh reference work, al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:

“If a person has a rapacious dog that bites everyone who passes by it, it will be permitted for the people of that town or village to kill it.”

And:

“A cat that harms should not be hit neither should its ears be damaged, rather it should be slaughtered with a sharp knife, as mentioned in al-Wajiz.”

And:

“There is nothing wrong (la ba’s) in killing a locust, for it is permissible to hunt it hence to kill it due to it being harmful will be permitted from a greater extent. However, it is disliked to burn it.”

And:

“The relied upon position with regards to the killing of ants is that if they start to harm one (or one’s belongings), then there is nothing wrong in killing them, and if they do not harm, it is disliked to kill them. However, all the Fuqaha agree that it is (prohibitively) disliked to throw ants in the water.” (See: al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 5/360/361)

Therefore, it is allowed to kill animals that are harmful to one’s self or one’s belongings, but the condition is that one should not make them suffer, and one should try and minimize the suffering and pain as much as possible.

In light of this, if the pepper spray is such that it is extremely harmful and painful for the animal, then one should avoid using it on the animal, especially if there is a less-painful alternative available. Also, in some countries, it is illegal to carry pepper spray; hence it will also not be permitted to use it Islamically, as one has to obey the laws of the land.

In conclusion, there are two conditions for the permissibility of using pepper spray and the like as a form of self-defence against harmful animals:

1) One must be allowed to carry and use the spray by law,

2) It should not be extremely harmful to the animal. One should use a less harmful substance as an alternative.

As far as using pepper spray for defence against humans, if one fears for one’s life or wealth, one must endeavour to protect one’s self or one’s wealth even by carrying self-defence weapons. However, one should not carry weapons that are illegal.

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

This answer was collected from Daruliftaa.com, which is headed by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari. He’s based in the United Kingdom.

Find more answers indexed from: Daruliftaa.com
Read more answers with similar topics:
Subscribe to IslamQA Weekly Newsletter

Subscribe to IslamQA Weekly Newsletter

You will receive 5 Q&A in your inbox every week



We have sent a confirmation to you. Please check the and confirm your subscription. Thank you!