Hitting face of aggressor in self-defense
Fatwa No: 340663

  • Fatwa Date:1-3-2017 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 3, 1438
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I am fully aware that boxing and any sports and activities that involve deliberately hitting the face are haram, based on clear evidence from hadiths. But what about situations of self-defence against aggressors? Is hitting the face of the aggressor in such situations permissible? Note that all aggressors, especially non-Muslim ones, do desire to hit the other party's face. May Allaah reward you abundantly.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

If someone is attacked, then he should defend himself, but he should avoid hitting the face as much as possible because of the hadeeth which was narrated by Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him and in which he related that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “If one of you were to hit, he should avoid hitting the face.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Another narration reads, “If one of you were to fight his brother, he should avoid hitting the face.” [Muslim]

The scholars said that this prohibition applies even to repelling an aggressor. Al-‘Iraaqi in clarifying its meaning in Tarh At-Tathreeb, said, “The meaning is that if fighting occurs between two parties, even when repelling an aggressor and the like, he should avoid hitting his face.

An-Nawawi, when interpreting Sharh Muslim, said, “This is an explicit statement about the prohibition of hitting the face, because the face is delicate and carries all beauty; its parts are gentle and precious, and the face includes most of the senses. Hitting the face may cause defect to the senses or impair them, and it may even cause deformity to it. Deformity in the face is a significant matter because it is visible and cannot be concealed. When the face is hit, it is hardly spared from suffering deformity.

Defending oneself against an aggressor should be done with the least severe method before the more severe; so if the aggressor is not repelled except by hitting his face, then there is no harm in doing so in this case, because if he is not repelled except by killing him, then he is killed, so it is with greater reason that if he is not repelled except by hitting his face, then he should be hit in his face, since killing is more serious than hitting the face.

The Fiqh Encyclopedia reads, “The aggressor is repelled with the less severe method first, so if it is possible to repel him by speaking to him or by calling people for help, then it is forbidden to hit him; or if it is possible to repel him by hitting him with the hand, then it is forbidden to use a whip; and if it is possible to repel him with a whip, then it is forbidden to use a stick; and if it is possible to repel him by cutting one of his body parts, then it is forbidden to kill him...

The Fiqh Encyclopedia also reads, “It is also a condition that repelling should be done in a gradual way; what can be repelled with words should not be repelled by hitting, and what can be repelled by hitting should not be repelled by killing…” 

For more benefit, please refer to fatwas 308272 and 82646.

Allah knows best.

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