Search In Fatwa

Examples of Enduring the Lesser of Two Evils to Ward off the Graver One


Assalamualikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu, In fatwa no 88414 you have stated "that a small harm can be borne if there is a greater benefit", please give a few examples of such events where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or the Rightly Guided Caliphs had applied this principle so that one can gauge and so that one doesn't fall into the Machiavellian theory. Jazakallahukhair.


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.

The Islamic Sharee‘ah is based on the realization and perfection of interests and the elimination and minimization of evils, as indicated by the texts of the divine revelation in the Quran and Sunnah. As examples, Allah, The Exalted, Says (what means):

· {…while He has explained in detail to you what He has forbidden you, excepting that to which you are compelled.} [Quran 6:119]

· {But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him.} [Quran 2:173]

· {…and He has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.} [Quran 22:78]

From these texts and others, scholars derived a Fiqhi rule to the effect that “Necessities overrule prohibitions (i.e. a case of necessity permits what is forbidden in origin),” and “The lesser of the two evils shall be endured in order to ward off the graver one.

One of the clearest practical examples on such rules is the permissibility of eating the meat of a dead animal for someone who fears starving to death because the meat of a dead animal is unlawful in principle, but with the fact that letting oneself starve to death is a graver evil, Allah, The Exalted, allows the compelled person to eat the meat of a dead animal to save himself from death.

Another example is what happened to ‘Ammaar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him when the polytheists tortured him and did not release him until he insulted the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and praised their idols. It was narrated on the authority of Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir from his father that he said: “The polytheists seized ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir and did not release him until he insulted the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and praised their idols. When he came to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the latter asked him: ‘What happened to you?’ He replied: ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is not good! The polytheists did not release me until they forced me to insult you and praise their gods!’ He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘How do you find your heart?’ He answered: ‘My heart is reassured with faith.’ He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘If they compel you to do so again, do it.’” [Al-Haakim: authentic, Ath-Thahabi classified it as authentic as well]

Allah Knows best.

Related Fatwa