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Last Updated: 2007/10/14
Summary of question
What is the ruling on killing or hurting someone when defending yourself?
What is the ruling on getting into fights with people that insult and disrespect others and cause problems? What if one hurts or kills one of them in a fight because he was trying to defend himself?
Concise answer

In the conflicts that take place between people within the society, no one is allowed to start a fight or use force against others.[1] From the Islamic point of view, the only solution is to refer to the elders or take the case to court. It is on this basis that if a person’s rights are violated and he takes actions into his own hands without taking his case to court and hurts or kills another person in this process, he can be punished with Qisas.

Yes, one must protect his wealth and family[2], but he must use the least brutal method to do so, and move on to the next methods only if he is not successful in taking back his rights.

Some of the maraje’ say: “It is required that one starts from the least brutal method when defending, regardless of whether the defense is wajib or simply permissible (regarding the non-Muharib). If no method will do any good, then there is doubt to say that it is haram to surrender and that he must defend as much as he can.”[3]

In any event, if one hurts or kills another person in the process of defending himself, he has not committed a sin, but he must prove in court with adequate evidence that he was defending himself. Similarly, if he has done so unintentionally, he must prove it to the judge. If it is proven that it was unintentional, then the family of the victim cannot carry out qisas and can only ask for blood money. However, if he cannot present strong proof in this regard, he will be considered guilty of murder and qisas will be carried out.

The summary of the fatwas and ahadith in this regard are as follows:

1- It is permissible for any person to protect his wealth and family.

2- If one is killed while defending himself, he is considered a martyr.

3- Defense has many degrees and if the one option left is to kill the transgressor, it is permissible to do so. In such a situation, the murderer is not required to pay blood money and Qisas will not be carried out. However, in regard to the loss of wealth in particular, the Imams have instructed us not to kill anyone. For example, it is haram to kill a thief that is running away with one’s wealth.

4- Proving that one was defending himself is a different issue from it being permissible, meaning that proving it requires adequate evidence.[4]

In any event, there are many other situations that must be observed in this regard. What we have done is just mention the general points that are applicable to everyone.


[1] Even in regard to Amr be al-Maruf and Nahy an al-Munkar, now that the Islamic government is established, normal people can only verbally enjoin others to good and the other methods should be carried out by the police and courts.

[2] “It is incumbent to protect wealth that one is greatly in need of, even if it is entrust by someone else and to hand over the money is not permissible. Otherwise, it is permissible to protect the money, if there is no probability of death.”

[3] Jami’ al-Masa’il of Ayatullah Bahjat, vol. 5, p. 213.

[4] Al-Qawaa’id al-Fiqhiyyah‌ (of Ayatullah Makarim), vol. 2, p. 32; Mabani Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 1, p. 428; Mabani Takmilat al-Minhaj, vol. 41, p. 423; Al-Mabsut fi Fiqh al-Imamiyyah, vol. 8, p. 76; Tadhkirat al-Fuqaha (new edition), vol. 9, p. 435; Masaalik al-Afhaam ila Tanqih Sharayi’ al-Islam, vol. 15, p. 52; Wasaa’il al-Shia, vol. 15, pp. 120-123.


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