Short Answer: Yes, you can still hunt with your family. As long as you are following some specific guidelines, there is nothing wrong with hunting for food with your family. As far as your family being Christian, as long as they don’t intentionally kill the animal in the name of Jesus, there is nothing wrong with eating the meat from the animal they have killed, assuming it was killed within the specific guidelines mentioned.
Asalaamu alaykum, and peace be with you, Michael,
Thank you for sending this excellent question!
I am, myself, from a deer-hunting family, having grown up in central Illinois.
It’s not the Yukon, for sure, but there are deer and rabbit to be harvested.
I, too, was saddened when I converted and my new Muslim friends told me there was something inherently haram (forbidden) about hunting with my family.
Rest assured: as long as you keep to these specific guidelines, there is no reason you need to stop this important family tradition!
But First: Intentions
Before I get into answering the core questions you’ve raised, let me make sure you understand that hunting for sport is very different than hunting for meat.
The one is a sick and strange obsession with killing innocent animals as a form of entertainment, while the other is a healthy, normal method of ensuring one’s survival.
So long as you’re hunting with your family in order to harvest meat for eating, your intentions are good with Allah, inshaAllah.
What Animals Can I Hunt?
For the most part, as long as you’re not hunting for wild boar or any other variety of pig, or for any carnivorous animal, like wolves or coyotes, most meat you’ll harvest would be halal for eating.
But let’s be more specific about what animals you cannot hunt for food:
- Swine (including wild boars)
- Dogs or Cats (so domesticated animals)
- Predatory animals that prey with fangs, tusks etc. (that includes wild cats, like Lynx)
- Animals which hunt with talons
- Crocodiles and other animals that live both on earth and land
I know there are no crocodiles in the Yukon, but you get the idea!
Regarding something like seals, which sometimes live on earth and sometimes on land, I’d recommend sending that specific question to our Ask the Scholar section.
It’s also super important to follow the guidelines of your specific region as far as what animals you’re permitted to hunt and harvest during what parts of the year.
Also, keep in mind that if an animal is visibly sick or wounded, or if it is a very young animal still needing milk from its mother, these animals should not be killed for meat.
Hunting with a Gun or Arrow vs. Slaughtering
One of the main issues that Muslims raise in regards to hunting is the question of how to make sure the meat is considered halal if the animal was killed in an inhumane fashion.
This is a very important question, and the answer is fairly simple.
Hunting for animals to harvest their meat requires sneaking up on them, or waiting for them to cross your path.
This logically means that being able to push them to the ground and slit their jugular vein, in the traditional halal fashion, would be all but impossible.
Where slaughtering the animal is possible, hunting it with a bow and arrow or a gun is not permissible.
But, in the case of hunting wild animals, what is one to do? The general view is this: aim to kill.
One single bullet to the head or heart of the animal is the best and most humane way, next to traditional slaughtering.
Sidi Wasim Shilwala of SeekersHub.org says:
If the animal is killed as a result of the hunt, then no additional slaughter is necessary, and its meat is halal. However, if the animal is still alive after being hunted, then one must slaughter it. If the slaughter is not done in this case, then animal is impermissible to eat.
It’s also very important to always be sure to say “Bismillah” (In the Name of Allah) before firing the gun or loosing your arrow!
Eating the Meat of the People of the Book
The general ruling in Islam is that we are permitted to eat the meat of animals that have been slaughtered by the People of the Book.
This means that meat from animals killed according to Jewish customs and wherein God’s name has been spoken over the animal, is halal for us to eat, according to the majority of Muslim scholars.
As far as Christians go, there are no agreed upon slaughtering methods that they follow.
As long as your family does not speak the name of Jesus (or really any name) over the weapon before killing the animal, the meat should be considered halal.
I hope this has answered your question, Michael!