On causing unintentional damage

A: First: As to the report in this regard, it is narrated by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad, Abu Dawud, Al-Nasa'y, and Ibn Majah in their Sunan (Hadith compilations classified by jurisprudential themes) and others. Various reports have similar wordings and according to the report of Abu Dawud from Haram ibn Muhayyasah on the authority of Al-Bara' ibn `Azib who said that he had an aggressive she-camel that ran into a garden and caused damage. Al-Bara' then told the Prophet about the incident. The Prophet issued a ruling to the effect that it was a duty of farmers to guard their farms during the day while the owners of cattle must guard their cattle during the night. And the cattle animal owners are to be held liable had damage been caused by their animals during the night. It is also narrated by Abu Dawud through (Part No. 14; Page No. 184) another narration on the authority of Haram ibn Muhayyasah from his father that the she-camel of Al-Bara' ran into a garden and spoiled it. Therefore, the Messenger of Allah ordered that the owners of gardens and orchards shall guard their farms during the daytime, and the owners of cattle shall guard them at night. Second: This Hadith was narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him) on a specific occasion i.e. the she-camel of Al-Bara' spoiled a garden of another, but it has a general wording due to the word "cattle" as he said: The owners of cattle have to keep their cattle during the night. And the cattle animal owners are to be held liable had damage been caused by their animals during the night. Indeed, the generality of this judgment is not restricted to the occasion mentioned but effective in all cases and so is the word 'cattle'; it includes sheep and cows. Third: Many scholars authenticated this Hadith and acted upon it, such as Malik, Al-Shafi`y, Ahmad, and others. They were all of the view that the livestock owner shall compensate for whatever damages are caused at night, not for that caused during the day. Al-Shafi`y said that we adopted this (Part No. 14; Page No. 185) Hadith because of its authenticity, sound Sanad (chain of narrators), and the popularity of its narrators. They also made it a specification for the generality of the Hadith: There is no compensation for the back legs of a dumb animal.” Some scholars said that animal owners must compensate for all cases while others said the opposite. The most preponderant view is the first opinion, because it combines the general and specific Hadiths. For more clarification, a seeker may refer to the opinions of scholars and their sound evidence in the relevant books. Whoever has a case, should refer it to the judge to give his verdict based on the opinions of knowledgeable scholars to settle the dispute. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.