Lawful & unlawful foods – according to the Hanbalis

The following rulings are translated from Zad al-mustaqniʿ, with selected notes from its commentary Al-Raud al-murbiʿ placed between ‹…›.


‹The plural of “food,” which is what is eaten and what is drunk.›

The default ruling for them [i.e., foods] is permissibility. ‹Allah Most High says, “It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth” [Q2:29].›

Every pure and harmless ‹food› is lawful, including grains, fruits, and others.

Filth is not lawful, such as an animal that was not properly slaughtered, and blood. ‹Allah Most High says, “Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood” [Q5:3].›

Nor are things that are harmful ‹permissible›, such as poison and the like. ‹Allah Most High says, “do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction” [Q2:195].›

Animals Unlawful to Eat

Land animals are lawful except for:

  • domestic ass;
  • fanged and tusked animals that use them [to hunt] – other than hyenas. ‹Fanged animals are,› such as lions, panthers, wolves, elephants, lynxes, dogs, swine, jackals, weasels, cats (without restriction), Egyptian mongoose [ichneumon], monkeys, bears, ‹martens, foxes, grey squirrels, and sables›;
  • birds with talons with which they hunt, such as eagles, falcons, hawks, Peregrine falcons, sparrow-hawks, kites, and owls;
  • ‹birds that are› carrion eaters, such as vultures, white Egyptian vultures [vultur percnopterus], storks, magpies, hooded crows, rooks (which are black, small, and dust-colored), and large black ravens;
  • what is considered vile ‹by Arabs who possess an abundance›, such as hedgehogs, porcupines, mice, snakes, insects of all types [n.b. the exception of locusts is mentioned when discussing slaughtering], and bats;
  • the progeny of an edible and a non-edible [animal], such as a mule ‹from a [female] horse and [male] donkey›.

‹Whatever Arabs do not know of and is not mentioned in the Legislation, is referred back to its closest resemblance. If it resembles [two things, one being] lawful and [one being] prohibited, unlawfulness dominates.

A worm in cheese, vinegar, and the like is eaten with them [but not one on its own].›

Animals Lawful to Eat

Everything other than those ‹that we mentioned as being unlawful› is lawful ‹following the default›, such as: horses, domesticated herd animals [camels, cows, and sheep and goats] ‹Allah Most High says, “Lawful for you are the animals of grazing livestock” [Q5:1]›, chickens, wild donkeys, wild cows, gazelles, ostriches, rabbits, and all other wild animals ‹e.g., giraffes, hyrax, jerboa; and likewise peacocks, parrots, jackdaws [zāgh and ghurāb al-zarʿ], since they are considered wholesome and they enter in the universality of His Almighty’s statement: “That which is wholesome are lawful for you” [Q7:157].›

All sea animals are lawful ‹due to Allah Most High says, “Lawful to you is game from the sea” [Q5:96]›, except for frogs ‹since they are vile›, crocodiles ‹since they have fangs with which they hunt›, and snakes ‹since they among the vile creatures›.

‹An animal that predominately eats filth is unlawful (as are its milk and eggs) until it is restrained for three days and fed only pure food.›


Whoever is compelled to [consume] a non-poisonous unlawful substance ‹out of fear of death should they fail to do so›, it is lawful for him ‹provided he is not on an unlawful journey› to eat enough to sustain his life. ‹Due to Allah Most High saying, “But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring nor transgressing” [Q2:173]. He may take [some] as provisions if he fears [not finding else]. It is obligatory to ask before eating it [the filthy food].

One must investigate when a slaughtered animal becomes mixed with one that is not slaughtered properly.

If the only food one finds belongs to someone else: If its owner needs it or fears that he will need it, then the owner has more right to it and he cannot give priority to the other person. Otherwise [if the owner does not need or fear that he will], he is only required to give enough to sustain life at its [market] value. If the food’s owner refuses, the needy person may take it, using the minimum force necessary, and give him something in exchange.›

Whoever is compelled by necessity to make use of someone else’s property without consuming its entity ‹such as [using] garments› to repel the cold, ‹rope and a bucket› for drinking water, and the like: it is obligatory to offer it ‹his necessity› to him for free. ‹This is provided that he does not need it himself since Allah Most High scolded holding assistance back in Him saying, “And withhold [simple] assistance” [Q107:7].

If the individual compelled by necessity finds nothing save a sacrosanct human being, he may not eat him [the other person] nor one of his own limbs.›

Whoever passes by an orchard with a fruit [still in] a tree or fallen from it, and there is no wall ‹around the orchard› or guard: he may eat from it for free without carrying any away. ‹Even if he has no need. He may not climb the tree, throw something [to knock it down], or eat from gathered plucked fruit – except out of need. And it is similar for crops and drinking from grazing livestock.›

It is obligatory ‹for a Muslim› to give hospitality to a Muslim who passes by him in a village ‹but not in cities›, for a day and a night.

The first quarter of this book is already published as Supplement for the Seeker of Certitude.

3 thoughts on “Lawful & unlawful foods – according to the Hanbalis”

  1. As salamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Are hedgehoges considered forbidden according to the Hanbalis but permissible according to the Shafi’is even though the Hanbalis argue with the culture of the arabs?

    In your translation of Manhaj at-Tullab it says:

    [Animals that are] not permissible [include]:

    flies and small animals that creep or walk upon the earth (such as beetles). ‹Exceptions from the latter include hedgehogs, hyraxes, uromastyx lizards [ḍabb], and jerboas.›

    JazakAllahu khayran for your efforts Shaykh.

    • wa alaykum al-salam wa rahmatu Llahi wa barakatuhu

      I was wondering if anyone was going to pick up on that.

      Ibn Quddamah’s presentation of the issue and the Hanbali take in Al-Mughni is this: “Hedgehog is unlawful. Abu Hurayrah [may Allah be pleased with him] said, “It is unlawful.” Malik considered it offensive, and [so did] Abu Hanifah. Al-Shafiʿi permitted it, and [so did] al-Layth and Abu Thaur. In our favor, we have that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Hedgehog was mentioned to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and he said, ‘One of the vile creatures.'” Abu Dawud related it. And [we have] that it resembles things that are unlawful and eats small ground crawlers, thus resembling field rats.” (Al-Mughni, 9:406 #7781.)

      The Shafiʿis mention that Ibn ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with them both) was asked about hedgehogs. He recited, “Say, ‘I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden to one…’” [Q6:157]. A man stood up and said, “I testify that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Hedgehogs are vile.'” Ibn ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with them both) replied, “If he [ﷺ] did say it, then it is as he said.” This response is understood to indicate that Ibn ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with them both) was skeptical about accepting the man’s report. The Shafiʿis also a narration from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that when hedgehog was mentioned to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, he replied that they are “One of the vile creatures.” If the hadith is sound, it is not clear whether it refers to hedgehog behavior or meat. They also mention that it is considered wholesome and does not hunt with its teeth, thus resembling a rabbit. (See: Al-Hawi al-kabir, 15:140; Al-Muhadhdhab, 1:450; Nihayat al-matlab, 18:213.)

      And Allah knows best.


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