Lawful and Prohibited Animals – from The Evident Memorandum

The following rulings are excerpted from The Evident Memorandum.

The foundation for the lawfulness and prohibition of certain animals includes Allah Most High saying, “They ask thee (O Muhammad) what is made lawful for them. Say: ‘(all) good things are made lawful for you…’” [Q5:4].

General guidelines

Every animal the Arabs [during the time of the Prophet ﷺ] considered wholesome…

The custom of the Arabs is given legal consideration since they are the ones who first received the Sacred Law. The Prophet ﷺ was one of them, and the Quran was revealed to them.

…and that the Sacred Law did not specifically declare unlawful, is lawful.

Allah Most High says, “…make lawful for them all good things [ṭayyibāt] and prohibit for them only the foul [khabāʾith]…” [Q7:157].

The opposite is unlawful, as is every animal with fangs…

Abū Thaʿlabah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ prohibited the consumption of every predator with fangs.

Animals forbidden because of fangs include wolves, lions, and dogs.

[The prohibition] does not include the hyena since there is an indemnity [fidyah] for killing it and indemnities are only owed for edible animals.

Jābir (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked whether hyenas are game. He said, “Yes.” He was asked whether they are eaten. He said, “Yes.” He was asked whether he heard it from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. He said, “Yes.”

Dogs and cats are considered predators.

The ruling also applies to birds that hunt with their beaks.

All creatures that creep and crawl on the ground [ḥasharāt], which includes insects and reptiles, are inedible since they are disgusting. Locusts are an exception because the Prophet ﷺ said, “Two [types of] carrion are lawful for us: fish and locusts.”

Another exception is a type of desert lizard [Ar., ḍabb; Lat. Uromastyx maliensis]. This is because of a hadith about eating them.

…and talons.

Ibn ʿAbbās (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ prohibited the consumption of every predatory beast with fangs, and every bird with talons.

Examples of other forbidden creatures include frogs (due to the prohibition of killing them). Whatever is forbidden to kill has sanctity. Also, frogs are considered filthy.

[Other forbidden animals include] alligators (since they are filthy, harmful, and hunt with their fangs), [terrestrial] crabs, and snakes.

Animals that eat urine and feces

It is offensive to eat meat from an animal that feeds on urine and feces [jalālah] until it becomes wholesome.

Ibn ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with them both) said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ forbade eating an animal that feeds on urine and feces [jalālah] and [consuming] its milk.”

ʿAbd Allāh bin ʿAmr (may Allah be pleased with them both) said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ forbade eating the meat or drinking the milk of animals that have fed on urine and feces [jalālah]. Nothing is carried on them except udm, and people do not ride them. [This is] until they are fed fodder for forty days.”

Consuming forbidden foods out of necessity

It is obligatory for someone who fears dying from starvation or a fatal illness to eat things that are otherwise unlawful.

Allah Most High says, “…unless ye are compelled thereto…” [Q6:119].

‹In the verse: “unless ye are compelled thereto,” means “eat of, since it is also permissible to,” i.e., one is not barred from eating it out of necessity: what has been forbidden has been clarified and this is not among it.

Allah Most High says, “Forbidden unto you (for food) are dead animals and blood and swineflesh, and that which hath been dedicated unto any other than Allah…” and then saying, “…Whoso is forced by hunger, not by will, to sin: (for him) lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” [Q5:3].›

The same applies to consuming what is forbidden for the sake of medical treatment. It is not permissible to ingest unadulterated alcohol since it is a poison rather than a medication. However, mixtures that include alcohol are permissible since their alcohol content has been [sufficiently] diluted.

For additional benefit, I have included a graphic representation of the material presented above, as well as a chart of the same section from Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyā al-Anṣārī’s Tuḥfat al-ṭullāb, with additions from Shaykh al-Sharqāwī’s marginal notes.

Find out more about The Evident Memorandum here.

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