#350: Eating Penguins

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling on eating penguins?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

We begin with the statement of Allah SWT:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا

“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good,” [1]

This verse is for everyone, regardless of whether they are from amongst the believers or disbelievers, to eat from anything on this earth, which consists of grains, fruits and animals that are made permissible for them (to eat and benefit from), not by confiscating, stealing or a result of prohibited muamalat (trade) or prohibited matters. While toyyiban is not from bad (filthy or disgusting) matters such as carcass, blood, swine and others. This verse is evidence of the original ruling for something (to be eaten or benefitted from) is permissible. [2]

Definition of penguin and its habitat

According to the Fourth Edition Hall Dictionary, the penguin is a black and white Antarctic seabird, short-legged, uses its wings to swim, and walks upright on land. [3] Penguins form the order penguins, Sphenisciformes, and the family Spheniscidae. It belongs to a group of aquatic birds that cannot fly. [4]

The penguin is an unusual bird that stands upright on its short legs and walks frantically in a clumsy and ridiculous style. Penguins cannot fly but are good at swimming. Penguins live in the southern half of the world. Several types of penguins, including the Adelie penguin and the Emperor penguin, live on the Antarctic ice. Others are found far to the north in areas that receive cold ocean currents from the Antarctic region.

All penguins have short, thick fur on their short, stocky bodies. The fur is white on the abdomen and black or bluish-black on the back. Some penguins have a crest of long feathers on the sides of their heads and brightly colored spots on their short, wide necks. Penguins lost the ability to fly millions of years ago. Its wings turn into fin wings that serve as paddles in the water. These fin wings as well as swimming legs, make penguins good at swimming and diving. Its short, thick fur becomes waterproof fur. A thick layer of fat warms the penguin while in cold water.

Penguins eat fish. It spends most of its life in the water, but lays eggs and defends its young on land or ice. While on land, it makes nests in colonies known as rookeries. A rookery may contain up to a million penguins. [5]

The ruling of eating penguins

Basically, scholars from madhhab Syafi’I are of the opinion that all types of marine birds are permissible to be eaten except stork – for there is a difference of opinions regarding it – as emphasized by Imam al-Rafi’i. [6] Furthermore, Imam al-Ghazali stated that all marine birds are ruled permissible to be eaten and the same for all marine animals except for any animal that has a comparable prohibited animal of it on land and in this matter, there are two opinions about it – whether it is halal or prohibited. [7] The explanation of the ruling on stork can be referred to in our article titled: #325: Eating Stork. [8]

Thus, the same for the ruling of eating penguin meat, it is permissible to be eaten just like other marine birds. Furthermore, a penguin isn’t categorized as bird with talons that are prohibited by the Prophet PBUH. This is based on a narration from Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, he said:


 نَهَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ كُلِّ ذِي نَابٍ مِنَ السِّبَاعِ وَعَنْ كُلِّ ذِي مِخْلَبٍ مِنَ الطَّيْرِ

“Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) prohibited the eating of all fanged beasts of prey, and all the birds having talons.” [9]

Conclusion

According to the above discussion, in our opinion penguin meat is halal to be eaten because the penguin is categorized as a marine bird. Moreover, it isn’t included as birds with strong talons that can harm.

May Allah SWT grant us all understanding in religion. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Surah al-Baqarah: 168

[2] See Tafsir al-Sa‘di, 1/80

[3] See https://prpm.dbp.gov.my/cari1?keyword=penguin. Accessed on 19th January 2022.

[4] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penguin. Accessed on 19th January 2022.

[5] See Ensiklopedia Dunia, (Trans. DBP), 16/638-640.

[6] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/33; al-Najm al-Wahhaj fi Syarh al-Minhaj, 9/555.

[7] See al-Wasit fi al-Mazhab, 7/163.

[8] See https://maktabahalbakri.com/325-memakan-burung-bangau/.

[9] Narrated by Muslim (1934); Abu Daud (3803)

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