#420: Eating Donkey

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling of eating donkey meat? Hope for an explanation. Thank you.

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:

وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِن صَوْتِكَ ۚ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ

“And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” [1]

This verse contains advice for us to not walk with arrogance. ‘Ata’ stated that it means to walk calmly and don’t rush. Then, we are also reminded to lower our voices and not talk loudly unnecessarily, for talking loudly without any need will disturb others who are listening. [2] The reason is the most disagreeable voice is the voice of a donkey for its characteristic stupidity and loud sound. [3]

Definition of donkey

The donkey or its scientific name Equus Asinus is a horse-like animal but smaller and has long ears. [4]Donkey is the name given to a tame breed donkey. Wild donkeys in northern and northeastern Africa are ancestors of donkeys. The wild donkey looks like a zebra but is not mottled except sometimes on its legs. The donkey is about 1.2 meters high at shoulder level. His fur is grey with darker lines along his back. Other features of this animal are its long ears, small footprints, and long feathers on the tip of its tail. Selected breeders produce donkeys that vary in size, color and fur.

Tame donkeys are most commonly found in southern Asia, southern Europe and northern Africa. British settlers introduced donkeys to Australia to carry goods. Wild donkeys are now abundant in northern Australia. There are several species of donkeys. Female donkeys produce good milk. If a male donkey is bred with a mare, the child born is named a mule. A cross between a female donkey and a stallion (stallion), is called a hinny. Other types of wild donkeys live in Asia. It includes kiang, kulan and onager. All wild donkeys are rare and have become extinct. [5]

The ruling of eating donkey meat

Scholars divided the discussion on donkeys into two, ahli donkey (domesticated/reared) and wild donkeys. For wild donkeys, their meat is halal to be eaten as stated by al-Khatib al-Syirbini in his book [6]and Imam al-Nawawi. Furthermore, Imam al-Nawawi cited, that scholars have agreed that wild animals such as donkeys, cows, desert goats and antelope are halal to be eaten. [7]

This is based on a hadith narrated by Abu Qatadah, he said:

كُنْتُ مَعَ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِيمَا بَيْنَ مَكَّةَ وَالمَدِينَةِ وَهُمْ مُحْرِمُونَ، وَأَنَا رَجُلٌ حِلٌّ عَلَى فَرَسٍ، وَكُنْتُ رَقَّاءً عَلَى الجِبَالِ. فَبَيْنَا أَنَا عَلَى ذَلِكَ، إِذْ رَأَيْتُ النَّاسَ مُتَشَوِّفِينَ لِشَيْءٍ، فَذَهَبْتُ أَنْظُرُ، فَإِذَا هُوَ حِمَارُ وَحْشٍ. فَقُلْتُ لَهُمْ: مَا هَذَا؟ قَالُوا: لاَ نَدْرِي. قُلْتُ: هُوَ حِمَارٌ وَحْشِيٌّ. فَقَالُوا: هُوَ مَا رَأَيْتَ. وَكُنْتُ نَسِيتُ سَوْطِي، فَقُلْتُ لَهُمْ: نَاوِلُونِي سَوْطِي. فَقَالُوا: لاَ نُعِينُكَ عَلَيْهِ. فَنَزَلْتُ فَأَخَذْتُهُ. ثُمَّ ضَرَبْتُ فِي أَثَرِهِ، فَلَمْ يَكُنْ إِلَّا ذَاكَ حَتَّى عَقَرْتُهُ. فَأَتَيْتُ إِلَيْهِمْ، فَقُلْتُ لَهُمْ: قُومُوا فَاحْتَمِلُوا. قَالُوا: لاَ نَمَسُّهُ. فَحَمَلْتُهُ حَتَّى جِئْتُهُمْ بِهِ، فَأَبَى بَعْضُهُمْ، وَأَكَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ. فَقُلْتُ لَهُمْ: أَنَا أَسْتَوْقِفُ لَكُمُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ. فَأَدْرَكْتُهُ فَحَدَّثْتُهُ الحَدِيثَ. فَقَالَ لِي: «أَبَقِيَ مَعَكُمْ شَيْءٌ مِنْهُ؟» قُلْتُ: نَعَمْ. فَقَالَ: كُلُوا، فَهُوَ طُعْمٌ أَطْعَمَكُمُوهُ اللَّهُ

“I was with the Prophet (on a journey) between Mecca and Medina, and all of them, (i.e. the Prophet (ﷺ) and his companions) were in the state of Ihram, while I was not in that state. I was riding my horse and I used to be fond of ascending mountains. So while I was doing so I noticed that the people were looking at something. I went to see what it was, and behold it was an onager. I asked my companions, “What is that?” They said, “We do not know.” I said, “It is an onager.’ They said, “It is what you have seen.” I had left my whip, so I said to them, “Hand to me my whip.” They said, “We will not help you in that (in hunting the onager).” I got down, took my whip and chased the animal (on my horse) and did not stop till I killed it. I went to them and said, “Come on, carry it!” But they said, “We will not even touch it.” At last, I alone carried it and brought it to them. Some of them ate of it and some refused to eat it. I said (to them), “I will ask the Prophet (ﷺ) about it (on your behalf).” When I met the Prophet, I told him the whole story. He said to me, “Has anything of it been left with you?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Eat, for it is a meal Allah has offered to you.” [8]

In another narration, it is narrated in the sentence structure of:

هُوَ حَلَالٌ، فَكُلُوهُ

“Its meat is halal, hence eat it.” [9]

While the meat of ahli donkey is prohibited to be eaten. Imam al-Nawawi has stated that this is the opinion of madhhab Syafi’I and the majority of previous and contemporary scholars. Furthermore, al-Khattabi stated that this is the opinion of all scholars. [10]

Moreover, Ibn Qudamah cited from Ibn ‘Abd al-Bar that there isn’t any khilaf in Muslimin scholars to this day of the prohibition of ahli donkey (domesticated/reared). Furthermore, there are among the companions who narrated from the Prophet PBUH the prohibition of this meat such as Ali bin Abu Talib, Abdullah bin Umar, Abdullah bin ‘Amr, Jabir, al-Bara’, Abdullah bin Abu Aufa, Anas and Zahir al-Aslami with sahih and good sanads. [11]

This prohibition is in accordance with a narration of Ali bin Abu Talib RA, he said:

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ نَهَى عَنْ مُتْعَةِ النِّسَاءِ يَوْمَ خَيْبَرَ، وَعَنْ أَكْلِ لُحُومِ الحُمُرِ الإِنْسِيَّةِ

“At the battle for Khaibar God’s Messenger forbade the temporary marriage (mut’a) of women, and eating the flesh of domestic asses.” [12]

Likewise, in a narration from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma, he said:

نَهى النبيُّ ﷺ عن أكْلِ لُحُومِ الحُمُرِ الأهْلِيَّةِ

“Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) forbade the eating of the meat of donkeys.” [13]

The reason for the prohibition of ahli donkey meat

Ibn Qudamah stated that the reason for the prohibition is clear that is because it eats filth and disgusting things according to a narration from Abdullah bin Abu Aufa. [14]In the narration Ibn Abi Aufa R.Anhuma said:

أَصَابَتْنَا مَجَاعَةٌ يَوْمَ خَيْبَرَ فَإِنَّ القُدُورَ لَتَغْلِي، قَالَ: وَبَعْضُهَا نَضِجَتْ، فَجَاءَ مُنَادِي النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: لاَ تَأْكُلُوا مِنْ لُحُومِ الحُمُرِ شَيْئًا، وَأَهْرِقُوهَا. قَالَ ابْنُ أَبِي أَوْفَى: فَتَحَدَّثْنَا أَنَّهُ إِنَّمَا نَهَى عَنْهَا لِأَنَّهَا لَمْ تُخَمَّسْ، وَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ: نَهَى عَنْهَا البَتَّةَ لِأَنَّهَا كَانَتْ تَأْكُلُ العَذِرَةَ

“We were afflicted with severe hunger on the day of Khaibar. While the cooking pots were boiling and some of the food was well-cooked, the announcer of the Prophet (ﷺ) came to say, “Do not eat anything the donkey meat and upset the cooking pots.” We then thought that the Prophet (ﷺ) had prohibited such food because the Khumus had not been taken out of it. Some others said, “He prohibited the meat of donkeys from the point of view of principle because donkeys used to eat dirty things.” [15]

Whereas Anas bin Malik RA narrated on the day of khaibar, Rasullullah PBUH asked the announcer to inform the people:

إنَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ يَنْهَيَانِكُمْ عَنْ لُحُومِ الْحُمُرِ فَإِنَّهَا رِجْسٌ أَوْ نَجِسٌ

“Allah and His Messenger have prohibited you (from eating) of the flesh of (domestic) asses, for these are loathsome or impure.” [16]

Al-Syaukani cited the opinion of al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani who said that any other possibilities (ihtimalat) are ruled out after the hadith from Anas stated that (فَإِنَّهَا رِجْسٌ – for these are loathsome or impure). Likewise, the commandment to wash its container. Al-Qurtubi stated that the dhamir (ها) in the phrase (فَإِنَّهَا رِجْسٌ) refers back to the donkey meat, for it is the topic or matter discussed and it is commanded to turn them out (throw) and the container is to be washed. Thus, this shows that it is ruled najis and it is prohibited to eat its meat due to itself and not any other external factors. Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id also said that the commandment to turn out the cooking pots apparently shows the prohibition of domesticated donkeys. [17]

Conclusion

According to the above question, we conclude our opinion as to the following:

  • The meat of ahli donkey (domesticated/reared) is prohibited to be eaten because its meat is najis as stated in the above discussion.
  • While the meat of wild donkeys is halal to be eaten and this is the opinion cited by Imam al-Nawawi and all scholars have agreed (without khilaf) regarding this matter.

May Allah SWT grant us all a clear understanding in this religion. Ameen.

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Surah Luqman: 19

[2] See Zubdah al-Tafasir min Fath al-Qadir, pg. 541.

[3] See al-Tafsir al-Muyassar, hlm. 412.

[4] See http://prpm.dbp.gov.my/cari1?keyword=keldai.

[5] See Ensiklopedia Dunia, (Terj. DBP), 10/531.

[6] See Mughni al-Muhtaj, 6/150.

[7] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/9.

[8] Narrated by al-Bukhari (5492)

[9] Narrated by Muslim (1196)

[10] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/6

[11] See al-Mughni, 9/407.

[12] Narrated by al-Bukhari (4216) and Muslim (1407)

[13] Narrated by al-Bukhari (4218) and Muslim (561)

[14] See al-Mughni, 9/407.

[15] Narrated by al-Bukhari (4220)

[16] Narrated by al-Bukhari (4198) and Muslim (1940)]

[17] See Nail al-Autar, 8/129 and Fath al-Bari, 9/656.

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