#433: Eating Zonkey or Zeedonk Meat

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. We know that eating zebra meat is permissible, however, what about the mix of zebra and donkey that is known as zeedonk or zonkey?

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 الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُحَرِّمُوا طَيِّبَاتِ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ

“O you who have believed, do not prohibit the good things which Allah has made lawful to you and do not transgress. Indeed, Allah does not like transgressors.” [1]

The above verse contains reminders for believers to not prohibit anything that is good, which Allah SWT permits for them which includes food, drink and marrying women that constricts what Allah SWT has widened for them. Furthermore, this verse also reminds them to not transgress the limitations that Allah SWT has prohibited, for indeed, Allah SWT dislikes transgressors. [2]

Mukadimah

Wild donkey is one of the game animals that are halal to be eaten. Scholars cited the ijmak of the permissibility of eating its meat. [3] 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.” [4]

Thus, the permissibility of eating wild donkeys and zebra that are included as a type of wild donkey is undeniable. For further discussion regarding this matter, please refer to our article in Tashih Mafahim titled: #14 The Meaning of Wild Donkey. [5]

Likewise, the majority of scholars are of the opinion that tame or domesticated donkeys are prohibited to be eaten. [6] Furthermore, Ibn Qudamah cited Ibn Abd al-Bar saying there isn’t any khilaf from among the Muslim scholars regarding the prohibition of domesticated donkey meat. Moreover, there are companions of the Prophet PBUH who narrated 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 sanad. For further inquiries regarding this issue, please refer to our article titled: #420 Eating Donkey. [7]

Likewise, regarding the permissibility of eating horse meat. Imam al-Nawawi listed several scholars who agreed with the opinion that states horse meat is permissible to be eaten and it isn’t makruh. Among them are Abdullah bin al-Zubair, Fadhalah bin ‘Ubaid, Anas bin Malik, Asma’ binti Abu Bakar, Sa‘id bin Jubair, al-Hasan al-Basri, Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i, Hammad bin Abu Sulaiman, Abu Yusuf, Muhammad al-Syaibani, Abu Daud and others. [8] This is in accordance with the narration from Jabir bin Abdullah RA:

أنَّ رَسولَ اللهِ صَلّى اللَّهُ عليه وَسَلَّمَ نَهى يَومَ خَيْبَرَ عن لُحُومِ الحُمُرِ الأهْلِيَّةِ، وَأَذِنَ في لُحُومِ الخَيْلِ

“On the day of Khaibar God’s messenger forbade the flesh of domestic asses, but permitted horseflesh.” [9]

Definition of Zonkey and Its Characteristics

Zonkey or also known as zeedonk (also spelt zedonk), zebras, zebronkey, zebadonk, zenkey or deebra is the mix between zebra and donkey. [10] Zonkey is an animal that is a mix of a zebra and donkey. [11] Zonkey is a mixed animal produced from the cross breed of two different species but is in the same genetic group. Technically, the individual animal is classified as a zonkey if the sperm is taken from a zebra and the ovum is taken from a donkey. However, if the sperm is taken from a donkey and the ovum is from a zebra, then it is known as a zedonk.

Donkeys and zebras are closely related to each other and both are classified in the horse family. Thus, both these species have some similar characteristics including their size. Although zonkey is inclined towards the size of both these animals, however, its physical characteristics are closer to that of a donkey with unique line patterns in its fur inherited from its zebra parent. Zonkeys are usually brown or grey on the lower parts of their body and lighter in their legs and stomach where darker lines of the zonkey are most apparent. It has black long fur all the way on its back up to its tail. Zonkey has a large head and ears, making it looks more like a donkey than a zebra. [12]

The ruling of eating zonkey or zeedonk

If analyzed, actually the discussion regarding zonkey is closely related to scholars’ discussion regarding the ruling of a mule. The reason is a mule is a result of breeding between a female horse and a male donkey. [13] Imam al-Nawawi stated that the meat of a mule is prohibited according to scholars of madhhab Syafi’I and this is also the opinion of scholars except for al-Hasan al-Basri who believes that mule meat is permissible – to be eaten. [14]

This follows a narration from Jabir bin Abdullah RA, he said:

ذَبَحْنَا يَوْمَ خَيْبَرَ الْخَيْلَ، وَالْبِغَالَ، وَالْحَمِيرَ، فَنَهَانَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنِ البِغَالِ، وَالْحَمِيرِ، وَلَمْ يَنْهَنَا عَنِ الْخَيْلِ

On the day of Khaybar we slaughtered horses, mules, and assess. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) forbade us (to eat) mules and asses, but he did not forbid horse flesh.” [15]

Furthermore, Kamaluddin al-Damiri stated that mule meat is prohibited to be eaten for it is an animal – a species – that is born from the breeding of a permissible and impermissible animal to be eaten. If the animal is a result of the breed of a horse and wild donkey, then its meat is halal without any khilaf. Furthermore, the prohibition of mule meat is also related to the ruling of an animal that is born as a result of the breeding between a permissible and prohibited animal to be eaten such as al-Sim’u (السِّمْعُ). [16] Such is the ruling for a donkey born as a result of breeding between a wild donkey and a domesticated donkey, regardless of whether the permissible animal to be eaten is male or female. [17]

Moreover, this is in line with the Islamic legal maxim which states:

إِذَا تَعَارَضَ حَاظِرٌ وَمُبِيحٌ قُدِّمَ الحَاظِرُ احْتِيَاطًا

“If prohibited and permissible collide, then the prohibition is prioritized as a precautionary step.” [18]

The opinion that prohibits mule meat is also the opinion of scholars of madhhab Hanbali. Ibn Qudamah stated that the mule is prohibited to be eaten by those who prohibit domesticated donkeys, for it is born from it and whatever is born from something that is prohibited is prohibited. [19]

Whereas, scholars of madhhab Hanafi are of the opinion that the ruling of eating mule meat depends on its mother. If its mother is a domesticated female donkey, then it is makruh tahrim – which means prohibited – because it follows the ruling of its mother. However, if its mother is a female horse, then there are two differing opinions, just like the riling for a horse, Abu Hanifah stated that it is makruh, while two of his senior students – Abu Yusuf and Muhammad bin al-Hasan stated that it is permissible. [20]

Conclusion

According to the above discussion, we state that the ruling of eating zonkey or zeedonk is divided into two situations which are:

  • If it is born as a result of cross-breeding between a zebra and wild donkey, then in our opinion, its meat is halal to be eaten without any khilaf, for both its parents are halal animals to be eaten.
  • However, if it is a result of a cross-breeding between a domesticated donkey and a zebra, then we are inclined towards the opinion that states the meat is prohibited to be eaten. This is the safer and more careful opinion.

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

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Surah al-Maidah: 87

[2] See al-Tafsir al-Muyassar, pg. 122

[3] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/9, Minhah al-‘Allam fi Syarh Bulugh al-Maram, 9/203 and Taudhih al-Ahkam, Pub. Dar Ibn Hazm, 3/496

[4] Narrated by al-Bukhari (5492)

[5] See https://maktabahalbakri.com/14-maksud-keldai-liar/.

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

[7] See al-Mughni, 9/407.

[8] See https://maktabahalbakri.com/420-memakan-daging-keldai/.

[9] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/4.

[10] Narrated by Muslim (1941)

[11] See https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/zeedonk.htm. Also see http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/09/23/what.is.zedonk/ind

[12] See https://a-z-animals.com/animals/zonkey/.

[13] See https://prpm.dbp.gov.my/cari1?keyword=baghal.

[14] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/8.

[15] Narrated by Abu Daud (3789)

[16] Al-Sim‘u is an animal born as a result of the breeding of a wolf and hyena and it is prohibited to be eaten. (See al-Mughni, 9/407-408)

[17] See al-Najm al-Wahhaj fi Syarh al-Minhaj, 9/547-548.

[18] See al-Qawaid al-Fiqhiyyah al-Mustakhrajah min Kitab I‘lam al-Muwaqqi‘in, pg. 400.

[19] See al-Mughni, 9/326.

[20] See Mausu‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 5/145.

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