#454: Eating Horse

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling of eating horse meat? 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:

وَسَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا مِّنْهُ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“And He has subjected to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth – all from Him. Indeed, in that are signs for a people who give thought.” [1]

The above verse shows that Allah SWT has subjected for you all that is in the heavens from the sun, moon and stars, as well as everything on earth that consists of the animals (food and transportation), plants, ships and others for the benefit of all of you. All of these blessings are a gift only from Allah and He granted these to you as His blessings and gifts. Hence, only to Him you should worship, and never associate anything with Him. Indeed, with everything that He has subjected for you are signs and evidences that prove His Oneness for those who contemplate on the verses of Allah SWT (signs of His greatness) as well as arguments and supports, then they learn and take lessons from them. [2]

Horse Definition

According to the Fourth Edition Hall Dictionary, a horse is a large four-legged animal kept for hikes – i.e. transportation and so on. [3] Horses have been one of the most useful animals for thousands of years. Once upon a time, horses were the fastest and surest means of transportation to travel on land. Horsemen chase animals and kill them for food and for sporting activities.

Horses are suitable for working and running. For example, his wide nostrils help him breathe easily. Horses have a good sense of smell, keen hearing, and keen eyes. It has strong teeth, but it eats only grains and plants and does not eat meat. The body of the horse is covered with fur. Healthy shiny hair gives an amazing look. Thick fur in winter grows every autumn and falls every spring. Mane hair and ponytails never fall out. If the mane and tail become too thick, the horse owner may pluck some of the furs to make the horse look better. Plucking the fur does not hurt him because the horse has no nerves at the root of the fur.

Horses come in many colors, including a variety of black, brown, chestnut brown (reddish-brown), yellowish-grey, gold, grey, yellowish-brown, and white. Bay horses have reddish-brown fur and black spots (legs, mane and tail). Many dark bay horses have brown fur on the back and reddish-brown fur on the sides, bottom and young. Chestnut brown horses may have pale yellow mane and tails, or yellowish-brown, but not black spots. Many grey horses are born dark in color and turn bright as they grow up. Lippizza’s horse and some grey horses turn white by the time they are fully grown. Adult white-haired horses are generally referred to as grey horses. Roan horses have yellowish-brown or reddish-brown fur streaked with grey or white fur. Pinto, also called paint, has black or dark-colored feathers with large white areas that vary in pattern.

Horse breed diversity is usually divided into three main groups: (1) light horses, (2) heavy horses, and (3) paddy horses. Light horses have small bones and thin legs. Most weigh less than 590 kilograms. Heavy horses are large-boned and have thick and solid legs. Some weigh more than 590 kilograms. Paddy horses are small horses that are less than 145 centimetres tall. Most paddy horses weigh less than 360 kilograms. Each of the three major groups of horses has many breeds. However, one breed may involve more than one type of horse. For example, some types of paddy horses are classified as light horses, and other types are considered paddy horses. In addition to light horses, heavy horses and paddy horses, there are also several types of wild horses such as Przewalski and tarpans. [4]

The ruling on horse meat

Regarding this matter, there is a narration from Jabir bin Abdullah RA, he said:

أَكَلْنا زَمَنَ خَيْبَرَ الخَيْلَ، وَحُمُرَ الوَحْشِ، وَنَهانا النبيُّ ﷺ عَنِ الحِمارِ الأهْلِيِّ

“We ate during the time of Khaibar the (flesh) of horses and of wild asses, but Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) prohibited us (to eat) the flesh of domestic asses.” [5]

Likewise, in another hadith, from Asma’ binti Abu Bakar R.Anhuma, she said:

نَحَرْنا على عَهْدِ رَسولِ اللَّهِ صَلّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّمَ فَرَسًا فأكَلْناهُ

“During the lifetime of the Prophet (ﷺ), we slaughtered a horse and ate it.” [6]

Hence, Imam al-Nawawi stated that its meat is halal and it isn’t makruh to eat it. This is also the opinion of scholars of madhhab Syafi’I and majority of other scholars such as Abdullah bin al-Zubair, Fadhalah bin ‘Ubaid, Anas bin Malik, Asma’ binti Abu Bakar, Suwaid bin Ghafalah, ‘Alqamah, al-Aswad, ‘Ata’, Syuraih, Sa‘id bin Jubair, al-Hasan al-Basri, Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i, Hammad bin Abu Sulaiman, Ahmad, Ishaq, Abu Yusuf, Muhammad al-Syaibani, Abu Daud and others. [7]

However, there are scholars who are of the opinion that it is makruh to eat horse meat. This opinion is follows Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, al-Hakam, Malik and Abu Hanifah. [8] Among their arguments is a statement of Allah SWT:

وَالْخَيْلَ وَالْبِغَالَ وَالْحَمِيرَ لِتَرْكَبُوهَا وَزِينَةً

“All horses, and mules, and asses, for you to ride, and as an adornment.” [9]

They said the above verse shows that Allah SWT created these animals as animal mounts and adornment and Allah SWT didn’t mention in the verse for it to be benefitted as food- that is they are to be eaten. Hence, this shows that there isn’t any other benefit for these animals except what is stated. Furthermore, a horse is usually placed together with donkey and mule, which shows that it shares the same ruling that it is prohibited – to be eaten. [10]

Moreover, there is a narration from Khalid bin al-Walid RA, he said:

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ نَهَى عَنْ أَكْلِ لُحُومِ الْخَيْلِ، وَالْبِغَالِ، وَالْحَمِيرِ، وَكُلِّ ذِي نَابٍ مِنَ السِّبَاعِ

“The Messenger of Allah forbade eating the flesh of horses, mules and donkeys, and any predator that has fangs.” [11]

However, imam of hadith scholars and others stated that the above hadith is dhaif (weak). Whereas, there are some of them who said this hadith is abrogated. [12]

Furthermore, scholars have also answered their argument – that stating eating it is makruh – by saying that when a certain benefit of a matter is mentioned, it doesn’t deny its other benefits. Hence, by stating the benefit of a horse is as an animal mount and adornment, it doesn’t limit its benefit to only both these matters. However, both these matters are specified because they are their most important purpose. The reason is a horse is usually used as an animal mount and adornment compared to it being consumed as food. [13]

Conclusion

According to the above discussion and arguments, in our opinion, horse meat is halal and it isn’t makruh to be eaten as stated by the majority of scholars as cited by Imam al-Nawawi.

The hadith from Asma’ binti Abu Bakar is enough to reject the opinion that states eating horse meat is haram or makruh because the family of Abu Bakar al-Siddiq will never do anything during the time of the Prophet PBUH except if they knew of its permissibility – for it to be done – due to the fact of the closeness they are to the Prophet PBUH. [14]

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

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Surah al-Jathiyah: 13

[2] See al-Tafsir al-Muyassar, pg. 499.

[3] See https://prpm.dbp.gov.my/cari1?keyword=kuda.

[4] See Ensiklopedia Dunia, (Trans. DBP), 11/536-543.

[5] Narrated by Muslim (1941)

[6] Narrated by al-Bukhari (5512); Muslim (1942)

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

[8] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/4; Taudhih al-Ahkam, Cet. Dar Ibn Hazm, 3/497.

[9] Surah al-Nahl: 8

[10] See al-At‘imah, hlm. 41-42; al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/4.

[11] Narrated by al-Nasa’i (4332)

[12] See al-Minhaj Syarh Sahih Muslim, 13/96.

[13] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/5; Taudhih al-Ahkam, Pub. Dar Ibn Hazm, 3/497.

[14] See Minhah al-‘Allam fi Syarh Bulugh al-Maram, 9/206.

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