#460: Eating Mammoth

Question:

Assalamualaikum w.b.t. I read on the web regarding a prehistoric animal known as the mammoth. Hence, a question arises. If this animal still exists until now, is it permissible to be eaten?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam w.b.t.,

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 Last Day.

We start 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]

Definition of mammoth

The Mammoth is a prehistoric animal closely related to elephants found today. A Mammoth is a huge and heavy animal. [3] Some have a height of over 4.5 meters at shoulder level. Mammoths have trunks and ivory. These animals mostly have ivory four meters long. His ivory bends down from his upper jaw and then bends upwards between his trunks. Some mammoths, called hairy mammals, have long hairs on their bodies that help protect their bodies from the extreme cold of the Ice Age.

Mammoth fossils are among the most widely found. The mammoth bodies that have been found are well preserved in the ice of Siberia. The locals initially thought that the remnant was a giant mole. Scientists who studied mammoths found that the animals ate pine leaves and tree shoots. Mammoth fossils have been found in Europe and the United States. The oldest known mammoth bone is four million years old and was found in Africa. Mammoths later spread to other continents and reached North America about one and a half million years ago, during the Ice Age. Prehistoric humans hunted it for food. Pictures of mammoths painted by cave dwellers can be seen on the cave walls in the south of France. Mammoths probably still existed about 4000 years ago.

In terms of its scientific classification, mammoths belong to the elephant family, Elephantidae. It forms the genus Mammuthus. [4]

The ruling of eating mammoth

Mammoths are animals that are closely related to the elephant and are under the elephant family. Scholars have differing opinions regarding it. Imam al-Nawawi stated in his book elephants are prohibited to be eaten according to madhhab Syafi’I, Abu Hanifah, al-Kufiyyun and al-Hasan. While al-Sya’bi, Ibn Syihab and Malik ruled it permissible to eat it. [5]

Furthermore, Imam al-Syafi’I stated in his book al-Umm that it is impermissible to use the bones from the carcass of animals that are impermissible to be eaten, such as the bones of elephants, tigers and others of the same type. The reason is the bones of these animals cannot be purified by washing or the process of tanning. Abdullah bin Dinar narrated that he once heard that Abdullah bin Umar don’t use oils from the bones of elephants because they are carcass. [6]

Scholars who prohibit the meat of elephants are of the opinion they are included as animals with fangs (canine teeth). This is as stated in a hadith narrated from Abu Tha’labah al-Khusyani RA, he said:

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ نَهَى عَنْ أَكْلِ كُلِّ ذِي نَابٍ مِنَ السِّبَاعِ

“The Prophet (ﷺ) forbade eating any predatory animal that has fangs.” [7]

Elephant has fangs

The next question that arises is, is it really true that elephants have fangs (canine) or is it considered tusks? The reason is elephants’ tusks are defined as fangs or canine according to the 4th Edition of Kamus Dewan. [8]

Tusks are only owned by certain mammals, that is they have protruding front teeth that grow continuously. This type of protruding teeth depends on the species of the animals. Walrus and swine teeth are their canine teeth whole the tusks of elephants are their incisors. Both genders of this species can grow their own tusks, whereas the male grows larger tusks as a weapon to fight. These front teeth have various uses depending on the species of the animal. Elephants use their tusks to dig holes in search of food. The male elephants will showcase their incisors as a sign of dominance or in defending themselves from attacks from other animals. [9]

For the discussion on elephants, we have explained it in-depth in our article titled: #319 Eating Elephant’s Meat. [10]

Conclusion

According to the above discussion and arguments, in our opinion, it is prohibited to eat mammoths the same as the opinion of Syafi’I scholars. This is also the safer (ahwat) opinion. Moreover, the reason for this is because mammoth has incisors named tusks the same as elephants. It is stated that the incisors or tusks are strong and used to dig holes in search of food.

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

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Surah al-Maidah: 87

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

[3] See https://prpm.dbp.gov.my/Cari1?keyword=mamot&d=243192&#SEESINI. Accessed on 9th February 2022.

[4] See Ensiklopedia Dunia, (Trans. DBP), 13/245.

[5] See al-Majmu’, 9/17

[6]  See al-Umm, 2/30.

[7] Narrated by al-Bukhari (5530, 5780) and Muslim (1932)

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

[9] See https://ms.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gading. Accessed on 19 th January 2022.

[10] See https://maktabahalbakri.com/319-eating-elephants-meat/ . Accessed on 9th February 2022.

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