#506: Eating Catfish Caught in a Najis Pond

Question:

Assalamualaikum w.b.t. What is the ruling of eating catfish caught from najis pond? Thank you.

 

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 begin with the statement of Allah SWT:

قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ قُلْ هِيَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ

“Say, “Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?” Say, “They are for those who believe during the worldly life [but] exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.” Thus, do We detail the verses for a people who know?” [1]

Muhammad Ali al-Sabuni stated that the above verse is a rejection of anyone’s opinion that prohibits any food, drink or clothing based on their own opinions and not from the shariah of Allah SWT. Hence, Allah SWT stated, ‘Qul, say,’  which means O Muhammad, say to them the idolators who have prohibited something based on deviated and bida’ah their opinion. Likewise, Allah SWT also said, ‘“Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?’ which means all the provisions are something that has been provided and created by Allah SWT to everyone who believes Him or His slaves on this world, even when disbelievers are also amongst those who also enjoy it in this world. However, on Judgement Day, the provision will be specific only for those – who are believers – and none of the disbelievers will share with them the blessings, for paradise is prohibited from the disbelievers – that is prohibited for them to enter it.[2]

Definition of jallalah animal

Due to the fact that the question presented is closely related to the discussion of scholars regarding jallalah animal, then it is better for us to first present the definition of scholars regarding what jallalah animal is. Ibn Manzur, Abu Daud and the author of Mu‘jam Lughah al-Fuqaha’ defined jallalah animal as an animal where the animal eats najis and others that might consist of excrement and other filthy matter. [3] Whereas in al-Mausu‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah, jallalah animal is defined as animal that originates from najis even if it is not from excrement, for instance, a kid (baby goat) that drinks the milk of a dog or domesticated donkey. [4] Other scholars stated that jallalah animal is an animal that eats excrement and najis, regardless of whether the animal is a camel, cow, goat, chicken, goose or others. [5]

Hence, after considering the definitions of jallalah animal presented by scholars, we can conclude that included in the category of such animal is fishes that grew in najis pond, reared fishes that were given najis as their food such as the intestines of chicken and others or wild chickens that are let loose to eat najis and others.

As for when considered from its scientific terminology, jallalah animal is known as coprophagous (coprophagy). A Coprophagous is an organism that eats the faeces or faeces of other animals. Most insects are coprophagous species and are usually heavy consumers of the dung or droppings of larger herbivores. Among the insects from this species are dung beetles.[6] It also comes from the Greek Copros (excrement) and phagein (eat).[7]

Eating jallalah animal

Regarding this matter, there is a narration from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma, he said:

نَهَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنْ أَكْلِ الْجَلَّالَةِ وَأَلْبَانِهَا

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prohibited eating the animal which feeds on filth and drinking its milk.” [8]

Likewise, there is also another narration with another wording:

نَهَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنِ الجَلَّالَةِ فِي الْإِبِلِ  أَنْ يُرْكَبَ عَلَيْهَا، أَوْ يُشْرَبَ مِنْ أَلْبَانِهَا

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) forbade riding the camel which feeds on filth and drinking its milk.” [9]

These hadiths when considered from their literal meaning show the restriction of Prophet PBUH against eating, riding and drinking the milk of jallalah animals. However, scholars have differing opinions regarding the meaning of the restriction, whether it shows that it is prohibited or makruh tanzih. Basically, they differed in terms of the ruling of eating the flesh of its flesh into two opinions:

First opinion: It is prohibited to eat its flesh. This is one of the narrations in madhhab Hanbali and one of the opinions in madhhab Syafi’i. They argued that the restriction in the hadith shows its prohibition because the origin of any restriction is that it is prohibited as long as there is no evidence that can be understood that it is makruh.

Second opinion: It is makruh tanzih. This is one of the narrations in madhhab Hanbali, Maliki and Hanafi and the final opinion in madhhab Syafi’i. They argued that the prohibition does not refer back to the fish itself, however, on the matter that came later – that is not permanent on the fish itself –which at most will affect the change to the flesh of the fish. Hence, such a matter doesn’t make it prohibited. Furthermore, they also argued that when the animal (in this case the fish) eats the najis in large quantities its flesh has changed and becomes smelly. Thus, it is makruh to eat it the same ruling to eating any smelly food. [10]

However, scholars have differing opinions on the amount or quantity of najis eaten that then makes an animal to be categorized as jallalah animal. Some scholars are of the opinion the animals categorized as jallalah animals are only those which the majority of food is najis, however, if the majority of their food is clean and not najis, they are not categorized as jallalah animals. Whereas other scholars do not set the condition of whether the najis food is a lot or a little, rather, it depends on whether the smell of najis is apparent or whether there is a change in terms of its colour structure, taste and smell of the flesh. This is the opinion held and ruled sahih by Imam al-Nawawi. [11]

Hence, it can be understood that animals fed with filth but it doesn’t change their smell structure, taste and colour, it is not categorized as jallalah animal according to the final opinion in madhhab Syafi’i.

Likewise, jallalah animal that has been quarantined after it emits najis smell and is then given good food – that is not najis – until the smell of the najis disappears, the ruling is no longer makruh. [12] Moreover, al-Kasani also stated that the makruh ruling is closely related to the changes in the flesh and smell. If the smell (stink) is no longer present, it is no longer considered makruh.[13] Moreover, scholars who hold the opinion that the flesh of jallalah animal is prohibited such as in one narration in madhhab Hanbali also permit eating it after it has been quarantined for a certain period of time and given good food – not najis. However, they have differing opinions about the duration of the quarantine time. Some set a certain duration, while others differentiate the duration based on the types of animal such as for birds it is for 3 days, a goat for 7 days and other animals from these categories for 40 days. [14]

Imam Syafi’i’s opinion regarding this matter can be seen through the statement of Imam al-Nawawi who said that if the jallalah animal is given clean food and its flesh is pure – which means it no longer smells – then the ruling is no longer considered makruh. This is as stated in a narration from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma who said that give clean food to jallalah animal for 40 days if it is a camel, 7 days if it is a goat and 3 days if it is a chicken. [15]

Whereas, in another hadith it is stated:

حَتَّى تُعْلَفَ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً

“…until it is fed – with clean food – for 40 nights.” [16]

Al-Qalyubi stated in his hasyiah when commenting on the above hadith the meaning of 40 nights is based on the common thing that happens to any changes – that comes afterwards and is not permanent – and will disappear after the duration. The reason for this is due to the fact that whatever is eaten will continue to nourish the body for 40 days. If the change disappears before the duration ends or without feeding it with clean food, the ruling is no longer makruh (discouraged). If the change returns – which means the signs of jallalah animal returns – then it becomes makruh. [17]

Fatwa related to jallalah animals

  • The government of Brunei Darussalam in the fatwa issued titled “Eating Fish Fed with Najis”, Fatwa Series (35/2006) stated:
  1. The ruling of eating jallalah animal is makruh when its flesh and intestine smell like najis. However, if the flesh of jallalah animal does not change its taste, colour and smell like najis, hence, the ruling for eating it is permissible even if the jallalah animal does not eat anything except najis. Likewise, if the jallalah animal that smells is separated (quarantined) to be given pure and clean food until the smell or effect of najis on it disappears. Then it is slaughtered, then it is not makruh to eat this flesh of jallalah However, the amount of food given to jallalah animal and the separation duration (quarantine time) to abrogate the makruh ruling are not specified. It is subject to the custom or usual time the smell and effect of the najis disappears.
  2. Second, feeding permissible animals to be eaten with najis food. The ruling of giving or feeding permissible animals to be eaten with najis is makruh.
  3. Third, selling dead jallalah animal after it is slaughtered before it is separated (quarantined) so that they can be fed with pure food to remove najis effects on it, the ruling for this is makruh.
  • Selangor State fatwa was gazetted in 2007 regarding the purity status of fish that was fed with non-halal feed. The decision of the fatwa is as follows:
  1. Fishes kept in ponds, lakes, mines and others and are fed food from najis, such as swine and animal carcass as their main source of feed are prohibited from being eaten; and
  2. Fish farmers are prohibited from feeding their fish with najis as the main source of feed as a (سد الذرائع) step as well as being mindful of the sensitivities of Muslims.

The same decision was issued by the Federal Territories and it was gazetted in 2007 as well as the Meeting of the Ulama Congregation Council of Islamic Religion and Malay Customs of Kelantan that convened on 21st December 2006.

  • Negeri Sembilan Muzakarah Council Committee No. 06/2017-1438H which convened on 24th August 2017 or 2 Zulhijjah 1438H has agreed on the decision regarding the Purity Status of Fishes Farmed with the following sighah as follows:
  1. Jumhur of scholars has stated that “al-Jallalah” means animals of which the majority (most) of their feed is from najis. Al-Jallalah includes all types of animals regardless of whether they are camels, cows, goats, chickens, ducks, fishes and other permissible animals to be eaten.
  2. Jallalah animals that are free to eat anything including najis are makruh to be eaten.
  3. While jallalah animals that are separated or kept purposely to be given najis feed are prohibited from being eaten.
  4. However, the jallalah animals are permissible to be eaten when they have undergone an appropriate quarantine period of at least seven (7) days.
  • Dar al-Iftaa al-Urduniyyah [18] in fatwa no. 1904, dated 07/08/2011 stated that the ruling of eating fishes that live in filthy water (najis water) is divided into two:
  1. First: If the water affects the fish and leads the flesh of the fish to changes in terms of its taste or smell or colour, then according to the strongest opinion of our madhhab – madhhab Syafie – it is makruh to eat the fish until they have been moved into clean water and the effects of najis on them disappears – which means the fishes are quarantined.
  2. Second: If the najis water does not affect the fish that live in it, then it is not an issue to eat them, for the original ruling of eating them is permissible. However, it is on the condition that it is safe from any harm to human health. Research has shown the dangers of eating fishes that live in filthy waters on human health due to dangerous parasite and bacteria that is carried by the fishes. The Prophet PBUH said:

لاَ ضَرَرَ وَلاَ ضِرَارَ

“There is no injury nor return of injury.”[19]

Conclusion

According to the above discussion and debate, in our opinion, the ruling of eating the flesh or meat of jallalah animals is makruh and not haram (prohibited), for it is something that comes afterwards (not a permanent characteristic of the flesh), where at most, will affect and results in changes on its flesh or meat. Hence, such a matter does not make it haram. Especially, when jallalah animals’ flesh can change – due to them eating najis or living in najis water – can return to its original state by quarantining the animals and giving them clean feed for a duration of time, before slaughtering and eating them. Thus, at this time, it is no longer makruh. This opinion is also in line with the final opinion in madhhab Syafi’i.

We would like to take this opportunity to suggest, as a precautionary step and leaving the khilaf – whether those who ruled it makruh or haram – for the animals to first be separated or quarantined or others and fed clean and good food until the effects of najis disappears. Basically, ‘ilah (reason) for the impermissibility of eating jallalah animals is due to the fact that it eats najis and filth that it affects itself. Thus, if the ‘ilah is no longer present, then the prohibition of eating the animal is abrogated. This is in accordance with the Islamic legal maxim:

إِذَا زَالَتِ العِلَّةُ زَالَ الحُكْمُ

When the ilah is removed, then the ruling is abrogated.

Whereas for the quarantine period, we state that there is no specific duration for the quarantine process and period it is fed with clean food. However, it follows the local customs and strong assumption that the changes in the meat and the smell have disappeared.

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

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Surah al-A‘raf: 32

[2] See Mukhtasar Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 2/15.

[3] See Mu‘jam Lughah al-Fuqaha’, 1/165; Lisan al-‘Arab, 11/119; Sunan Abi Daud, 3/336.

[4]  See al-Mausu‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 15/260.

[5] See Raudah al-Talibin, 3/278; Nail al-Autar, 8/139-140; al-Mu‘tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafi‘i, 2/558.

[6] See https://www.amentsoc.org/insects/glossary/terms/coprophagous

[7] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coprophagia.

[8] Narrated by al-Tirmizi (1824); Abu Daud (3785) and al-Albani evaluated this hadith as hasan sahih.

[9]  Narrated by Abu Daud (3787) and al-Albani evaluated this hadith as hasan sahih.

[10] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/28; al-Mu‘tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafi‘i, 2/559; Badai‘ al-Sanai‘, 5/39-40; Bidayah al-Mujtahid, 3/18), al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh, 4/2597-2598; al-At‘imah by Dr. Soleh Fauzan, p. 50.

[11] See Tuhfah al-Ahwazi, 5/447; al-Mu‘tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafi‘i, 2/558; Mughni al-Muhtaj, 6/155; Fath al-Wahhab, 2/237; al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/28.

[12] See Raudhah al-Talibin, 3/278; al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/29.

[13] See Badai‘ al-Sanai‘, 5/40.

[14] See al-At‘imah by Dr. Soleh Fauzan, p. 51

[15] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/28.

[16] Narrated by al-Hakim (2269); al-Daraqutni (4753) and Imam al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak states sanad of this hadith is sahih.

[17] See Hasyiah Qalyubi, 4/262.

[18] See https://aliftaa.jo/Question.aspx?QuestionId=1904#.XePQROgzbDc. Accessed on 16th February 2022.

[19] Narrated by Ibn Majah (2341)

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