Question # 128: Is it permissible to eat horse meat?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The majority of scholars are of the view that it is permissible to eat horses, because of the sound ahadith that have been narrated concerning that in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

Long Answer: The majority of scholars are of the view that it is permissible to eat horses, because of the sound ahadith that have been narrated concerning that.

  • It was narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah (ra) that he said: On the day of Khaybar, the Messenger of Allah (saws) forbade eating the flesh of domestic donkeys, but he granted a concession with regard to horses. (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
  • It was narrated that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr (ra) said: At the time of the Prophet (saws), we slaughtered a horse and ate it. (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
  • It was narrated by Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: “At the time of Khaibar, we ate the meat of horses and onagers)’[1] but the Prophet forbade us (to eat) the meat of domestic donkeys.” It was narrated from Ibn Juraij, with this chain narrators, a hadith similar to this (Muslim)
  • It was narrated that Jaabir (ra) said: We traveled with the Messenger of Allah (saws) and we used to eat the flesh of horses and drink their milk. (Narrated by al-Daaraqutni and al-Bayhaqi; Al-Nawawi said: with a sahih isnad)

Other scholars – including Abu Hanifah and his two companions – are of the view that it is makrooh to eat horse meat. They quoted the following Qur’anic verse and a hadith as evidence:

  • “And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys, for you to ride and as an adornment” (Soorah al-Nahl, 16:8)

They said: He did not mention eating them, but He mentioned eating an’aam animals (camels, cattle etc.) in a previous verse (verse 5).

The scholars responded to that by noting that mention of riding and adornment does not mean that their benefits are limited to that, rather these two are singled out for mention because they are the uses to which horses are put in the majority of cases. This is like the verse in which Allah says: “Forbidden to you (for food) are: AlMaitah (the dead animals — cattle — beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine” (Soorah al-Maa’idah, 5:3). Here flesh is mentioned because that is what is usually eaten in most cases. The Muslims are unanimously agreed that the fat, blood and all other parts of the pig are also forbidden, and they said: hence Allah does not mention carrying load on horses, although He says with regard to an’aam animals (camels etc), “And they carry your loads” (Soorah al-Nahl, 16:7). This does not imply that it is haram to carry loads on horses. (al-Majmoo’)

  • The hadith that they quote is that which was narrated from Khalid ibn al-Walid, that he said: The Messenger of Allah (saws) forbade the flesh of horses, mules and donkeys, and every wild animal that has fangs.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, al-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)

This hadith is da’eef (weak), and was classed as such by al-Albani in Da’eef Abi Dawood. Al-Haafiz Moosa ibn Haroon said: This is a weak hadith. Al-Bukhari said: This hadith is subject to further investigation.

Al-Bayhaqi said: This is a mudtarab (faulty) isnad, and in addition to that it contradicts the ahadith of trustworthy narrators, which say that the meat of horses is permitted. Al-Khattabi said: There is something wrong with its isnad. Abu Dawood said: This hadith is mansookh (abrogated). Al-Nasa’i said: The hadith which says that it is permissible is more sound. It is more likely, if this is sahih, that it has been abrogated, because of what it says in the sahih hadith, “Permission was given to eat the flesh of horses,” indicates that. (al-Majmoo’)

(Most of the above reply is based on answer by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam

[1] A type of wild donkey (“There is no such thing as wild donkeys. The term used in Arabic refers to zebras, not wild donkeys. It is what they would call zebras in Arabic when once upon a time zebras used to live in Arabia” – Shaykh Yasir Qadhi)