Question # 219: Can you please explain which birds are halal to eat?

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: It is difficult to enumerate all the birds that we are permitted to eat. The basic principle concerning all animals is that in general they are permissible, except for those which have been excluded. Hence, all birds except which have talons[1] (with which they catch prey such as hawks, falcons, vultures, and eagles), who eats carrion (such as vultures and speckled crows), are off-putting (like bats), and forbidden to kill (such as hoopoes and sparrow-hawks) are permissible to eat.

Long Answer: It is difficult to enumerate all the birds that we are permitted to eat. The basic principle concerning all animals is that in general they are permissible, except for those which have been excluded, because Allah says in the Qur’an: “Say (O Muhammad): I find not in that which has been revealed to me anything forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be Maytah (a dead animal) or blood poured forth (by slaughtering or the like), or the flesh of swine (pork); for that surely, is impure or impious (unlawful) meat (of an animal) which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, or on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering). But whosoever is forced by necessity without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits; (for him) certainly, your Lord is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Soorah al-An’aam, 6:145)

Excluded from that is that for which there is evidence that it is haraam; and based on the evidence there are four such types:

  1. Birds which have talons with which they catch prey, because of the report narrated by Muslim from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه), who said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade every wild animal with fangs and every bird with talons. It says in Zaad al-Mustaqni’: That which has talons with which it catches prey. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: What is meant by talons here is not the thing [spur] that protrudes from the leg of the rooster; that is a talon but it does not catch prey with it. (al-Sharh al-Mumti’) [Hence, this category includes birds such as hawks, falcons, vultures, eagles, etc.]
  1. That which eats carrion, such as vultures and speckled crows.  It says in al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah: “The Hanafis, Shafi’is and Hanbalis are agreed that it is haraam to eat large black crows and speckled crows, which are both types that usually eat only carrion, so they are abhorrent to those of a sound nature. This type also include vultures, because they only eat carrion, even though they do not have talons with which they catch prey.” Next, many of the fuqaha’ regarded farm crows as permissible, and gave as the reason for that the fact that they do not eat carrion.
  1. That which is off-putting, such as bats. There is a difference of opinion among the scholars as to what constitutes off-putting, which there is no room to discuss here. Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah be pleased with him) indicated the guideline on this issue by saying: Everything that does not catch prey with its talons and does not eat carrion and is not off-putting, is halal. (al-Mughni)
  1. That which it is forbidden to kill, such as hoopoes, because of the report narrated by Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) who said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade killing four kinds of animals: ants, bees, hoopoes and sparrow-hawks. Classed as sahih by al-Albani in Saheeh Abi Dawood)

Everything apart from the prohibited ones mentioned above is permissible in principle.

(The above answer is based on various answers provided by Islam Q&A on similar topics)

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 large, hooked claw, especially one belonging to a bird of prey