The Ruling on Eating Turtle, Crocodile, Hippopotamus, Horse, Hedgehog, Hyena, Frog, Lobster, Sea Snail, etc.

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Turtle: سلحفاة – (sulhufāt)
Crocodile: تمساح – (timsāh)
Hippopotamus: فرس نهر – (faras al-bahr / horse of the sea)
Hedgehog: قنفذ – (qanfudh)
Hyena: ضبع – (ḍabuʿun)
Frog: ضفدع – (ḍafdaʿun)
Snail (sea): حلزون – (halazoon)

Question: What is the ruling on eating the animals named above, some that live on land and others that live in the sea?

Answer: As for the hedgehog, then that is permissible to eat due to the general allowance regarding food stated in the verse:

قُل لَّآ أَجِدُ فِى مَآ أُوحِىَ إِلَىَّ مُحَرَّمًا عَلَىٰ طَاعِمٍۢ يَطْعَمُهُۥٓ إِلَّآ أَن يَكُونَ مَيْتَةً أَوْ دَمًۭا مَّسْفُوحًا أَوْ لَحْمَ خِنزِيرٍۢ فَإِنَّهُۥ رِجْسٌ أَوْ فِسْقًا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ ٱللَّهِ بِهِۦ ۚ فَمَنِ ٱضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍۢ وَلَا عَادٍۢ فَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ غَفُورٌۭ رَّحِيمٌۭ ١٤٥

“Say, ‘I do not find within that which was revealed to me anything forbidden to one who would eat it unless it is a dead animal (that dies without being slaughtered), or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine for indeed it is impure ― or that it is slaughtered and dedicated/sacrificed to other than Allāh. But whoever is forced by necessity, neither desiring it nor transgressing, then your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” (al-Anʿām: 145)

So, the hedgehog does not have fangs, nor does it eat the flesh of carrion – it lives on shrubbery and plants just like a rabbit (which is also permissible).  There is a weak hadeeth reported by Abu Dawood (no. 83) and Ahmad in al-Musnad in which the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) mentioned the hedgehog as being from the foul creatures. However, since the narration is weak, it is not to be acted upon.

The basic principle in matters of food, drink, clothing, etc., (i.e., worldly things) is that they are permissible unless there is textual evidence of prohibition. As for the turtle (from the sea), then many scholars have stated that it is permissible even if it is not slaughtered because of the fact that sea creatures are permissible to eat without making the ritual slaughter just as Allah said:

أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ صَيْدُ ٱلْبَحْرِ وَطَعَامُهُۥ مَتَـٰعًۭا لَّكُمْ وَلِلسَّيَّارَةِ ۖ

“Lawful to you is game (creatures) from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travellers…” (al-Mā’idah: 96) And we have the statement of the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) regarding the sea: “Its water is pure and its dead creatures are permissible (as food).” (Abu Dawood, no. 83, at-Tirmidhi, no. 69)

The fatwa of the permanent committee of scholars headed by Imām Ibn Bāz (rahimahullāh) stated that it is better to slaughter the sea turtle to be safe from differing, and Allah knows best.

As for prawns, shrimps, king-prawns, crabs, lobsters, oysters, octopus, whales, caviar, etc., that come from the sea, then all of that is permissible according to the above proofs. The scholars differed over the crocodile. Some said it is eaten like the rest of the sea creatures so the above verses and hadeeth apply to it, while others maintained that it should be avoided because it is from the predatory animals that have fangs (this was the view of Abu Hanifah) – however, what is more correct is that it is permissible, and that was the view of Mālik and Shāfiʿee (Allah have mercy on them).

Likewise, the hippopotamus is permissible because there is no prohibition in the Shareeʿah – and also because the horse that is on land is permissible to eat according to the proofs, therefore the horse of the sea (i.e., the hippopotamus) is more so permitted to consume as a food.

As for the hyena, there is a narration collected by an-Nasā’ee (2836) and Ibn Mājah (3085) that: Ibn Abee ʿAmmār said: I asked Jābir Ibn ʿAbdillāh (radiyallāhu ʿanhu) about hyenas, and he told me to eat them. I asked: ‘Is it game?’ He said: ‘Yes’ I asked: ‘Did you hear that from the Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ 

As for the frog, then we have the hadeeth that shows prohibition:

عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ عُثْمَانَ، أَنَّ طَبِيبًا، سَأَلَ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ ضِفْدَعٍ يَجْعَلُهَا فِي دَوَاءٍ فَنَهَاهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ قَتْلِهَا

ʿAbdur-Rahmān Ibn ʿUthmān said: A physician consulted the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) about using frogs in medicine, so he forbade him from killing them. (Abu Dawood, no. 3871, graded saheeh by Shaikh al-Albāni) The scholars, such as Shaikh Ibn Bāz stated that the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) would forbid killing a thing either because it is unlawful to kill (due to a right) such as the killing of a person or because it is unlawful to eat it as is the case here.

As for the sea snail, then it is permissible and that was the view of Mālik and Shāfiʿee and is proven by the saying of Allah: “Lawful to you is game (creatures) from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travellers…” (al-Mā’idah: 96) And the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) regarding the sea: “Its water is pure and its dead creatures are permissible (as food).”

All praise if for Allah.

References:

See Fatāwa Islāmiyyah, Dār al-Watan, vol. 3, pp. 388-392.
See also the English Darus-Salām version, vol. 6. pp. 223 and onwards.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Baarakallahu feek Ustaadhanaa for numerous years of efforts in calling to Tawhid and the Sunnah.

    In the second paragraph of the answer it reads:
    “However, since the narration is weak, it is to be acted upon.“

    It appear that this may be a slip of the pen and Allah knows best.

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