Lawful and unlawful animals (Part two)
Extract from the book Le Marché du Halal, entre références religieuses & contraintes industrielles, Mostafa Brahimi & Fethallah Otmani.
Essentially, the consumption of all aquatic animals is legal. The following verse states:
“Lawful to you is the game of the sea (sayduhu), and its food (ta’amuhu) » [Qu’ran 5/96]
Ibn ‘Abbas explains the meaning of the verse: « Sayduhu is any fish you catch alive, while its food (ta’amuhu) is what the sea rejects (dead fish)”. Abu Bakr, Zayd, Abu Ayyub, and many other Companions and Successors agree on this definition.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about the sea, he replied, « His water is pure (tahur) and its dead products (maytatuhu) are lawful.”
Al-Bukhari and other traditionalists relate that the Prophet sent a group of Companions to a country. The latter ran out of food and were suffering from hunger. One day they found a huge dead fish washed ashore. They ate it for more than a fortnight. The fish, which was very likely a sperm whale, was so big that a man could stand beneath one of its bones. Once they returned to Medina, they related their adventure to the Prophet and he said to them, « Nourish yourself with what God has supplied from the sea for you. And give me [some of this fish] if you have any left”. One of the men in the group gave him some, and the Prophet ate it. »
Fishes that have been caught are therefore neither subject to ritual slaughter (dhakat) or considered like dead animals. Such is the opinion of Imams Malik, Shafi’i, Ahmad and others.
But some scholars draw a distinction between:
– A fish relinquished by the sea or which dies after being relinquished by the sea. In this case, there is consensus among scholars of its lawfulness;
– A dead fish floating on the water: in this case, there is divergence among scholars on its lawfulness. Although several Companions (Abu Bakr, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari), Successors (‘Ata’ Ibn Abi Rabah, Makhul, Thawri and others) and imams (Malik, Shafi’i) consider it lawful, others (notably Successors like Tawus and Ibn Sirin) are of the opinion that it is better not to consume it, considering it makruh.
In addition, some schools draw a distinction between the different creatures of the sea. For example:
– Abu Hanifa excludes all aquatic animals other than fish, and considers that they are not recommended (makruh). All the other imams (Malik, Shafi’i, Ahmad and others) do not make this distinction and consider all creatures of the sea licit, based in particular on the words of Abu Bakr: « All (creatures) in the sea have already been ritually slaughtered (dhakat) by God. »
– Imam Malik authorises (halal) the consumption of frogs, just like Ibn Qudama, but the latter requires that they are ritually slaughtered. However, the other schools, and the majority of scholars, forbid the consumption of amphibians.
– For some animals such as crocodile, dogfish, sea-calf, etc., some scholars advocate ritual slaughter, although the majority does not consider it compulsory.
Finally other scholars make another distinction: if most of the amphibian’s life is spent outside water, then it must be slaughtered according to the Islamic rite (dhakat), but if most of its life is spent under water, then it does not need dhakat.
In principle, all birds are licit for consumption, except for a small category. As mentioned in part one, many scholars forbid the consumption of raptors and scavenging birds (vultures, condors …). They base their judgment on the hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas, in which the Prophet forbade (naha) the eating of the flesh of « fanged animals among felines and birds with talons”.
This view is shared by Abu Hanifa, Shafi’i and Ahmad who think that this hadith adds a stipulation (takhsis) to the main verse, which is why they also forbid the consumption of these two categories of animals.
By contrast, Imam Malik considers it is preferable to avoid them, but he doesn’t ban them, because for him, nothing beyond what God has forbidden in the verse related to forbidden food can be considered as forbidden: « Say, « I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden…« [Quran 6/145]
Imam Malik explains: “I do not know any scholar (of the time) who would have advised against the consumption of these animals », an opinion also shared by Layth Ibn Sa’d, Awza’î and Yahya Ibn Sa’id.
 Page 50 to 53, Tawhid, AVS