Maliki Fiqh QA

Islamic Questions & Answers according to the Maliki School

Chapter on Food – Imam Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Barr al-Qurtubi (Kitab al-Kafi)

Kitab al-Kafi

(That Which is Sufficient in the Maliki Fiqh of the People of Madina)

by Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Barr an-Numayri al-Qurtubi (d. 463/1071)

Chapter on Food

Section: Animals which it is lawful to eat and those which it is not lawful to eat

It is not lawful to eat domestic donkeys or to slaughter them for their meat or hides. If someone wants to purify a donkey hide, he must tan it. Malik says that wild asses may not be eaten after they have been tamed and used for work or mounts because they have been domesticated. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade eating the flesh of domestic donkeys.* Malik says that if an ass remains wild, there is no harm in eating it and, indeed, a domestic donkey can be eaten if it becomes wild.

[ *In a hadith which is agreed upon, transmitted from Jabir]

Malik holds that horses should not be eaten, but that doing so is disliked, not haram. The same judgement applies to mules as donkeys. No one should eat elephants, mice or geckos. It is not permitted to eat animals of prey which have fangs. Any animal which hunts and eats flesh is considered to be a beast of prey. This is the well-known position of Malik. It is reported, however, that he stated that there is no harm in eating foxes and weasels, which he does not consider them to be the same as lions, wolves, lynxes, leopards and hyenas.

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It is not permitted to eat cats, either wild or domestic. It is permitted to eat rabbits. Malik says that there is no harm in eating any birds, whether they are birds of prey or not, those which eat carrion or not, and whether they are with or without talons. There is no harm in eating lizards, jerboas or monitor lizards. Malik says that it is permitted to eat snakes which have been slaughtered, as well as vipers, large lizards, hedgehogs and frogs.

Some Madinan scholars do not permit eating birds of prey, or any animal which eats carrion, or any animals which have eaten excrement (jalala) or eating any of the vermin and reptiles of the earth, like snakes, geckos and mice, and similar creatures. Those scholars hold that if it is not permitted to kill an animal, then it is not permitted to eat it or slaughter it. This is the position of Ashhab, ‘Urwa, a group of Madinans and others.

There is no harm in eating dead fish, floating or sunk. All seafood is lawful, although Malik disliked “water pigs” (dolphins) because of the name. The same applies to sharks (lit. “sea dogs”) in his view. There is no harm in eating crustaceans, turtles and frogs. There is no harm in fish caught by Magians because fish do not require slaughtering. Malik says that one does not eat locusts which have died from suffocation, but eats those which have died by a human action or process, like cutting, throwing into a fire and the like. People other than Malik permit eating locusts however they have died. They consider locusts to have the same ruling as fish.

Section: What is lawful of the food of the People of the Book and other unbelievers

The food of the People of the Book which is lawful for us is their slaughtered animals and other foods of theirs which are lawful for us which do not require slaughtering. Malik disliked the eating of meat which they have slaughtered when meat slaughtered by Muslims is available. He disliked them to have markets in which they sell their meat. This objection, on his part, was abstinence. Thus one ought to abstain from the meat slaughtered by Jews and Christians when meat slaughtered by Muslims is available. Do you not see that it is not permitted for a Kitabi to slaughter the hajj sacrifices of a Muslim?

The basic position is that the animals slaughtered by the People of the Book are lawful. There is no disagreement about that since Allah Almighty says, “And the food of those given the Book is also lawful for you.” (5:6) According to the people of knowledge, that refers to the animals which they slaughter. As for those items which they eat which are unlawful for us, that is not included within the generality of the statement. Malik disliked obtaining from the Jews fat, camels which they have slaughtered and animals with claws.* Most of the people of knowledge, however, see nothing wrong in that.

[* Because these are unlawful for them.]

There is no harm in eating the food of idol worshippers, Magians and other unbelievers who have no Book except for animals which they slaughter. Any of their food that does not require slaughtering may be eaten with the exception of cheese when there are pieces of carrion in it.

If the father of a child is a Magian and his mother is a Kitabi, his ruling is that of his father according to Malik. According to others, animals slaughtered by a child who has one parent whose slaughtering is not permissible are not eaten. Malik disliked food which the unbelievers prepare for their festivals out of the fear that it might be something which is consecrated to other than Allah.

There is nothing wrong in drinking from any of the vessels of the unbelievers after they have been washed and are clean, as long as they are not made of gold, silver, or pigskin. Malik and a group of the people of knowledge permitted the use of pig bristles for stitching and other things. The Muslims agree that flesh and fat of pigs are unlawful, as well as every part of them except for the bristles.

Section: Carrion

Omitted

Section: Drinks

Wine (khamr) is a drink made from fermented grapes. Any drink of which either a large or small amount induces intoxication, is considered to be “wine”: any amount of it, small or large, is unlawful, whatever type of drink it is. That is the position of a group of the people of Hijaz and Syria. Whatever is contrary to this position is invalidated by the firm Sunna of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. He was asked about mead, which is made from honey, and said, “Every drink which intoxicates is unlawful.” [At-Tirmidhi, related from ‘A’isha.] The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Every intoxicant is wine, and every wine is unlawful.” [Muslim, from Ibn ‘Umar] The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “When a lot of something intoxicates, then a little of it is unlawful.” [Ibn Hanbal, from Ibn ‘Umar.] He also said, “If a faraq* of something intoxicates, then a handful of it is unlawful.” [Ibn Hanbal and Abu Dawud from ‘A’isha.]

[*faraq: a vessel which contains three sa’s of liquid.]

Grape juice and other such drinks, provided a large amount of them do not intoxicate, are lawful drinks. There is nothing wrong in drinking juice which has not fermented. There is nothing wrong with it when it has been cooked when a lot of it is not intoxicating. In such a case, cooking does not have to remove two-thirds of it. Every drink which is not intoxicating is permitted, as long as it is not addictive. If it is addictive, it is not permitted. A group of the people of knowledge very strongly dislike that which is addictive in the case of permissible drinking, and it is completely unlawful in that which is not permissible.

No one should turn wine into vinegar. If he does so, then he has done something bad and should ask for Allah’s forgiveness, but he can consume it if he wishes. It is said that one does not consume it unless it has turned into vinegar without human intervention. That is the best known position related from Malik, and it is the position of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, and it is what I say. It is said that it is unlawful when a human turns it into vinegar, unless it is done by a Christian.

Dates and raisins should not combined in nabidh and one does not mix nabidh made from dates with nabidh made from raisins, as applies to all mixtures of all drinks which people make. It is not permitted to drink them, although the one who drinks them is not subject to the hadd when a lot of it does not intoxicate. The hadd for wine will be mentioned in the Chapter on Hudud, Allah willing.

The prohibition of the two mixtures is not the same as the prohibition of intoxication. This is why drinking the two mixtures is disliked and not forbidden. When they are combined, the drink becomes strong very quickly. The prohibition of that is like the prohibition of making nabidh in certain vessels. Malik disliked using a mixture of fruits for making nabidh when the ingredients could be made into nabidh separately, like date nabidh and raisin nabidh when they are put into the same vessel and then drunk together. He also disliked mixing them for making vinegar.

There is nothing wrong is drinking a honey drink when a lot of it is not intoxicating. It is said that it is considered to be one of the mixtures, but the first position is that of Malik. Malik disliked making nabidh in gourds and jugs smeared with pitch rather than other vessels. Other scholars disagree with him and permit making nabidh in any vessel and it is good and lawful for the one who drinks it.

A Muslim may not lawfully possess any wine or intoxicating drink. If he does, it should be poured away and its vessels broken in his presence to discipline him. He is punished according to the extent of his knowledge of that. If, however, he drank any of it, he receives the full hadd of eighty lashes. When someone becomes Muslim and has wine in his possession, it should be poured away and he is not punished unless that was already mentioned to him. It is not lawful for a Muslim to hire himself or his animal for any activity involving wine. If he does so, he should give anything he earns as sadaqa and ask Allah for forgiveness.

Section: Summary of the Position on Earnings

Among the forms of earnings which are agreed to be forbidden are: usury, the earning of prostitutes, forbidden commerce [like trade in wine and pigs], and bribes; payment for wailing and singing, for soothsaying, claiming to have knowledge of the Unseen and divine reports; for sand divination (raml)*, games and all vain falsehood. Other things which are agreed to be unlawful earning are usurpation, theft and all that is acquired when the previous owner is not happy about it, whether he is a Muslim or a dhimmi, and it is the sort of property in whose defence people deem killing lawful.

[Reading raml for ramz]

A Muslim must avoid doubtful things. If he does that, he is seeking to keep his deen pure. Nothing doubtful is definitively haram unless it is clear that it is haram and doubt about that is eliminated. Scrupulousness regarding that, however, is better and closer to taqwa. If a man buys from another man who is suspected of being in possession of unlawful property, the sale is not void unless the sale involves an item which is known to be unlawful, If that is the case, then the sale is void. There is no harm in consuming food bought with his wealth when it is a mixture of lawful and unlawful. If most of it is unlawful, it is necessary to avoid it out of scrupulousness. Nothing can definitively be made unlawful unless it is known that the thing itself is unlawful in itself.

Earnings from cupping are not unlawful because the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, paid for that and he did not pay for anything unlawful. The reports about it from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, differ, and that indicates that there is some doubt about it.

[nabidh: a drink made by soaking grapes, raisins, dates, etc. in water without allowing it to ferment to the point of becoming intoxicating. If does become intoxicating, it is still called nabidh.]

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