Ruling on Eating Horse Meat
Praise be to Allaah.
The majority of scholars are of the view that it is permissible to eat horses, because of the sound ahaadeeth that have been narrated concerning that.
It was narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he said: On the day of Khaybar, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade eating the flesh of domestic donkeys, but he granted a concession with regard to horses. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3982; Muslim, 1941.
It was narrated that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: At the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) we slaughtered a horse and ate it. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5191; Muslim, 1942.
It was narrated that Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: We traveled with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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 saheeh isnaad.
Other scholars – including Abu Haneefah and his two companions – are of the view that it is makrooh to eat horse meat. They quoted a Qur’aanic verse and a hadeeth as evidence for that.
The verse is as follows (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys, for you to ride and as an adornment” [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 Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al‑Maitah (the dead animals — cattle — beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine” [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 Allaah does not mention carrying load on horses, although He says with regard to an’aam animals (camels etc), “And they carry your loads” [al-Nahl 16:7]. This does not imply that it is haraam to carry loads on horses. End quote from al-Majmoo’.
The hadeeth that they quote is that which was narrated from Khaalid ibn al-Waalid, that he said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade the flesh of horses, mules and donkeys, and every wild animal that has fangs.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, al-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah.
This hadeeth is da’eef (weak), and was classed as such by al-Albaani in Da’eef Abi Dawood.
Al-Haafiz Moosa ibn Haroon said: This is a weak hadeeth. Al-Bukhaari said: This hadeeth is subject to further investigation.
Al-Bayhaqi said: This is a mudtarab (faulty) isnaad, and in addition to that it contradicts the ahaadeeth of trustworthy narrators, which say that the meat of horses is permitted. Al-Khattaabi said: There is something wrong with its isnaad. Abu Dawood said: This hadeeth is mansookh (abrogated). Al-Nasaa’i said: The hadeeth which says that it is permissible is more sound. It is more likely, if this is saheeh, that it has been abrogated, because of what it says in the saheeh hadeeth, “Permission was given to eat the flesh of horses,” indicates that.
End quote from al-Majmoo’, 9/7-5