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Summary of question
What creatures are haram?
question
Which creatures’ meat is haram? What are their names?
Concise answer

In general, haram meat creatures are divided into several categories:

1. All sea creatures which do not have scales.

2. Among land creatures, dogs, pigs, predatory creatures which have sharp teeth and claws and talons, like lions, foxes, rabbits, wolves, elephants, etc. are haram. But all types of sheep, camel, cow, deer, goat and wild donkeys are halal, and horse and domestic donkeys are makruh.

3. Birds that flap their wings less and glide more than they flap are haram and birds that flap their wings more than they glide while flying are halal. In addition, birds that have a crop or a gizzard are halal. (Reminder: Birds that have claws and talons like hawks, eagles and falcons are haram.)

All insects are haram except for locusts.

Detailed Answer

In general, haram meat creatures are divided into several categories:

A. Sea Creatures: Fish that have scales are the only type of halal sea creatures. Other sea creatures and fish are haram.[1]

B. Land creatures are divided into two categories, wild and domestic:

Domestic Land Creatures:

Among all domestic land creatures; sheep, cow and camel are halal, but eating horse and donkey meat is makruh and the makruhness of horsemeat is less than other makruh meat. The rest of domestic land creatures such as dogs, cats, etc. are haram.

Wild Land Creatures:

Deer, cow and mountain goat and wild donkey are all halal and eating the meat of wild predatory animals that are predatory in essence, have strong and sharp nails, claws and fangs such as, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wolves, or animals with less sharper fangs such as, foxes and hyenas as well as rabbits, even though they are not part of the predatory category, are considered haram. Also insects and reptiles, such as snakes, mice, lizards, hedgehogs, fleas, lice, etc.; the examples for which are uncountable, are all haram. Animals who have undergone maskh (metamorphosis) such as, elephants, monkeys, bears, etc.[2] are haram as well and the reason why is a tradition narrated from the Prophet (A.S.).[3]

C. Birds: Halal meat birds have two indications, making anything else other than that haram:

1. Birds that flap their wings more than they glide while flying are halal; but birds that glide and spread their wings more while flying in the air instead of flapping their wings are haram.

2. Birds with a corp, gizzards and spurs at the back of their feet are halal. (Note: Birds with sharp claws such as eagles, hawks, falcons, etc. are haram.)[4]

D. Insects: All insects are haram.[5] (Note: If a locust is caught by hand or any other means, it is halal after dying.)[6]

Eating halal meat creatures is sometimes haram:

1. If a creature has fed on a najis substance: An animal that has fed on human feces.[7] However, eating najis substances other than human feces does not make it haram.[8] An animal is considered haram for feeding on human feces when the sole thing it has fed on has been human feces and nothing else.[9] (Note: An animal that feeds on a najis substance will be pure and halal to eat once it undergoes istibra’.)[10]

2. Being the object of intercourse by a human.[11] In a tradition Imam Ali (A.S.) says: “Eating the meat of an animal that has been penetrated by a person is haram.”[12]

3. An animal that suckles the milk of a female pig to such an extent that its flesh and bones grow from it and gain strength is haram.[13]



[1] Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 137, book of foods and drinks, issue 2; al-Mukhtasar al-Nafi’, pg. 251; Sharayi’ al-Islam, pg. 169.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Jawahir al-Kalām , vol. 36, 294.

[4] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 594, the rulings on foods and drinks; Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 139, issue 8.

[5] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 603.

[6] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 593, issue 2622.

[7] Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 140, issue 15.

[8] Jawahir al-Kalām , vol. 36, pg. 271.

[9] Wasa’il al-Shiah, vol. 24, chapter 24 of the chapters on haram foods and drinks, hadith 2, pg. 160.

[10] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 568, issue 2583.

[11] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 601, issue 2632.

[12] Wasa’il al-Shiah, vol. 24, pg. 170, hadith 3.

[13] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 69, issue 86.

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