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Beef Consumption in View of the Sunnah

Photo mweston (imgur)
Photo mweston (imgur)

By Mufti Abdullah Nana

Mawlana Abd al-Hayy al-Lakhnawi رحمه الله writes, “The incident of Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم sacrificing a cow on behalf of his wives during the Farewell Hajj and distributing its meat to his wives is recorded both in Sahih al-Muslim (#294) and Sahih al-Bukhari (#1709). I have not come across an explicit narration which mentions that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم ate the meat of a cow.

Shaykh Abd al-Haqq Dehlawi رحمه الله writes in Madārij An-Nubuwwat,

“It is established that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم ate the meat of sheep, but we do not know for certain if he ate the meat of a cow. It is mentioned in hadith narrations that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم did sacrifice a cow on behalf of his wives, and apparently he ate from that meat as well.”

It is narrated from Ā’ishah رضي الله عنها in Sahih al-Muslim that she said,

“The meat of a cow was brought to Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم and it was said to him that this food was given in charity to Bareerah. He said, ‘It is [in the ruling of] charity for Bareerah, and it is [in the ruling of] a gift for us.'” (Sahih al-Muslim, #2486)

It is apparent from this narration that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم himself ate the meat of the cow, and it is possible that he himself did not eat it but he gave it to his wives to eat. Allah knows best. (Majmū’a Fatāwā Mawlana Abd al-Hayy, p. 407)

There are authentic hadiths which mention that beef was served in the house of Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم, and in all likelihood, he himself did eat from the beef, despite the fact that this is not explicitly mentioned in these narrations. The fact that he himself slaughtered a cow and brought its meat home shows that it is completely lawful to eat beef in itself.

Some narrations do seem to indicate that it is disliked to eat beef and there are medical harms in doing so. There is a hadith attributed to Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم regarding the consumption of beef. He is reported to have said, “You should hold fast to the milk of cows and clarified butter of cows, and you should avoid the meat of cows. The milk and clarified butter of cows is a source of medical treatment and a cure, while its meat is a source of sickness.” (Mustadrak al-Hākim)

Most scholars of hadith have declared this narration to be weak including Hāfidh al-Sakhāwi, Hāfidh Ibn Hajar, Hāfidh Zarkashi, Imām Dhahabi, and others. Hāfidh al-Sakhāwi has mentioned all the different chain of narrators for this statement and has described in detail the weakness of each chain. Imām Hākim had authenticated this narration, but the majority of the scholars of hadith differed with him in this regard and declared this narration to be weak.

Moreover, the narration of beef being a source of sickness goes against other authentic narrations, thus bringing its own authenticity into question. Hāfidh Zarkashi writes that there are authentic narrations which establish that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم sacrificed a cow for his family, and he would not make a sacrifice of such an animal whose meat is known to cause sickness to others. (Faydh al-Qadīr, vol.4, p.444)

Some scholars of hadith have also provided an alternative interpretation to the narrations which state that beef is a source of sickness. The specialists in Unani (Greek) medicine and Tibb analyze the effects that climate, season, and type of food have on the health of an individual. Many scholars of hadith quote Imām Halimi’s interpretation of this narration and agree with his medical analysis from Unani Tibb. Imam Halimi mentions that this narration regarding medical harms of beef cows are particularly serious for the region of the Arabian Peninsula as compared to other regions, and it is as if he has restricted the scope of this hadith to beef in the Arabian Peninsula. The reason is that beef is both dry and cold in terms of Unani Tibb. When this dryness is combined with the arid and dry climate of the Arabian Peninsula, then it will potentially have a severe adverse affect on the person who eats beef. (Faidh al-Qadīr, vol.4, p.444).

In light of this explanation, the negative health effects of eating beef mentioned in this narration will be restricted to the Arabian Peninsula.

The great Indian scholar of hadith, Allāmah Anwar Shah Kashmīrī رحمه الله, has said with certainty that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم did eat beef on numerous occasions. He writes, “The first was the story of Bareerah when charity was given to her. The second was when he sacrificed a cow on behalf of his wives during Hajj. The third is the hadith under discussion [in which Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم purchased a cow, commanded for it to be slaughtered, and ate from the meat of the cow] (Sahih al-Bukhari, #3126) Whoever thinks that it is not established that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم ate the meat of a cow is indeed unaware of these narrations.” (Faydh al-Bāri, vol.3, p.459)

In summary, we can say in light of the authentic narrations that it is permissible to consume beef and there is no harm in doing so, especially for people living outside of the Arabian Peninsula. There is a good chance that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم himself ate beef on multiple occasions, as asserted by Allāmah Anwar Shah Kashmīrī. However, in light of the weak narration emphasizing the adverse health effects of eating beef and the numerous modern-day medical studies highlighting the medical harms of eating beef, it would be best to eat beef sparingly and in moderation. A detailed analysis of the hadith narrations quoted in this fatwa is included below in Arabic.

Allah knows best.

Abdullah Nana

 

عن عبد الله ابن مسعود رضي الله عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال عليكم بألبان البقر و سمنانها و إياكم و لحومها فإن ألبانها و سمنانها دواء و شفاء و لحومها داء هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد و لم يخرجاه قال الحافظ الذهبي قلت سيف وهاه ابن حبان (متدرك الحاكم ج 4 ص 404)
قال الحافظ ابن حجر : الحاكم في الطب و قال صحيح الإسناد قلت بل سنده ضعيف والمسعود اختلط (اتحاف المهرة ج 10 312)
و قال السخاوي : الحاكم من حديث ابن مسعود مرفوعا و قد كتبت فيه جزءاً و مما أوردته ما صح أنه ضحى عن نسائه بالبقر و لكن قال الحليمي هذا لييس الحجاز و ببوسة لحم البقر و رطوبة لبنها و سمنها فكأنه يرى اختصاص ذلك به و سيأتي في لحوم من اللام (المقاصد الحسنة ص 344)
حديث لحوم البقر داء و سمنها و لبنها دواء
قال السخاوي : أبو داود في المراسيل من حديث مليكة بنت عمرو أنها وصفت للراوية عنه سمن بقر من وجع بحلقها و قالت قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم ألبانها شفاء و سمنها دواء و لحومها داء و كذا أخرجه الطبراني في الكبير و ابن منده في المعرفة و أبو نعيم في الطب بنحوه و رجاله ثقات لكن الراوية عن مليكة لم تسم و قد وصفها عنه زهير بن معاوية أحد الحفاظ بالصدق و أنها امرأته و ذكر أبي داود له في مراسيله لتوقفه في صحبة مليكة ظنا و قد جزم بصحبتها جماعة و له شواهد منها عن ابن مسعود رفعه عليكم بألبان البقر و سمنانها و أياكم و لحومها فإن ألبانها دواء و شفاء و لحومها داء أخرجه الحاكم و تساهل في تصحيحه له كما بسطته مع بقية طرقه في بعض الأجوبة
و قد ضحى النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم عن نسائه بالبقر و كأنه لبيان الجواز أو لعدم تيسره غيره و إلا فهو لا يتقرب إلى الله تعالى بالداء على أن الحليمي قال كما أسلفته في “عليكم” أنه إنما قال في البقر ذلك ليبس الحجاز و يبوسة لحم البقر منه و رطوبة ألبانها و سمنها و استحسن هذا التأويل و الله أعلم (المقاصد الحسنة ص 390)
و قال السخاوي في مكان آخر : و ليس في سنده من ينـظر في حاله إلا المرأة التي لم تسم فيضعف الحديث بسببها لا سيما و قد صح أن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم ضحى عن نسائه بالبقر و هو لا يتقرب بالداء . . . (الأجوبة المرضية ج 1 ص 22)

وانظر كشف الخفا (ج 2 ص 91 و 182) و الشذرة (ج 1 ص 399)

قال المناوي قال الحليمي إنما قال ذلك لأن الأغلب عليها البرد و اليبس و بلاد الحجاز قشيفة بابسة فلم يأمن إذا انضم إلى ذلك الهواء أكل لحم البقر أن يزيدهم يبسا فيتضرروا بها و أما لبنها فرطب و سمنها بارد ففي كل منهما الشفاء من ضرر الهوى اه قال الزركشي و هو تأويل حسن قيل و هذا يعارض ما صح أنه ضحى عن نسائه بالبقر
(ابن السني و أبو نعيم) في الطب النبوي و ك في باب الطب عن ابن مسعود قال الحاكم صحيح و أقره الذهبي و قال النسائي قد تساهل الحاكم في تصحيحه قال الزركشي قلت بل هو منقطع و في صحته نظر فإن في الصحيح أن المصطفى صلى الله عليه و سلم ضحى عن نسائه بالبقر و لا يتقرب بالداء (فيض القدير ج 4:444)

وعن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت : ضَحَّى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنْ نِسَائِهِ بِالْبَقَرِ . رواه البخاري (294) ومسلم (1211)
و في رواية للبخاري فدخل علينا يوم النحر بلحم بقر فقلت … (1709)

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