I hope for an explanation regarding the ruling of eating giraffe. Thank you so much Sahibus Samahah Mufti.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Before we answer this issue, we would first present the definition of giraffe.
Definition of Giraffe
In Arabic, giraffe is known as zarafah or zurafah. In al-A’jaib al-Makhlukhat, Imam al-Qazwini Rahimahullah notes on the uniqueness of this particular animal. This animal differs from other four-legged animals, for a giraffe starts to walk with its left legs unlike other animals of its kind.
According to Tarikh Ibn Khalilkan, Muhammad bin Abdullah al-Utabi al-Basri al-Akhbari al-Sy’air claimed that giraffe is a combination of three animals, namely, wild female camel, female cow and a male hyena. According to him, a giraffe is a result of a male hyena and a female wild camel reproducing a male that would then reproduce with a female cow.
However, Al-Jahiz disagrees and rejected this view, stating that these types of statements are from extreme ignorance. The reason is, Allah SWT is the Most Powerful and could create any types of animals such as a horse, donkey and others.
Habitat of Giraffe
Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an even-toed ungulate mammal and is the tallest living terrestrial animal. Giraffe could reach the height of up to 4.8 to 5.5 meters (16 to 18 feet) and could weigh up to 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds). Female giraffes are shorter and weigh less than its male counterparts. There are only two species in giraffe family which are the Okapi and Giraffa.
Giraffes usually inhabit savannahs and woodlands. Their food source is leaves, fruits and flowers of woody plants, primarily acacia species, which they browse at heights most other herbivores cannot reach.
Its extreme height compared to other animals, forces giraffe to either open its legs or kneel down to drink water. While standing upright, the heart of giraffe would need to pump blood vigorously to generate high pressure to maintain blood flow to the brain. When the animal lowers its head, the veins in the circulatory system contains valves preventing the blood from flowing back into the head, damaging the brain. Usually, giraffe would need approximately 160 kilometre squared / 62 mile squared of grazing ground.
The Ruling of Eating Giraffe
Scholars have differing opinions regarding the ruling of eating giraffe. Imam al-Damiri, in his book ‘Hayat Al-Hayawan Al Kubra included the two opinions of scholars regarding the issue of eating giraffe. Among the scholars that prohibit the eating of giraffe are:
- Imam al-Nawawi in his book Al-Majmu’ Syarh Muhazzab and Imam Abu Ishak Al Syirazi in his book Al-Tanbith state that eating giraffe is prohibited.
- Al-Imam Al-Qadhi Abu Khattab Al-Hanbali said that it is PROHIBITED to eat the flesh of giraffe. Some scholars state that giraffe is a result of the reproduction between a permissible and impermissible animal to be eaten.
However, there are scholars that ruled it permissible to eat giraffe:
- Syeikh Taqiyuddin Ibni Abi al-Dam al-Hamwi issued a fatwa referring to the fatwa by Qadhi Hussain Al-Shafie. Al-Imam Ibnu Rif’ah said that this is the strongest opinion by the fatwa of Imam Al-Baghawi.
- Imam Qadhi Hussain said, “I ruled it permissible for it resemble the permissible animal to be eaten, such as camel and cow.”
- Al-Imam Al-Damiri agreed with the opinion that ruled it permissible to eat giraffe. This is also the opinion in the mazhab of Imam Ahmad, Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifah.
After analysing this issue, we are inclined towards the ruling of the permissibility of eating giraffe, for it is an herbivore animal that do not have canine tooth. Furthermore, this animal is not a reproduction of prohibited animals to be eaten such as dog and swine and it does not resemble them. Thus, this animal is similar to the groups of animals such as cows and buffaloes, although it has a tall physique compared to other animals. Wallahua’lam.