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Offline Reader Questions

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Clarifications Regarding Eating Sea Animals
« on: February 02, 2014, 08:14:48 PM »
Salaam Brother,

I ask your opinion on the following.

Wouldn't sharks..whales..dolphins be considered carnivores? Like cats..dogs..tigers..lions? Eating any other creature.. but meaning flesh... also, how can one hunt a big mammal like this without shooting, making it suffer which is not a way for slaughter?

First of all, you have to look at the context of the verse. It was revealed as part of the rules explaining the restrictions on a person who is in ihram (the pilgrim's garment) during the pilgrimage.

If the verse is saying that all kinds of the "game of sea and its food" is Permissible, then what would one say about the next sentence---Would all kind of land animals be allowed after the pilgrim is out of ihram?! No one takes the expression in the second sentence "the game of the land" as a blanket approval for all land animals.

Moreover, the words "the game of sea and ITS FOOD" show that not every "game/catch of sea" is food; otherwise, there was no need to add the words "and its food" in this sentence. It would mean that you are allowed to catch many things from the sea but only "its food" is permissible for you to eat.

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Clarifications Regarding Eating Sea Animals
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2014, 08:27:35 PM »
Wa alaikum assalam

Please see my responses to your questions in blue italics.

Wouldn't sharks..whales..dolphins be considered carnivores? Like cats..dogs..tigers..lions? Eating any other creature.. but meaning flesh... also, how can one hunt a big mammal like this without shooting, making it suffer which is not a way for slaughter?

The Quran seemingly treats 'land animals' and 'water (sea or river) animals' as different categories. Eating restrictions have been imposed on the former (land animals) and general permissibility is allowed in the latter (water animals).

However, I doubt that fishermen in antiquity would hunt large water creatures such as whales and sharks etc. for their general diet. Furthermore, they would have known what water animals were good to eat and which were not whether this was a function of ease of hunting or suitability for consumption. This is no different from the general permissibility of fruits which God has made lawful but humans are expected to know which fruits are poisonous to eat with the risk of causing harm or even proving fatal and thus to avoid completely. (e.g. Holly berries or fruits from the suicide tree (Cerbera odollam) etc)

No one would argue that we should consume poisonous fish or fruits just because there is a general permissibility.

First of all, you have to look at the context of the verse. It was revealed as part of the rules explaining the restrictions on a person who is in ihram (the pilgrim's garment) during the pilgrimage.

That is absolutely correct.  However, in the context of pilgrimage, one would expect greater restrictions and thus if catch of the sea / river is being made permissible, this would arguably be the case when one is not on pilgrimage.

If the verse is saying that all kinds of the "game of sea and its food" is Permissible, then what would one say about the next sentence---Would all kind of land animals be allowed after the pilgrim is out of ihram?! No one takes the expression in the second sentence "the game of the land" as a blanket approval for all land animals.

That is absolutely correct. However, the Quran has defined what is permissible in the context of land animals (e.g. grazing animals except swine etc.). However for 'water' animals there is no such restriction in the entire Quran except for the implication that humans will recognise that some fish will be poisonous for consumption or not generally to be hunted. This is no different from poisonous fruit.

Moreover, the words "the game of sea and ITS FOOD" show that not every "game/catch of sea" is food; otherwise, there was no need to add the words "and its food" in this sentence. It would mean that you are allowed to catch many things from the sea but only "its food" is permissible for you to eat.

In the expression 'saydu-l-bahri', the verb 'sada' means hunting in a manner to catch fish or game / prey. Along with 'bahr', the phrase is basically allowing 'hunting' in the sea / river. The purpose of the clarification given and separated by the conjunction 'wa' (and) is to explain the purpose of this permissible hunt which is given as 'ta'am' (its food) as a provision (mata').

I hope that helps, God willing
Joseph
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell