As you may know,
the Book of Allah, which is the final version of Divine Law, does not
provide us with an exhaustive list regarding what is halāl (allowed) and
what is harām (forbidden). It maintains a clear stance that Allah has
allowed us to eat everything which we, in the light of innate guidance, hold
lawful. The Qur’ān reads:
They ask you [O
Muhammad] what is made lawful for them. Say: pure things are made lawful for
The Holy Qur’ān has only
proscribed four things about which mankind was not in a position to adopt a
clear stance. The following verse while mentioning this proscription also
asserts that every good thing is edible.
Say, I find not in that
which is revealed to me anything prohibited to an eater that he eats thereof
except it be carrion or blood poured forth, swine flesh for that verily is
foul or the abomination which was immolated to the name of other than Allah.
I think what needs to be
appreciated is the fact that every human being earth knows what is edible.
No one teaches a lion how to hunt or what to hunt; he never goes for an
eagle or a crocodile. Similarly, a vulture always prefers to feed on
carrion; it never goes for a flying bird to first hunt and then eat. The
case of humans is no different. They inherently know what they must eat and
what not. They would never place on the dining table an eagle cooked in corn
oil or a lizard barbecued with spices. They like to eat what their Lord has
ordained within their souls as permissible to eat. Therefore, there was no
need to give an exhaustive list of what is edible and what not. Allah has
only proscribed the above mentioned four things because mankind could not
have decided their status regarding eating.
Seen in this perspective,
domestic donkey is not an animal to be eaten under all circumstances since
human nature abhors the very concept of eating it. The majority of mankind
has never taken donkeys as edible though a very nominal minority must have
deviated a bit. Such people have always been corrected by their society as
the Prophet (sws) corrected some of his Companions (rta) during the
campaign. Hence, the proscription does not hinge upon whether they are
domestic and are being used for transportation.