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Is Duck Meat Permissible and Halal to Eat According to Islam?

Ducks are a type of waterfowl and domesticated bird commonly raised for their meat, eggs, and feathers around the world. However, Muslims who wish to live according to Quranic principles must analyze whether ducks are halal to consume.

According to the Hanafi School, ducks slaughtered properly are considered halal and permissible to eat. However, the Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools prohibit the consumption of all birds with talons. This article will examine the evidence related to the permissibility of ducks in Islam.

Ducks Qualify as Halal Based on the Hanafi School

The predominant view in the Hanafi School is that ducks are permissible to eat because they fall under the category of birds that are not predators or scavengers.

Hanafi scholars ruled that all birds are halal except those that prey on other animals or consume filth. Based on this, they permitted eating domesticated birds like chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese since they do not hunt other creatures nor scavenge.

In his seminal work Al-Hedaya, the prominent Hanafi jurist Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani states: “The following birds are lawful: sparrow, pigeon, starling, nightingale, ostrich, peacock, etc.” He includes duck under the category of permissible birds.

The Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali Schools Prohibit Ducks

Unlike the Hanafi school, the other major Sunni schools do not permit the consumption of ducks and other predatory birds.

The Shafi’i and Hanbali schools prohibit eating all types of birds that have talons and use them to catch prey. Based on this, ducks are considered haram.

The Maliki school similarly prohibits birds of prey that hunt with their talons. However, they allow eating domesticated birds like chickens. But Malikis extend the prohibition to ducks and geese due to their predatory nature of catching fish and amphibians, despite being domesticated.

So while Hanafis permit ducks, the Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali position is that they are haram to eat.

Evidence for Prohibition of Predatory Birds in Quran and Sunnah

The Quran uses the term “sayd” (hunting prey) when referring to haram birds:

“Forbidden to you is carrion, blood, the flesh of swine…and animals that have been killed by strangling or a violent blow…and the animals that have been gored, and that have been killed by wild animals—except those you [are able to] slaughter [before they die]—as well as animals sacrificed on stone altars [to idols], and the division of meat by raffling with arrows…” (5:3)

Based on this, the majority of scholars include predatory birds under the category of “wild animals” that hunt prey and are prohibited.

A hadith in Sunan Ibn Majah states:

“Every bird that has talons is forbidden.”

The Prophet (SAW) also specifically prohibited eating lizards, falcons, kites, and crows since they use their talons to catch prey. Duck’s claws allow them to catch fish, frogs, and aquatic creatures, so this hadith is used as evidence of their impermissibility.

Modern Farm-Raised Ducks Still Retain Predatory Instincts

Some argue that modern domesticated ducks are different from wild ducks and do not catch live prey anymore. However, scholars state that ducks raised on farms still retain their innate predatory nature and instincts, even if hand-fed by humans.

Ducks exhibit behaviors like vigorously snatching food thrown to them, which illustrates their origin as birds of prey. Based on this, ducks today cannot be considered totally different from wild ducks in the past. The majority opinion takes this continuity of innate habits as proof that domesticated ducks remain haram.

Permissibility of Duck Meat in Cases of Necessity

The dominant ruling is that ducks are prohibited, though the Hanafi school permits them. However, in dire circumstances where no other food is available, scholars provide exception for eating normally prohibited items to preserve life.

In situations of necessity where duck is the only meat source, the following conditions must be met:

  • The duck must be slaughtered by a Muslim according to zabiha rules. This involves invoking Allah’s name and cutting the trachea, esophagus and jugular veins.
  • Only enough duck meat to remove hunger may be consumed, not for full satisfaction.
  • The meat should only be eaten on a temporary basis until halal options become available.
  • One must feel regret when forced to consume prohibited foods in difficult contexts.

Can Muslims Eat Duck Eggs and Byproducts?

While duck meat is prohibited according to most schools, their eggs and byproducts are permitted.

Scholars allow consuming eggs of haram birds. Duck eggs are permissible to eat as long as they do not contain traces of fetal blood.

Products like duck feathers and down are also considered pure (tahir) and can be used, since Islamic texts mention only meat and fat of prohibited animals.

However, duck bone char used for filtration is disputed, so should be avoided.

In light of the evidence, the majority opinion is that ducks are haram to eat based on their predatory nature illustrated through their sharp talons. However, the Hanafi school classifies ducks as halal. In difficult contexts, exceptions allow consumption of duck to prevent starvation. Muslims are encouraged to exercise caution and avoid duck meat when possible, focusing instead on the many halal animal options permitted by Allah and His Messenger (SAW).

Final Thoughts

The majority of classical and contemporary Islamic scholars prohibit consumption of ducks, as they are considered predatory birds that hunt prey using their sharp claws. However, the Hanafi school classifies ducks as halal to eat based on evidence from Quran and sunnah. Muslims are encouraged to exercise caution regarding duck meat, focusing instead on the many halal alternatives permitted by Allah (SWT).

FAQ About Duck in Islam

Are domesticated ducks halal?

Most schools prohibit domesticated ducks as they retain their predatory instincts to catch prey, despite being farm-raised. Only the Hanafi school permits eating domesticated ducks.

Can Muslims eat duck eggs?

Yes, duck eggs are universally permitted among scholars, as long as they do not contain traces of fetal blood or embryos.

Is Peking duck halal?

No, Peking duck is not halal as it involves specialized slaughter and preparation methods that do not meet Islamic requirements. Muslims should avoid Peking duck.

Are ducks the same as chickens in Islam?

No, chickens are permissible to eat according to all schools, while ducks are prohibited according to the Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools due to their predatory nature.

What if only duck meat is available to eat?

In dire circumstances, prohibited items like duck may be consumed if no halal option is available. But this should be done only temporarily to survive, avoiding full satisfaction.