The Issue of Using Skins of Animals for Tanning

06/06/2009

بسم الله الرحمان الرحيم

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

الحمد الله

Al-Imām Ibn Qudāmaħ رحمه الله writes:

“All skins of dead animals, irrespective of whether they have been tanned or not, are najas. [1]

It is crucial to have a proper understanding of what is meant here by “dead animals.” What is intended are those animals that die in a situation other than the proper Islāmic method of slaughtering. This would include animals that are slaughtered by people of other religions who do not follow the Islāmic method of slaughtering animals. This would also include animals that die an accidental or natural death without being properly slaughtered. This does not include the tanned skins of animals that are ḥalāl for consumption and are slaughtered in the proper Islāmic method, since those animals are Ṭāhir by ijmāc .

Along with a proper understanding of what is intended by “dead animals,” it also important to know what is meant by tanning. Tanning is the process of making leather from the skins of dead animals. From an Islāmic perspective, it is vital for one to know whether these tanned skins which are used to make leather goods are classified as Ṭāhir or najas. This ruling has an enormous impact on one’s daily life as everyone uses products made from leather in some form or another. Many of these leather goods (wallets, belts, jackets, shoes, etc.) are worn during Ṣalāh and affect the validity of .Ṣalāh

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“DEAD ANIMALS” BEFORE BEING TANNED

The first issue in dealing with skins of “dead animals” is that of their ruling before they have been tanned. This is najas by ijmāc based upon the following Ḥadīth:

Ibn ʿAbbās رضي الله عنهما reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “If the hide of an animal is tanned, it becomes pure.”[2]

Aḥādith such as the following: This opinion is further corroborated by many other

“Tanning removes its impurity.” [3]

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“DEAD ANIMALS” AFTER BEING TANNED

The next issue in dealing with skins of “dead animals” is that of their ruling after they have been tanned. There are four opinions in regarding this issue.

THE FIRST OPINION:

The first opinion is that of al-Imām Ibn Qudāmah رحمه الله. He is stating here that the hide of all dead animals can not be made Ṭāhir by way of tanning; regardless of what type of animal it is. This opinion has been attributed to both Imām Mālik and Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal رحمهما الله.

The main piece of evidence supporting this opinion is the following Ḥadīth:

ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAkīm reported: “A statement of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم  was read to us: “Do not benefit from the hide or the sinew

of an animal that dies.”” [4]

The scholars who hold this opinion use this Ḥadīth to say that it abrogated other Aḥādith on this matter. The first issue with using this Ḥadīth as Dalīl is that ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAkīm never met Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. There is a missing narrator, who is the one that ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAkīm heard this statement

from. This type of Ḥadīth is called a “mursal” Ḥadīth. The second issue is that the narrator who heard this Ḥadīth from ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAkīm, whose name is Ibn Abī Lailā, was not known to the scholars of Ḥadīth to have heard Aḥadīth ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAkīm. Due to this, many scholars of Ḥadīth declared this Ḥadīth to be ḍaʿīf – weak, including the two Imāms of al-Jarḥ wa ‘t-Taʿdīl [5] Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal and Imām Yaḥyā ibn Maʿīn رحمهما الله.

Imām Bahā’ ad-Dīn al-Maqdisī رحمه الله explains this issue in al-ʿUddah Sharḥ al-ʿUmdah quoting Imām at-Tirmidhī رحمه الله, who reported that Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal رحمه الله would rely on this Ḥadīth , but later retracted this opinion due to the manifestation of the weakness of this Ḥadīth [6]The Qāḍī of the Ḥanābilah , Qāḍī Abū Yaʿlā رحمه الله also reported that Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal رحمه الله left this opinion

after the weakness of this Ḥadīth was found.

THE SECOND OPINION:

The hide of all dead animals which are ḥalāl to eat had they been properly slaughtered, may be made Ṭāhir by way of tanning. This means that the hides of dead cows, sheep, camels, and other animals which are ḥalāl to consume can be purified by tanning them.

Yet those animals that are ḥarām  to eat, such as pigs, dogs, carnivores, etc.; their skins are not made Ṭāhirby the process of tanning. This is the view of the majority of the scholars of Islām, including: Al-Auzāʿī, ʿAbdullāh ibn al-Mubārak, and Isḥāq رحمهم الله; it was also narrated from Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal رحمه الله, as his final verdict.[7]

This was also the view favoured by Imām Majd ad-Dīn ibn Taimīyah, al-Imām Ibn Qudāmah al-Maqdisī[8], Ibn Ḥamdān al-Ḥanbalī, Ibn Razīn, Qāḍī Abū Yaʿlā, Imām Bahā’ ad-Dīn al-Maqdisī, Shaikh al-Islām Taqī ad-Dīn ibn Taimīyah [9], and his student Ibn Qaiyim al-Jauzīyah رحمهم الله. This is also the preferred

opinion of Shaikh ʿAbd Al-ʿAzīz (ʿAbdulʿAzīz) ibn Bāz, Shaikh Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ ibn ʿUthaimīn, and Shaikh Ṣāliḥ al-Fauzān رحمهم الله. [10]

Dalīl for this opinion is based upon the following Ḥadīth:

Salamah al-Muḥbiq رضي الله عنه reported that: “The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم asked a woman during the Battle of Tabūk for some water, and she replied that the only water that she had was in a water skin made from the hide of an animal that was not properly slaughtered. To this, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Didn’t you tan it?” When she replied that she had, he صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Tanning, it is as slaughtering it.”” [11]

Since the Ḥadīth clearly states “Tanning, it is as slaughtering it.”, we see that the skin of pigs or dogs would not be purified due to tanning since they do not become ḥalāl  for consumption with slaughtering. This is also supported by the Ḥadīth:

It is reported by ʿĀ’ishah رضي الله عنها that: “The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم was asked about the hides of dead animals, to which he replied: “Tanning them purifies them.”” [12]

In the Ḥadīth mentioned above, it is clearly stated that tanning fulfills the same function as slaughtering with respect to purification. These Aḥādith and others like it are the Dalīl that tanning is a means of purifying, only applies to animals that are ḥalāl, since they connect tanning to slaughtering. Hence if an animal is not made ḥalāl by slaughtering it, then its skin is not made ḥalāl by tanning.

The proponents of this view also cite as Dalīl the numerous Aḥādith that prohibit the use of the hides of predatory animals. One of these Aḥādith is the following:

“All predatory animals with tusk and every bird with claw are forbidden for consumption.” [13]: This is also supported by the Ḥadīth : Muʿāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān رضي الله عنه reported that: “ Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم forbade tiger skins.” [14]

Furthermore:

Muʿāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān رضي الله عنه reported that Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلمsaid: “The angels do not accompany a group of people among whom there is a tiger skin.” [15]

THE THIRD OPINION:

The hide of all dead animals can be made Ṭāhir by way of tanning other than that of a pig or dog.

This is the well known opinion of the Shāfiʿī madhhab

Their Dalīl is that the skin of the pigs can not be made Ṭāhir, because Allāh سبحانه و تعالى describes the

animal itself as najas:

“ . . . the flesh of swine (pork); for that surely, is impure . . . ” (Sūrah al-Anʿām (6) : Āyah 145)

The skin is a part of the animal; consequently the impurity of a pig is a permanent attribute that can not be removed by tanning. As for the dog, the severity of its impurity is established by the fact that Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم ordered us to wash a dish seven times, once with dirt, if a dog drinks from it. Hence the Shāfiʿī scholars draw a connection between the filth of a dog and that of a pig.

THE FOURTH OPINION:

The hide of all dead animals can be made Ṭāhir by way of tanning other than that of a pig. This is the opinion of the Ḥanafī madhhab , as quoted by the great Ḥanafī scholar Imām al-Qudūrī رحمه الله:

“Any skin which has been tanned becomes pure, hence prayer is valid on it, and wuḍū’ from (water contained in) it, except the skin of a pig and human.” [16]

Their Dalīl is that the skin of the pigs can not be made Ṭāhir, because لله describes the

animal itself as najas:

“ . . . the flesh of swine (pork); for that surely, is impure . . . ” (Sūrah al-Anʿām (6) : Āyah 145)

CONCLUSION:

The strongest of all these opinions – and Allāh سبحانه و تعالى knows best – is the second opinion; tanning only purifies the hides of the animals that we would be allowed to eat had they been properly slaughtered. The Dalīl for this opinion is numerous and it is related from ṣaḥīḥ sources. It is a moderate opinion that does not raise any serious objections. It does not reject any of the Dalīl related by other opinions, when all other opinions struggle in attempting to reject its Dalīl . It coincides with the Ḥanafī opinion in prohibiting the use of pigskin and the Shāfiʿī opinion in prohibiting both pigskin and dog skin. So it does not reject their Dalīl , but rather it is supported by them. Hence a follower of any of  these madhāhib could follow this opinion without having left their madhhab It is the later and final opinion of Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal رحمه الله as reported by both Qāḍī Abū Yaʿlā and Imām Bahā ad-Dīn al-Maqdisī رحمهما الله. It also accommodates the various Aḥādith that prohibit using the hides of predatory animals. It puts forth the verdict without rejecting any Dalīl which are ṣaḥīḥ, while all the other opinions struggle to reject the Dalīl put forth by this opinion. Shaikh Ibn ʿUthaimīn رحمه الله provides a useful summary:

Animal skins may be divided into three types:

(1) Skins which are Ṭāhir whether they are tanned or not; these are the skins of animals that may be eaten and are slaughtered correctly

(2) Skins which can not be Ṭāhir either before or after tanning, because they are najas , these are the skins of animals whose meat we can not eat, like pigs

(3)    Skins which become Ṭāhir after tanning, but are not Ṭāhir before tanning; these are the skins of animals whose meat may be eaten if they are slaughtered properly but not if they die otherwise [17]


[1] Al-ʿUddah Sharḥ al-ʿUmdah Volume #1 – Page #19

[2] Reported by Imām Muslim in his ṣaḥīḥ

[3] Reported by an-Nasā’ī, at-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājah and al-Ḥākim in his ṣaḥīḥ

[4] Ḥadīth reported in Musnad Imām Aḥmad, Sunan at-Tirmidhī, Sunan an- Nasā’ī, Sunan Ibn Mājah, and other sources with chains of transmission from al- Ḥākim ibn ʿUtaibah from Ibn Abī Laylā from ʿAbdullāh bin ʿAkīm. Others have narrated it with unknown people between al- Ḥākim ibn ʿUtaibah and ʿ Abdullāh bin ʿAkīm or without mentioning any narrator between the two whatsoever. Hence the Ḥadīth is graded to be ḍa‘īf

[5] Al-Jarḥ (declaration of unreliability) and At-Taʿdīl (affirming someone’s integrity)

[6] Al-ʿUddah Sharḥ al-ʿUmdah Volume #1 – Page #20

[7] Imām an-Nawawī reports these in his Sharḥ of ṣaḥīḥ Muslim Volume #4 – Page #54; these opinions have also been reported by Imām Ibn Mufliḥ al-Ḥanbalī in al-Furūʿ Volume #1 – Page #102

[8] Al-Kāfī Volume #1 – Page #46

[9] Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā Volume #21 – Page #95

[10] The opinion of Shaikh Ibn Bāz is reported in al-Fatāwā al-Jamīʿah li ’l-Marʿah al-Muslimah Volume #3 – Page #860; the opinion of Shaikh Ibn ʿUthaimīn is stated in his book Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ ʿAlā Zād al-Mustaqniʿ Volume #1 – Page #74; the opinion of Shaikh Ṣāliḥ al-Fauzān is recorded in his book al-Mulakhkhaṣ al-Fiqhī Volume #1 – Page #18

[11] Ḥadīth reported in Musnad Imām Aḥmad, Sunan Abī Dāwūd, Sunan an- Nasā’ī, and other sources; Ibn Ḥibbān has reported it as ṣaḥīḥ ; Ibn Ḥajar al-Asqalānī also declared it to be ṣaḥīḥ in al-Talkhīṣ

[12] Reported by Ibn Ḥibbān as ṣaḥīḥ

[13] Reported by Imām Muslim in his ṣaḥīḥ

[14] Reported by Abū Dāwūd, 4239; classified as ṣaḥīḥ by al-Albānī in ṣaḥīḥ Abī Dāwūd, 3566

[15] Reported by Abū Dāwūd, 4130; classified as ḥasan by al- Albānī in ṣaḥīḥ Abī Dāwūd, 3478

[16] Al-Lubāb fī Sharḥ al-Kitāb Volume #1 – Page #47

[17] Liqāʿ al-Bāb al-Maftūḥ by Ibn ʿUthaimīn, 52/39

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2 Responses to “The Issue of Using Skins of Animals for Tanning”

  1. moonlightstruck Says:

    Assalaamoalaikum

    what about the tanned skin of tigers and leopards? It’s okay to use them or it’s that we rather not use it? I saw a fatwa on islamqa regarding this and told my teacher about it, but she favoured the opinion that we can use the skin and prints of those animals..

    • Ibn Abi Ukhti Says:

      BismiLlah,

      Wa ‘Alaykum Assalam Wa RahmatuLlah sister,

      It seems that your shaykha is following either the Hanafi or the Shaf’i opinion whose descriptions are mentioned above. I personally, favour the second opinion as it has more dalil and makes more sense.

      There’s even the hadith, which i quoted above, “Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم forbade tiger skins.” [Sunan Abi Dawud] This shows the skins of predatory animals is haram. And indeed Allah سبحانه و تعالى knows best.


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