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Sunnah of the Dhab Lizard Delicacy

'Abdullah b. 'Abbas reported: I and Khalid b. Walid went to the apartment of Maimuna along with Allāh's Messenger (may peace be upon him), and there was presented to him a roasted lizard. Allāh's Messenger (may peace be upon him) stretched his hand towards It, whereupon some of the women who had been in the house of Maimuna said: Inform Allāh's Messenger (may peace be upon him) what he intends to eat. Allāh's Messenger (may peace be upon him) lifted his hand. I said: Messenger of Allāh, Is it forbidden? He said: No. It is not found in the land of my people, and I feel that I have no liking for it. Khalid said: I then chewed and ate it, while, Allāh's Messenger (may peace be upon him) was looking (at me).

This hadith came up when I took the AlMaghrib Code Evolved class in regards to things that the Prophet (saw) may have personally disliked, but they were still permissible.

But what really interested me, and many others, was to see what exactly this lizard looked like. In English its commonly referred to as the Spiny Tail Lizard (uromastyx microlepis). Apparently it is still a delicacy in some places in the Middle East. I have put some pictures below of what the lizard looks like and some “tasty” ways its served up.

Has anyone ever tasted it??

I should add here that I haven't tried it, and I don't think I will. Please read the comments below regarding the Sunnah of dealing with food you don't like :)

See the meal in action here (Pictures of only some of the dishes are below).










About ibnabeeomar

Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters, Qalam Institute, Muslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims. He is a regular khateeb and has served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow him on Google+ or on Twitter @ibnabeeomar.


  1. Even though it’s halal, it looks disgusting.

    I’ll stick with the chicken karahi and beef niharis, thank you very much.

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  2. Wow…. I actually want to try that…

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  3. Ewww…

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  4. SubhanAllah! What’s there not to like. I would try this any time.

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  5. Alhamdulillah, I had the blessing of trying this Prophetic tacit approval.

    A few points:

    1. A proper cook is required in making the meat tasty and juicy. A good dish would be lizard salon with potatoes and and fried tomatoes and onions and some parsley.
    2. Surprisingly, it tastes 100% like chicken. The meat color looks like chicken except the bones are a bit thin and the rib bones resemble more like fish bones but not too sharp.
    3. No weird smells or taste or after taste.
    4. Many of the ignorant fools that mock it and say that it looks disgusting find themselves loving it after eating it without knowledge and loving every bit of it.

    P.S. Come to my house and you never know what I cook for you!!!

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  6. I wouldn’t mind tasting it.

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  7. Why does everything seem to taste like ‘chicken’? :p
    Cockroaches… Spiders… Lizards….

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  8. Can I come to your house ExExBlogger?

    Lamb is still #1!

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  9. I’d rather eat octopus.

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  10. Yuck! I am so not open-minded when it comes to food..I’ll stick with my Biryaani = )

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  11. Subhan-Allah, this hadith also shows something about Khalid Bin Waleed (RA), Although he was from Makkah and Quraish, but Allah meant him to be soldier, warrior and general, so he was not picky about food…

    I have never eaten it, but I saw my neighbors when I was in Saudi holding it with rope attached to its tail.

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  12. Just a reminder, we shouldn’t criticize the food because it is still food, and as I remember shaykh Abdulbary said in Chain of Command that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam would never complain about a food, but if he didn’t like it, he would leave it. So let’s not say things about dhab. Do it like the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam: “it’s not the food of my people” :)

    Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam never found fault with food. If he had inclination to eating it, he would eat; and if he disliked it, he would leave it.
    Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    Commentary of Imam Nawawi: This Hadith throws light on the Prophet’s excellent manners which ought to be followed by all Muslims. It is a deplorable state of affairs that when we find a dish a bit unsavoury, we lose our temper and create quite a scene in the house. May we follow the excellent example of our Prophet! !

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  13. Interesting post! (and interesting comments :P)
    I especially like your comment Seeker7….thanks for the adaab tips!

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  14. mmmmmmmmmmmmm it looks yummy….. As long as I don’t know what it is, I wouldn’t mind eating it. I once ate brain sandwich which tasted like scrambled eggs masha’Allah…. You guys should try it.

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  15. One thing about the Dabb is that it still ‘moves’ after its dead


    Also youtube has some videos of how Dabbs are captured – do a search of them if you’re interested.


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  16. seeker7 – excellent reminder, jazakallahu khayr

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  17. I’d love to try it. Can you find it cooked anywhere outside the middle east?


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  18. Talking about brain (the hardest one to “swallow” in my eating history).. I took a Lebanese friend and a Columbian friend to a desi cookery, and ordered a cow-brain dish. Didn’t tell them until they had finished their meal what they ate. Both thought for a moment and then remarked, “thanks for not telling us, otherwise we would have not touched this delicious stuff”.

    But I just can’t make myself eat this… so dabs have one less human enemy to worry about :)

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    • during my childhood i loves to eat cow brains. so creamy. but now no more. too much cholesterol, plus when thinking that its a brain….

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  19. Assalaamu alaykum,

    Jazakallahu Khairan for the post. Just a reminder, please refrain from referring to this type of food (or any halal food) as “disgusting.” Remember that it was this very type of food where the Prophet (saw) just left it and did not make any comments about it, as you reminded us in the hadith. One of the benefits that we derive from the hadith you quoted for us is to not complain about food that we do not like. Wallahu A’lam.

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  20. jazakallahu khair for this post inshaallah i
    would like to taste it once

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  21. 2. Surprisingly, it tastes 100% like chicken.

    Maybe the chicken tastes 100% like the lizard?


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  22. I’d probably eat it if it was cooked in such a way that it looked REALLY appetizing. And it has to smell good, too. I’m a picky eater :)

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  23. Hmmm… interesting!

    JazakAllahuKhayran for the adaab reminders, too! Sometimes I forget these little reminders.

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  24. btw, I was always curious to know what dhab was. I’ve heard about it and read about it but didn’t know the English equivalent, now I know!!

    There are are a lot of foods referred too in ahadeeth that are not really known to the English world…I can think of one:: /wiki/Colocynth”>colocynth which is what the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam compared the hypocrite that doesn’t read the Qur’an too. (Shaykh Yaser Birjas told us a story that as punishment for naughty children when he was in school, they would wipe a piece of this fruit on their tongues and the boys would start licking dirt off the ground to get the taste out of their mouth!)

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  25. I am a very picky eater, but at the same time, lizard doesn’t seem as bad as other things people are known to eat, such as locusts, snails and frog’s legs!

    Btw, does anyone have a link to a ‘haraam’ list of animals we aren’t allowed to eat? I thought it was quite simple, but apparently there are some mentioned in the Sunnah that I am not fully aware of.

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  26. Fiqh of food is actually kinda complicated… I remember my dad doing a series on ‘haraam’ animals to eat, and I was totally confuzzled after a bit…

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  27. In many cases there is ikhtilaaf between the madhaahib on whether the animal is halal or haram. For instance, eating the snake is prohibited in the hanbali and shafi’i madhhabs but the maliki madhhab regard it as permissible.

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  28. that doesn’t look very nice but im still gona try it oneday inshallah coz after all our greatest mujahid “Khalid bin Waleed” radhiAllahu a’nhu has eaten it. shouldnt I? : )

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  29. Subhanallah. Even if the food was as strange as the dhab, the prophet did not complain. Jazkah allah khair for the reminder.

    It does seem disgusting to many of us but think about how people eat brains, tongues, intestines, feet, eyes, and even the head of lamb or cow!

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  30. But, today people also would not let you act on the sunnah. If you don’t like something and you excuse yourself from eating it, they will be on you to try it, try little bit of it, just take one bite, etc, etc. Then, you have to come out and say I don’t like this…it looks weird, blah, blah and then they leave you.

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  31. My aunt whom I use to live always ate lamb head. That was what she ate every wknd. As young kids we always thought it was nasty to eat head but one day she made us some bain sandwich and we all loved it… We didn’t know what it was though.

    I am not sure if we would’ve ate it if we knew it was a brain…. BUt it was yummy AND WOULDN’T MIND EATING IT AS LONG AS I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS.

    The dhab looks little scary but I wouldn’t mind eating it if I was given the chance to eat it…. Next time I visit my aunt in the Middle East I’ll make sure to try it…..

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  32. If anyone here eats hotdogs they should have no problem eating this LOL.

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  33. im sticking to chicken makhni

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  34. Can anyone tell me if frogs are halal?

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  35. They serve up lizard outside of Jame Masjid in Delhi. I would never eat it but to each his own.

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  36. One of a kind article, but it is wrong to call something that is merely permissible (like this) a Sunnah. If that is the case that everything becomes a sunnah, and nothing remains distinguished by the virtue of the prophet having done it.

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  37. J – sorry for any confusion, i meant sunnah in the sense that the dhab is something that is narrated in hadith (which i think is one of the definitions some scholars use for sunnah sometimes). in any case i didnt mean anything in regards to its ruling, jazakallahu khayr for clarifying.

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  38. Mezba,

    Frogs are not permissible. Imam Malik narrates in the Muwatta the hadith “Do not kill frogs; their croaking is tasbih.”

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  39. Good point J. We don’t want a run-on on dab supplies :)

    Dab shawarma anyone??

    Btw, calamari (fried squid) is another one that I assumed for some odd reason “couldn’t have been halal”… But everything from the water is alhamdulilah. And calamari, craw-fish (“mud-bugs”), and even octopus all taste great!! Don’t let the creepy looks deceive you!

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  40. Calamari is good if it’s fried, but it isn’t always fried. I’ve had boiled calamari and it tasted weird. It was too chewy, almost like a piece of rubber.

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  41. Amad,

    Thats a very evil thing to do.

    “Talking about brain (the hardest one to “swallow” in my eating history).. I took a Lebanese friend and a Columbian friend to a desi cookery, and ordered a cow-brain dish. Didn’t tell them until they had finished their meal what they ate.”

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  42. The way that I’ve heard some here catch the dhab is they go out into the desert and find the animal’s hole, they stick a pipe into it and connect the other end to their exhaust pipe and subsequently run their engine until a stunned animal limbers out of a hole nearby.

    Not sure how it tastes when it’s full of carbon monoxide!

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  43. Aren’t lizards carnivores? I thought they eat mice.

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  44. iMuslim: From the Sunnah we know we’re not supposed to eat donkey’s meat (although we’re allowed to eat zebra!) and anything from the sea is also completely halal.I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a list detailing many of the haram animals. We covered this topic in the Purification Act (AlMaghrib Seminar) and it really was very interesting.

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  45. Asslamo Allaikum,

    All my Saudi friends always insisted on me to eat this stuff but I was like, “Thanks but no Thanks” :)

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  46. Are lizards haraam to keep as pets?

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  47. assalam o alaikum

    my question is to the author as i want my doubt to be clarified. i have read that if a muslim “hates or dislikes” what the prophet was sent with (that may even be his sunnah) then that person is a kaafir. Now, there are somethings in religion we are not comfortable with, one example is this, and another for a woman is if her husband wants to marry again, so what can u say about such an attitide. does it, naoozubillah put us outside the fold of islam???

    please answer.

    Kishwar Shahbaz

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  48. Al7amdulillah i have tried it twice when residing in saudia arabia.
    it DOES taste like chicken and yet with the bones like a fish… but it IS tasty. it might look disgusting but its worth a try.

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  49. I also believed that muslims are not allowed to eat carnivores. These lizzards eat other animals too like rats, mice and insects. Our Nabi himself did not eat the meat of the animal even though he overlooked someone else consuming it. It is sad that these animals are being taken from the wild in such large numbers and very soon there might not be any left in the wild. There are so many animals that Allah has made clearly permissable for us to consume and I dont feel this is neccessary just because people regard it as a delicasy.

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  50. Well i have also found a hadith in Abu Dawood (021:3787) narrated by AbdruRehman Ibn Shibl “The apostle of Allah (pbuh) forbade to eat the flesh of lizard.

    Can anyone put light on this too?

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  51. you will find two more hadiths

    Abu Dawood….. Book 021, Hadith Number 3809.
    Narated By Abdullah ibn Umar : The Prophet (pbuh) said: I wish I had a white loaf made from tawny and softened with clarified butter and milk. A man from among the people got up and getting one brought it. He asked: In which had it been? He replied: In a lizard skin. He said: Take it away.

    Abu Dawood….. Book 021, Hadith Number 3786.
    Narated By Thabit ibn Wadi’ah : We were in an army with the Apostle of Allah (pbuh). We got some lizards. I roasted one lizard and brought it to the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) and placed it before him. He took a stick and counted its fingers. He then said: A group from the children of Isra’il was transformed into an animal of the land, and I do not know which animal it was. He did not eat it nor did he forbid (its eating).

    I was just wondering… has this anything to do with war times???
    as we know that a number of things become permissible during war which otherwise are not. Also, does anyone know of a tradition that shows Muslim eating Dab or lizard during or after the time of our first Caliphs? We know that a couple of things were interpreted/implemented that one would not otherwise find in books of traditions.

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  52. Inshallah, when I go for Haj i would like to try it, do they bbq it?

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    • Abu Dawood (021:3787) narrated by AbdruRehman Ibn Shibl “The apostle of Allah (pbuh) forbade to eat the flesh of lizard.

      How would you take this hadith?

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      • Sheikh Mohammad Taimur

        Brother Jawad.

        Based on my little knowledge, the hadith you mentioned of forbading is only hadith which is found in Sunan Abu Dawood but no where else.

        In fact if you will lookup Bukhari, Muslim, Imam Malik’s Muwatta, you will find numerous ahadith saying, Rasool Allah sallahu alayhi wa aalehi wassalam said [meaning in context], “it is not found in my land, thus I do not like eating it but I do not forbade it”.

        Thus, it is not Haram but Rasool Allah (saw) did not ate it. However, according to Hanafi Fiqh (as per one scholar) it is Makruh Tanzih (i.e. Mubah or minor disliked, that is closer to being lawful rather than unlawful).

        “Khaalid ibn al-Waleed reported that some grilled lizard meat was brought to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and put in front of him. He stretched out his hand to take some, but one of the people present said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, it is lizard meat,’ so he pulled his hand back. Khaalid ibn al-Waleed asked, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, is lizard haraam?’ He said, ‘No, but it is not known among my people and I cannot face eating it.’ So Khaalid took some of the lizard meat and ate it, whilst the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) looked on.”

        (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4981, al-Nisaa’i, 4242, and Abu Dawood, 3300).

        According to Shaykh Munajjid Al Salih, above hadith is clear to see that Rasool Allah did not forbade lizard, even though he did not ate it on different occasions.

        This is based on what I know.

        Wallahu ta’ala alim bis-sawab.

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        • I don’t understand that why Muslims always try to find some excuse when we wanna try something which is not permitted or not mentioned in quran or hadees clearly? Whan has created million tons of cows, goats, sheep, chicken, vegetables, fruits, and so many appealing things then why the hell we need to try these kinda disgusting looking things ? The rule is simple .. “When Mohammad PBUH didn’t like anything, and didn’t comment about that” just leave that thing and don’t do it, don’t we have brains to see the signs, signals and gestures of Mohammad PBUH? that he lifted his hand up and refused to eat that creepy thing ? come on people .. someone was saying he “SubhanAllah and Alhamdollaih that I have tried that or i will try that .. ok very cool, so why don’t you guys say Alhamdollah and SubhanAllah and start eating snakes, rats, insects and pork ? aren’t they creation of Allah as well ? why don’t we eat it then ? that’s a open hypocrisy and i know what i’m talking about.

          It’s is clearly said in Qur’an that Muslims are only allow to eat those animals (4 feet only) which are mammals and doesn’t hunt for meat like lion, cheetah and which doesn’t have claws. it is also mention clearly that the animal feet is suppose to have a cut on their feet like cow, goat etc but not like donkey or zebra. about the birds, we are only allowed to eat those birds which picks the food floor the ground like chicken, turkey, pigeon etc but not the birds like Hawk, crow or vultures ..

          The important thing is that any kind of animals which “CRAWLS” is haram … any kind of creature which is a reptile or amphibian is Haram .!! simple and easy rule!

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  53. honestly…………….
    it wz bttr to remain unaware!…

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  54. Permissible or not… for what reason do you call it Sunnah?

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  55. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This reminds me about the case in Sarawak, a state in Malaysia. Peoples there (not all) eats larvae of a species of beetle that are found in Sago tree (the tree’s rotten trunk especially). Sometimes you can find these larvae sold in the wet market there.

    Local ulama say that it is Halal, but doesn’t comply with the manners of a Muslim.

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  56. I do not like to taste it, I don’t care it’s halal or not. It looks very disgusting and horrible. Yeak

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  57. astaghfirrullah…euuu what’s tis coz i never ate dhab
    hope i never eat it…so weird!

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  58. not a muslim but tried this when i used to travel and work for Amir bandar bin abdullaziz al-saud.
    it is actually tasty, just have an open mind to things, it is a bedouin delicacy, as you all know, there isnt much food to come by in the desert.

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  59. I am a Muslim and being a Muslim I think above article and its reference is not looks true

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  60. yes Aslam I agree with you, this is something I cant eat, for sure

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  61. Even looking at it alone is discusting. I will never eat any reptile at all. Lamp, beef, chicken, turkey, and fish are just more than enough for me.

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  62. the thing is that it is makruh which means disliked but not forbidden. so stop calling it disgusting. it is a creation of Allah and calling it disgusting and sick is a clear sign of hypocricy. plus to those who say that the ahadis (also reffered to as sunnah of the prophey saw) is wrong than my friends that shows clear ignorance. the holy prophet didnt eat it which shows that it is better not to eat it but he also allowed others to eat it which shows that you can eat it if you want to.

    *Name has been changed to comply to our Comments Policy*

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