There is a controversy among Muslims of whether or not horse meat is allowed in the Shari’a of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Admittedly, the majority of Islamic jurists and scholars hold the horse to be Halal and cite several Ahadith to this effect:
نَهَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْمَ خَيْبَرَ عَنْ لُحُومِ الْحُمُرِ، وَرَخَّصَ فِي الْخَيْلِ
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ forbade the flesh of donkeys on the day of Khaibar, but granted a concession with regard to horses
The wordرخص ‘concession’ in this Hadith implies that this ruling may not have been a general or universal one, but is to be understood in the context of the state of the Muslims during the battle of Khaibar, where there was an acute shortage of food and possibility of starvation. Hence other narrations mention that people were in such dire need of food that they resorted to cooking the meat of donkeys. But the Prophet ﷺ forbade them from doing so, yet gave them a concession with regard to horse meat. This only serves to prove that eating horse is better than donkey if one is in dire circumstances, but should not be understood as an overall license to eat horse meat under ordinary circumstances too. So while the Muslims are generally agreed (with the notable exception of the Shi’a) that donkey and mule are forbidden to eat, there seems to be a controversy over the horse. The position of Imams Abu Hanifa and Malik b. Anas (may Allah have mercy on them both) is that eating the horse is makruh (disliked) and so better to avoid. This view is based on the Holy Quraan:
وَالْأَنْعَامَ خَلَقَهَا ۗ لَكُمْ فِيهَا دِفْءٌ وَمَنَافِعُ وَمِنْهَا تَأْكُلُونَ
And the grazing livestock He has created for you; in them is warmth and [numerous] benefits, and from them you eat.
وَالْخَيْلَ وَالْبِغَالَ وَالْحَمِيرَ لِتَرْكَبُوهَا وَزِينَةً ۚ وَيَخْلُقُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
And [He created] the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and [as] adornment. And He creates that which you do not know.
(Sura 16: 5, 8)
These Verses of the Holy Quraan differentiate between the purpose of grazing livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, etc.) as having been created for food, and horses, mules and donkeys, which were created for riding upon. Based on this, Imam Malik said:
حَدَّثَنِي يَحْيَى ، عَنْ مَالِكٍ : أَنَّ أَحْسَنَ مَا سَمِعَ فِي الْخَيْلِ وَالْبِغَالِ وَالْحَمِيرِ ، أَنَّهَا لَا تُؤْكَلُ
Yahya related to me from Malik that the best of what he had heard about horses, mules, and donkeys was that they were not to be eaten
Reference: al-Muwatta of Imam Malik
Likewise, Imam Abu Hanifa held horse meat to be Makruh Tanzihi.
It is reported from Khalid b. Walid (Allah be pleased with him) that:
نَهَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنْ لُحُومِ الْخَيْلِ ، وَالْبِغَالِ ، وَالْحَمِيرِ
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ forbade the flesh of horses, mules and donkeys (Abi Dawud, Nasa’i and Ibn Maja)
Although there is some weakness in this Hadith, it seems to accord with the implication given in the Holy Quraan that horses, mules and donkeys were created for riding and adornment, unlike the An’aam (grazing livestock) which were created to be eaten. And Allah knows best.