Selamun aleikum,

Why does the Quran only states eight livestock animals, are there not more?

„ ...and He produced for you from the grazing livestock eight mates...“ (Az Zumar, Verse 6, Saheeh International)

„[They are] eight mates – of the sheep, two and of the goats, two. ...“; „ ... And of the camels, two and of the cattle, two...“ (An-Anam, Verse 143-144, Saheeh International)

Thanks for responses, May Allah bless you.

2 Answers 2


The Arabic word used here is "An'aam". Here is how Edward William Lane has defined it in his Lexicon:-

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These types of livestocks are categorized by the Glorious Qur'an in the same way (i.e. four types of livestocks). The word can be used for specific types of livestocks (i.e. four types of livestocks mentioned by Lane's Lexicon and the Glorious Qur'an)

If you notice, you will see that Glorious Quran talks about these four animals only (and divided them into male and female) in Surah An'aam, verse 142-144:-

Surah An'aam, verse. 142:- And of the grazing livestock الْأَنْعَامِ are carriers [of burdens] and those [too] small. Eat of what Allah has provided for you and do not follow the footsteps of Satan.1 Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.

Surah An'aam, verse. 143:- (Allah has created) eight pairs: two of sheep and two of goats.

Surah An'aam, verse. 144:- And (He has created) two of camels and two of oxen.

So, this makes it a total of eight livestock (Including the male and female of these livestocks).

Glorious Quran talks about these livestocks in the context of these four livestocks only, as lane's lexicon denotes that the word An'aam may specifically refer to these four livestocks. These four livestock can be further divided into two categories (i.e. male and female), thus making a total of eight livestocks.

Here is how Hans Wehr dictionary defines the word "An'aam". Notice how Hans Wehr also mentions four livestocks only and they can be further divided into two more categories (male and Female) making them a total of eight livestock:-

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  • Thanks, now I understand.
    – user40519
    Oct 18, 2020 at 21:03
  • 2
    This seems rather circular and I'm not sure it actually answers the question; it's unclear whether the sourced definitions are based on actual contemporary usage of the word or if they were synthesized based on the Qur'anic usage. Are there any contemporary non-Qur'anic sources which can be referenced?
    – goldPseudo
    Oct 18, 2020 at 22:41
  • I think your thought would lead to a detailed study about the usage of this word in farms in Arabic speaking countries or maybe more at the time of seventh century Arabia. So I cannot speak Arabic and I just take the given explanation. The sources, they seem Non-Quranic.
    – user40519
    Oct 19, 2020 at 14:51
  • @FromAnatolia - Edward William Lane's Lexicon is a classical lexicon used by most of the students of Qur'anic studies and Arabic learners who are merely learning Arabic other than the purpose of learning Qur'an. I really do not know why goldPseudo thinks otherwise!!?? There are many other classical Arabic dictionaries and Lexicons like Lisan Al-Arab. I will update my answer soon. Even though Lane's Lexicon might not include all definitions, it is still clear that word An'aam CAN STILL BE USED SPECIFICALLY FOR THESE FOUR LIVESTOCKS ONLY, according to Lane's lexicon.
    – Ren
    Oct 19, 2020 at 22:59
  • I appreciate it.
    – user40519
    Oct 19, 2020 at 23:17

This is interesting... the question was about EIGHT cattle, not four. The problem with modern scholars is when they don't know the answer, they don't say that - they proceed to answer questions that weren't asked.

I too have pondered the eight cattle question because it CLEARLY SAYS EIGHT (as well as four) in Surat 39. If you don't know, say you don't know or just be silent.

This is what I think are 8 types of 'cattle' for food meaning mammals as well as birds that can be eaten as food:

Camels Goats Sheep Cows Oxen/Buffalo

And if you throw in domesticated birds Turkey Chicken Quail (mentioned in the Quran of course, which may have been domesticated at the time)

That's 8.

By saying there are only 4 but when separated into male and female as 'livestock' and therefore 8... this is 100% incorrect.

We as Muslimah who actually read and comprehend what we read are taught at the very beginning of the Holy Quran NEVER to eat the female camel (and by association, other female animals). So to just ignore that simple admonition against eating the female camel to make it sound like you know what you're talking about above, truly makes no sense.

4 types of cattle is 4 types of cattle, it's not 8.

I hope this inspiration from Allah gets us all closer to the answers that we seek and I pray that others using these forums for serious questions will get serious answers from people who are thoughtful in speech.

May Allah bless both the student and the teacher, in the correct ways of Islam.


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