Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, says: “There is nothing wrong, as far as Islam is concerned, in eating horses’ meat after they are slaughtered according to the Islamic manner.
There are so many hadiths which state that eating horses’ meat is halal. Asma’ Bint Abi Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her) said: ‘We slaughtered a mare, during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and we ate it.’ (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Among those who maintain that eating horses’ meat is halal are Al-Qadi Shurayh, Al-Hassan Al-Basri, `Atta’, Sa`id Ibn Jubayr, Al-Layth Ibn Sa`d, Sufyan Ath-Thawri, Abu-Yusuf, Muhammad Ibn Al-Hassan, Abu-Thawr and many others.
On the other hand, Imam Malik, Al-Awza`i and Imam Abu Hanifah maintain that eating horses is reprehensible (makruh) but its reprehensibility does not amount to the category of haram. They back their argument by citing the hadith mentioned in Sunan of An-Nassa’i, in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) from eating horses, mules and donkeys. They also cite the following Qur’anic verse in support of their view:
‘And horses and mules and asses (has He created) that you may ride them, and for ornament. And He creates that which you know not.’ (An-Nahl: 8)
However, Imam Shafi`i maintains that the aforementioned verse is not related to the permissibility of eating horses or otherwise. The verse is cited, he says, in the context of showing Allah’s Blessings, His Clear Signs, His Eternal Wisdom and His Omnipotence.
In addition, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal states that the hadith cited by Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifah and those who adopt their view has a weak isnad (chain of narrators) as there are two men in its chain of narrators who are unknown. Hence, this weak hadith cannot overrule the other one, which is authentic.
In short, eating horses is permissible according to most scholars and schools of Fiqh.”