The following is a response to the article on RevisitingtheSalaf.org entitled: They’re Coming to Get You… The article was published on the 31st of March, 2012, and can be found here.
RTS, in this article, criticizes a view in Shafi’ee jurisprudence in which it is said that one can eat the meat of a dead human being when one is compelled to (in a life or death situation). RTS quotes:
Al-Shafi’i said: He eats the flesh of the son of Adam, and it is not allowed for him to kill a ‘Dhimmi’ (is a non-Muslim subject of a Muslim state), because his blood is respected, neither a Muslim nor a captive, and if he would be a ‘Harbi’ (someone belonging to war) or a fortified adulterer, then killing him and eating him is allowed.
Source: Tafsir Al-Qurturbi, Vol. 2 Pg. # 229.
Ironically, this view, that RTS mocks, is actually the view of the Grand Shia Shaikh Al-Tusi. He says in Al-Mabsoot 6/287:
وأما إن وجد آدميا حيا نظرت فإن كان محقون الدم كالمسلم والذمي لم يحل قتله لأكله ، لأنه محقون الدم على التأبيد وأن كان مباح الدم كالكافر الأصلي والمرتد والزاني المحصن ، والمقدور عليه في المحاربة قبل التوبة ، كان كالميتة ويؤكل لأنه مباح الدم ، فلا إثم عليه في قتله ، وهو ميتة بعد قتله ، وهو مضطر قد وجد ميتة .
If one finds a living human, then it should be checked if he was Mahqoon Al-Dam (not permissible to kill), like a Muslim, or a Thimmi, then it cannot be allowed to kill him to eat him, because he is Mahqoon Al-Dam forever. Yet, if his blood was permissible, like the disbeliever or the apostate or the adulterer, and one has the ability to kill him, before his repentance, then he is like the Mayta (dead food that wasn’t killed), and can be eaten because his blood is Halal. So, there is nothing Haram about killing him, and he is Maytah after dying, and he is compelled (to eat him) and he has found his Maytah.
In other words, eating the meat of a human is HARAM in Islam, but in the case of dire need, and if the Muslim fears that he may die of starvation, there exists three sayings in the books of Fiqh:
1- Eating the meat of a human is HARAM even in the case of dire need, whether it is the meat of a Muslim or of an enemy or criminal. It is against human nature and the body of the dead needs to be respected whether Muslim or not, so one should refrain from doing so even if he risks dying of starvation as a result.
2- In the case of dire need, when a Muslim fears for his life if he did not eat, it is allowed to consume the meat of any dead non-Muslim you can find laying around, its ruling would be the same as the ruling of the Maytah (dead animal). If the Muslim is accompanied by an enemy (such as an enemy soldier), or by a criminal (a man deserving of the death penalty in Islamic law) then it is permitted to kill him and eat from his meat in extreme cases when the Muslim’s life is in danger. It is not permissible to eat the meat of a dead Muslim as respect for its sanctity.
3- In case of dire need, one is able to consume the meat of any dead Muslim or non-Muslim laying about, it will have the ruling of eating the meat of a dead animal (Maytah), and all that is prohibited will become permissible in times of extreme need.
source: “Abhaath Hay’at Kibar al-`Ulama'” volume 2, 1425 hijri, by The general presidency of scholarly research and Ifta in Saudi Arabia.