Eating seafood can be tricky for some Muslims trying to stick to a halal diet. For example, some sects do not eat shellfish.
Therefore in this post, we’re hoping to clarify which fish Muslims can eat while also including the sources from where we got our information from.
What does the Quran say Eating Seafood?
Quranic Verses Declaring the Permissibility of Seafood
The four major schools of Islamic thought consider the majority of seafood halal to be and permissible to eat, with the exception of animals that are poisonous or harmful to consume. The Hanafi school, however, considers fish (e.g catfish) to be halal, and the remainder of seafood to either be makruh (such as crabs) or haram to eat.
The Quranic verse referred to by the scholars is from sūrat l-māidah:
“Lawful to you is the pursuit of water-game (fishing) and its use for food, for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel…”(Surah al-Ma’ida, V: 96)
Hanafi Mujtahids consider this verse to be applicable to fish only, whereas the remaining major schools of thought believe it applies to all seafood. Since sharks are a type of fish, they are considered halal and permissible to eat by all scholars, including Hanafi scholars.
1. Is Shrimp Halal?
The general consensus among Islamic scholars is that shrimp is Halal. This is because of the prophet, peace be upon him, responded to this question by saying “Its water is pure (for the purpose of purification rites) and its fish is lawful for you to eat.” (Sunan e Abi Dawood)
What does Shaikh Ahmad Kutty Say About Shrimp Being Halal?
Shaikh Ahmad Kutty is a known Islamic scholar and is currently a senior resident at the Islamic Institute of Toronto (source). He was asked about this on aboutislam.net and he assured the readers that eating shirmp is halal. Here’s what he had to say:
Allah Almighty says, “The game of the sea and its food are lawful unto you.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:96)
Since neither Allah nor His Messenger excluded any type of fish from this permission (and we know for a fact that “Allah is never forgetful”), the vast majority of scholars hold the view that all varieties of fish found in water (which includes the sea, lakes, rivers, ponds, wells, etc.) are lawful for us to consume.
The wording here is general and it should be applied generally. Furthermore, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about the sea, and his reply was, “Its water is pure (for the purpose of purification rites) and its fish is lawful for you to eat.” (Abu Dawud)
This was the view of imams such as Malik, Ash-Shafi`i and Ahmad. It is also the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah and his two foremost disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad, with regard to all types of fish, including shellfish.Shaikh Ahmad Kutty (source)
Shaikh Assim Al Hakeem Also Agrees That Eating Shrimp Is Halal
Shaikh Assim Al Hakeem, graduated from Umm al-Qura University in Makkah and is an Imam of a masjid in Jeddah, said that unless Allah mentions a specific food from the quran to be haram, then it is safe to assume that is Halal.
He also mentions that there are foods that are obviously haram. This includes foods that were not slaughtered in accordance to Islamic guidelines. He also states that eating unique animals such as dogs are haram.
Here’s a snippet of him discussing this matter on live TV.
Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Confirms That Eating Shrimps is Halal
Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf assures listeners on a YouTube video that shrimp is permissible to consume in Islam and is Halal.
He does point out that Hanifis are the only group that have an issue with shrimp and claim that eating Shrimp is not Halal. This is because this school of Islam believes that because of the recent research that classifies shrimp not as fish, but as crustacean. Therefore because it is not a fish, it is not halal.
Here’s his full explanation:
2. Is Crab Halal?
Eating crab is halal and permissible in Islam. Majority of seafood is halal as long as it is not poisonous or harmful.
To come to a final answer to this question, we did some research and found that consuming crab is generally considered, among Islamic scholars, to be halal. Here’s why.
What Is Mentioned in The Quran About Eating Seafood
According to Dar al-Ifta al Misriyyah (source), considered among the pioneering foundations for fatwa [En. Religious verdicts] in the Islamic world, this was their response when asked “Is it permissible to eat crabs as they are not only sea creatures but also survive on land?”
They responded by saying:
There is no doubt as to the permissibility of eating the meat of such creatures.
God says in the Quran: “Say: ‘In all that has been revealed to me, I do not find anything forbidden to eat, if one wishes to eat thereof, unless it be carrion, or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine – for all that is unclean – or a sinful offering over which any name other than God’s has been invoked” [6: 145].
Dar al-Ifta al Misriyyah
Referring to the sea, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Its water is pure and purifying and its dead creatures are permissible to eat.” Guided by these and other texts, we maintain that crabs and similar creatures, like fish and sea mammals, are all permissible to eat even if they die of natural causes or merely by being taken out of the water.
The first paragraph of this response clarifies that God does not forbid us from eating anything other than “carrion, or blood poured forth, or flesh of swine”. There was no mention of any fish being forbidden.
In the second paragraph it clarifies that the water of the sea is seen as pure and its animals are permissible to be eaten. Since Crabs are under the seafood umbrella, we can safely assume that crabs are considered pure and therefore permissible to be eaten.
Quran Versus Confirming That Crab (Seafood) Is Halal
In sūrat l-māidah, it clearly states the permissibility of seafood (including crab). Here’s a few different translations to the verse above (source):
Pickthall: To hunt and to eat the fish of the sea is made lawful for you, a provision for you and for seafarers; but to hunt on land is forbidden you so long as ye are on the pilgrimage. Be mindful of your duty to Allah, unto Whom ye will be gathered.
Shakir: Lawful to you is the game of the sea and its food, a provision for you and for the travellers, and the game of the land is forbidden to you so long as you are on pilgrimage, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, to Whom you shall be gathered.
Hanifi’s School of Islam Considers Eating Crab As Makrooh
According to Muslim Univeristy (source), they state that eating crab is halal except for people following the Hanafi school of Islam as they consider it makrooh (which is still not categorized as haram).
However we’re not sure what the basis of crab being haram since we were not able to find mention of it being prohibited.
3. Is Lobster Halal?
Some Islamic Scholars believe that eating lobsters is Halal because Allah permits Muslims to eat all fish in the sea. Since Allah is not forgetful, the word fish is used generally in this instance and we should take it as such. On the other, some scholars believe that eating a lobster is Haram because lobsters belong to the Crustacean group.
Islam declares all sea game halal, but lobsters are among the few controversial halal kinds of seafood including crabs, snails, and sharks. In this article, we will discuss what the scholars say about lobsters being Haram or Halal and why it is considered so.
Difference between Lobsters and Fishes
For many people, Lobsters are fishes, but Lobsters belong to the family of shellfish. Shellfish, as the name indicates, is a sea animal that dwells in water and has a shell of a hard shell-like exterior.
It can be divided into two categories, crustaceans and mollusks. Lobsters belong to the crustaceans category along with shrimp, crayfish, and crabs.
Are Lobsters Halal or Haram?
There’s also a difference in opinion among scholars of different schools of thought. According to Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbalis schools of thought, all shellfish are permitted. Whereas, the Hanafi school of thought considers all types of shellfish makruh (detestable) (source).
Why do Some Muslims Consider Lobsters Haram?
Lobsters are declared Haram by a majority of scholars because they are not classified as fish. Mufti Ebrahim Desai says mentions in one of his fatwas that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Two carions are made Halaal for us; Fish and locust.– Mishkaat vol.2 pg.361 (source)
He further says that fishes are vertebrates while lobsters belong to the Crustacean group. Hence eating fish is allowed for Muslims but crabs and lobsters are not.
In another fatwa, Mohammed Tosir Miah of Darul Ifta Birmingham says that the difference comes from whether lobsters are fish. The Arabic language considers prawns to be like fish. Whereas, contemporary zoologists classify them separately because they do not have a spine (source).
Why are Lobsters Considered Halal?
Most Islamic scholars say that lobsters are halal to consume, including Sheikh Ahmad Kutty in his fatwa (source). He based his fatwa on two factors:
- All types of fish are permissible for Muslims to eat.
- In the hadiths, the word fish is used generally and should be taken as such.
Is It Haram to Boil a Lobster Alive?
Humans have been boiling lobsters alive for thousands of years. However, as Muslims, we often ask ourselves whether the practice is cruel and Haram. Islam tells Muslims to treat all living things kindly. We even opt for the least painful way to slaughter animals for food.
Sheikh Hatem Al-Haj in one of his videos raised the following point about the issue. He says that Islam tells Muslims to treat everyone kindly and boiling a creature alive definitely seems inhumane.
He also raises the point that some scientists believe that lobsters do not feel pain, which means that it’s okay to boil them. He says that if indeed the lobsters do not feel pain then it may be permissible to boil them and if they do feel pain, then it is not.
4. Is Octopus Halal?
The verdict on whether eating Octopus is halal is different as some scholars say that it is haram because octopus is not a fish. In this section, we will discuss whether Octopus is halal in the light of fatwas from various scholars on the subject.
Octopus does not have all the features of a typical fish and is generally categorized as shellfish – mollusks. Therefore, it may not be halal for some Muslims to consume. However, some scholars consider octopus halal on the grounds that Allah has made everything from the sea, that is not harmful, halal for Muslims.
Difference Between Fishes and Octopus
Scientifically speaking, octopuses are different from fishes in one major aspect. A fish is a vertebrate – it has a skeleton and a backbone. While the octopus is a non-vertebrate with no bones or skeleton. Scientists categorize octopuses as mollusks – a group of shellfish.
On the other hand, fishes and octopuses are the same in their ability to breathe in water i.e. extract oxygen from water.
When and Why is Octopus Considered Halal?
Among the three major schools of thought – Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali consider octopus as halal (source). Whereas, according to the Hanafi school of thought, the octopus is considered haram as it does not fall under the category of ‘Samak’ – fish.
Mawlana Faraz ibn Adam was asked if octopus, prawns, mussels, and squid are halal. He replied:
Mussels, squid and octopus do not have all the features of fish; therefore they will not be regarded as fish. Hence, it is not permissible to eat mussels, squid and octopus in the Hanafī school of jurisprudence.Islamqa (source)
There is no direct mention in Hadith or Quran about the Octopus being haram. However, scholars use the rules about the permissibility of eating seafood to infer that it is forbidden. This was explained in one of the fatwas on Islam Quest where a person asked:
“Is there any tradition (hadith) regarding octopus? If so, can you please mention it?”
To which he was answered:
“We haven’t found any tradition in which using octopus as food be considered impermissible. However, we can infer this forbidden from other traditions (ahadith) in which the main rules have been stated in this regards.Islam Quest (source)
This means, any types of marine animals which haven’t scale are being declared unlawful (haram) according to these traditions. It should be noted that octopus is belong to the above-mentioned fauna. As a result, eating such that fauna (octopus) is haram.”
On the other hand, when it comes to seafood that is haram, the octopus does not make the list of forbidden seafood. In one of his fatwas, Shaykh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid listed Crocodiles, frogs, otters, and turtles as water animals that are forbidden for Muslims to consume (source).
5. Is Calamari Halal?
For most Muslims, eating calamari is considered halal according to Islamic scholars. However, Shia Muslims do not consider eating calamari as halal.
Let’s dive into what we found to be the rule that each sect follows to help clarify things.
Is Calamari Halal? –According to Madhab School
Depending on the Madhab and Sect, Shia Muslims think that all Fish without scales are Haram (includes Calamari). Every Sunni Madhab says that all Fish from the sea can be eaten, but the Hanafi Madhab think that Fish without scales is makruh (disliked, not Haram).
Is Calamari Halal?- According to Hanafi School
According to the sect of Hanafi, It is Haram to eat Animals that are not in the form of Fish. According to the sect ofMaliki and Hambali, inclining to Shafie School allows Calamari.
If there is no necessity, it is better not to eat it. It is not true to imitate sects without any necessity.
We came across the short video clip by Sheikh Assim confirming that eating Calamari is Halal unless it is toxic
In Islam, the well-being of Muslims is extremely important. Allah forbids everything bad for health or potentially life-threatening. So when you are uncertain whether a sea creature is halal or haram first check whether it has any venom or neurotoxin.
In the case of Calamari, their offal is poisonous and therefore do not come in the halal category. It is always better to refrain from eating disputed and choose the not disputed one.
6. Is Catfish Halal?
According to the majority of Islamic sources, catfish is considered halal and permissible to eat. This includes whether it dies from natural causes, or is killed. However, the catfish should not be a poisonous or harmful to eat.
To come to this understanding, we researched the fiqh of each major Islamic school of thought, and the evidences from which they derived their rulings.
Majority Opinion on Eating Catfish – Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali Fiqh.
Catfish is an animal from the sea, and the majority of Islamic schools of thought, including Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali, consider most animals of the sea to be halal (provided they are not harmful to eat). This understanding came from the following Quranic verse:
The game of the sea and its eating has been made lawful for you.(Surah Maaidah v.96)
Another evidence cited is:
“A man asked the Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam) “O Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam), we travel on the sea and take a small quantity of water with us. If we use this for ablution, we would suffer from thirst. Can we perform ablution with seawater? The Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam) replied; its water is pure and what dies in it is lawful food.”(Sunan Abi Dawud p.13 v.1) Narrated by Saaiduna Abu Hurairah (R.A).
These evidences establish that catfish is halal and permissible to eat (and other sea animals too, such as Shrimp, crab, tuna, etc), whether it dies naturally or is killed. The Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali schools have adopted this opinion, while the Hanafi madhab carries a different understanding.
What does Hanafi Fiqh say about eating Catfish?
The Hanafi school considers only sea animals that are categorized as fish to be halal. Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah, of Darul Ifta Birmingham, clarified this (source):
“In the Hanafi Fiqh, animals that are born and live in the water are unlawful to consume with the exception of a fish.
Saaiduna Abdullah Ibn Umar Radiallahu Anhu narrates that the Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam) said; “Two types of dead meat and two types of blood have been made lawful for our consumption; the two dead meats are: fish and locust and two types of blood are liver and spleen.”
(Sunan Ibn Majah)
Furthermore, there is no mention of the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam or the companions consuming sea animal besides a fish. (Dars Tirmizi p.280 v.1)”
Now, to determine whether catfish is halal in the Hanafi mudhab, we have to verify the categorization of catfish.
Is Catfish Categorized as fish?
Encylopedia.com characterizes catfish as per the following criteria (source):
Catfish include some 2,500 species of mostly freshwater fish characterized by two to four pairs of whiskers or barbels around their mouth.Encylopedia
Thus, we can safely categorize catfish as part of the fish family. To our understanding, this makes catfish halal to eat as per the Hanafi Madhab. However, the encyclopedia further mentions that some types of catfish are poisonous – such catfish are not permissible to eat. This is because Islam forbids us from consuming anything that is harmful to us.
The Verdict on Eating Catfish
The majority opinion of Islamic sources support the understanding that catfish is halal and permissible to eat, provided they are not poisonous or harmful to eat. As always, it is best for one to do their own research and check each source before reaching a conclusion. However, from our findings, we confidently believe non-poisonous catfish to be halal to eat.
7. Is Eel Halal?
Eel is also among fishes that confuse Muslims about whether they are halal due to their snake-like body shape. In this section, we will explore the question of whether the eel is a type of fish and if it is halal.
Eel is halal in Islam as it falls under the category of fishes characterized by their elongated worm-like bodies. Since Muslims are permitted to consume all types of fish (Samak), they can also consume eel. There is a difference of opinion among Hanafi scholars because an eel looks a lot like a snake, but the dominant opinion is that of permissibility (source).
Is Eel Halal?
Eel is halal for Muslims to consume despite the unique shape of their body.
According to Hadith, Muslims can eat two types of dead meat – Samak (meaning fish) and locusts (source). Eels fall under the category of fishes that live in both freshwater and saltwater.
We found many fatwas about the permissibility of eel fish being halal to consume. Moulana Yusuf Laher of Islamqa was asked:
What is the ruling regarding calamari, whales and eels according to Hanafis?Islamqa (source)
To which he replied:
A Hadeeth specifies two things that can be eaten without slaughtering. One of them is fish. This Hadeeth specifically mentions the word ‘As Samak’ which means fish.
The Hanafi jurists, citing this Hadeeth, say that only that is Halaal for consumption from the sea which falls under the category of As Samak. This discussion is lengthy and technical and can be found in the Arabic books of Fiqh. The above is the gist of the discussion.”Islamqa (source)
Mufti Faizal Riza of Darul Ifta Australia was also asked about the permissibility of eel, to which he said:
Eels are a type of fish. It is permissible to eat eels just like it is permissible to eat all other types of fish.”Mufti Faizal Riza, Darul Ifta Australia (source)
Is Eel Considered Halal in the Hanafi Jurisdiction?
Even in the Hanafi jurisdiction, where many types of sea animals are considered haram including lobsters and octopus, eel is considered halal.
There is still some difference of opinion among Hanafi scholars because eels have the head of a fish and the body of a snake. However, the majority opinion among Hanafi scholars is that eel is a type of fish and Muslims are permitted to eat it (source).
Is Eel a Fish or Meat?
Due to their uncharacteristic body shape, people often wonder if an eel is a fish or meat.
Eels are fishes that have a body longer than typical fishes and flatter than snakes. Unlike reptiles, eels can breathe underwater using their gills and fins and cannot survive outside of a water body (characteristic of a marine animal).
Britannica defines eels as:
Eel, (order Anguilliformes), any of more than 800 species of teleost fishes characterized by elongate wormlike bodies. Anguilliforms include the common freshwater eels as well as the voracious marine moraysBritannica (source)
8. Are Oysters Halal?
When it comes to fish that look nothing like fish, oyster tops the list. Often eaten raw, oysters are a seafood delicacy and an acquired taste. This is why Muslims often wonder whether oysters are halal.
Regarding oysters, Muslim scholars have a difference of opinion. According to the Maliki, Hanbali, and Shafi’i schools of thought, oysters are living creatures of the sea and are therefore halal. In the Hanafi school of thought, only fish (not shellfish or other sea creatures) among sea animals is halal. In the rulings where oysters are haram, oysters sauce, which is made from them is also haram.
In this section, we will discuss whether oysters fall under the category of fish and whether oyster and oyster sauce is halal.
Are Oysters Fish?
Oysters are not technically fish. They belong to a family of shellfish — crustaceans along with clams, mussels, and scallops (source). Oysters are broadly categorized as true oysters and pearl oysters. True oysters are edible and are considered a delicacy in many places.
Are Oysters Halal or Haram?
Muslim scholars offer two different opinions about oysters being halal or haram. The first group — Hanbali, Shafi’i, and Maliki believe that all types of sea animals are halal including prawns, shrimp, lobsters, oysters, etc (source).
The second group — Hanafi consider it impermissible for Muslims to eat oysters as they do not fit under the category of fishes (source).
Oysters are usually oval or pear-shaped, but they can take various shapes depending on their environment. When it comes to looks, oysters are invertebrates and look nothing like fishes.
Is It Haram to Eat Raw Oysters?
Oysters are among the seafood that is mostly consumed raw. They’re typically served on half the shell alongside plenty of lemons.
In Islam, eating raw fish is permissible, but you need to ensure that it does not make you ill (source). We did not find any evidence suggesting that you can’t consume raw oysters.
Is Oyster Sauce Halal in Islam?
Oyster sauce is traditionally made by simmering oysters for a long time until the liquid caramelizes and turns into a sauce. The answer to whether the oyster sauce is halal is the same as whether oysters are halal.
In the Hanafi school of thought, eating oysters is impermissible and the oyster sauce comes under the same ruling. However, in other schools of thought, oysters are halal and so is the sauce made from them (source).
9. Is Salmon Halal?
Salmon being a scaled fish falls right into the category of halal sea food.
Though several schools of thoughts in Islam are divided in their opinion on placing certain seafood under the category of halal or haram.
Sunni schools tend to say that all the fruit of the sea are halal, whether fish, shellfish, what have you. Hanafis’s a little more complex.
Shia scholars mostly teach to only eat scaled fish and no other water creatures, although a minority, including the late Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah, said it was disliked, but allowable to eat other water creatures.
But adducing to Iman Al Baqirs’ dictum which states that “eating scaled fish is permitted while the non-scaled ones are prohibited” proves that Salmon fits into the halal food category.
Salmon has scales in the form of concentric rings; thus, it is counted as a halal sea food.
This narrows us to the conclusion that salmon itself is considered halal.
Is Smoked Salmon Halal?
It depends how it is smoked and marinated. For example, whisky smoked salmon has been declared haram because of the use of whisky in its marination. Obviously, use of any alcohol with food is haram.
However if the salmon is marinated with halal ingredients, then smoked salmon is considered halal.