Is Seafood (Fish, Lobster, Crab) HALAL or HARAM In Islam

Safiya Rahman

August 29, 2023
Is seafood halal or haram in Islam?

Allah has blessed us with all manner of land animals and sea creatures on Earth in order to sustain us and be a source of halal food. However, under Islamic law and different madhabs (like the Hanafi school of thought) there are different opinions around the type of seafood and type of fish that is halal food or not.

Before we discuss each sea creature, let's first remind ourselves of Allah's decree in the Holy Quran (the Islamic Holy Book).

List of Islamic verses on the law of seafood 📖

Islamic law or Sharia is a complex and comprehensive code of living that governs all aspects of a Muslim's life, whether Sunni or Shia Muslims, including what they eat. Halal food, permitted by Islamic dietary laws, is not merely about ritualistic practices but encompasses ethics, hygiene, and spirituality.

Allah Almighty guides us through the Holy Qur'an in the following verses:

“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good...” [Quran 2:168]

This verse emphasises the importance of consuming what is both lawful and wholesome. Islamic scholars have deduced these Islamic guidelines from the Quran and Hadith to create a systematic approach to halal food consumption. Allah also says:

“Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travelers…” [Quran 5:96]

The Quran also commands:

“Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on which Allah’s Name has not been pronounced..." [Quran 6:121]

There are certain things Allah has expressed explicitly as not being considered halal. Certain dead animals, blood, and the flesh of swine are strictly prohibited in Islam:

“He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah” [Quran 2:173]

The wisdom behind these prohibitions is vast, including health concerns around the types of blood purity present in animals, ethical treatment of animals, and spiritual purity. It fosters a holistic approach to dietary habits, encompassing physical and spiritual well-being.

Are all types of fish halal? 🐠

Is all fish halal?

Firstly, following the above, Islamic law or Sharia has specific guidelines on the kinds of dead meat considered halal or haram. Dead fish may fall into these categories, and the interpretation varies among different schools of thought.

The Hanafi school of thought and Hanafi scholars generally consider fish with scales to be halal, even if found dead in the sea. However, different opinions exist on fish without scales.

Consideration of natural causes and the ethical treatment of aquatic creatures is essential. Fish farms may play a role in ensuring that dead fish meet halal standards.

Is salmon halal?

Halal salmon meat expertly prepared for a healthy meal

Salmon is generally considered halal so long as the fish was alive when taken from its natural habitat and killed in a quick manner, such as slicing its head or gutted before being cooked.

Farmed salmon may be viewed differently according to Muslim scholars (versus say wild Atlantic salmon), due to the way these fish are fed, bred and killed in a non-humane way. Fish farms are considered to be haram due to animal abuse that tends to occur with recent reports showing that farmed salmon are sprayed with chemicals to prevent them from growing lice.

Is catfish halal?

Catfish is generally considered halal if it's been killed according to Islamic principles

Like salmon above, catfish is permissible to eat (halal food) if the catfish is killed quickly and humanely using a sharp knife or instrument. If the catfish is already dead then it may not be considered halal as it would not have been slaughtered according to Islamic principles.

Is eel halal?

Eels are halal when slaughtered quickly and humanely using a sharp knife

Eels are also known as sea snakes and are enjoyed as a delicacy in some cultures. To qualify for halal status, eels should be slaughtered quickly by cutting off their heads or gutting their insides before cooking or consuming them.

Is sushi halal?

Is sushi halal or haram?

Sushi can be halal or haram depending on the type of fish used and preparation methods. Ingredients like rice, seaweed, and vegetables are generally halal.

An allergic reaction to seafood items used in sushi might dictate personal dietary choices in line with Islamic guidelines of not harming oneself.

Halal certification for sushi ensures that all seafood items, including fish, are sourced and prepared according to Islamic guidelines. The name of Allah must be invoked during the slaughtering process.

Is lobster halal or haram? 🦞

Some scholars consider Lobsters a haram sea food due to its lack of scales

Whether lobster is halal or a haram seafood is a hotly debated topic in the Islamic faith. According to Shia Muslims, lobster is haram because they believe that only fish with scales are permissible to eat.

Some Islamic scholars also consider lobsters (like shrimp) to be scavengers of the sea, feeding on dead animals and waste material like excrement. However other scholars point out that this applies also to crabs which are considered halal.

Overall some Muslims consider lobster to be halal only if they are killed in accordance with Sharia law, as like all other crustaceans, it is proven that lobsters can feel pain.

Is crab halal or haram? 🦀

Opinions vary on the Halal status of Crabs

As above, there are numerous opinions on whether crab is halal or haram. Some stricter sects consider crab to be a shellfish like lobster and therefore not halal. In fiqh, crabs are called "al-hayawan al barma'i" which means that they live on both land and sea and therefore this causes confusion.

Hanbali scholars conclude that crabs are halal to eat. However Shafi'i and Hanbali scholars argue that fish are the only aquatic animals lawful to eat. 

Is octopus or calamari halal or haram? 🐙

Is Octopus or calamari halal?

Octopus is generally considered to be halal and permissible to eat. While some see them as halal, others, particularly the Hanafi scholars, might consider them impermissible or at the very least, makruh (disliked).

The status of squid is similar to that of octopus and calamari, with scholars diverging on whether this type of fish falls within the boundaries of halal seafood.

Calamari is the Italian name for "squid" and is generally battered and deep fried. Since squid also lacks scales and is from the sea, it is considered to be halal.

Is whale or shark halal or haram? 🦈

While shark meat often raises ethical concerns it is generally considered halal

Whale meat is considered permissible by some scholars due to its categorisation as a sea creature, while others have reservations due to conservation and ethical reasons.

The permissibility of shark meat is debated among scholars. Some consider it halal as it's a type of fish, while others argue against it due to its predatory nature.

Both whale and shark meat discussions bring attention to the broader issue of environmental responsibility. Ethical consumption aligns with the Islamic faith's emphasis on stewardship.

Is tuna halal or haram? 🐟

Tuna is a delicious and halal source of nutrition

There are many different varieties of tuna, from Skipjack, Bluefin, Bigeye and Yellowfine. Yes, tuna is widely considered to be halal as it does not pass the same criteria that would deem it to be a haram seafood.

Some Shia scholars argue that dog-tooth tuna isn't permissible although this seems to be a minority view.

Is shrimp or prawns halal or haram? 🦐

Is shrimp halal or haram?

The Hanafi school is generally more restrictive on shellfish. Crab cakes, for instance, may be considered haram. As with lobster above, despite shrimp or prawns being bottom dwellers and ingesting waste from other animals or plants, they are widely considered to be halal as they are from the sea which Allah has permitted.

Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad's schools typically allow the consumption of shellfish, considering most aquatic animals permissible sea animals.

Are oysters halal or haram? 🦪

Oysters as a shellfish is considered halal by most islamic scholars

Oysters are generally considered to be halal, as all varieties of shellfish are halal in Islam. However some Islamic scholars under the Hanafi fiqh argue that, like crab, only fish is halal amongst sea creatures.

Other halal or haram sea-dwelling animals? 🌊

A Muslim fisherman seafood

The majority of Islamic scholars consider crocodile to be haram. Its categorisation as a land animal with predatory characteristics usually places it outside of halal diet considerations.

The killing of frogs and their consumption is generally considered impermissible. Unique sea creatures require careful examination of Islamic dietary laws, sometimes leading to different types of seafood being categorised differently.

The diversity of opinions on various seafood items such as dead fish, sushi, whale, shark, shellfish, squid, octopus, crocodile, and sea frogs emphasises the richness and adaptability of Islamic dietary laws and Islamic guidelines. Adhering to local scholars, seeking halal certification, and considering ethics, environment, and personal health is the best way to navigate this complexity.

These discussions reflect the profound wisdom of Islam in catering to human beings' spiritual and physical needs, respecting Allah Almighty's creation, and promoting a balanced and compassionate way of life.

Halal certification is an assurance to Muslim consumers that food products meet specific Islamic guidelines. It covers a wide spectrum, including the type of animal protein used, how it was slaughtered in the name of Allah, and ensuring no non-halal meat or types of blood were mixed.

This certification fosters trust and adherence to the Islamic faith.

Did Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) eat seafood?

It was mentioned in Sīf al-Bahr (Habat) Sariyyah (A.H. 8/A.D. 629) that pieces of a whale casted up the shore was dried and served to The Messenger of Allah and The Prophet of Allah ate this meat (Ibn Sa‘d, III, 411; Nasāī, Said, 35).

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