Is seafood Haram or Halal?

The Details of the Question

Selamun Aleykum. Except fish(which is halal), other seafood kinds are haram or halal? (for example, shrimp, oyster, crab, squid etc.) Are there any Hadith or the Quran that mention about the rule on eating seafood? May Allah guide us all to the right path.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Every fish and animals in the shape of fish are permissible. According to the Hanafi sect, fishes such as turbot, carp, flipper and eel are permissible to eat. However, sea vermins such as crap, mussel, oyster, lobster, crawfish and prawn are not eaten. Also, other water animals which are not in the shape of fish such as walrus, sea pig etc. are not eaten as well. According to other three sects (Shafi, Maliki, Hanbali), all of the sea foods are eaten.

The meaning of the ayahs which are “It is He Who has made the sea subject, that you may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender” (1) and “Lawful to you is the pursuit of water-game and its use for food, - for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel” (2) state that seas are a divine benediction storage and man can benefit from them.

With the mentioned ayahs, Allah Almighty informs the permission of all sea animals without exception of a certain kind of them and without putting the condition of slaughtering. In this way; He provides His servants the easiness and wideness. Moreover, He gives man the permission of using anything in order to entrap them, on condition that not causing animals pain.

As it is known, in point of where they live, animals separate into two as land and sea animals. In regard with which animals of land are permissible, it is explained in the fiqh books. As for the sea animals, there are different views between sects.

Complying to the ayahs of which we gave the meanings above, according to Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali sects’ scholars; all of the sea animals, that is to say all of the animals which live only in the sea but not in the land, -it does not matter where they are available, whether they are in the shape of fish or anything else; they are permissible, they can be eaten. Nevertheless according to the same sects, it does not matter whether the name of them different or they are alive or dead or a Muslim cached it or a non Muslim; the judgment does not change.  

While the sect of Maliki does not except any sea animal, Hanbali sect excepts eel as haram and Shafi sect excepts frog, crap and crocodile as haram because they live both on the land and in the sea.

And according to the Hanafi sect, eating the flesh of the animals which are not in the shape of fish is haram. Accordingly, animals which perpetually live in the water can be eaten. Turbot, carp, flipper and eel are in this group. But other water animals are not permissible. Mussel, oyster, lobster and crap are not accepted as permissible, they are accepted as haram. (3)

According to the above explanations, while animals such as mussel, carp may be eaten in the sects of Shafi, Maliki, and Hanbali; according to Hanafi sect they are not eaten. The reason why Hanafi sect accepts them as haram is because these kinds of animals are accepted as dirty both in the respect of appearance and the flesh they have. (Mehmet Paksu   Halal- Haram)

(1). The Surah of an- Nahl, 14

(2). The Surah of Maida, 96

(3). al-Mazâhibu’l-Arbaa, 2: 5.

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