Are Prawns and Shrimp halal?

Are Prawns and Shrimp halal?

Prawns and Shrimp are a very contentious subject!

There is a multitude of opinions in the Hanafi School, these vary based on whether prawns and shrimp are considered fish or not, biologically and/or colloquially. You can read more on Seafood Fiqh here first.

We now know, or at least classify Shrimp to be Anthropos and not Fish. So the biological makeup is not from the Fish species. So opinions of scholars, like Imam al-Zabidi, Fayrozabadi and Imam Ahmed Raza who have said biologically shrimp are fish, and it was so according to marine research at the time, now become difficult to follow. Their opinion is accepted as it was their ijtihad. But considering we now know Shrimps are not fish, we cannot follow the ruling based on their reasoning. But who knows, maybe in a 100 years classifications will change again.

The second classification is based on the understanding of the common people, and we have learnt that according to the understanding of the early Arabs and scholars, prawns were considered fish.

Ibn Abidin, the Hanafi jurist, says only that which the Arabs considered ‘fish’ is permitted from the produce of the sea. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Ibn al-Humam/Marghinani, Fath al-Qadir `ala al-Hidaya].

The Arabs considered shrimp to be ‘fish’ (samak), and is therefore permissible. Many Hanafis also take this position.

Mufti Amjad Ali Azmi writes in Bahar e Shari’at regarding prawns; “There is a disagreement between the scholars whether prawns are considered a fish or not. Because of this, there is a difference in its permissibility and impermissibility. From the apparent, its appearance is not similar to a fish but resembles an insect, therefore it should be avoided.”

Mufti Amjad’s personal opinion is that they are not fish and he is solely basing it on their appearance. So we can see there is a multitude of opinion on the shrimp.

Some scholars also take the other three schools of Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali into consideration. Prawns are permissible in the three schools and therefore the Hanafis should adopt leniency in the ruling.

So the option is open to the reader, there is proof for permissibility but some Hanafi scholars do say abstention is preferable due to the difference of opinion. However, there is nothing wrong if you do not abstain. One thing is clear is that we cannot class them as haram. And nor can we point the finger at a different opinion.

This ruling doesn’t solely apply to shrimp but can apply to other similar sea creatures. We advise you to consult a scholar beforehand though.

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