The fiqh ruling of Seafood in Islam

The fiqh ruling of Seafood in Islam

We have considered halal animals to consume but let us now consider the Fiqh of Seafood, and it is based on the following Qur’anic Ayah:

The Islamic Understanding of Seafood according to the four schools of thought

Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you…

Quran 5:96

According to the Hanafi School, this Quranic verse refers to fish only. And not everything in the sea. This understanding comes from the following hadith:

Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar رضي الله عنه‎ narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ 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 the two types of blood are: liver and spleen.

Sunan Abu Dawud, Musnad Ahmad, 2/97 and Sunan Ibn Majah, no: 3314

The second question relates to what is the method of slaughter for seafood.

The jurists mention that fish can be eaten without slaughtering. (Radd al-Muhtar, 5:186, Dar li Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi).

Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “The dead animals are forbidden because witnesses (fluids), excretions and harmful blood remain in it, hence slaughtering is a reason for making it lawful to eat because it removes these excretions and blood. As regards death itself, it does not lead to prohibition since it takes place by slaughtering in the same way it takes place by other reasons, so if there is no blood and excretions in the animal, which are removed by slaughtering according to Islamic rites, it does not become forbidden by its death and it is not a condition to slaughter it in order to make it lawful to eat, as is the case of locusts. That is why what does not have flowing blood does not become impure by death, like flies, bees and the like, and fish is the same as them because if it had blood and excretions that remain in it by its death, it would not be lawful when it dies without being slaughtered according to Islamic rites.”

Other schools of thought

According to the other schools, Shafi’, Maliki, and Hanbali, they interpret the Quranic verse to include all seafood, anything that is found in the sea is halal. Within the school, there may be some exception, like anything poisonous or harmful. They would still need scholarly analysis.

They also use the following hadith, Sayiduna Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه‎ narrates that a man asked the Prophet of Allah ﷺ

O Prophet of Allah ﷺ, 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 ﷺ replied; its water is pure and what dies in it is lawful food.

Sunan Abi Dawud p.13 v.1

Hanafi Dilemma

Looking back at the Hanafi School, there has been a multitude of opinions throughout the centuries based on our understanding of fish and sea creatures. Do we consider the Fish species linguistically, colloquially or biologically?

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]. Whereas other scholars will consider the biological nature of the sea creature, if they are fish then they will be permissible regardless of what was held by previous scholars. This has been the case with the status of the prawn and shrimp.

Further Ibn Abidin states “the prohibition of other than fish from the produce of the sea is based on the general prohibition of “vile things” (al-khaba’ith) that are prohibited in the Qur’an (in Surat al-Ma’ida and elsewhere)–and which would be understood in light of what the Arabs deemed ‘vile’ (khaba’ith) at the time of revelation.”

Some scholars argue seafood is so vast that it’s a whole new civilisation and we need to identify species and specify whether they are halal.

Your local scholar may argue that a particular food is halal based on another opinion. So if you’re happy with their qualification to determine the status then you may follow their opinion.

So in light of the above opinions, we will base the opinion relating to various seafood. You can see a multitude of posts below.

As a final reminder, many restaurants use wine or other alcohols when preparing certain fish. Please double-check that no alcohol is used in the preparation.

Our Seafood halal questions:

You can read more on halal:

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