Is Seafood Halal? Can You Eat Shellfish, Shrimp, Octopus?

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Learning the ways of Islam includes knowing what foods are Halal (permissible) or Haram (non-permissible.) Not all food is permissible in Islam and many questions are raised about dietary rulings when preparing culinary dishes for Islamic devotees. If you’re hosting Muslim friends at a dinner party and you want to serve a shrimp cocktail, you may be asking is seafood Halal?

Is Seafood Halal
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Seafood includes a wide variety of sea animals and plants. This could make it even harder to know if and which type of seafood is Halal or Haram. Differing opinions have been raised by Islamic scholars around these questions. Read on to discover the answers to this most common question asked about seafood and find out what is permissible and what isn’t allowed.

Is Seafood Halal?

Seeking answers from the Qur’an is one of the best ways to find the answer as to whether seafood is Halal or Haram. And, most scholars of Islam will tell you that seafood is Halal based on a verse quoted by Allah, in the Holy Book of Islam, the Qur’an:

“Lawful to you is what you catch from the sea and use it for food as provisions for yourselves and for the travelers…”- (Qur’an 5:96)

This broad statement covers all animals and plants found in the ocean, including seaweed. Allah praises seafood wholeheartedly in the Qur’an, referring to this type of food as “taree” meaning something that is fresh, juicy, tender, and nutritious. However, any seafood that causes negative side effects such as allergies is considered Haram.

With such praise and accolade afforded to seafood, this food type is a popular ingredient in Muslim culinary dishes. Fish and shellfish offer a healthy and tasty alternative to other proteins not considered Halal by the global Muslim community.

Furthermore, sea animals are viewed differently in scripture compared to land animals. This means it’s not necessary to perform similar ritual sacrifices commonly done when preparing cows, chickens, or goats for Halal meat.

Is All Seafood Halal?

While the Qur’an clearly states that it’s lawful to eat anything caught from the sea, does this cover every creature and plant found in the ocean? Seafood comprises a huge variety of sea animals and plants. With so many different types of seafood available, varying opinions are raised as to what is Halal and what is Haram.

In general, it’s agreed that all fresh seafood sold by trustworthy vendors that follow Halal practices, is permissible. But, there are some exceptions.

The Global Supply Chain

In most cases, getting fresh seafood isn’t easy unless you’ve caught the food yourself or you’re living close to the source of supply. This means relying on the global supply chain when sourcing seafood, which could be processed to some extent and frozen before arriving in your local supermarket or fish market.

Discerning Muslims, who follow a strict Halal diet, need to determine if the seafood is still permissible once it’s been through the global supply chain. Questions such as the following need to be asked:

  • What hidden Haram ingredients have been used during the processing of seafood for delivery and sale?
  • Was the seafood prepared on production lines that also processed non-Halal products such as pork?
  • Has the seafood been Halal certified?

The global supply chain is necessary for bringing seafood to your doorstep especially if you live miles away from the ocean. But, it’s important to not automatically assume that all seafood may not be as Halal as it should be. To get around this dilemma, ask the right questions and source your seafood from reputable Halal retailers as much as possible.

Aquaculture: Farmed Seafood

The Qur’an is clear on the fact that all foods caught from the sea may be consumed by Muslims. However, does this principle apply to sea animals and plants being farmed? Animals that are farmed are normally fed pork or other Haram byproducts. European Union aquaculture standards allow for the use of processed animal protein when feeding farmed fish. This type of animal protein is often sourced from pigs or poultry.

With more than half of the global supply chain supplied by fish farms, the issue of Halal suitability is highlighted even more so. If correct labeling is adhered to, seafood products should be marked as wild or farmed. But, this procedure is not completely fool-proof which means Muslim customers seeking Halal fish should only buy products carrying the right certification.

Halal Certification

Seafood that has not been Halal-certified shouldn’t be consumed by Muslims. Halal certification is a process that ensures all aspects of a product adhere to the rules stipulated by the Islamic Council. A Halal-certified product is normally marked with a specific symbol or the letter M.

The majority of seafood brands are ensuring their Muslim customers have peace of mind when buying their products by adding Halal certification to their production of food. Countries such as Chile are also offering Halal farmed seafood products. So, if you’re wondering is salmon halal when it’s been farmed, the answer is yes if it’s been Halal certified.

When asked can Muslims eat shellfish, not all scholars of Islam agree that certain seafood such as squid, octopus, and mussels are Halal. This makes it difficult when deciding if these animals should be included in a recipe when preparing a Halal recipe. Halal certification helps to keep confusion at bay among Muslim consumers when buying different types of seafood.

Read More: Is Seafood Considered Meat?

Shellfish: Halal or Haram?

Shellfish Halal or Haram
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One group of Islamic scholars believe that not all shellfish fall under the category of fish. This means shellfish such as crabs, lobsters, prawns, shrimps, and oysters would be considered non-Halal by the Hanafi school of thought. Interestingly enough, the other three groups of Islamic scholars classify all shellfish, irrespective of whether it’s a mollusk or crustacean, as Halal.

If you’re asking can Muslims eat shrimps, the answer is yes if you’re not part of the Hanafi school of thought! And, shellfish can be safely eaten and enjoyed without having to be slaughtered beforehand.

Poisonous Seafood

Any seafood that is poisonous is Haram. Consuming poisonous seafood would be killing yourself or others or at least, causing serious harm. The Qur’an clearly states:

“And do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.” – Qur’an 4:29

Muslim consumers need to also look out for seafood that may cause allergic reactions. This can happen when eating seafood which begs the question, “Is shrimp halal?” Many people are allergic to shellfish such as shrimps, oysters, and prawns. In this situation, the answer to the question, “Is shrimp Haram?” is yes!

If you know you’re allergic to shellfish or any other type of seafood, it’s Haram to consume these products. Islamic scholars are guided by the Qur’an again when Allah states:

“…and do not throw yourself (yourselves) with your own hands into destruction. And do good. Allah loves the doers of good.” – Qur’an 2:195.

Self-destructive acts such as eating foods that you know will give you an allergic reaction aren’t permissible in the Islamic school of thought.

Which Seafood is Halal or Haram?

The four groups of Islamic scholars work closely together when deciding what seafood is halal or Haram. This is useful for both the Muslim consumer and the Halal certification process. These scholars and the Islamic community, as a whole, are guided by the Holy Book of Islam, the Qur’an, and Sunnah.

All seafood is Halal unless there are exceptions as already detailed above. But, let’s look at some of the more common questions asked about which seafood is Halal or Haram according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Is Sushi Halal or Haram?

Sushi dishes often include seafood ingredients such as prawns, shrimps, raw salmon, and seaweed. Does this mean sushi is Halal? This Japanese culinary dish is Halal if the seafood and other ingredients used in the recipe haven’t been processed using Haram products such as additives, coloring agents, or pork byproducts.

When eating in a Japanese restaurant and ordering sushi take care in finding out if all the ingredients are Halal certified. You also want to check that the dishes are prepared in a kitchen that hasn’t been used to prepare Haram food such as pork.

Is Squid Halal?

The Hanafi school of thought is that squid is Haram. The other three groups of Islamic scholars disagree, stating that squid is a sea creature and that Allah declares that any foods caught in the ocean may be consumed by Islamic followers.

Is Crab Halal?

If you’re asking the majority of Islamic scholars is crab Halal, they’ll tell you it is. Crab is an edible crustacean with a shell and while it may not have scales, it’s considered Halal. Hanafi scholars argue that most shellfish are non-fish, and therefore, are Haram. This is why some confusion comes about when deciding if crabs can be served as a meal to Muslims. It really all depends on which Islam sect you follow.

Is Lobster Halal?

A lobster is a shellfish. For some Islam sects, such as Shia Muslims, this sea creature is Haram. This is because the Shia Muslim only consider fish with scales as Halal. Lobsters and other shellfish don’t have scales. The Hanafi school of thought also declare all shellfish including prawns, octopus, shrimps, and lobsters as non-permissible in the Islamic diet. But, the majority of Islamic followers decree that lobster is Halal.

Is Octopus Halal?

Allah clearly states that all seafood is Halal so why the confusion around the octopus? With its many legs and lack of scales, Muslims are hesitant to eat this seafood type if they’re not certain it’s permissible. Hanafi Islamic scholars will tell you that octopus is Haram, similar to squid. Maliki, Hanbali, and Shafi’i scholars classify octopus as Halal based on the Qur’an stating that all sea creatures that aren’t harmful are permissible to eat.

Are Oysters Halal?

Do all Muslims agree that oysters are Halal? Or, are they actually Haram according to Islamic laws? Well, once again, based on what Allah states in the Holy Book, all sea creatures including oysters are Halal. However, if you fall under the Hanafi school of thought, oysters are Haram. Be careful when using oyster sauce as an ingredient in a recipe as it may include non-Halal products.

Are Scallops Halal?

Scallops are a type of mollusk with two shells similar to oysters, clams, and mussels. It’s a type of shellfish found in marine and bay environments. All sea scallops are halal according to Islamic law although the Hanafi scholars classify them as Haram because they’re shellfish and not fish. When preparing scallops in a recipe, make sure the other ingredients such as the batter is Halal as well.

How to Prepare and Cook Halal Seafood

Halal cooking means preparing food without any Haram products. When preparing Halal seafood, it’s important to not include ingredients such as alcohol, pork, or non-permissible byproducts. You also need to avoid using any broth made with an animal that’s not been properly slaughtered according to Islamic laws and rituals.

Halal cooking should be done in a kitchen that hasn’t been used to cook Haram products such as pork. However, if you’re not certain if this is the case, wash down all utensils, pots, equipment, and kitchen countertops well before preparing Halal seafood.

When purchasing seafood for cooking, make sure it’s Halal-certified. There’s no specific method of cooking when making Halal food. And, as long as the seafood doesn’t touch non-Halal food when prepared and served up, it’s permissible to eat by Muslims following a strictly Halal diet.

In Summary

Seafood is considered Halal by most Islamic schools of thought based on the Holy Book of Islam, the Qur’an. However, some sects such as Hanafi disagree, stating that only fish with scales are Halal, ruling out shellfish as Haram.

Muslim consumers can rest assured that any seafood that’s Halal-certified is permissible as long as they’re not allergic to the food. The Qur’an also clearly states that anything harmful such as poisonous seafood is Haram. In general, seafood is Halal but it all depends on which Islamic sect you follow.

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