Is Seafood Permissible to Eat?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered By Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Abu Bakr Badhib


Is it permissible to eat seafood?


In the name of Allah, and all praise is due to Allah, and blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, his Family, his Companions, and those who follow him.The religion of Islam is a religion of ease, as the Almighty says,

“Allah intends ease for you, not hardship.” [Quran, 2:185]

The original ruling regarding seafood is that it is permissible, as He (Most High) says:

“It is lawful for you to hunt and eat seafood as a provision for you and for travelers.” [Quran, 5:96]

Ibn ‘Abbas said: Its food is what is thrown up by the sea, and he said: Its catch is what is hunted in it with the spear and the like. [Tabari, Tafsir al-Tabari; Jassas, Ahkam al-Quran]

And Abu Hurayra said: Its catch is what is hunted from it, and its food is what is thrown up. [Tabari, Tafsir al-Tabari]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Its water is purifying, and its dead are lawful” [Abu Dawud]

He (Allah bless him and give him peace) also says,

“Two dead things and two types of blood have been made lawful for you. As for the two dead things, they are fish and locust, and as for the two types of blood, they are the liver and the spleen.” [Ibn Maja]

The ruling is the same for sea catch and food whether it lives in salty sea or freshwater like lakes and rivers. Also, the fact that some sea catch and whales give birth and breastfeed does not affect their ruling; they are included in the general wording.

Regarding Slaughtering

Is it necessary to perform slaughtering for any type of seafood?

Rafi‘i said, “If we rule that sea animals other than fish are permissible, is slaughtering required for them, or is their dead permissible? There are two views and it is said that there are two opinions: One of them, which Ahmad said, is that slaughtering is required, as in land animals. And the most correct: Their death is permissible because they are animals that live in water; thus, they resemble fish.” [Rafi‘i, al-Aziz Sharh al-Wajiz]


Yes, every rule has its exceptions and anomalies; thus, the exceptions from the sea catch and its food are:

  • What has fangs among amphibians, like the crocodile, as it is considered among the wild beasts of the land, making its consumption prohibited due to its filth and harm. [Ibid.]This is unlike the shark, which is permissible even though it has fangs because it is part of the sea catch.
  • What is specifically exempted, like the frog, for there is a prohibition about it as narrated by Abu Dawud and Nasa’i from Sa‘id Ibn al-Musayyib, from Abd al-Rahman Ibn Uthman: A doctor asked the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) about using a frog in medicine, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) forbade him from killing it. [Abu Dawud; Nasa’i; Ahmad]
  • Generally, amphibians are prohibited according to the Shafi‘i school, if there is no similar permissible land animal, exemplified by creatures like the water dog, turtle, and crab (crustacean), as stated by Imam Ghazali in [al-Wasit], Rafi‘i in [al-Aziz], and Nawawi in [al-Rawda], and adopted by Ramli and Hisni in [al-Kifaya].According to the second opinion, Imam Nawawi said in [al-Majmu‘]: “I say: The correct and dependable opinion is that all that is in the sea, its dead is permissible except the frog. What is mentioned by some companions about the turtle, snake, and Nasnas is applied to what is in water other than the sea, and Allah knows best.”This opinion was adopted by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami and Khatib al-Shirbini, who added to the frog: everything that is poisonous. [al-Mawsu‘a al-Fiqhiyya al-Kuwaitiyya]

    Rafi‘i said: “Thus, if there is no similar animal on land that is permissible or prohibited, then it is permissible.” [Rafi‘i, al-Aziz Sharh alWajiz]

  • What is harmful and injurious, its consumption is not permitted, like the sea snake or jellyfish if its toxicity is proven, or other harmful marine creatures, acting upon the verse:“And do not kill (each other or) yourselves. Surely Allah is ever Merciful to you.” [Quran, 4:29]This is the agreed-upon position of the school.


Etiquettes related to sea hunting, according to the Shafi‘i school, and among them are:

  • It is recommended to slaughter animals whose lives can be prolonged, with the slaughtering done from the tail side in fish and from the neck in animals resembling land animals. If the animal does not have a long life, its slaughtering and live cutting are disliked. [al-Mawsu‘a al-Fiqhiyya al-Kuwaitiyya]
  • Swallowing fish alive is disliked if it does not cause harm, as is eating small fish with what is in their bellies. It is permissible to fry or grill them without splitting their bellies, but this is still disliked. [Ibid.]

This is what could be discussed in this matter, and it is among the important topics that a Muslim should be aware of to know what is permissible to eat and what is not, and not to rush into consuming seafood out of ignorance and lack of discernment. We ask Allah to inspire us with guidance and to grant us knowledge and action, and all praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

[Shaykh] Dr. Muhammad Abu Bakr Badhib

Shaykh Dr Muhammad Abu Bakr Badhib is a prominent Islamic scholar from Yemen. He was born in Shibam, Hadhramaut, in 1976. He received his degree in Shari‘a from Al-Ahqaf University, a master’s degree from the Islamic University of Beirut, and a PhD in Usul al-Din from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

He studied under great scholars such as Shaykh al-Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad, Shaykh Fadl Ba‘ fadl, Habib Salim al-Shatiri, Habib Ali Mashhur bin Hafeez, and others. He has served as the Director of Publications at Dar al-Fiqh, the former Deputy Director of Cultural Relations at Al-Ahqaf University, a former Assistant for Employee Affairs at Atiyah Iron Company, a researcher at the Sunna Center affiliated with the Dallah al-Baraka Foundation, and a researcher at Al-Furqan Foundation’s Makka al-Mukarrama and Madina al-Munawwara Encyclopedia branch.

Currently, he is a researcher at Al-Furqan Foundation’s Makka al-Mukarrama and Madina al-Munawwara Encyclopedia branch, teaches traditionally through the Ijaza system at Dar al-Fuqaha in Turkey, supervises the Arabic department at Nur al-Huda International Institute (SeekersGuidance), and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Manuscript House in Istanbul.

His works include “The Efforts of Hadhramaut Jurists in Serving the Shafi‘i School,” “Contributions of Hadhramaut Scholars in Spreading Islam and its Sciences in India,” and “Hada’iq al-Na‘im in Shafi‘i Fiqh.” He has also verified several books in Fiqh, history, the art of biographies, and Asanid (chains of narration).