Can We Eat Snails?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

Is it permissible to eat snails (escargots), and are land snails permissible to eat?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide every aspect of our lives to that which pleases Him.

Sea snails (Escargots) are permissible to consume. Except for frogs and crocodiles, it is permissible to eat any aquatic game (sayd al-bahr). [Misri, ‘Umda Al-Salik]

Land snails are unlawful to eat. Revolting small animals that creep or walk on the ground, such as ants, flies, snails, and the like, are unlawful to consume. Excluded from this are inoffensive ones such as the jerboa, locust, and hedgehog. [ibid.]

Sea Snails (Escargots)

Sea snails are lawful to consume because of the general permission to eat seafood. Allah says:

“Lawful to you is (the pursuit of) water game and its use for food — for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel” [Quran, 5:96]

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) said: “Water game means that which is hunted, and its food is what the sea throws out (onto the shore).” [Bukhari]

Shurayh (Allah be pleased with him), the Companion of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), said: “Everything in the sea is madhbuh (slaughtered).”

Land Snails

Land snails fall under the ruling on eating “insects”. The majority of scholars are of the view that it is unlawful. Imam Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “The view of the scholars concerning land insects … our view is that it is unlawful. This was the view of Abu Hanifa, Ahmad, and Dāwūd (Allah have mercy on them). Malik (Allah have mercy on him) opined that it is lawful.”

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.