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I just read a question that asks if eel is halal and it reminded me of something I always wondered about. Lobsters and crabs are boiled alive when cooked. That means it's haram to eat them right? I know its haram to eat wild animals, either from land or sea. However, I don't know if lobsters and crabs can be considered "wild" since eating them is so common. However, does the fact that the process of cooking them is so cruel make eating them haram?

I have seen a few people ask similar questions to this on this site and the main answers I saw claimed that anything from the sea is halal (really? even sharks and whales?), which would make eating lobsters and crabs halal. However, fish die soon after they leave the water, and there is a process that one must go through when slaughtering an animal for food, it must be as quick as possible to prevent needless pain. My issue lies with the fact that the lobsters and crabs will be boiled alive.

If eating them is halal, is there another way of cooking them or is it that they just don't feel the pain, and if they don't feel the pain how do you know?

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Good question! I've always wondered about the boiling alive part. But I think the title should reflect that distinction. –  System Down Dec 14 '12 at 20:24
    
And on a culinary note; yes, there are other ways to prepare crab and lobster that don't involve boiling them alive. Boiling alive is only done to insure freshness. –  System Down Dec 14 '12 at 20:25
    
If you want, a good place to ask for alternate ways of cooking crabs/lobsters etc: cooking.stackexchange.com –  Power-Inside Dec 15 '12 at 16:15
    
    
Well eating the sea food is halal. But boiling them alive? Its pure torture! :( –  Afzaal Ahmad Zeeshan Aug 17 '13 at 20:49

3 Answers 3

Different schools said differently in this regard.

In Hanafi madthab, it is haram to eat shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp, oyster, etc.)
In Shafi'i and Hanbali, everything from the sea is halal.
In Maliki, everything but the eel is halal.

But Eating sea food is Halal, regardless of which Madhab you follow, as Allah says:

Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travelers, but forbidden to you is game from the land as long as you are in the state of ihram. And fear Allah to whom you will be gathered. [5:96 :: Surat Al-Mā'idah (The Table Spread) - سورة المائدة ]

In more clear words: Water-game and Sea-food is made lawful to you.

Therefore Eating crabs or lobsters are Halal


About the slaughter of animals:

Allah the most high says:

Say, "I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden to one who would eat it unless it be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine - for indeed, it is impure - or it be [that slaughtered in] disobedience, dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful." [6:145 :: Surat Al-'An`ām (The Cattle) - سورة الأنعام ]

The main counsel of Islam in the slaughter of animals for food is to do it in the least painful manner.. And also disliked eating alive. [Fatwa on Stunning Animals]

It is forbidden to eat any kind of dead meat, whether it died by drowning, strangulation, electric shock, falling from a high place, fighting with another animal in the herd or was killed by a wild animal – unless one is able to slaughter it properly before it dies. [Disallowed Matters- Book by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid]

It is best to avoid eating any animal that was boiled, burned or drowned alive.

See The Fiqh of Halal and Haram Animals for more details

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"Since boiling an animal alive is close to "disobedience", you should avoid eating it." That doesn't make sense. –  user926 Mar 24 '13 at 6:20
    
Thank you brother, I misquoted that. I've edited the answer and corrected it. –  Imtiaz Mahbub Khan Mar 24 '13 at 10:58

There is a malliki opinion on snails expounded upon in this islamqa post:

The Maalikis did not stipulate that a creature which has no flowing blood should be slaughtered, rather they included it under the same ruling as locusts, and its slaughter is by boiling, roasting, or piercing it with a stick or needle until it is dead, whilst saying the name of Allaah over it.

In al-Mudawwanah (1/542) it says:

Maalik was asked about something in the Maghreb (North Africa) which is called a snail, that is found in the desert on the trees – can it be eaten? He said: I think it is like the locust. If it is taken alive and boiled or roasted, I do not think there is anything wrong with eating it, but if it is found dead, it should not be eaten.

As well as this, in a question I asked NesreenA answers (in summary):

As for slaughtering it yourself and invoking Allah's name, the hadith you quoted above already explains that meat from the sea is already slaughtered correctly.

I would conclude, excepting questions as to the lobsters bottom feeding habits, that boiling lobsters is OK.

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In my opinion the below statement is not 100% correct. "Eating sea food is Halal, regardless of which Madhab you follow, as Allah says: Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travelers, but forbidden to you is game from the land as long as you are in the state of ihram. And fear Allah to whom you will be gathered. [5:96 :: Surat Al-Mā'idah (The Table Spread) - سورة المائدة ]" -- This is because, Quran never talk on low level details. Hadith, Sunnat and seerathe-sahaba exist for fulfilling rest. For e.g. Quran says meat of swine, blood and anything which is not made halal with Allah's name is haram. This does not mean dog can be made halal and eaten. The imams hanifa, maliki, shafai or hambali's maslak (or madhab) are derived from Hadith, Sunnat and seerathe-sahaba. Also imam bukhari, muslim and other authentic aimma, fuqaha and muhaddiseen did the same. They struggled, gathered information and made easy for ummah. Ummah need not struggle now. Quran clearly says that Ma Aatha kumur raoola faquzoohu wa ma nahakum anhu fantahu [whatever rasool instructs you accept and whatever denies refrain from them].

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