"Everything in ocean is Madhbooh (slaughtered)." [Bukhari]

I hear a lot of discussions going on about what is halal and haram from the sea.

One side claims that anything form the sea is halal, be it fish (including carnivore fish like sharks), shell fish, octopus, quid, crab, shrimp etc.

The other side states there is a more specific ruling, in that if the animal is a scavenger (in the above cases, a filter feeder, or bottom feeder picking up floating or sunk pieces of food, etc) of if it is a carnivore then it is not halal even if it is from the sea.

I've never found a scholar rule on this.

What from the sea is Halal?

  • 3
    another point of difference would be regarding amphibious animals; those which live both on the land and in the sea.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Aug 18, 2012 at 2:08
  • 4
    It is different for each branch of Sunni Islam and also Shia Islam. I will post a complete answer.
    – user215721
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 18:12

7 Answers 7


It is different in each branch. And I must say that it is not easy (or maybe even possible) to infer these rules only from Quran.

In Shia Islam

Only fishes with scale and also shrimp are halal. All other aquatic animals are haram.

In Sunni Islam

  • Hanafi branch: All fishes except squids are halal.

  • Shafi'i branch: there are 4 different viewpoints: (It seems the 4th is the most accepted)

    a) Exactly like Hanafi branch, above.

    b) All aquatic animal except those that have a haram terrestrial counterpart are halal. (e.g., horses are halal in Shafi'i and they have a aquatic counterpart, seahorse. So this counterparts are halal too, and the sea counterpart for dog is beaver, so it's haram.)

    c) All aquatic animals are halal except the following: frog, Pinniped, Crocodilia, Turtle.

    d) except frog, all other aquatic animals are halal.

  • Maliki branch: All aquatic animals are halal.

  • Hanbali branch:All aquatic animals are halal.

The sources for the Sunni Islam rules were sunnionline.us, which now seems to be under construction, and if you know Arabic (my Arabic is not good, just basic!) you should find some of these in religious websites, like this one; And the Shi'i rule is taken from the risalah written by one of the shi'i maraji ( Naser Makarem Shirazi ), in Persian.


The Qur'an doesn't exclude any type of fish. It simply says that meat from the sea is lawful:

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

And it is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat and to extract from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, and [He subjected it] that you may seek of His bounty; and perhaps you will be grateful. 16:14

And not alike are the two bodies of water. One is fresh and sweet, palatable for drinking, and one is salty and bitter. And from each you eat tender meat and extract ornaments which you wear, and you see the ships plowing through [them] that you might seek of His bounty; and perhaps you will be grateful.35:12

The idea that bottom feeders are not considered halal is because people concluded that its behavior is similar to swine, and thus we should not eat it. This idea is a biddat, to belive that it is haram, when Allah and the sunnah of the prophet (pbuh) have made it permissible for us.

But of course the original ruling for food would still apply:

forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that on which any other name than that of allah has been invoked, and the strangled (animal) and that beaten to death, and that killed by a fall and that killed by being smitten with the horn, and that which wild beasts have eaten, except what you slaughter, and what is sacrificed on stones set up (for idols) and that you divide by the arrows; that is a transgression. this day have those who disbelieve despaired of your religion, so fear them not, and fear me. this day have i perfected for you your religion and completed my favor on you and chosen for you islam as a religion; but whoever is compelled by hunger, not inclining willfully to sin, then surely allah 5:3

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.

  • 3
    Bottom feeders and vermin and the like fall under the category of khaba'ithaat, not tayyibaat, and therefore they are not permitted for us to eat
    – Ansari
    Commented Aug 18, 2012 at 8:37
  • @Ansari: Is there a deeper explanation of this? I know a lot of Muslims (Shafii) who do eat bottom feeders like catfish.
    – Muz
    Commented Aug 18, 2012 at 8:51
  • 1
    @Muz - I will look up my notes inshaAllah if you remind me in a few days :) For now, perhaps I used the term bottom feeder in error. Wikipedia says not all bottom feeders are detritivores, and if I remember correctly that's a category of animals that's considered dirty and inappropriate to eat (khabeethah as opposed to tayyibah, pure).
    – Ansari
    Commented Aug 18, 2012 at 9:20
  • JazakAllah nesreen, though it is what @ansari mention what I had heard about. I would like to know more. Commented Aug 18, 2012 at 13:41
  • @Pureferret his notes are correct. Anything which you would culturally consider as disgusting falls under "khaba'ithaat," which we cannot eat.
    – ashes999
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 18:53

Everything in the sea is Halal

Made lawful to you is the fished of the sea and its food, an enjoyment for you and for travelers. But you are forbidden the hunted of the land whilst you are on pilgrimage. Have fear of Allah, before whom you shall all be assembled.

[Surat Al-Mā'idah, 96th ayah]

The word "fished" (SaYD) is a verb and doesn't mean (or include only) fish. It means anything "caught" in the sea.

  • 2
    Hi Ahmed, welcome to the site. Thanks for posting the quote from the quran, but this post doesn't do much to explain the quote in the context of my question. As it is, I've read the ayah, and it wasn't clear if this was all creatures or just fish. If you think you can improve your answer, just click edit under the post. Commented Aug 18, 2012 at 1:56
  • 1
    This to me is perfectly clear. The word "fished" (SaYD) is a verb and doesn't mean (or include only) fish. It means anything "chaught" in the sea.
    – banging
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 20:34
  • @banging that's a really, really important distinction. Would you mind adding that to this answer? Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 7:40
  • As I've written in my answer, there are different rules for each branch, and (it seems that) your answer just points to Maliki and Hanbali branches.
    – user215721
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 17:35

According to the Shafi'i, Maliki and Hanbali branches of Islam, all fish and shellfish would be halal. According to the Shi'i branch of Islam, Fish that has scales is halal, but animals that live both in the water and on land are not permissible (for example, frogs may not be eaten).


About the seafood, as it mention that everything is halal, but there are some different view s and rules in different imams or branches like "Hanfi, Maliki etc...

Talking specifically about specific like “shrimps, prawns”, which is widely available in Pakistan’s seaside cities and kinda cheap, if its skin, clean properly so there is no harm.

About the lobsters, crabs, octopus, such things also available here but most people don’t eat and they call it haram, even those are properly skinned and cleaned.


"Made lawful to you is the fished of the sea and its food, an enjoyment for you and for travelers. But you are forbidden the hunted of the land whilst you are on pilgrimage. Have fear of Allah, before whom you shall all be assembled." (5:96)

I am religious Muslims but I have to point out my dissatisfaction about so many different opinions on things, that are really clear to any man who knows Arabic language.

It is not just fish. "SaYD" literally means "hooked, caught". That means not just fish. Per this ayah, sharks are just fine to eat, regardless of them being carnivores. There are more examples but I already said there is to many polemic about something that Allah s.w.t made it clear to us.

  • 1
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    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 14:01
  • Please, rather than add to the discussion, reference a scholar who has discussed this. Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 8:29

aquatic animals are halal for all Muslim ummah eg type of fish which scale and fins exist are halal in islam otherwise all aquatic animal and amphibian is haram for islam.n there is no different in islam about sunni islam n shia islam .

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    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 21:04

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