I was recently told that locusts are halal. Is there any proof from the Sunnah or the Qur'an that says insects are halal or is it just locusts?
Insects in general are forbidden by many scholars, because they are assumed dirty and the hadith says:
ويحرم عليهم الخبائث
And the bad was forbidden on them [7, 157]
Locust on the other hand has an exception from the Prophet (PBUH):
روى أحمد وغيره قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: أحلت لنا ميتتان ودمان، أما الميتتان فالسمك والجراد، وأما الدمان فالكبد والطحال.
Ahmed and others narrated that the prophet said: Two things are allowed to eat even if they are dead, Locust and Fish and two bloods are allowed, the Kidney and Spleen.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
As you asked regarding eating the insects “I recently was told that locust are halal. Is there any proof from Hadith or Quran saying insects are halal or it's just locusts?”
The answer is that @American Muslim declared, generally (as a general Islamic rule), insects are considered as haram things that you are not allowed to eat them (Unfortunately many people used to eat different kinds of insects… especially in some of south eastern countries). But there is no problem in eating grasshopper (by observing some conditions) and you can eat it. And even I reckon there are some or many people (particularly Arab people) that still eat grasshopper as a halal food.
Most of the scholarly opinion that declares eating insects as haram rests on this ayah:
“and prohibits them as unlawful Al-Khabaa’ith (i.e. all evil and unlawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons and foods),”
[al-A’raaf 7:157 – interpretation of the meaning]
And this ayah:
“Say (O Muhammad): ‘I find not in that which has been revealed to me anything forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be Maytah (a dead animal) or blood poured forth (by slaughtering or the like), or the flesh of swine (pork); for that surely, is impure or impious (unlawful) meat (of an animal) which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, or on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering).” [al-An’aam 6:145]
As well as this hadith:
“(There are) five animals, all of which are evil and should be killed in the Haram (sanctuary of Makkah): crows, kites [a kind of bird], scorpions, rats and vicious dogs.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim from the report of ‘Aa’ishah, Hafsah and Ibn ‘Umar).
According to this website (which is run by scholars, although I cannot be sure which school of thought they follow):
However, none of the above sources indicate that it is forbidden per se to eat insects. While the hadith on crows, kites, scorpions, rats and dogs could be used as evidence for declaring that eating those 5 specifically is haram, nothing is mentioned about other taxa that includes insects, arachnids (spiders), annelids (worms), etc. The ayah from Surah al-An'am also does not mention anything about insects, and the ayah I provided before that is too vague.
The rationale behind using the ayah from surah al-A'raaf is that, as the ayah prohibits that which is unclean, and insects are unclean, insects are haram to eat. However, there is no evidence in the Quran or hadith at all where most insects (except scorpions, etc. according to aforementioned hadith) are called "unclean", meaning that using this ayah and the other evidence to state that insects are haram is just a cultural thing, not a religious thing. Therefore, insects are halal and you can eat them if you want without committing a sin.
There are also very good reasons for eating insects, especially in the light of a growing population and the greater energy conversion efficiency of insects as compared to cattle and other livestock; see this article titled "Should we eat bugs like Angelina Jolie".