Prawns are one of the most common and popular seafood in the world. So many Muslims may be wondering if prawns are halal or haram. Read on to find out the answer and reasoning.
Are prawns Halal?
Prawns are not organised according to their halal or haram categorization, but if they meet the criteria, then they are halal. For prawns to be considered halal, there is a requirement for the prawn being “clean” (e.g. caught with a fishing net) and its carapace being intact/unbroken.
To be considered haram, they must not meet the criteria for halal as stated above, and they must have been caught with a “hooked” net (these are generally used to catch fish with a hook in a non-halal manner).
Aside from being utilised for food and as an ingredient in many dishes such as dumplings, “hokkien mee”, “noodles”, etc.
We should not consider them haram per se, for their flesh is the product of Allah’s creation, and it may be utilised as food in any way we find fit. However, they are not considered halal by sharia and many of their parts are considered haram.
It should be noted that there is no unanimity of opinion among the scholars regarding prawns. Their classification is a matter of personal opinion, and it is up to each individual to follow the example of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him).
Why are prawns halal?
According to a hadith narrated by the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), he has said: “It is permissible to eat prawns.” It should be noted that this was a statement in jest. The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) did not intend to suggest that there is no harm in eating them.
It was reported from the Companions of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) that they would catch sea prawns with their hands.
They would also catch sea birds and prawns with their hands.
The following is a hadith from Imam Thabir (may Allah be pleased with him):
“Some people caught a bird in the sea. They cooked it and brought it to him (the Prophet). The seal of Prophethood was torn from his tongue, so he said: ‘It is not permissible to eat animals that the sea throws up. It was said to him: ‘This bird was caught with a net and it was cooked in a pot.’ He said: ‘If it was cooked in a pot then it is halal.'”
What is the ruling regarding the carapace of the prawn?
Some scholars believe that if the carapace of the prawn is ruptured, then there is no harm in eating it. However, if it is whole, then eating it would not be permissible.
Are there any Muslims that believe prawns are haram?
Yes. This is based on the opinion that the carapace of the prawn is considered one of its vital organs and that it is haram to eat such organs.
However, this conclusion can be refuted by means of a number of proofs:
- The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) declared that prawns are halal, which means that they are permissible to eat. There are no exceptions made for the carapace in this regard. It is also well established that he (blessings and peace be upon him) made wudu’ twice for the people of Egypt, which indicates that he did not mind eating their prawns.
- It is found in some of the hadith, such as in Hadith No. 2 (see previous question), that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) would eat a prawn whole and would not pull it apart or cut it into portions. This indicates that the prawn’s shell has no status as a vital organ since the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) did not cut it or even pull it apart.
- In the Shafi’i school of thought (which is a school of Islamic jurisprudence), one opinion says that only if there are two carapaces on each side is eating a prawn haram. That is, if there is a piece of carapace between the two sections, then it is halal. This opinion was narrated by Al-Kasani in his book Bada’i al-Sana’i’.
- The school of thought of Imam Malik says that prawns are halal unless they come from fish that has begun to rot or have rotted already.
Conclusion: Is eating prawns Halal or Haram?
Fish and Prawns are both Halal to eat if they have not begun to rot, must be fresh, and the scales from the prawn should be removed. It is stated in a Fatwa that you can eat shrimp/prawns as long as the scales have been removed from the shrimp/prawn.
It is not Haram to eat any animal that is Halal unless it has begun to rot or has rotted already.
Comments from our readers…
“Prawns are clearly halal as our Prophet himself mentioned!” – Abdulah
“Prawns are good to eat and should not be slaughtered in a cruel manner. According to Islamic rules of slaughtering anything that is halal to eat, prawns fall under that category. In fact, eating shrimp is better than eating beef as you have stated.” – Abu Bakar
“Yes, prawns are part of the marine life from which people benefit from it for food and other uses so it is fit to be consumed in Islam. However, one should not consume it in a manner that involves cruelty to animals so as to avoid maligning the name of Islam. There is no harm in eating prawns.” – Iqram
“Yes, prawns are halal. They are one of the marine creatures that provide us with food and other benefits and thus halal to eat. One should not consume them in any way that involves cruelty or malign the name of Allah. You should try to purchase the best and the freshest ones.” – Shahzad
“Prawns are clearly halal. The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) himself has said that it is halal to eat prawns.” – Muhammad