Are prawns Halal in the Hanafi Madhab?

Quran

Hadith

Islamic Text

The sound opinion in the Hanafi Madhab is that prawns are not Halal. When it comes to marine animals only fish is permitted.

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ” أُحِلَّتْ لَنَا مَيْتَتَانِ: الْحُوتُ، وَالْجَرَادُ “

(Sayidina) Abdullah Ibn Umar (May Allah Most High be pleased with them both) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Two types of animals which have died a natural death have been permitted to us, fish and locust.’ (Sunan Ibn Maja 3218, Hasan Lighayrihi).

The understanding of the Hanafi Madhhab is that the Quran and Hadith only permits fish (Samak) when it comes to marine animals. The definition of fish will not be taken from contemporary marine biologists. Rather the Hanafi scholars said whatever the Arabs at the time of revelation would have considered to be fish is permitted. Therefore, anything that looks like a fish is Halal.

Marine biologists will define a whale as a mammal, but it looks like a large fish. Therefore, it is Halal to consume according to the Shari definition of fish. A Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari mentions that some companions of the Prophet ﷺ came across a very large fish washed up on the shore and they consumed it. Their action was approved by the Holy Prophet ﷺ himself. Based on the description in the Hadith it seems to have been a whale.

As for prawns, they certainly do not meet the definition of fish according to the Hanafi Madhab. Therefore, prawns are not permitted in the Hanafi Madhab.

قاصر عندنا على السمك غير الطافي وغير الجريث والمارماهي. (حاشية الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح).

With us (the permissibility of sea life) is limited to fish that is not floating (already dead) and is not stingray or eel. (Imam al-Tahtaawi, Haashiyah Tahtaawi ala Maraaqi al-Falah).

(قال: ولا يؤكل من حيوان الماء إلا السمك) ش: أي قال القدوري – رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ – في ” مختصره “: وقال الكرخي – رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ -: كره أصحابنا كل ما في البحر إلا السمك خاصة فإنه حلال أكله إلا ما طفى منه فإنهم كرهوه. وقال شيخ الإسلام خواهر زاده: ويكره أكل ما سوى السمك من دواب البحر عندنا كالسرطان، والسلحفاة، والضفدع (البناية شرح الهداية).

He (Imam al-Marghinani) said, and nothing from the marine animals is permitted except for fish (Samak). As mentioned by (Imam) al-Quduri (May Allah Most High have mercy upon him) in his Mukhtasar. (Imam) al-Karkhi (May Allah Most High have mercy upon him) said our scholars disliked everything from the sea except for fish (Samak) specifically. It (Samak) is Halal to consume unless it is floating (dead), they considered that to be Makruh. And Shaykh al-Islam Khawahir Zadah said, and with us it is Makruh to consume anything other than fish (Samak) from the animals of the sea, like crab, turtle and frog. (al-Binayah Sharh al-Hidaayah, Imam Badr al-Din al-Ayni).

As seen in the Nusoos (texts) above, the Hanafi scholars only considered fish to be permitted, thus prawns are not Halal in Hanafi Madhab.

Sometimes there is a difference of opinion amongst Hanafi scholars because certain animals look like fish from one perspective but not from another. The eel is a good example of this, the head looks like a fish but the body looks like a snake. See link to answer on eel below.

The Shafis and the Malikis have a different understanding and both consider prawn to be Halal. A Hanafi interested in taking a dispensation (Rukhsah) from either Madhab may do so, after consulting reliable scholars of those Madhabs.

And Allah (Most High) Knows Best.

– Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (08.11.2021)

See also:

Is eel Halal in the Hanafi Madhab?

Taking a Rukhsah

See also (video):