Is eel Halal in the Hanafi Madhab?



Islamic Text

There is a difference of opinion regarding the issue of eel in the Hanafi Madhab. The stronger opinion is that eel is Halal in the Hanafi Madhab.

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. This means that 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. The Hadith above supports the Hanafi position since fish was mentioned specifically rather than all marine animals.

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. This resulted in a difference of opinion amongst Hanafi scholars.

(وَلَا يُؤْكَلُ مِنْ حَيَوَانِ الْمَاءِ إِلَّا السَّمَكُ) لِأَنَّهُ مَيْتَةٌ فَيَحْرُمُ بِالنَّصِّ، وَإِنَّمَا حَلَّ السَّمَكُ بِمَا رُوِّينَا مِنَ الْحَدِيثِ وَأَنَّهُ يَشْمَلُ جَمِيعَ أَنْوَاعِهِ الْجِرِّيثَ وَالْمَارَمَاهِي وَغَيْرِهِمَا. (الاختيار لتعليل المختار)..

And nothing from the marine animals is permitted except for fish (Samak). This is because it is carrion so prohibited by text (Nass), and fish is only permitted due to that which has been narrated from Hadith. It includes all kinds of fish, stingray, eel, and others.  (al-Ikhtiyaar, Imam al-Mowsili).

قوله: (ولا يحل من حيوان الماء إلا أنواع السمك كلها) مثل: الجريث والمارماهي، لقوله تعالى: {وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمْ الْخَبَائِثَ} [الأعراف: 157]. وما سوى السمك خبيث. (منحة السلوك في شرح تحفة الملوك).

And nothing from the marine animals is permitted except for all kinds of fish, (Samak). For example stingray and eel, due to (Allah) Most High saying, ‘And He prohibited for them that which is abhorrent.’ (Surah al-Araaf, 157). And that which is not fish is abhorrent. (Sharh Tuhfatu al-Mulook, Imam Badr al-Deen al-Ayni).

As seen in the Nusoos (texts) above, Imams al-Ayni and Mowsili felt the sound opinion is that of permissibility regarding eel. However, Imam Tahtawi went with the opinion that eel is not permitted.

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).

So as seen above there is a difference of opinion amongst Hanafi scholars regarding the question of eel being Halal or not. The dominant opinion is that of permissibility.

And Allah (Most High) Knows Best.

– Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (12.11.2021)

See also:

Are prawns Halal in the Hanafi Madhab?

Is crab or lobster Halal?

Respecting difference of opinion

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