Is it permissible to consume Shrimp according to the Hanafi Madhab?


Is it permissible to consume Shrimp according to the Hanafi Madhab?


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

According to the Hanafi school of Islamic Law, all sea creatures are prohibited except the Samak (fish) i.e. the only sea creature that is lawful for consumption in the fish without any exception. The prohibition of all sea creatures besides the fish is deduced from the Quran and various Ahaadith of the Prophet ﷺ.

Allah mentions in the Quran; and made permissible for you is the “prey of the sea”. The Hanafi Jurists restricts the generality of “prey of the sea” to specifically meaning the fish. The Prophet ﷺ also said ﷺ that the water is pure and its carrion is lawful. Thereafter, the Prophet explains what is meant by the “prey of the sea” and “the carrion of the sea” in the hadith which states that two dead (carrions) are made permissible viz Samak (fish) and Jaraad (locust).

Furthermore, based on the aforementioned, the Jurists of Islam are unanimous that fishes of all, types, species and varieties are lawful and Halal for consumption.

Imam al-Kasaani (ra) mentions that there is a consensus (Ijma’h) upon the permissibility of all types of fish without differentiating between the many different varieties and species.[1]

Imam al- Sarakhsi (ra) mentions that all species of fish are Halaal[2]

Imam al-Ayni (ra) mentions that all species of fish are Halaal because of the general wording of the Hadith: It is made permissible for you two carrions viz; Fish and Locust[3]

Imaan Ibn Abideen (ra) mentions that sea creatures, with the exception of all the varieties of fish are prohibited.[4]

Imam al-Zaylai (ra) mentions that the eel is Halaal as it is a type of fish.[5]

In summary, the Jurists have explicitly stated that all fishes are Halal regardless of its type and variety as there are no evidences to indicating the prohibition any type or variety.

Ruling on Samak Tafi (floating fish)

A fish that died naturally in the sea/water is referred to as “samak tafi” (floating fish). The Hanafi Jurists have stated clearly that such a fish is not permissible for consumption based on the following Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ:

ما ألقى البحر أو جزر عنه فكلوه و ما طفا فلا تأكلوه

 (رواه الطحاوي في شرح مشكل الحديث, أبو داود, ابن ماجة, البيهقي و الدارقطني)    

Meaning of the Hadith:

That fish which dies as a result of the sea throwing it onto the shore or, due to the recession of the water, can be eaten. However, that fish which dies naturally, thereafter floats cannot be eaten.

However, the impermissibility of the “samak tafi” is irrespective to whether or not its floats on the surface of the water or not, it flips upside down or on its side or not. The reason being is that, fish don’t necessarily always float when they die. For example, if a fish dies with little to no air in its swim bladder, the act of dying doesn’t make this bladder expand to increase buoyancy. In these cases, the fish will often sink, at which point decomposition will begin.  In these cases, the fish will often sink, at which point decomposition will begin. That said, the decomposition process can sometimes result in enough gas being produced and trapped inside the fish to cause it to float to the surface.[6]  Furthermore, the ones that do float after they die do so after a while and not immediately after death.

Imaam al-Kaasani states that the “samak tafi” which is unlawful according to us (Hanafi) is the term given to a fish that died in the water naturally without any cause, regardless of whether it floats on the surface of the water or not i.e after dying of a natural cause. Imam al-Kaasani then mentions the view of other Hanafi scholars which states that; a “samak tafi” is that fish floats on the surface after dying, if it does not float then it is permissible. Thereafter, Imaam al-Kaasani confirms that the first view is correct and as for the name “samak tafi” (floating fish), a fish after dying normally floats to the surface of the water.[7]  Therefore, it will not be permissible to eat any dead fish found in the water/sea unless one is certain that it had not died from a natural death.

Ruling on Shrimp

As mentioned earlier, the only sea creature lawful for consumption (without exception) is the fish. Therefore, with regards to shrimp/prawns, if it is a fish or classified as a specie thereof, it will be lawful and Halaal for consumption according to the Jurists.

The Shrimp/prawn is known by the following names in Arabic;

الإربيان (Irbiyaan), رُوْبِيَان (Rubiyaan), قُرَيدِس (Quraidis), جمبري (Jambari)


The Definition and Classification of the Shrimp/Prawn according to the Experts in Arabic Linguistics:

(1) Jamhara al-Lugah by Ibn Duraid al-Azdi (223 –321 هـ)[8]

وإرْبيان: ضرب من الْحيتَان أَحْسبهُ عَرَبيا

Shrimp is a type of fish

(2) al-Muheet fil Lugah, authored by Ibn Ubaad, (385هــ)

والإِرْبِيَانُ: سَمَكَةٌ حَمْرَاءُ نَحْوُ الإِصْبَعِ المَعْقُوْفَةِ[9]

Shrimp is a reddish fish resembling a hooked (curved) finger

(3) al-Sihaah authored by al-Jawhari, (393 هــ)

والاربيان بكسر الهمزة: ضرب من السمك بيض كالدود يكون بالبصرة[10]

Shrimp is a whitish fish resembling a worm, found in Basrah

(4) al-Talkhees fi Marifah Asmaa al-Ashyaa authored by Abu Hilaal al-Askari, (395 هـ)

والأربيانُ ضربٌ منَ السَّمكِ صغارٌ، عربيٌّ معروفٌ[11]

Shrimp is a type of fish, small in size, known to the Arabs

(5) al-Muhkam wa al-Muheet al-A’dham authored by Ibn Syed al-Mursi (458 هـ)

والإرْبِيانُ ضَرْبٌ من السَّمَكِ[12]

 Shrimp is a type of fish

(6) Lisaan al-Arab by Ibn Mandhoor (711 هـ)

الإِرْبِيَانُ، بِكَسْرِ الْهَمْزَةِ، ضَرْبٌ مِنَ السَّمَكِ، وَقِيلَ: ضَرب مِنَ السمكِ بيضٌ كالدُّود يَكُونُ بِالْبَصْرَةِ[13]

The shrimp is a type of fish, it is said to be whitish in colour resembling a worm, found in Basrah

(7) Hayaat al-Hayawaan al- Kubra authored by al-Demiri (808 هـ)

الروبيان:هو سمك صغير جدا أحمر[14]

Shrimps are very small red fishes

(8) al-Qamoos al-Muheet authored by Abu Tahir al- Fairuzabadi al-Hanafi (817 هـ)

والإِرْبِيانُ، بالكسر: سَمَكٌ[15]

The shrimp is a fish

(9) Taj al- Aroos min Jawahir al-Qamoos by Murtadha al-Zubaidi al-Hanafi (1205 هـ)

والإِرْبِيانُ بالكسْرِ سَمَكٌ كالدُّودِ[16]

The shrimp is a fish resembling a worm.

(10) Mu’jam matan al-Lugah (present day Encyclopedia in Arabic Definitions and Terminologies)

الإربيان: سمك أبيض يسمى بالشام قريدس وقريدس، وفي مصر برغوث البحر والحمرى[17]

The shrimp is a whitish fish called Quraidis in Syria and in Egypt is called Barguth al-Bahr.

(11) al-Ta’reef al-Fiqhiya (Judicial terminologies and definitions)

الإرْبِيان: سمكٌ أبيض كالدود[18]

The shrimp is a fish

(12) Takmila al-Ma’aajim al- Arabiyah

قردس: قريدس: سمكة صغيرة بقدر الجرادة أو اكبر قليلا تشبهها[19]

The shrimp is a small fish, the size of a locust or larger, also resembling it (i.e. locust)


The aforementioned clearly shows that the shrimp throughout the ages of time, was defined and known by the experts as well as the general mass to be a fish or type of fish. If such is the case, its permissibility is an issue of consensus (Ijmah), as the Jurists have unanimously declared that all types of fish are Halaal.

The author of I’laa al-Sunan states;

فكل ما كان من جنس السمك لغة و عرفا فهو حلال بلا خلافا كالسقنقور و الروبيان[20]

Every species of what is regarded as fish, linguistically, unreservedly or conventionally is permissible is Halaal without a difference of opinion e g. eel and shrimps.

Moreover, it is not mentioned in the Hanafi books of Fiqh (Jurisprudence) the impermissibility regarding the shrimp. Also, there are no differences of opinion cited regarding the matter, despite the fact that the shrimp was sea-creature known throughout the ages (and not a something that was discovered in recent times). Thus this would ssubsequently mean that there is Ijmaa (consensus) regarding this matter (i.e. its permissibility).

Modern-day scientists however, do not classify the shrimp as a fish. Nevertheless, their classifications and groupings have no bearing whatsoever regarding the shar’i ruling of the shrimp. The shrimp was known to the scholars of Islam centuries ago. They classified it as a fish or type of fish based on certain factors and characteristics. Thus there is absolutely no grounds for its prohibition

In conclusion, due to the fact that the Shrimp is a type of fish, it will be totally permissible and Halaal for consumption as the Hanafi Jurists have stated that all types of fish are Halaal.

The ruling on Crab

The crab (sea, land, river, blue, mangrove, etc.) are not permissible as they are not fishes. According to the Hanafi School of law, the only sea or water creature lawful for consumption is the fish (without any exception). It is incorrect to regard the above as permissible by analogy upon the shrimp. This is because the shrimp is a type of fish whereas the crab is not.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Kaleem Muhammad

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad) /


[1] بدائع الصنائع في ترتيب الشرائع (5/ 36)

وَيَسْتَوِي فِي حِلِّ الْأَكْلِ جَمِيعُ أَنْوَاعِ السَّمَكِ مِنْ الْجِرِّيثِ وَالْمَارْمَاهِيِّ وَغَيْرِهِمَا؛ لِأَنَّ مَا ذَكَرْنَا مِنْ الدَّلَائِلِ فِي إبَاحَةِ السَّمَكِ لَا يَفْصِلُ بَيْنَ سَمَكٍ وَسَمَكٍ إلَّا مَا خُصَّ بِدَلِيلٍ، وَقَدْ رُوِيَ عَنْ سَيِّدِنَا عَلِيٍّ وَابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا – إبَاحَةُ الْجِرِّيثِ وَالسَّمَكِ الذَّكَرِ وَلَمْ يُنْقَلْ عَنْ غَيْرِهِمَا خِلَافُ ذَلِكَ فَيَكُونُ إجْمَاعًا

[2]المبسوط للسرخسي (11/ 248)

ثم جميع أنواع السمك حلال الجريث والمارهيج وغيره في ذلك سواء، ولا يؤكل من سوى السمك من حيوانات الماء عندنا

[3] البناية شرح الهداية (11/ 612)

وإنما أحل أنواع السمك لعموم قوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم -: «أحلت لنا ميتتان» . الحديث

[4] الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (6/ 307)

كفاية، وما عدا أنواع السمك من نحو إنسان الماء وخنزيره خبيث فبقي داخلا تحت التحريم

[5] تبيين الحقائق شرح كنز الدقائق وحاشية الشلبي (5/ 296)

والجريث الجري من أنواع السمك إنما أحل لعموم قوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – «أحلت لنا ميتتان ودمان السمك والجراد والكبد والطحال»


[7] بدائع الصنائع في ترتيب الشرائع (5/ 36)

ثم السمك الطافي الذي لا يحل أكله عندنا هو الذي يموت في الماء حتف أنفه بغير سبب حادث منه سواء علا على وجه الماء أو لم يعل بعد أن مات في الماء حتف أنفه من غير سبب حادث، وقال بعض مشايخنا: هو الذي يموت في الماء بسبب حادث ويعلو على وجه الماء فإن لم يعل يحل، والصحيح هو الحد الأول وتسميته طافيا لعلوه على وجه الماء عادة.

[8] لقد نال ابن دريد بعلمه وفكره شهرة واسعة، وحظي بمكانة عالية مرموقة؛ لذلك فهو يعد حجة في اللغة هـ

مجلة الداعي الشهرية الصادرة عن دار العلوم ديوبند ، ربيع الثاني 1437 هـ = يناير – فبراير 2016م

[9] المحيط في اللغة (2/ 432، بترقيم الشاملة آليا)

[10] الصحاح تاج اللغة وصحاح العربية (6/ 2351)

[11] التلخيص في معرفة أسماء الأشياء (ص: 392)

[12] المحكم والمحيط الأعظم (10/ 307)

[13] لسان العرب (14/ 307)

[14] حياة الحيوان الكبرى (1/ 514)

[15] القاموس المحيط (ص: 59)

[16] تاج العروس (38/ 121)

والإِرْبِيانُ، بالكسْرِ: سَمَكٌ كالدُّودِ) .

وَفِي الصِّحاحِ: بيضٌ مِن السَّمَكِ كالدُّودِ يكونِ بالبَصْرةِ

[17] معجم متن اللغة (2/ 542)

الإربيان: سمك أبيض يسمى بالشام قريدس وقريدس، وفي مصر برغوث البحر والحمرى

[18] التعريفات الفقهية (ص: 22)

[19] تكملة المعاجم العربية (8/ 220)

[20] (vol. 18 p 158)