Question # 231: Are we allowed to eat frogs and crocodiles?

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Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The general rule is that all kinds of food from the sea are permissible, whether they are plants or animals, alive or dead. Nevertheless, certain types of water animals are excluded by some scholars from the permissibility, namely, frog and crocodile (alligator). There is difference of opinion among scholars regarding the permissibility of eating turtles. As for Hanafis, any aquatic creature which is not termed a fish including turtles (considered reptile), crabs and lobsters is regarded as impermissible. 

Long Answer: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “… Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you…” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:185) and “Lawful to you is (the pursuit of) water-game and its use for food – for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel…” (Soorah al-Maa’idah 5:96).  Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said: “ Sayduhu (lit. hunting, pursuit) refers to whatever is taken from it alive, and ta’aamuhu (lit. its food) means whatever is taken dead.”

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Two kinds of dead meat and two kinds of blood have been permitted to us. The two kinds of dead meat are fish and locusts, and the two kinds of blood are the liver and spleen.” (Reported by Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Daraqutni, and Bayhaqi; graded sahih)

Al-Bukhari narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) said: “Water game means what is hunted, and its food is what the sea throws out (onto the shore).” Also, al-Bukhari narrated from Shurayh, the companion of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), that he said: “Everything in the sea is madhbooh (slaughtered).”

Hence, all kinds of food from the sea are permissible, whether they are plants or animals, alive or dead. [However, the Hanafis regard as impermissible any aquatic creature which is not termed a fish. (Mukhtasar al-Quduri: A Manual of Islamic Law according to the Hanafi School’ by Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Quduri and Abia Afsar Siddiqui)]

However, the following certain types of water animals, which some scholars exclude from the permission outlined above: 

Crocodiles: The correct view is that eating these is not allowed, because they have fangs and live on land – even though they may spend a lot of time in the water – so precedence should be given to the reason for forbidding it (it is a land animal that has fangs).

Frogs: It is not permitted to eat them because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade killing them, as is reported in the following hadith: ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Uthman al-Qurashi (رضي الله عنه) narrated, “A doctor consulted the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) about extracting medicine from a frog but he prohibited killing it.” (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i. Al-Hakim graded it as sahih.) (‘Bulugh al-Maram Min Adillat al-Ahkam’ by Imam Ibn Hajr) The rule is that everything which we are forbidden to kill, we are not allowed to eat; if we are allowed to eat it, we are allowed to kill it.

According to Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Jibreen, “Frogs are haraam and so are the parts of their bodies, because they are regarded as revolting and unclean”

Otters and turtles: The correct view is that to be on the safe side, it is permissible to eat them after slaughtering them properly, because they live both on land and in the sea. Here the rule is that in the case of animals that live both on land and in the sea, the rules concerning land animals should be given precedence, to be on the safe side, so they must be slaughtered properly. [Shaykh Assim Al-Hakeem concurred with this opinion – video lecture] According to Mufti Ismail Desai (Hanafi), “According to shari’ah, it is not permissible for one to consume reptiles and turtle is a reptile from the Order Chellonnii or Testudines. Therefore, it will be impermissible for one to consume turtle meat. (islamqa.org)

Crabs and Lobsters: Crabs [and Lobsters are permissible to eat] and do not need to be slaughtered, even though they live both on land and in the sea, because they do not have blood. As for Hanafis, non-fish sea-creatures, such as lobsters, are makruh taHreemi (not permissible) are crabs are not permissible, since they are not wholly aquatic and they are not fish (samak). (Mukhtasar al-Quduri: A Manual of Islamic Law according to the Hanafi School’ by Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Quduri and Abia Afsar Siddiqui)

In summary, everything that can cause harm is forbidden as food, even if it comes from the sea, because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “… And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you.” (Soorah an-Nisa’a, 4:29) and: “… and do not throw yourselves into destruction…” [Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:195).

(See al-Mughni; Haashiyah al-Rawd; Tafseer Ibn Katheer; and Ahkaam al-At’imah by al-Fawzaan)

(Most part of the above reply is based on various answers by Islamqa.info, unless stated otherwise)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam