Halal seafood is considered permissible for Muslims to consume, as stated by the Qur’an. It is widely agreed that any fish that has scales and that is caught live from the sea is considered halal. Yet there are points of debate over other types of seafood and whether or not they are halal or haram.
Members of the Muslim religion adhere to a halal diet that is outlined in the Qur’an. The Qur’an states what foods are lawful, or halal, for Muslims to eat, and what foods are unlawful, or haram. In general, the Qur’an says that pork products, meat from animals that were found dead, amphibians, alcoholic drinks, and birds of prey are all haram and, therefore, prohibited. Any food that does not fall under these categories, and that has not been not soiled by any of these products, is considered halal. Halal meat must also be slaughtered according to strict criteria.
There is some debate, however, over halal seafood. In general, seafood is considered a lawful food. The Qur’an does not prohibit its consumption and, in some cases, encourages it. The debate is over over what type of seafood is permitted.
In general, it is agreed that fish that are caught live from the sea are halal seafood, but some believe that fish found already dead are also permissible. A story found in the Qur’an tells of lost travelers who discovered a beached whale. The travelers were starving, so they decided to eat the meat even though it was already dead, which typically makes a food haram. When the travelers consulted the Prophet, he stated that this food was a gift from Allah and was halal. Others disagree, as the Qur’an states elsewhere that consuming meat that has not been slaughtered correctly is haram.
While some scholars believe that all seafood is permissible, some hold that only fish with scales are considered halal seafood. Since it is agreed that amphibians are not a permitted food, some interpret this as meaning that any creature that can live both in and out of the water is also not permitted. For example, crabs and turtles might be considered haram. True amphibians, such as frogs and salamanders, are almost always considered haram.
Another point of debate involves fish without scales. It is generally agreed that all fish with scales are halal seafood. Yet some scholars believe that fish that do not have scales are haram. This includes eels, shrimp, and lobster.