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The issue of whether a Muslim should eat crabs or not has been a thriving debate that has been raging for quite some time now. The reason for this debate to have occurred in the first place, is due to the various divisions amongst Muslims, which are called sects. Some types of seafood are clearly permitted in Islam, meaning that they are halal to consume, whilst others have much larger discussions surrounding them.
There is major confusion as to whether you can eat crabs, and this is the reason why many Muslims have split in the middle, some believing that it is prohibited, whilst others believing that it is completely okay to consume these creatures. Crab is considered both halal and haram depending on the jurisdiction, as well as the way the crab was killed.
Table of Contents
- What is Crab?
- What Does Halal Mean?
- Is Crab Halal or Haram? Can You Eat Crabs?
- Are Crabs Halal?
- Why are Crabs Considered to be both Halal and Haram?
- Are Crab Claws Halal? Can You Eat Crab Claws?
- Cooking a Crab
- Are Shellfish Haram?
- Fish and Seafood According to the Quran
- Is Eating Crab Permissible in Islam?
- Is Crab Halal Shia?
- What Types of Seafood are Considered Halal?
- Is Sushi Halal?
- Are All Shellfish Halal?
- Is Squid, Octopus, and Calamari Halal?
- Are Crocodiles and Alligators Halal?
- Are Sea Turtles Halal?
- Halal Crab Recipes
- So is Crab Halal?
What is Crab?
Crabs are crustaceans with a hard, rigid exoskeleton. There are many varieties, but the most commonly eaten in the UK is the ever edible, or brown, crab. Brown crabs can weigh up to 3kg and contain plenty of sweet, succulent flesh, with female crabs having a sweeter taste than males.
What Does Halal Mean?
Halal is the Arabic word meaning permissible in Islamic terms. It means permissible according to Islam’s rules. Food is most frequently referred to as halal, but it also includes any action that is permitted in Islam. Halal is the opposite of Haram, which can also be referred to as non-Halal. Under Islamic teachings, anything considered unlawful in Islam, can include stealing, and corruption.
Is Crab Halal or Haram? Can You Eat Crabs?
The answer to this question would be neither yes or no, rather it depends. There are a set of rules that Muslims must follow in order to eat halal food, or for food to even be considered as halal. To be halal, all animals on the list of permissible and prohibited land and sea animals must be slaughtered in the proper manner with the right side of their body facing Mecca. Some crabs are listed as haram based on their specific physical appearance such as having claws or two sets of claws instead of one.
Crab is found on some lists of haram food products that has the appearance of two sets of legs with a joint in the middle. The crab also has legs that are attached to its legs meaning that they cannot be detached. Other species of crabs have two sets of legs without a joint in the middle meaning that they can easily be separated from their claws, when cooked and properly prepared. However, based on the physical appearance of the crab, it is haram to eat.
Are Crabs Halal?
This would strongly depend on the type of crab followed by the method of killing it. Crab meat tastes great but is considered haram if it has a second set of feet so that it can detach and walk away from its shell. There are other species of crab that do not have claws and have no joint in the middle of their legs, and can be separated easily from their claws. These kinds of crabs are halal to eat if sold, or you’ve purchased them.
Why are Crabs Considered to be both Halal and Haram?
Determining whether crabs are halal or not, would depend entirely on their appearance and how they’re killed. It can differ and appear to be quite confusing. The most important thing is to know your source of food. Your halal food must come from a reliable source, and if you’re unsure, there’s no harm in contacting your local imam to find out whether the food you are about to eat is halal or haram.
Are Crab Claws Halal? Can You Eat Crab Claws?
Depending on the physical appearance of the crab that has claws, if they have two sets of legs with a joint in the middle, you may be unable to separate the claws from the crab without pulling it apart. If that is the case then consuming the crab would be haram as the crab was killed using haram technique.
Cooking a Crab
The process of cooking and killing a crab is to throw the animal while its alive into some boiling water, meaning that they are boiled alive. Thus forcing the animal into a crippling environment, with its life being boiled away, resulting in the crab being haram for Muslims to consume. Crab meat is not considered halal in Islam, the only sea creatures that have scales are halal.
Are Shellfish Haram?
Some scholars believe that it is haram to consume anything other than fish from the creatures that live in the water. The fish that die of natural causes, and float to the surface of the water are also haram for consumption.
Consuming crabs and shellfish is also considered as haram, and there is a difference of opinion on whether prawns are included among fish, thus a difference also follows on whether it is considered halal or haram.
Crabs and shellfish are aquatic creatures, according to the Hanafi school, all aquatic creatures other than fish are haram. Some believe that prawns are also included amongst fish, but consider it better to refrain from consuming it.
Fish and Seafood According to the Quran
Allah (SWT) praises seafood in the Quran unlike any other meat. Seafood is reffered to as taree in the Quran meaning something that is fresh, tender, nutritious and juicy. So generally speaking all alive or dead animals and plants from the sea are halal to consume for Muslims.
Is Eating Crab Permissible in Islam?
Different schools of thoughts, pose a difference in opinion, essentially there are difference in opinions in the interpretations that are obtained from the Quran, on the subject of consuming the creatures of the sea. Depending on what scholar you are following, as well as the sect that you come from, would rely on whether consuming certain types of seafood – crabs – is considered halal or not. Let’s take a look at the variety of opinions in the four schools of thoughts for the Sunni sect of Islam:
In the Quran it states “The game of the sea and its eating has been made lawful for you.” (Surah Maaidah v.96)
In the Hanafi madhab, this verse has been interpreted as follows: Fish is the only seafood that is considered as halal or permitted to consume, therefore crabs which are actually shellfish, won’t be halal to those who follow the opinion of Hanafi – more commonly called Hanafis. However there are separate views within the Hanafi school that suggest prawns, crabs, and lobster as well as other creatures of the sea that aren’t normally assumed to be fish, can be considered as fish from other perspectives.
According to the Shafi’i school of thought, animals that are entirely aquatic are considered halal to eat. This would include crabs, lobsters, prawns and anything else, unless they are poisonous. The crabs that would be considered haram, are those that reside on the land or living outside of the water.
Malikis are of the opinion that crabs are halal, because all creatures of the sea apart from eel are considered halal, which means that shark, oyster, shrimps, and lobsters have been made lawful to Muslims.
According to Hanbali madhab anything from the sea is halal, this opinion suggests that the dead fish of the sea are permissible, whilst the shellfish are prohibited.
Is Crab Halal Shia?
Shia Islam allows for consumption of only dead fish that has scales may be consumed, and must be alive when caught from the water. Crabs are not classified as fish meaning that they are not permissible for consumption. There are difference in opinion amongst Shia scholars, regarding lobsters, but the general conclusion seems that it is haram, therefore prohibited for consumption.
What Types of Seafood are Considered Halal?
The majority of Muslim scholars believe that all sea creatures residing in the water are halal to eat, whether these are dead animals and plants or alive. Shellfish, also known as aquatic shelled fish, are crustaceans. A few of these basic examples are the prawns, oysters, shrimps, lobsters and crabs. Many scholars have claimed that every type of shelled seafood is halal, meaning that crabs, lobsters are halal, as well as shrimps, oysters, and prawns can be declared as eatables.
Many Islamic sects have their own thoughts and opinions on the subject. In the Sunni sect, three school of thoughts – Hanbalis, Shafi’i and Maliki – out of the total four declares that these are all healthy to consume, and are certainly halal.
Is Sushi Halal?
Sushi is a Japanese inspired seafood dish made from raw fish such as salmon. It is usually prepared with rice, vegetables and a variety of other ingredients. All dead fish and dead meat from the ocean, that does not cause harm is halal, and as long as the ingredients used in preparing the sushi are also halal, then that sushi is halal for Muslims to eat.
Are All Shellfish Halal?
Shellfish are aquatic shelled fish often categorised as mollusc or crustaceans. Prawns, crabs, shrimps, lobsters and oysters are all examples of shellfish. Majority of the scholars of Islam consider all types of shellfish to be halal. So prawns, shrimp, lobsters, crabs and oysters are all permissible to eat in Islam.
With three out of the four schools of thought in Sunni Islam consider shellfish to be halal. With Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbalis all stating that all non-harmful shellfish are halal to eat, and Hanafi school of thought being the only exception, considering shellfish to be Makruh or detestable.
Is Squid, Octopus, and Calamari Halal?
Majority of the scholars of Islam consider squid, octopus, and calamari to be halal (Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali) whilst the Hanafi scholars believe that it is Makruh. Squid, calamari and octopus are good-tasting creatures of the sea, and creatures of the sea that are not harmful are halal for Muslims to consume. Octopus, squid, and calamari like all fish can be eaten without slaughtering.
Are Crocodiles and Alligators Halal?
Majority of the scholars of Islam consider crocodiles and alligators to be haram. This is because crocodiles and alligators are predators with fangs, and they spend most of their time on land rather than water. The Maliki school of thought is the only school that considers crocodiles to be halal.
Are Sea Turtles Halal?
Most scholars consider sea turtles to be halal, however some scholars put in an extra clause. They believe that slaughtering the turtle in an Islamic way would make it halal. This is because unlike fish and crab; turtles have blood flowing through their bodies and also come on land to lay their eggs.
Thus turtles having to spend some of their time on land and having blood, the rulings of land animals would apply to them. Concluding that sea turtles are halal but slaughtering them first before planning to consume them would make them permissible.
Halal Crab Recipes
For those who follow the opinion that eating crab is halal, then you might want to check out some of the delicious crab recipes below:
- Crab and Prawn Cakes
- Singaporean Chilli Crab halal
Crab and Prawn Cakes
These tasty little morsels make for a great snack during the evening, with a huge salad accompanies by your favourite drink. For this recipe you’ll need:
- 500g potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons low fat Ricotta cheese
- 125g peeled prawns
- 170g can white crabmeat, well drained
- 2 chopped spring onions
- 125g English spinach (you can use frozen spinach)
- 4 large tomatoes
- 30g wholemeal flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 75g dried whole bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
- 2 tbsp olive oil, warmed
- Cook the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes until they’re tender. Drain and return them to the pan over the heat to dry them out a little. Then mash until they’re nice and smooth. Beat in the ricotta, setting the mixture aside to cool completely.
- Pat the prawns dry with a paper towel, then chop them roughly. Mix with the crabs, chopped spring onion and some Tabasco.
- Put the spinach in a covered bowl with just the rinsing water clinging to the leaves, and pop them in the microwave for a quick spin, until they’ve wilted. Cool and squeeze dry and chop them up roughly. Mix the potato with the seafood and spinach, and let them chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees, and shape the seafood mixture into four large cakes, dipping your hands in some flour if necessary.
- Put the flour in a shallow bowl, the beaten egg in another shallow bowl and the breadcrumbs (read more whether breadcrumbs go bad) mixed with dried herbs in a third. Coat the fishcakes evenly first in flour, then in beaten egg, and finally in the crumbs.
- Halve the tomatoes and place them around the fishcakes on a baking tray, season and sprinkle with any leftover crumbs. Then brush the fishcakes with the warmed oil, then bake for 20 minutes until they are crisp and the tomatoes are soft. Let them stand for 3 to 4 minutes before devouring them.
Singaporean Chilli Crab
If you’ve visited Singapore, you must know of the iconic chilli crab halal dish. The crabs are served in a huge puddle of sweet, tangy and spicy tomato sauce which is often thickened with egg. Though the shells have been pre smashed, you’ve got to dig around, getting your fingers really messy, to suck out every bit of succulent crab halal meat you can find. And if you’ve caught yourself drooling just a bit, then here’s the recipe you’ll need:
- 8g corn starch
- 30g water
- 104ml peanut oil
- 1/2 cup minced whole shallots
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons of minced ginger
- 4 Thai chillies minced
- 2 whole crab
- 500ml homemade or store-bought chicken broth
- 66g tomato paste
- 125ml hot-sweet chilli sauce
- Salt to taste
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- Rice or steamed buns
- In a small bowl, whisk corn starch with 2 tablespoons of water and set it aside. In a large wok with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat until it starts slow dancing. Stir in the shallots, ginger, garlic, and chillies. Cook and stir for about a minute.
- Add crab pieces and broth. Increase the heat to medium high and bring it to a boil. Cover loosely and gently boil, decreasing the heat if necessary, until the crab has turned red and is nearly cooked through (6 minutes).
- Remove the cover and stir in the cut-acid tomato sauce. Simmer for 1 minute and season to taste with salt, sugar, or chilli sauce. Stir in the corn starch mixture and bring to a boil to thicken.
- Remove from the heat and whisk it with egg. Stir in green onions. Ladle into a serving dish, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
So is Crab Halal?
Muslims follow different schools of thought, and make their decision accordingly. Some scholars believe that crabs found in the sea are permissible to eat, whilst those that roam the lands are prohibited. Depending on how the scholars interpret the verse in the Quran, on what has been made lawful for Muslims to eat, many believe that all seafood are halal including octopuses, squid and more. But the conclusion relies heavily on the scholars and their beliefs, followed by those who strictly follow them.
Why Is Crab Not Halal?
Some people say that crabs are haram while others believe that they are haram. There is no Quranic verse prohibiting eating crab or requiring Muslims to abstain from eating them.
Is Crab Halal Yes or No?
Prawns, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and oysters are all examples of shellfish. Majority of the scholars of Islam consider all types of fish to be halal. So these types of seafood are halal to eat.