Does Prawn Addiction of the Ulama Transform Haraam into Halaal?


The following question and erroneous answer is from the official website of Mufti Abdur Raheem of Darul Uloom Bury, UK:


I have heard that prawns are makrooh. Is this true?


According to the reaserch of the Shafi’ee, Maliki, and hanbali school of thought, they are halal because these three imams say that all sea animals are halal.

However, within the hanafi school of fiqh there are two opinions regarding prawns. Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi alayhi says that among the creatures that live in water, only fish is halal. This is due to the Hadeeth which uses the word سمك samak ie. Fish.

Now there is a debate within the Hanafi school as to whether prawns can be classed as fish or not.

According to many linguistic specialists prawns are a type of fish, as stated in the ‘Qamoos’ and ‘Taajul Uroos’.

Also, Allama Dameeri has written in his book ‘Hayyatul Hayawaan’

الروبيان هو سمك صغير جدا أحمر

Translation: “Prawns are very small red fish”

On this basis, many of the Hanafi Scholars have said prawns are halal.

However the modern day animal classification experts do not count prawns as a type of fish. They say the definition of fish is:

هو حيوان ذو عمود فقري يعيش في الماء و يسبح بعواماته و يتنفس بغلصمته

Translation: A fish is that creature which has a backbone, lives in water, swims with its fins and breathes through its gills.

Prawns do not come under the category of fish, because they do not have a backbone nor do they breathe through gills. So they fall under the category of insects, and would not be allowed.

Since many Ulama still regard prawns as a fish and eating them is common amongst them so eating prawns cannot be classed as haram.

However, due to the conflicting evidence, they could be classed as Makrooh. It would be better to avoid them. But, if someone does eat them, we shouldn’t say anything to them. Allah knows best.

( from Fiqhi Maqaalat- Mufti Taqi Saheb pg. 217 vol.3)


1) The one who has commented lacks understanding of the  meaning of Haraam and Makrooh, hence he speaks drivel. He should refer to the Kutub of our Fuqaha to see the hundreds of  acts which are  labelled HARAAM despite the lack of Qat’iyyat.

(2) For practical purposes and for the understanding and guidance of the masses, the two classifications – Haraam and Makrooh – are used synonymously by all the Fuqaha because the consequence of both Haraam and Makrooh is Naar-e-Jahannam (the Fire of Jahannam).

The objector by  using the term ‘makrooh’ seeks to minimize the severe consequence of the Fire of Jahannam because he lacks understanding of the meanings of Makrooh and Haraam as utilized in general by the Fuqaha. In innumerable masaa-il of prohibition, the Fuqaha use the term HARAAM as it applies practically, not in the technical sense. In the technical sense, the consequence of denial of Haraam is kufr/irtidaad.

But it is plain ignorance and stupidity to deny that HARAAM and MAKROOH in practise means the same thing.

(3) Allaamah Dameeri did not say in his kitaab: “Prawns are very small red fish.”

He said: “Ar-Roobayaan are very small red fish.” There is no basis for claiming that Ar-Roobayaan are prawns. What is the evidence for translating Ar-Roobayaan  to mean ‘prawns’?  “Very small fish” could be small sardines or any of the hundreds of species of small fish in the oceans. Translating it as  prawns is whimsical and baseless.

(4) If it is assumed – though baselessly – that Allaamah Dameeri did mean that prawns are fish, then it does not affect the Hanafi position because Allaamah Dameeri was a Shaafi’. All  sea animals are halaal for Shaafis, except the sea pig.

(5) Who are the “many linguistic specialists” according to whom prawns are fish?  This has been left ambiguous. If they  name them,  and quote their exact statements, we shall then, Insha-Allah, comment.

(6) If it is mentioned in the Qamoos and Taajul Uroos that “prawns are fish”, then we comment as follows:

*  What is the word which has been translated in English as ‘prawns’?

The two kitaabs are not English texts.  These texts do not mention the word ‘prawns’.

*  We are under no obligation to make taqleed of what Qamoos and Taajul Uroos say. We base our case on Shar’i dalaa-il.

*  Taajul Uroos and Qamoos are not  kitaabs of Fiqh. If indeed it is mentioned in these books that ‘prawns’ (the very English term, prawns) are fish, then we shall reject it as baseless. But it is quite obvious that the word, ‘prawns’ is not to be found in these books. The halaalizers of prawns are interpreting the  words to mean ‘prawns’ as they have interpreted  Allaamah Dameeri’s term of Ar-Roobayaan.

(7)  The objector says that on the basis of Qamoos and Taajul Uroos, “many of the Hanafi  Scholars have said prawns are halal.” Who are the many ‘Hanafi Scholars’? Mention their names, then we shall comment, Insha-Allah.

And, if there are ‘many’ such scholars, we do not follow them.

Furthermore, there are numerous Hanafi Ulama/Fuqaha who regard prawns to be Haraam in view of the fact that  prawns are NOT fish, and the unanimous principle of the Ahnaaf is that besides fish all sea animals are HARAAM.

(8) The objector speaking drivel, attributes  the non-fish classification of prawns to “modern day  animal classification experts”. The ruling of hurmat is not based on  the classification of “modern day experts”. Their classification is cited as a corroboratory factor. To understand what prawns are, one only requires  eyes and brains, nothing more.

(9) Innumerable Ulama of  this age  eat  carrion, indulge in riba, appear on television and  indulge in many haraam activities which they satanically halaalize. The indulgences  of many Ulama  do not constitute a basis  for halaalization. What is Haraam will remain Haraam. The indulgences of the Ulama of this era  are not any guidance for the Ummah. They have become Mudhilleen.

(10) Regardless of conflicting evidence, those who believe  something to be Haraam are fully justified to proclaim it to be Haraam. Those who claim on the basis of  Shar’i daleel that something is Haraam are entitled to  proclaim it to be Haraam. The view of the opposition does not water down their stance.  The classification of ‘makrooh’ cannot be shoved down the throats of the Ulama who say that prawns are Haraam.

(11)  Those who say that prawns are ‘makrooh’ should not resort to chicanery and tricks. They should be honest and define the meaning of ‘makrooh’ in the context of  prawn classification. What exactly do they mean by makrooh? If they say that ‘makrooh’ is permissible, then we say that they are devils. If they say what the Fuqaha say, viz. that the consequence of Makrooh is the Fire of Jahannam, then we are on the same wave-length. The difference will be merely in a misunderstanding of the meanings of the terms. But both mean the same thing.

(12)  The issue is not whether we should say or not say anything to someone who eats prawns. The simple issue is: Are prawns  permissible or not. We say that prawns are HARAAM.

[Answer by Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai (Daamat Barakatuhum)]


For a detailed refutation of all the arguments put forward by prawn-addicted Ulama in favour of prawn addiction see the following link:

Prawns – Halaal or Haraam?

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