The permissibility of eating shark in Islam has been a subject of scholarly debate for centuries. While most seafood is considered universally halal (lawful) by Islamic jurisprudence, the status of shark has been less clear due to issues like its predatory nature and doubts around proper slaughtering.
This article will analyze the evidence and arguments from multiple perspectives on shark’s halal status. Are concerns around slaughter and sharks as predators enough to declare an outright prohibition? Or can flexibility allow conditions that enable consumption, like for other questioned foods in the Quran? By exploring the nuances, a better understanding of shark’s designation in Islam can emerge.
The debate has implications for Muslim communities across the world, especially in regions where shark is commonly eaten or fished commercially. Clarifying Islam’s stance can provide guidance to Muslim consumers and policymakers. This article aims to do a deep dive into the schools of thought and scholarly opinions on shark to determine if a consensus can be reached.
Shark’s Murky Designation in Halal Food Rules
The question of whether shark is considered halal or haram to eat in Islam has been debated among Islamic scholars and bodies. This article will examine the evidence and arguments on both sides of this issue.
Background on Halal Dietary Laws
- Halal is an Arabic word meaning “permissible” or “lawful”
- Haram is the opposite, meaning “forbidden” or “unlawful”
- Halal laws dictate what foods and drinks are allowed for Muslims
- Main requirements are:
- Blessed by Allah
- Slaughtered in prescribed method
- Not containing pork, carrion, blood, alcohol
Some key principles from the Quran on halal foods:
“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (2:168)
“Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine…” (5:3)
Overview of Shark Halal Debate
The question of whether shark is halal centers around:
- Shark’s status as a predator that eats other fish
- Ability to slaughter sharks in the prescribed method
Opinions differ between:
- Those who say shark is halal like other fish/seafood
- Those who prohibit shark for above reasons
This article will outline the evidence from both perspectives.
Arguments that Shark is Halal
Some of the key arguments in favor of shark being halal include:
Sharks are classified as fish, and fish is generally halal
- Sharks are marine animals and biologically classified as fish
- The Quran and hadiths allow consumption of all types of fish and seafood
As per one scholar’s opinion:
“All types of fish and seafood are halal to consume for Muslims according to the Shariah. This includes shark.”
Shark is not explicitly prohibited in Islamic primary sources
- The Quran and authenticated hadiths do not specifically prohibit shark
- Only precise lists of haram foods are mentioned, shark is not among them
“Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travelers…” (Quran 5:96)
Some Islamic bodies have declared shark halal in Islam
- In the UK, the Halal Food Authority declares shark permissible to eat
- They argue shark meets criteria for how fish can be slaughtered
Per their research:
“We have researched the slaughtering of sharks and consulted our Scholars. The scholars have declared shark to be Halal.”
Arguments that Shark is Haram
There are also several arguments made for considering shark to be haram (prohibited):
Sharks are predators and eat other fish
- Sharks prey on other fish and sea creatures
- Some scholars argue predators that kill to eat are haram
As stated by one authority:
“The majority of scholars say that any land predator that has canine teeth and preys on other animals is haram. Based on this, sharks are also haram since they are predators in the sea.”
Difficult to slaughter sharks in halal manner
- Halal requires slaughtering animal while invoking Allah’s name
- This is not practical for large sharks caught at sea
Per a leading halal certifier:
“Slaughtering of sharks seems impossible…Hence, it is better to avoid sharks.”
Some Islamic bodies prohibit shark
- Major bodies like Indonesia’s MUI and Singapore’s MUIS prohibit shark
- They argue doubts about proper slaughter method make it haram
As stated in one ruling:
“MUIS’ position is that sharks are considered haram because of the difficulty in slaughtering them.”
Differences in Opinion by School of Thought If Shark Is Halal Or Haram
The major Islamic schools of thought have differences in opinion on whether shark is halal:
- Traditionally considered shark haram
- Based on doubt about proper slaughter
As stated by Hanafi scholars:
“According to the Hanafi School, consumption of shark is not permissible.”
- Views shark as halal and permissible to eat
- Classifies shark as fish, which are halal
Per the Maliki position:
“Fish that lives perpetually in water like shark… is considered halal by the scholars of the Maliki madhhab.”
- Traditionally considered shark haram
- But later scholars permitted shark with conditions
As explained by a Shafi’i council:
“According to the original Shafi’i position, sharks are haram. But some contemporary Shafi’i scholars allow shark with conditions.”
- Permits eating shark in principle
- But discourages it due to doubt on method of slaughter
The Hanbali view is:
“Shark is halal but disliked, unless it is slaughtered properly, in which case it would be halal.”
FAQ – Is Shark Halal
Is Shark Halal in Islam?
Yes, shark is considered halal (permissible) to consume in Islam.
What is the ruling on consuming shark meat?
According to the Islamic dietary laws, consuming shark meat is permissible.
Is it halal or haram to eat shark?
It is halal (permissible) to eat shark according to the majority of scholars in the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali schools of Islamic law.
Is shark meat considered halal in the Hanafi school of thought?
Yes, according to the Hanafi school of thought, shark meat is considered halal and can be consumed.
What does Islamic law say about eating shark?
Islamic law permits the consumption of shark meat as it is considered a sea creature. However, it is important that the shark is slaughtered properly.
Can we eat sharks or other sea animals according to the Sunnah?
Yes, consuming sharks or other sea animals is permissible according to the Sunnah teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him).
Is it haram to eat shark meat in any of the four major Sunni schools of Islamic law?
No, it is not considered haram (forbidden) to eat shark meat in any of the four major Sunni schools of Islamic law.
Are land animals and sea animals treated differently in terms of halal and haram?
Yes, land animals and sea animals are treated differently when it comes to determining whether they are halal or haram.
Is shark meat halal in the Maliki school of Islam?
Yes, shark meat is considered halal in the Maliki school of Islam, along with the other three Sunni schools of Islamic law.
Is consuming shark meat permissible according to Islamic perspective?
Yes, consuming shark meat is permissible according to the Islamic perspective, as long as it is slaughtered according to the proper Islamic guidelines.
In conclusion, there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the debate on shark’s halal status.
On the one hand, shark has commonalities with fish which are universally halal. Some scholars permit shark for this reason, or because it is not precisely prohibited in Quranic texts.
However, the practice of eating predators like shark raises doubts for other scholars. Additionally, the inability to properly slaughter sharks makes their consumption problematic from the halal perspective.
As we have seen, opinions diverge between schools of thought and individual jurists. There does not seem to be a unanimous consensus either way.
Perhaps the strongest position is that the halal status of shark depends on the conditions. As stated by one source:
“It is permissible to eat shark, if the shark is caught alive from the water and slaughtered by a Muslim.”
Therefore, more detailed research and guidance is needed from Islamic experts, taking into account modern fishing and slaughter methods. There are solid, scholarly views on both sides of the debate. Discussion and dialogue will enable a better consensus on this issue.