The Muslim diet is a thing of beauty as it relates to what is permissible, or halal, and what is forbidden, or haram. It is very clear, allowing for quick answers to questions, and the reasoning behind why certain items are allowed and others aren’t. But, do Muslims eat shrimp? And can they eat seafood in general?
Most seafood, and shrimp specifically, is halal and safe to eat. As long as the seafood in question is obtained from the sea and isn’t harmful (e.g., venomous or highly allergic) the dish is generally accepted. With shrimp specifically, the decision on permissibility depends on the school of Islam the person belongs to, and how the animal is presented before eating, such as with its head and tail on or without.
It’s worth noting how broad this question is though. There are roughly 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, and not all of them practice Islam. You likely know many people who grew up in a Christian household who no longer practice on their own. There are plenty of Muslims who have done the same. As such, we will answer this question through the lens of a Muslim who practices Islam.
We cover the following items in this post:
- Do Muslims Eat Seafood?
- Can Muslims Eat Shrimp?
- An Overview of The Muslim Diet
- Final Thoughts: Do Muslims Eat Shrimp?
Do Muslims Eat Seafood?
Muslims can eat seafood, and many do!
In general, seafood is halal, meaning it is permissible for consumption by those who practice Islam. Many believe that any seafood that has scales and was alive when captured is halal and can be eaten.
For instance, Indonesia has over 230 million Muslims – the largest concentration of Muslims in the world in one country. Being an island country, seafood is ubiquitous in Indonesia, with many popular seafood dishes. With the prevalence of seafood in Indonesia, it’s safe to assume Muslims in that territory eat seafood in their everyday lives, especially as we know it is allowed within the schools of Islam.
However, if the fish or shellfish was dead prior to being slaughtered in accordance with the Quran, it is considered haram, or “forbidden”, and shouldn’t be consumed.
Can Muslims Eat Shrimp?
Yes. Shrimp is considered halal, and it is permissible for consumption by Muslims.
It’s a fair question to ask though, as shrimp can confuse many on where it falls in the classification of seafood. However, Islamic scholars consider shellfish, specifically shrimp, to be permissible for consumption.
Depending on your school of thought, there are differing regulations for eating shrimp in Islam. We’ve broken them down below, using the three largest denominations in Islam:
- Sunni Islam or Sunnism believes shrimp is halal when consumed in all forms.
- Shia Islam or Shi’ism believes shrimp can only be eaten alive or cooked.
- Ibadi Islam or Ibadism believes shrimp can be eaten as long as they were slaughtered and handled in alignment with the rules of the Quran.
Overall, three out of four schools of Sunni Islam allow shrimp to be eaten, along with all kinds of shellfish such as prawns, lobsters, oysters, and crabs. Most scholars claim that since permissible fish comes from the sea, so does shrimp. Depending on which school of thought you follow there may be a few restrictions on eating shrimp.
- The Maliki school expresses that shrimp are allowed to eat as long as you don’t eat its head since it is considered a part of the body.
- The Hanafi school also says shrimp is allowed, but with a slight difference that has to do with large shrimp and shrimp that are pulled out of the shell; they are not permitted due to believing it would be eating what was killed.
- The Hanbali school says shrimp can be eaten only if the head and tail are intact.
- The Shia school of thought claims shrimp can be consumed alive or cooked only.
- Lastly, the Sunni schools allow one to eat shrimp in all ways one desires.
There are different guidelines depending on the school of thought, but in essence, almost all allow shrimp to be eaten as long as it’s alive or cooked — enjoying its sweet and salty flavor. Keep reading to learn more about the Muslim diet and what items are considered permitted for consumption and which ones must be avoided.
An Overview of The Muslim Diet
Muslims come from different backgrounds and enjoy a wide variety of food, all according to specific practices and regulations based on their denomination within Islam. This section is specific to those Muslims who practice Islam, as we recognize many throughout the world do not.
Muslims only consume halal food and won’t eat or drink anything that is forbidden. There are certain animals such as lamb, chicken, beef, and goat that are halal as long as Allah’s name is invoked when the animal is going to be killed, after which Muslims will offer a prayer. Fish and eggs are also halal.
Any type of alcohol along with all products that come from pork, blood, and carrion are forbidden. Muslims typically buy meat from a Muslim butcher to comply with their religious requirements. It is very common that Muslims that are away from home and can’t be sure their food is 100% halal will switch to a vegetarian diet to keep following their dietary restrictions.
Apart from what they can eat daily, there’s a period of the year in which all Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan. During this time, they won’t drink or eat between dawn and sunset. There are exceptions for those sick, very old, infirm, those menstruating while breastfeeding, for 40 days after giving birth, and for those during a long journey where fast is not needed. Those exempt from fasting can still choose to do so and should be respected at such times.
Yes. Muslims eat shrimp as long as it’s alive or cooked depending on their preferred school of thought. If there is any doubt about how the shrimp were slaughtered and how they will be served, you can ask the chef to clarify those details to ensure the shrimp are halal.
Seafood is halal since it is from the sea and everything unharmful that comes from the ocean can be eaten (with the exception of poisonous fish and plants that can cause an allergic reaction). Seaweed is a great addition to many seafood dishes.
The thing that can spark doubt with seafood has to do with the trustability of the vendor. Unless you can catch the fish or other seafood species yourself, they are usually sold far from their origin point, and some additives and ingredients that are haram can be used.
Processed seafood should have a halal certificate that complies with all regulations and religious requirements, and if not, you should keep looking for other options that are permitted to be eaten.
Is Shrimp Allowed In Islam?
Yes, it is. There are varying rules on how the shrimp must be prepared, depending on your school or denomination of Islam. But they all allow shrimp in one way or another.
Is All Shrimp Halal?
No. The answer to this depends on what school of Islam is being discussed. See “Can Muslims Eat Shrimp?” above for a more in-depth breakdown of what requirements need to be met.
Is Shrimp and Prawn Halal?
Yes. Prawns and shrimp are both very similar, being their decapods and scavengers. The rules that apply to shrimp also apply to prawns.