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Assalamualaikum wbt. What is the ruling of eating mud crabs (ketam nipah)?



Waalaikumussalam wbt. Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Allah SWT states in the Quran:

وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ

“And makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil.”

Surah al-A’raf (157)

Allah SWT states:

كُلُوا مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ

“Eat from the good things with which We have provided you.”

Surah al-Baqarah (57)

An Islamic legal maxim states:

الْأَصْلُ فِي الْأَشْيَاءِ الْإِبَاحَةُ حَتَّى يَدُلُّ الدَّلِيلُ عَلَى التَّحْرِيمِ

“An original ruling for something is permissible until there is an evidence of its prohibition.”

Refer al-Suyuti dalam al-Asybah wa al-Nazair (1/60)

There are several principles in syarak in determining the permissibility or prohibition for food and drinks in Islam:

  • Prohibition through evidence (Quranic or prophetic evidence). For example, the prohibition of swine. Allah SWT states:

إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ ? فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

Surah al-Baqarah (173)

  • Prohibition in accordance with evidences that specifies certain criteria. From Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma:

نَهَى رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنْ كُلِّ ذِي نَابٍ مِنَ السِّبَاعِ، وَعَنْ كُلِّ ذِي مِخْلَبٍ مِنَ الطَّيْرِ

“Allah's Messenger () prohibited the eating of all fanged beasts of prey, and all the birds having talons.”

Sahih Muslim (1934)

The examples of such animals are lion and eagle.

Another type of animals which are specified as permissible animals to be eaten in the Prophet PBUH’s hadith are ma’a animals (animals that live in water), in bahr (ocean/sea) or nahra (river). The prophet PBUH said:

هُوَ الطَّهُورُ مَاؤُهُ، الحِلُّ مَيْتَتُهُ

“Its water is purifying and its dead (animals) are lawful (to eat).”

Sunan al-Tirmidzi (68)

As for animals which are known as barm (animals who live both on land and in water), such as frogs and crocodile, Syafie’ scholars ruled them as prohibited animals for us to consume.

  • Prohibition for poisonous or harmful nature of the animal. For example, snakes and scorpions. Allah SWT states:

وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ

“And do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining].”

Surah al-Baqarah (195)

  • Prohibition for it is considered as mustakhbithah ‘inda al-‘Arab (considered as disgusting according to the custom of the Arabs). For example, crows and mouse.

As for mud crabs, they are usually found in estuaries or mangrove and live in water though they can survive without water for a short amount of time. Hence, it is permissible to eat mud crabs following the ruling of animals that live in water.