Q&A (Fatwa)

#360: Ruling regarding Eating Snails


“Can one eat a dead snail? How is a snail suppose to be killed islamically? Is it ok to boil?”



A sea snail is among the water animals that has no blood and therefore does not need slaughtering or killing.

This is the Maaliki position while majority of the madhaahib are of the view that eating snails is haram whether caught alive or dead.

Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al- Majmu’ (9/16):

“The view of the scholars concerning land insects … our view is that it is haraam. This was the view of Abu Haneefah, Ahmad and Dawood. Maalik said: it is halaal.”

Ibn Hazm (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

“It is not permissible to eat land snails or any other “insects and vermin”, such as geckos, cockroaches, ants, bees, flies, wasps, worms, lice, fleas, bedbugs, mosquitoes or anything else of that type, because Allaah says:

“Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al‑Maitah (the dead animals)” and “unless you are able to slaughter it (before its death)” [al-Maa’idah 5:3].

And there is sound proof that slaughter can only be done in the neck or upper chest, so if it is not possible to slaughter it, then there is no way one can eat it unless it is dead i.e., not slaughtered properly, so it is haraam”.
Al-Muhalla (6/76, 77)

In Imaam Sahnun’s ‘al-Mudawwanah’ (1/542) it says:

“Maalik was asked about something in the Maghreb (North Africa) which is called a snail, that is found in the desert on the trees – can it be eaten? He said: I think it is like the locust. If it is taken alive and boiled or roasted, I do not think there is anything wrong with eating it, but if it is found dead, it should not be eaten.”

In ‘al-Muntaqa Sharh al- Muwatta’ (3/110) by Abu’l-Waleed al- Baaji (may Allaah have mercy on him) it says:

“If that is proven, then the ruling on snails is the same as the ruling on locusts. Maalik said its slaughtering is by boiling or being pierced with a stick or needle until it dies, and the name of Allaah should be mentioned whilst doing so, as it is mentioned when cutting off the heads of locusts.”

So, if you understand what has preceded, snails are of two types: land and sea snails

There is consensus on the permissibility of eating sea snail either when found alive or not.

As for land snails, Maalik opined to its permissibility.

Others opined to impermissibility due to their qiyaas with insects which are haraam to eat.

In any ways, Maalik’s fatwah is the most sound.

And as long as they were caught alive, it doesn’t matter how they were killed, what matters is to take them, alive.

Allāhu A’alam!

Bārakallāhu Fīkum
Jazākumullāhu Khayran.

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