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Is the Basa fish halal?

Question:

What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding the Basa fish? Are they halal to eat?

Answer:

All fish are permissible to eat and are considered halal. It has been mentioned in the Qur’an: “Catching fish from the sea and eating it are made lawful for your benefit and for the traveller. (Al-Ma’idah: 96)

The Qur’an has described clearly that all fish from sea are lawful for us to eat. The Basa fish will also come under this ruling and is lawful for consumption, if there is no negative health impact as we will discuss. There are several narrations from the beloved Prophet ﷺ and the companions which talk about the permissibility of eating fish.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said concerning the sea: “Its water is a means of purification, and its ‘dead meat’ is permissible.” (Bukhari) Sayyiduna Umar said: Its “game” is that which is hunted and caught, and its “food” is that which it casts up (onto the shore). Sayyiduna Abu Bakr said: That which floats is halal. Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas said: Its “food” is its “dead meat” (that which dies without being slaughtered in the prescribed manner), except that which has started to rot.

It is important to note that the Basa fish is usually farmed in polluted waters and this in turn can have a negative effect on a person’s health. Two conditions have been mentioned in Al-Fiqh al-Islam:

  1. When flowing water has impurities which affect the fish such that the taste, smell, or colour of its meat changes. Then the most correct opinion is that it is disliked (makruh) to eat the fish until it has been transferred into a clean water source and the effects of the impurities have been removed from it. The Prophet ﷺ prohibited eating the animal which feeds on filth. (Abu Dawud)

    It has been mentioned in ‘Mughni al-Muhtaj sharh al-Minhaj’: If the meat of grazing livestock or other animals such as a chicken has changed (due to eating filth), even if it is a small amount, it will be impermissible to eat it. Imam Ahmad declared that such meat is now considered impure, and it will be correct prohibit the eating of its meat, drinking of its milk, and using it as a ride as has been mentioned in the narration of Abu Dawud and others.

    Imam Nawwawi mentions that the soundest opinion is that such meat is makruh. As the prohibition is based on the change in the meat, and such a change does not oblige it to be haram. As is the case in meat which smells bad, the correct opinion is that it is makruh to eat it.

  1. If the polluted water has no affect on the fish, then there is no harm in eating it. As the default ruling is permissibility in consuming the fish. However, this is on condition that it does not present harm to the health of a person. Scientific studies have warned of the health hazards linked to contaminated fish, due to the parasites and bacteria they carry which can harm a person. The Prophet ﷺ said, there should be no harm nor reciprocating harm.

And Allah ﷻ knows the best

Signed on behalf of BFC

Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari

Dr. Hafiz M. Munir Al-Azhari