Is it permissible to eat eels (Hindi/Urdu: baam)? Some people say that it is not permissible to eat them because they live in burrows in sand or mud in the oceans or streams/rivers.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Eels are a type of fish. It is permissible to eat eels just like it is permissible to eat all other types of fish. This is clearly and explicitly mentioned in the books of Fiqh (Jurisprudence). For example, it is mentioned in Hidaaya, an authentic Fiqh book which is part of the curriculum in many madrasas around the world:
ولا بأس بأكل الجرّيث والمارماهي وأنواع السمك والجراد بلا ذكاة
(الهداية: 7/ 152، كتاب الذبـائح، فصل ما يحل أكله وما لا يحل، مكتبة البشرى )
It is permissible to eat Jirreeth (a type of fish) and eels (Arabic: Maarmaahi) and all (other) types of fish as well as locusts without slaughtering them. (Hidaaya: 7/152)
In the commentary of the passage above, the word "Maarmaahi" (Arabic word for eel) is explained thus:
والمارماهي السمكة التي تكون في صورة الحية
( البناية: 14/ 337، المكتبة الحقانية )
And "Maarmaahi" is a type fish that is in the form of a snake. (Binaaya: 14/337)
In Ahsanul Hidaaya, the Urdu commentary of Hidaaya, the word "Maarmaahi" is translated as "Baam", which is the Urdu and Hindi word for an eel. Below is a scanned image of the relevant sections of the passage from Ahsanul Hidaaya (13/287-288)*
As for eels living in burrows in sand or mud in the waters of oceans and rivers, that is no reason for declaring them to be haram. Many other types of fish also live in burrows of sand and mud; and it is known that all types of fish are halal.
In short, it is undoubtedly permissible to eat eels.
(ولا) يحل (حيوان مائي إلا السمك) ... (و) إلا (الجريث) سمك أسود (والمارماهي) سمك في صورة الحية ( الدر المختار: 6/ 306-307، سعيد )
And Allah knows best
* Below is a scanned image of the entire passage:
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