As Salaam Alaikum,
I will like to get some clarification regarding the people of the book. Are we, as Muslim, allowed to consume their meats? Also, is it permissible for Muslim men to Marry women from the people of the book’.
As Salaam Alaikum,
The meats slaughtered by the People of the Book would only be permissible if they uttered the name of Allah (God) at the time of slaughtering. If this did not take place, then it would not be permissible to eat.
With respect to the verse of the Quran which states:
“And the food of the People of the Book is lawful for you” (Surah Al M’aidah Verse 5), the scholars have stated that the reason for this allowance is that the People of the Book were also ordered to slaughter in the name of Allah (God). Although, many of their teachings were changed, they continued to practise upon this teaching at the time of the Prophet (S.A.S.). As such, since they conformed to the law, which also came in the Holy Quran, the Muslims were allowed to partake of their slaughtered animals. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer Volume 2 Page 436 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi Beirut 2013)
While writing on this, the great scholar Shaikh Muhammad Idris Al Kandhlawi writes, “The slaughtered meats of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) are Halal (permissible) for the Muslims when three conditions are fulfilled.The first condition is that the animal is not from among those which have been made Haram for Muslims in the Quran and the Sunnah, like that of the swine etc. The second condition is that at the time of slaughter, the name of Allah (God) must be said. Any other name besides this, must not be uttered. This is in conformity to the original belief of the People of the Book, that it is not permissible to slaughter an animal calling a name besides the name of Allah (God). On account of this original belief, Allah granted permission to the Muslims to eat from the slaughtered meats of the People of the Book on the condition that they call the name of Allah (God), and must not intend to honour and glorify another being.
Ali (R.A.), Abdullah Bin Umar (R.A.), Aisha (R.A.) and other Sahabahs (companions of the Prophet (S.A.S) and Tabi’een have stated that the animals of the People of the Book which are Halal for Muslims are those on which the name of Allah (God) has been recited at the time of slaughter. If the name of the Messiah, Jesus, Isa or Ezra have been uttered, the animals will not be Halal.
Allah has prohibited the Muslims from eating such animals and said, “And do not eat from that which the name of Allah (God) has not been mentioned upon it. Certainly this is transgression.”
‘Allah also stated “Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion and blood and swine, and that which has been dedicated unto any being other than Allah” (Surah Ma’idah Verse 3).’
‘As such, animals on which the name of Jesus or Ezra have been mentioned while slaughtering will fall into the category of that which has been dedicated unto another being other than Allah and this is Haram.’
‘Thus, only such slaughtered animals (meats) of the People of the Book will be considered as Halal which conforms to the teachings of their original and true religious laws (as given in their Shariah). As for that which they do in accordance to the new beliefs and practices which have been changed from the original laws, these shall not be considered as Halal.’
‘This is the position and the Madhab of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad and Imam Zufar (Ahkam Al Quran – Al Jasas). This is the most correct and preferred ruling in this matter.’
‘The third condition for the meat of the People of the Book to be Halal for Muslims is that a Christian or Jew must not be an apostate. That is, the Christian or Jew must not be a person who was once a Muslim and then left Islam to accept Christianity or Judaism. Such a person is considered to be an apostate and not one from the People of the Book. Therefore, if the People of the Book do not mention the name of Allah (God), or they mention the name of Jesus or the Holy Ghost, or they mention the name of ‘the son of God’ while slaughtering, then these animals (meats) will not be permissible for Muslims to consume.’ (Ma’ariful Quran by Shaikh Hafiz Allama Muhammad Idrees Kandhlawi – Maktab Al Maa’rif Sindh Pakistan 1433 AH.)
With respect to the modern day Christians, it is observed that most of them are not aware of their own law which states that they must mention the name of God while slaughtering their animals. Hence, they do not do it. As such, Muslims cannot eat from their meats. Besides this, it is seen that most of them purchase over-the- counter meats which are slaughtered by all different types of people. They are not normally concerned about who slaughters the animals / poultry or where it comes from. Once it is healthy / okay to consume, they purchase these meats. They are normally not bothered about fulfilling any law whatsoever, which has been given in their scriptures. Therefore, most of them do not follow / adhere to the dictates of their revealed laws of Christianity regarding Halal and Haram. As such, Muslims must not become negligent in this matter and go about consuming the meats of the People of the Book thinking that the name of Allah (God) was mentioned at the time of slaughter.
Indicating to this prohibition, the great scholar Qadhi Muhammad Thana’ullah (A.R.) writes, “And the most sound and preferred view is that animals slaughtered by the People of the Book on which the recitation of the name of Allah (God) has been left out intentionally, or they have been slaughtered in a name other than that of Allah (God), are not lawful – when it is certain that the name of Allah (God) was not recited upon them, or a name other than that of Allah was taken, or this becomes the common habit of the People of the Book.” (Tafseer Mazhari Volume 3 page 253 Darul Ishaat Karachi Pakistan 2010).
With respect to marrying a woman from the people of the book (Jew or Christian), the Holy Quran has given an allowance for this and stated “This day (all) good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the scripture is lawful for you and your foods is lawful for them. And (lawful in marriage are) chaste woman from among the believers and chaste woman from among those who were given the scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation desiring chastity, not lawful sexual intercourse or taking (secret) lovers. And whoever denies the faith – his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.” (Surah Ma’idah verse 5).
While explaining the above, scholars have mentioned that an allowance has been given to marry women of the People of the Book since their religion is based on the concept of the Oneness of Allah and the other beliefs which are given in Islam. Of all the religious paths that are followed, the People of the Book are closest to Islam on account of their fundamental beliefs of Tawheed (Oneness to Allah), Prophethood and the Day of Judgement. Their only difference with Islam is with respect to their non-acceptance of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.). It is thus expected that if a Muslim man gets married to a woman of the ‘people of the Book’, then he will teach her the true and beautiful teachings of Islam which will then bring her to the fold of Islam.
The purpose of this allowance is not to encourage such marriages where Muslim men will forsake Muslim women and go after Christian or Jewish women for marriage. It is only an allowance which has been granted in order to remove difficulties or hardships which may arise at different times and places. A situation may arise where Muslim men (born Muslim or new converts) may find themselves living in a city, country or territory where it is difficult to find Muslim women (living there) to marry. In cases like these, by being allowed to marry Christian / Jewish women, they can save themselves from falling into sin, and still continue to live as Muslims with their families. Thus, in giving such allowances, Allah has made Islam a religion of ease which can be practised at all times and all places.
It must be understood however, that ‘People of the Book’ mentioned in the verse refers to Christians and Jewish women who are chaste and follow their religious teachings of their scriptures. Their beliefs and practices must conform to the laws of their religion and they must not be Christians or Jews in name only, as seen today. Many Christian / Jewish women today do not follow their religious teachings as given in their revealed scriptures and taught by their respective Prophets, Jesus / Moses. In matters of beliefs, they are liberal and at times secular. As for their practices, these are simply based on the culture of the day which lack the moral values expounded in the Gospel and Torah. As stated by Islamic scholars, women of such background are not lawful for Muslim men to marry.
It is an account of such drastic changes which have come about in the teachings and practices of the people of the book, that Companions like Abdullah bin Umar (R.A.) and others held the position that it was not permissible to marry their Christian or Jewish women. When asked about this opinion, Abdullah bin Umar (R.A.) said, ‘Certainly Allah has made the polytheists women Haram for Muslims, and I do not know of any shirk more grave than a woman should say that her Lord and God is Jesus the son of Mary.’ (Ahkam Al Quran by Abu Bakr Al Jasas. Suhail academy Lahore Pakistan.)
Not with standing this view of Abdullah bin Umar (R.A.), the view of the majority of Sahabahs and Tabi’een is that marriage with Christian or Jewish women is lawful as it is mentioned in the Holy Quran. However, one must be careful in entering such marriages since it may be a cause of disruption and disorder in one’s religion, children and family life.
It was on account of the problems which could come about in such marriages that the Khalifah, Umar bin Khatab (R.A.) detested such marriages with the women of the People of the Book, and asked Muslims not to enter such marriages. In fact, it is narrated that when Umar (R.A.) found out that the companion Huzaifah (R.A.) got married to a Jewish woman, he wrote a letter to him asking him to divorce her. Huzaifah wrote to him saying, ‘O Commander of the faithful! Is she unlawful for me?’ Umar (R.A.) responded by saying, ‘I am not saying that she in unlawful, but women from these people do not generally have chastity. Therefore, I fear lest immodesty finds entry into your homes through this channel.’ (Ahkam Al Quran – Jasas – Maariful Quran Volume 3, page 81 Farid Book Depot).
It is also narrated that Umar (R.A.) wrote another letter to Huzaifah (R.A.) saying, ‘I hereby put you on oath that you would, before you put down this letter from your hands, divorce and release her, because I fear other Muslims start following you and begin choosing women from amongst the People of the Book because of their beauty (bypassing Muslim women in the process). What greater trial there could be for Muslim women.’ (Kitabul Athaar – Ma’ariful Quran Volume 3 page 81 – Farid book depot).
A similar event also occurred with two other companions who got married to women from the People of the Book. When Umar (R.A.) heard about this, he became very angry and displeased with them for what they did. Upon this, the companions divorced these women. (Fathul Qadeer – Ibn Al Humam – Tafseer Mazhari Volume 3 Page 255 Darul Ishaat Karachi 2010).
The action of Umar (R.A.) was on account of the harms and problems which could possibly come about in such marriages. It is for this reason that although scholars have stated that such marriages are lawful, they have unanimously agreed that it is Makrooh (reprehensible). (Tafseer Mazhari Volume 3 page 255.)
Scholars have further explained this matter and stated that the allowance to marry a Christian woman is only given when she does not say that Jesus is God. If she has the belief in the divinity of Jesus, marriage with her will not be permissible. (Mustasfa). It is further written by the scholars that if Christians say that Jesus is God, then it will not be permissible to eat their slaughtered meats, and it will not be Halal to marry their women, since they will be considered polytheists (Musrik). Scholars have held this as their official verdict (Fatawa). (Tafseer Mazhari Volume 3 page 256.)
Having given varying opinions on this issue (of marriage with Christian / Jewish women), the great Mufasir, Qadhi Muhammad Thana’ullah (A.R) writes. ‘It is abundantly clear from the verse of Quran that the phrase ‘People of the Book’, refers to those who are believers in Tawheed (Oneness of Allah) and not those who associate partners with Allah (Mushrik). The reason for this is that Allah has clearly prohibited marriage with polytheist women by saying ‘do not marry the polytheist women until they believe’, and there is no difference between the shirk committed by an idolater and the shirk committed by a Christian (who joins partners with Allah and says that Jesus is God / Lord or the son of God and then worships Jesus instead of Allah.) (Tafseer Mazhari Volume 3 page 256, Darul Ishaat 2010).
The above statement makes it clear that marriage with Christian women will only be allowed when they believe in Allah (God) as the only One God, and do not associate partners with Him. Those who believe in Trinity and believe that Jesus is the son of Allah or a reincarnation of Allah, are not from among those who believe in Tawheed (Oneness of Allah), and as such, marriage will not be permissible with them.
Besides the above explanation, it is important for Muslims of today to recognise the great harms and dangers that come about on account of contracting a marriage with a modern Christian woman who holds on to the beliefs of Trinity and divinity of Jesus.
When a Muslim man marries a Christian woman, then he has no choice except to compromise in his religion and beliefs. As a Muslim who firmly believes in One God, Allah, he must now allow his wife to commit shirk with Allah. When he worships the True One God, he must allow his wife to worship a human being, Jesus.
His entire life will be filled with compromising his true beliefs and practises as a follower of the only true religion. Besides this, when it comes to children, then he, as a Muslim father, has to compromise further, in order to maintain peace and goodness with his Christian wife. He has to allow his children to go to church and learn the beliefs and practices of Christianity. It is to be noted that children are normally closer to their mother and are attached to her. Without being influenced, the children will naturally adopt the ways and practices of the Christian mother. This mean, that the children of a Muslim man may grow up to be Christians, instead of Muslims.
These, and many other harms are witnessed in many mixed marriages of this type. As such, while some Muslim men may be inclined to go in this direction, They must give careful thought and consideration to who are truly ‘the people of the book’. As mentioned by the Islamic scholars, a Christian woman who believes in the Trinity, and worships Jesus as a god, is a Mushrik who is committing shirk with Allah.
And Allah Knows best
Mufti Waseem Khan