ash-Shawkani on the Food of the People of the Book
May 12, 2012 24 Comments
His statement, «The food of those given the book is unbound for you» (5:5), “food” is the name for what is eaten and from it are the slaughtered animals. Most of the people of knowledge opined narrowing it down to the slaughtered animals. In this verse is an evidence for all the food of the People of the Book, without a difference between the meat and other than it, [being] lawful for Muslims, even if they did not mention Allah’s name upon their slaughtered animals and this verse being a restriction to the generality of His statement, «and do not eat from what Allah’s name was not mentioned upon» (6:121). The obvious [meaning] of this is that the slaughtered animals of the People of the Book is lawful, even if a Jew mentions the name of ‘Uzair (Ezra) upon his slaughtered animal and a Christian mentions the name of the Messiah (Jesus) upon his slaughtered animal; this was opined by Abud-Dardâ’, ‘Ubâdah bin as–Sâmit, Ibn ‘Abbâs, az-Zuhrî, Rabî’ah, ash-Sha’bî, and Mak·hūl. ‘Alî, ‘A’ishah, and Ibn ‘Umar said, “If you heard the kitâbî (i.e., the Jew or Christian) naming other than Allah, then do not eat,” and it is [also] the saying of Tâwus and al-Hasan, and they held to His statement, exalted is He, «and do not eat from what Allah’s name was not mentioned upon» (6:121). It is also indicated by His statement, «and what is offered [as sacrifice] to other than Allah» (16:115). Mâlik said, “It is surely detested, and not forbidden.” This difference is if we knew that the People of the Book mentioned the name of other than Allah upon their slaughtered animals. As for with the lack of knowledge, then at–Tabarî and Ibn Kathîr had related the concensus on its unbinding due to this verse, and due to what was mentioned in the Sunnah of his (i.e., the Prophet’s) eating the roast lamb that was given to him [as a gift] by the Jewish woman; it is also in the Sahîh, and likewise the bag of suet that some of the Companions took from Khaibar, and the Prophet, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, knew of that; it is also in the Sahîh, and other than that.
The intent of the People of the Book here is the Jews and the Christians. As for the Magians, then the general collective opined that their slaughtered animals are not eaten, nor are their women married, because they are not the People of the Book according to the reknowned [view] with the people of knowledge. Abu Thawr differed in that and the jurists rebuked him for that, such that Ahmad bin Hanbal said, “Abu Thawr is like his name,” i.e., in this issue (Abu Thawr means father of the ox). It was as if he clung to what is narrated from the Prophet, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, in mursal form, that he said, «Establish the tradition of the People of the Book with them,» and it is not established with this expression. On the assumption that it has an origin, then it has an addition [that] disproves what he (i.e,. Abu Thawr) said, and it is his statement, «not those who eat their slaughtered animals, nor those who marry their women.» A group from those who have no experience in the science of hadith from the exegetes and the jurists; the origin is not established, nor is the addition. Rather, what is established in the Sahîh is that the Prophet, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, took the jizyah from the Magians of Hajar. As for the sons of Taghlib, then ‘Alî bin Abî Tâlib used to prohibit from their slaughtered animals because they were Arab and he used to say, “Surely, they do not hold to anything from Christianity other than the drinking of wine.” And likewise the rest of the Christianized Arabs like Tanūkh, Judhâm, Lakhm, ‘Âmilah, and whoever resembled them. Ibn Kathîr said it is the saying of several from the Predecessors and the successors. It was narrated from Sa’îd bin al-Musayyab and al-Hasan al-Basrî that they both did not see any harm in the slaughtered animals of the Christians of the sons of Taghlib. al-Qurtubî said the general collective of the [Muslim] nation said surely the slaughtered animal of every Christian is lawful, whether he was from the sons of Taghlib or from other than them. Likewise the Jew. He said there is no difference among the scholars that whatever is not in need of slaughtering like food (e.g., fruit), its eating is permissible.
Source: ash-Shawkânî, Muhammad bin ‘Alî bin Muhammad. Fat·h al-Qadîr al-Jâmi’ bain Fanay ar-Riwâyah wad-Dirâyah min ‘Ilm at-Tafsîr. Mansurah, Egypt: Dar al-Wafâ’. vol. 2, pg. 21-22.