ash-Shawkani on the Food of the People of the Book

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 asSâmit, 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 atTabarî 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.


About Rasheed Gonzales
My name is Rasheed Gonzales. I’m a Muslim convert of Filipino descent. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I was guided to Islam through one of my younger brothers and a couple of friends, all of whom had converted to Islam sometime before me (may Allah reward them greatly). I am married with four children (and the praise is Allah’s) and also a volunteer for the Qur'an & Sunnah Society of Canada, based in Toronto.

24 Responses to ash-Shawkani on the Food of the People of the Book

  1. Authentic Abu Musa says:

    Asalamalaikum akhee,

    Do the People of the Book, now a days, mention the name of their respective God when slaughtering? Or should we be concerned with that? Also, do the conditions of slaughtering also apply to the People of the Book’s method of slaughter, i.e. taser, electrocution, throwing in ditches, etc.

    I am wondering whether this was concerning the People of the Book in or near the Muslim lands (back in the days), where they had some similar traditions or if it can be applied to the current situation where a lot has changed.

    Personally I feel doubtful and uncomfortable eating from anywhere where they owner does not state it is halal. Once he states that it is halal, the burden is on him.

  2. Wa ‘alaikum as-salam wa rahmatullah,

    May Allah reward and bless you for your comment and questions.

    Do the People of the Book, now a days, mention the name of their respective God when slaughtering? Or should we be concerned with that?

    Allah is more knowledgeable regarding that. To the best of my knowledge, probably only the Jews name Allah’s name at the time of slaughter according to Kosher laws, which are a lot stricter than ours. The Christians likely say nothing.

    As for whether you should be concerned with that or not, it all depends on your view regarding naming Allah’s name at the time of slaughtering the animal (i.e., whether it’s a condition for validity; obligatory, but ok if forgotten; merely desired or recommended). I’ve translated what Imam Ibn Kathir says regarding this matter and posted it here to my blog. I also have written an article titled, Is It Really Being Careless? that you may find of interest as well.

    Also, do the conditions of slaughtering also apply to the People of the Book’s method of slaughter, i.e. taser, electrocution, throwing in ditches, etc.

    From what I know, for the animal to be lawful for us, it must be slaughtered by having its juglar veins and throat cut and thus killed in that manner; if the animal dies before it is slaughtered in this manner, it is considered carrion and is forbidden to us for eating. Laws will vary from country to country and even province to province, or state to state in the US, as to what methods are allowed and not allowed to be used to slaughter animals. From what I’ve been told (and this could be wrong), in Ontario (where I live), by law, the methods you listed (tazer, electro-shock, etc.) are only allowed to be used as a means to stun or render the animal unconscious, allowing the slaughterer to cut the throat and veins. Other places may have other laws that are stricter or looser than this, so Allah is more knowledgeable.

    I am wondering whether this was concerning the People of the Book in or near the Muslim lands (back in the days), where they had some similar traditions or if it can be applied to the current situation where a lot has changed.

    As far as I know this ruling concerning the meat of the People of the Book is applicable for all times and places and there are several fatwas given by prominent contemporary scholars (e.g., Ibn Baz, Ibn Uthaimin, etc.) that say the same. There are others like Shaikhs Ahmad Shakir and Abdullah Azzam who prohibit it for various reasons (Ahmad Shakir uses the same justification that Ali bin Abi Talib did in what was mentioned by Imam ash-Shawkani in the post, not sure what Abdullah Azzam says specifically).

    Personally I feel doubtful and uncomfortable eating from anywhere where they owner does not state it is halal. Once he states that it is halal, the burden is on him.

    To stay away from things that make you doubt is a recommended and praiseworthy action, so if you feel that it is better for you to avoid their food out of piety or due to doubt surrounding it’s legality, then that is good and better for you.

    The only issue I have with those who do not accept this ruling is their need to declare it forbidden, despite the Qur’anic injunctions and the scholarly fatwas allowing it. Many times, those who say the food of the People of the Book is forbidden use arguments that are either invalid (and even ridiculous, e.g., machine vs. hand slaughter) or that fall into areas of deliberation and have clear differences of opinion with scholarly precedent to back each side of the dispute.

  3. Authentic Abu Musa says:

    Jazakallahu Khair for the clear and concise reply. I agree with you on all the points.

    Barakallahu feek!

  4. Wa iyyakum, bro. Wa fikum barak Allah.

  5. Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî says:

    I was pondering an issue today related to this topic. I wonder what is the status of the meat of the extremist Shî`a for those, like myself, who consider them, both layman and scholar alike, to be outside the fold of Islâm. Is their meat completely forbidden or could it be made analogous to the meat of the People of the Scripture and therefore permissible.

  6. That’s a good question. Many of the brothers I know who hold the same opinion (and even those who say their laymen are still Muslims, contrary to their scholars and learned men being disbelievers) avoid their meat completely. I vaguely remember Shaikh Ali Hasan being asked about Shi’ah meat, but I don’t remember what his answer was.

    Another interesting question related to yours would be regarding sects of Muslims whose beliefs take them out of the fold of Islam in general. Are they still considered to be among the 73 Islamic sects or not. I would figure that if they are, then the meat from their slaughtered animals should be lawful for us, at least, that’s what logic would seem to dictate for me. But in the end, Allah is more knowledgeable. Perhaps we can try to ask a shaikh the next time we have one visit to give lectures, Allah willing.

  7. Yusuf says:

    No time to translate, but this is from الذبائح واللحوم المستوردة by Sh Abdullah Azzam (rahimahullah):

    أما الدول النصرانية الغربية فتحرم ذبائحها لأسباب:
    1- وجود نسبة غير قليلة {لا تقل عن الثلث} لا تؤمن بدين مطلقا فهؤلاء لا تحل ذبائحهم وهم مختلطون بغيرهم،فالوجودي والشيوعي، والملحد هؤلاء وإن كانوا من نسل النصارى فهم كفار {وليسوا كتابيين} لأنه كما قال ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما{1}: 1- مجمع الزوائد {4/63} قال الهيثمي: رواه الطبراني في الكبير وفيه اسماعيل بن عمر البجلي، وثقة ابن حبان وغيره. إنما أحلت ذبائح اليهود والنصارى لأنهم آمنوا بالتوارة والإنجيل} ونسبة الملحدين أو اللادينين نسبة ترتفع في بعض البلدان إلى النصف أحيانا ولو كان ربع السكان{2} 2- لقد اخترت نسبة الربع لأن من الفقهاء جعلوا الربع حدا للفرق بين القليل والكثير. لا دينيين واختلطت ذبائحهم مع باقي الذبائح لحرم الجميع.
    2- وجود طرق غير شرعية في الذبح خاصة في الطيور فلقد ثبت أن قسما غير قليل من المصانع يخنقها بالتدويخ الكهربائي ثم يغرقها بالماء الحار لإماتتها، ولقد شاهدت في أوروبا الطيور معروضه للبيع وهي ميتة برأسها ورقبتها وقرب أخوان وفتشا عن أثر للذبح في رأسها ورقبتها فلم يجدا أثرا .
    وهناك طريقة القتل بقطع الحبل الشوكي {النخاع الشوكي} أما الغنم فيستعملون لقتله قضيبا من الحديد لقطع الحبل الشوكي فيموت ويستعملون الرصاصة للثيران فيضربون الثور برصاصة في رأسه ويذبحونه فورا بعدها، إن الثور في الغالب لا يموت ولكنهم إن تأخروا عن ذبحه فإنه يموت، والرصاصة لتدويخ الثور وتقليل مقاومته أثناء الذبح.
    وهناك طريقة الوقذ {ضربها على رأسها بمرزبة حديد} تقتلها رأسا .
    وعلى كل حال فلو كان تسعة أعشار طرق الذبح شرعية وعشرها غير شرعي تحرم جميع الذبائح عند اختلاطها.
    3- إن الكنيسة الكاثوليكية -اليوم- تبيح المنخنقة والموقوذة.
    قال صالح علي العود المقيم في فرنسا{1}: 1- مجلة الإعتصام عدد {1} سنه {44} محرم سنة {1041} ديسمبر {0891م} نقلا عن كتاب أحكام الذكاة في الإسلام وذبائح أهل الكتاب والأوروبيين حديثا . {….سألت الأب هوبوز عن الطرائق المتبعة لإزهاق روح الحيوان في مسالخ باريس وأوربا، فقال هوبوز: أنت تعلم أن هذه المسالخ ملك الدولة، والدولة لا تلتزم بشرع، وسألته عن نصوص تحريم الميتة والدم، فقال موجودة في العهد القديم والجديد ولكن الكنيسة الغت العمل بها}.
    4- القصاب السكران لا تجوز ذبيحته وقسم منهم يسكر، أحكام الذكاة في الإسلام وذبائح أهل الكتاب والأوربيين حديثا لصالح علي العود التونسي- ص{11}.
    5- بناء على القاعدة: {أن الظن المستفاد من الغالب راجح على الظن المستفاد من الأصل}{2} 2- فتح الباري {31/42}. فالأصل أنهم أهل كتاب والغالب يخالف ذلك، فالإسلام عندما أباح ذبائح النصارى فقد أباحها لأنهم يذبحون كالمسلمين، ويعتقدون بعيسى وبدينهم، واشترط أن لا نسمع منهم الاهلال لغير الله.
    وليس الأمر كاليوم: فطريقة الذبح لا توافق الذكاة الإسلامية أحيانا وقسم غير قليل لا يؤمن بدين، فلقد ظلت مجلتان في شيكاغو تتحاوران حول المسيح -عليه الصلاة والسلام- ستة أشهر فيما إذا كان شخصية حقيقية أو أسطورة خرافية.
    أما اليهود -لعنهم الله- فلا زالوا يحافظون على الذبح حسب تقاليد دينهم، فيذهب الحاخام أو رجل دين إلى المزرعة ويذبح أعدادا كثيرة في يوم واحد، وإذا علبت بعضها يكتبون عليها {K} أي {Kosher} {يهودي}، وإذا سافروا بشركات الطيران فيشترطون على الشركة أن تحضر لهم طعاما يوافق الشريعة اليهودية من ناحية الذبح وخلوه من الخنزير فتكتب الشركة بجانب اسمه {K.Meal} {وجبة يهودية} وحبذا لو غارت الدول الإسلامية على دينها فاشترطت الوجبة الإسلامية فذبائح اليهود حلال في الشريعة الإسلامية حتى اليوم.

  8. He’s alive! Lol. May Allah reward and bless you with every good for posting that quote, bro. It’s been too long. I hope all’s well with you and the family, Allah willing.

  9. Just a brief summary of what Shaikh Abdullah Azzam’s justification for declaring the meat of the Western Christian countries forbidden, as mentioned in the quote posted by Yusuf. The quote is referenced to a book titled, adh-Dhabâ’ih wal-Luhum al-Mustawradah, which translates to The Imported Slaughtered Animals and Meats.

    He mentions five points. The first, he says, is that no fewer than a third of these people believe in no religion at all. These are mixed with others, like existentialists, communists and atheists, even if they were from the progeny of the Christians, they are disbelievers and not from the People of the Book. He says that in some countries, these people’s numbers can sometimes be as high as a quarter of the country’s residents.

    The second, he says, is the existence of non-legal methods of slaughter, specifically with respect to birds. He also mentions sheep and cattle (bulls specifically) and gives examples of these non-legal methods for each (with respect to the method he describes used for birds, he explicitly mentions that he witnessed it).

    The third, he says, is that today’s Catholic Church permits suffocation and fatal blows as methods of slaughter. He references an article from a magazine titled, al-I’tisam, where the author quotes from a book about the rulings of slaughtering in Islam and the slaughtered animals of the People of the Book and the present day Europeans. The quote contains an anecdotal account where a priest or minister is asked about killing animals in Paris and the rest of Europe.

    The fourth, I don’t really understand. He references the book mentioned above and says that the drunk butcher’s slaughtered animal is not permitted.

    The fifth, he mentions a principle that states the speculation that can be used from what’s predominant is preferrable to the speculation that can be used from the root/origin. He says that the root is that they are the People of the Book, and what is predominant is contrary to that. He says that whenever Islam permits the slaughtered animals of the Christians, then it has permitted it because they slaughter like the Muslims and they believe in Jesus and their religion, and there is a condition that we do not hear them offer the slaughter to other than Allah. He says this is not the case today, for the methods of slaughter sometimes do not agree with Islam’s slaughter, and more than a few do not believe in any religion.

    He ends by saying that the Jews still follow their religion, so if the food is labelled with the appropriate signage to indicate it is Kosher food, it is lawful for us.

  10. ilyas says:

    what happens to the ayah ” meat of the people of the book” is that ayah not valid anymore?

    If anyone who believes in the trinity, the holy ghost, etc…. are they not the people of the book?

    We know that people of the book have disbelieved according to the nusoos as sharee, but the quranic injunctions is valid till the day of judgement.

  11. Here’s what Shaikh Ahmad Shakir says on the issue,

    وقد علق الشيخ أحمد شاكر رحمه الله على تفسير ابن كثير لقوله تعالى : (وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلٌّ لَهُمْ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنْ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنْ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ) فقال : “هذا كله في طعام أهل الكتاب ، إذا كانوا أهل كتاب . أما المنتسبون الآن للنصرانية واليهودية ، في أوربا وأمريكا وغيرهما . فنحن نقطع أنهم ليسوا أهل كتاب ، لأنهم كفروا بأديانهم ، وإن اصطنع بعضهم رسومها الظاهرة فقط . فأكثرهم ملحدون لا يؤمنون بالله ولا بالأنبياء ، وكتبهم وأخبارهم بين أيدينا . فهم قد خرجوا على كل دين ، ودانوا بالإباحية والتحلل في الأخلاق والأعراض ، فلا يجوز نكاح نسائهم ، لفقدانهم صفة “أهل الكتاب” على الحقيقة . ولا يجوز أكل طعامهم ، لذلك ، ولأن الثابت أنهم لا يذبحون في بلادهم قط . بل يرون الذبح الشرعي المعروف تعذيباً للحيوان ـ أخزاهم الله ـ ويقتلون الحيوان بطرق أخرى ، يزعمون أنها أرفق بالحيوان . فكل اللحوم عندهم ميتة ، لا يجوز لمسلم أن يأكل منها” انتهى .”عمدة التفسير” (1/636) .

    The translation of which is that the shaikh, may Allah have mercy on him, commented on Ibn Kathir’s exegesis for His statement, exalted is He, «And the food of those given the book is unbound for you and your food is unbound for them, and the chaste women from the believers and the chaste women from those given the book from before you» (5:5) saying,

    All of this is with respect to the People of the Book if they were People of the Book. As for those now ascribed to the Christians and the Jews in Europe, America, and other [countries], then we affirm that they are not the People of the Book, because they disbelieved in their religions, and some of them surely only fake their outward formalities. Most of them are atheists who do not believe in Allah, nor in the prophets, and their books and the information in front of us. They have rebelled against every religion and professed in anarchism and dissolution with respect to morals and honours. Thus, marrying their women is not permissible. They have truly lost the description “the People of the Book” in reality. Eating their food is not permissible due to that, and because [what is] established is that they do not slaughter in their lands at all. Rather, they view the recognized legal slaughter as a torturing the animals–may Allah dishonour them–and they kill the animals with other methods. They claim that they are gentler with the animals. So all the meat with them is carrion. It is not permissible for a Muslim to eat from it.

    The quote is referenced to ‘Umdah at-Tafsîr (vol. 1, pg. 636).

  12. as-Salam ‘alaikum, brother ilyas.

    what happens to the ayah ” meat of the people of the book” is that ayah not valid anymore?

    If anyone who believes in the trinity, the holy ghost, etc…. are they not the people of the book?

    We know that people of the book have disbelieved according to the nusoos as sharee, but the quranic injunctions is valid till the day of judgement.

    Those are both valid questions and the point you make is a valid one as well.

    Personally, I don’t accept the verdicts given by Shaikhs Ahmad Shakir and Abdullah Azzam, may Allah have mercy on them. The most what they say can do is cast doubt on the legality and lawfulness of the meat from these people, and I tend to lean towards the verdicts given by others like Shaikhs Ibn Baz and Ibn Uthaimin, may Allah have mercy on them.

    I personally consider the People of the Book to be whoever professes to be Christian or Jewish and go by what Shaikh Ibn Baz quoted from Ibn Qudamah’s al-Mughnî in this fatwa (which used to be on Ibn Baz’s official site, but is no longer there–as far as I could find found it here); Ibn Qudamah states that the People of the book are the people of the Torah (Jews and the Samaritans), and the people of the Gospel (Christians and those who agree with the root of their religion), which to my understanding would include all the sects and offshoot schisms included under the umbrellas of “Judaism” and “Christianity”.

    I do not personally believe it is up to us to say whether a particular group or individual is to be excluded from these umbrella labels due to deviances in their beliefs or their levels of adherence. There are practicing Muslims and non-practicing Muslims, Muslims knowledgeable of their religion and Muslims ignorant of it. And the same goes for Jews and Christians. Likewise, you have Jews and Christians who practice and those who don’t; those knowledgeable of their religions (and more specifically, the sects they belong to) and those who are not. This is an interesting audio clip of a debate between Richard Dawkins and a Christian reverend regarding this very point (whether these people are really Christians or not). The view expressed by the reverend is pretty much how I see this particular issue of religiosity.

  13. abenefitaday says:

    First time I comment on my good friend’s blog, I hope its not my last day on the manhaj!

    1- Sheikh Ali al-Halabi and Sheikh Abu Anas Muhammad Musa Nasr both hold the opinion of Imam Albaani: differentiating between the heads/scholars and the awwam (general folk) of the Shia Raafidha, the later being excused and still considered Muslims! Several times I have heard this, including personally asking them.

    2- Our sheikh (Dr. Abduladhweem Badawi) holds the same opinion, but I heard during his last visit in Toronto he was asked this and said it is better to avoid the meat. (i will confirm later inshaAllah)

    3- Imam Bin Baz, Sheikh Jibrin and many others hold the opinion that all Shia Raafidha are out of Islam thus its not allowed to eat their meat. This appears to be the stronger opinion, and Allaah knows best.

    4- Sheikh Ahmad Shakir’s statement is amazing, he doesn’t cease to amaze me.
    In this case though the Sheikh has generalized too broadly, those who live in the west know that there is still a good number of ‘practicing christians and jews’ who still hold on to their teachings and dont fall into the description he has used as the reasoning for making their meat and their women impermissible.

    Word of advice to anyone who can read arabic: Please do yourself a favour and read some of Sheikh Ahmad Shakir’s works, and also his brother Sheikh Mahmud. Two great mountains with formidable pens.

  14. First time I comment on my good friend’s blog, I hope its not my last day on the manhaj!

    Ha! Your contributions are much appreciated and very welcome! We miss you here in T-dot. I hope you’re doing well and are making the most of your time away. May Allah bless and reward you for your comment, bro!

    For anyone who’s never been to abenefitaday’s blog, please do so. You’ll find the link in the Blogroll on the right. He’s got an amazing series on the Shi’ah and their beliefs (among other gems).

  15. Yusuf says:

    However, the question remains: was this post inspired by Big Smoke Burger or The WORKS? :)

  16. LOL! Kind of, but not directly.

    I was with a couple friends last week and we were talking about the issue. Found out that my buddy Nasir changed his view from previously having no problem with kitabi meat to airing on the side of caution due to the doubts raised by things similar to those mentioned by Shaikh Azzam (the methods of slaughter/carrion issue specifically).

    The real reason I posted what ash-Shawkani said was what he mentioned regarding the naming of Allah’s name when slaughtering, specifically the view of some of the Companions that even if you hear kitabis mention other than Allah, the meat is lawful. It’s the first time I’ve heard that and found it interesting (even if I don’t agree with it).

  17. Yusuf says:

    It’s the first time my attention has been drawn to this particular issue as well.

    You may also find these two links beneficial:

    1 –

    2 – (point #2)

    I searched for the source of this being the opinion of some of the Sahabah and found it in Tafsir al-Tabari (, such as:

    سأل أبا الدرداء عن كبش ذبح لكنيسة يقال لها”جرجس” ، أهدوه لها ، أنأكل منه ؟ فقال أبو الدرداء : اللهم عفوا! إنما هم أهل كتاب ، طعامهم حل لنا ، وطعامنا حل لهم! وأمره بأكله .

    Just a few more points…

    It seems difficult to determine how many Ahl al-Kitab are actually in countries like
    the US, UK, and Canada. Censuses show at least 70% Christians and Jews in these countries, but surveys often contradict them. For example in the UK, the census (2001) found 71.6% Christians, but then look at more recent survey results:

    Tearfund Survey (2007) – 53% Christians
    British Social Attitudes Survey (2009) – 42.9% Christians
    European Social Survey (2009) – 42.9% Christians

    So there is a big difference between 71.6% and 42.9%.

    What’s the impact of all of these numbers on the shar’i ruling? Not sure, but I think it does highlight the point made above by Sh Ahmad Shakir and Sh Abdullah Azzam. This is without entering into the discussion of how Christian are these Christians or how Jewish are these Jews, or whether they belong to a sect like the Mormons, who are rejected by many Christians for certain beliefs that oppose Christianity.

    And then there’s the whole factor of the animal abuse and use of hormones that occurs on factory farms that the masses are unaware of, at least in the US. I’m not saying that this would make the meat haram, but it’s certainly difficult for a Muslim to enjoy eating the meat of an animal that he knew lived an inhumane life. I suppose a local free range Ahl al-Kitab farm with grass fed animals would be convenient.

    For myself I think it’s best to exercise caution towards the issue from the basis of “The halal is clear and the haram is clear, and between the two of them are ambiguous matters,” while still respecting all valid stances and honoring the Muslims who sincerely hold them. So basically, I wouldn’t ruin someone else’s enjoyment of what they consider to be a mouth-watering Ahl al-Kitab burger by bashing them over the head with a fatwa or one of those Halal/Haram manuals.. I’ll maybe just have fries and a drink with them, and that’s the level I believe we need to mature to as brothers and sisters with issues that are permissible to differ over.

    I think too much time has been spent on this issue though in the West without much concrete, productive results. I always like to ask myself what is the best thing we can do in the situation (ihsan), and when we ask that question to ourselves we can often reach a point of agreement regardless of the different opinions we hold. As far as I can tell, that would be to establish our own solid halal meat (and food) industry for ourselves, similar to how the Jews have done with kosher. This would bring us many benefits in addition to the halal element, such as generating income for our own communities. But our enemy Shaytan is always lying in wait, ready to challenge our sincerity, humility and truthfulness towards Allah and one another. Regretfully, the furthest we get in most places highly populated by Muslims is convincing KFC and Popeye’s to start using dhabihah meat.

    A penny for your thoughts…

  18. Good stuff, as usual, bro. May Allah reward and bless you for your always beneficial contributions.

    Regarding the issue of naming Allah, one weird thing I noticed was ash-Shawkani’s inclusion of az-Zuhri and ‘Ali as being from those who said the meat is still lawful if you hear them mentioning other than Allah’s name on the animal at the time of slaughter, especially given the fact that al-Bukhari has a narration attributed to az-Zuhri in his Sahih where he explicitly says, “There is no harm in the slaughtered animals of the Christian Arabs, and if you heard that it was named for other than Allah, then do not eat. If you did not hear them name it, then Allah has unbound it for you while knowing of their disbelief.” al-Bukhari then mentions that similar is narrated from ‘Ali.

    In any case, the point about the surveys is valid. Although, personally, I only tend to look at them as giving a general picture of things. There’s just too many variables and factors that come into play to take them as a serious proof for the religious make-up of a particular population. For example, was this a survey of the whole population or a sample group being used to represent the whole? Were the survey participants being completely honest with their answers? Etc. But, like I said, it is a valid point and these numbers do mean something, even if that something isn’t very much (that is, if you’re one of those who don’t put too much faith into such things).

    Personally, I believe that Canada, the US and the UK are still Christian countries and that their populations are still majority Christian (even if that majority is slight, as in your example with the UK). So naturally, for me, the assumption is that the meat is kitabi, until it’s proven that it’s non-kitabi or that it’s carrion. Of course, I have other things that will determine whether I eat from a particular place or not (i.e., risk of cross-contamination with forbidden things such as pork or alcohol), and I’m a bit stricter than some (American) friends I have, who’ll eat just about anywhere. Like you said, it’s best to excercise caution–whether that amount of caution you excercise is small or large, it’s still best to have some.

    Regarding what you mention of establishing our own solid halal meat and food industry, I think that (in North America, at least) it would be very difficult, if not damn near impossible, to accomplish. Too many varying opinions on what legal methods are. Too many varying opinions about what defines “halal” and “haram”. No single governing body for Muslims as a whole to determine such things and make these key decisions.

    Here in Toronto and the GTA (not sure just how much of Canada, or even Ontario for that matter, they oversee) we have the Canadian Congress of Muslim Theologians (CCMT) also known as “Jami’yyatul Ulama Canada”, basically a Deobandi/Tablighi organisation, who’s established the Halal Monitoring Authority (HMA). They charge a fee for certification, which according to one article that was published in a local newspaper, charges fees so high that some butchershops and retailers have said they are actually being hurt, rather than getting any real benefit by getting their certification. They also muddle things with all that “hand vs. machine” slaughter retardedness, which also impacts other companies like Maple Lodge Farms, who’ve collaborated with ISNA and Dar al-Ifta’ in Riyad, Saudi Arabia, in attempts to provide Muslims with certified “halal” food; my brother worked for ISNA as a slaughterer at Maple Lodge (MLF) for a little while, so I know ISNA provides MLF with workers to work on their “halal” line.

    When it all comes down to it, I like to try to keep things simple for myself. We have our Islamic rulings, we have our situational fatwas, and we have our general rules of thumb (derived from our Shari’ah, of course). Personally, I don’t really care what people choose to follow, so long as they’re following it because they believe it’s the truth and the best way of safeguarding their religion. Problems arise when people start imposing their views on others, which we’re all guilty of at some point or another. For me, so long as a person’s taking care of what’s required of them, then it’s all gravy.

    Edit: I had included this in my reply the first time I was writing it, but it got lost when I decided to check something and forgot that doing so would close the editing window where I was writing my comment. As an aside, I do consider Mormons to be Christians, as the roots of their beliefs and core tenets are still inline with the roots of Christianity, from what I know. There’s a old post on by Amad arguing against them being from the People of the Book with some of my comments on it in the comments section. Whoever’s interested in reading about it can do so here.

  19. Yusuf says:

    In the excerpt from Tafsir al-Tabari that I linked to, there’s a narration of Ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anhu) prohibiting the meat of the Arab Christians and Armenian Christians:

    11235 – حدثنا ابن حميد قال : حدثنا جرير ، عن ليث ، عن سعيد بن جبير ، عن ابن عباس قال : لا تأكلوا ذبائح نصارى العرب ، وذبائح نصارى أرمينية .

    Even though earlier on the same page al-Tabari mentions that Ibn ‘Abbas allowed meat from Bani Taghlib. I feel like I’m missing something.

    Then Imam al-Tabari (rahimahullah) says:

    قال أبو جعفر : وهذه الأخبار عن علي رضوان الله عليه ، إنما تدل على أنه كان ينهى عن ذبائح نصارى بني تغلب ، من أجل أنهم ليسوا على النصرانية ، لتركهم تحليل ما تحلل النصارى ، وتحريم ما تحرم ، غير الخمر . ومن كان منتحلا ملة هو غير متمسك منها بشيء فهو إلى البراءة منها أقرب منه إلى اللحاق بها وبأهلها . فلذلك نهى علي عن أكل ذبائح نصارى بني تغلب ، لا من أجل أنهم ليسوا من بني إسرائيل .

    فإذ كان ذلك كذلك ، وكان إجماعا من الحجة أن لا بأس بذبيحة كل نصراني ويهودي دان دين النصراني أو اليهودي فأحل ما أحلوا ، وحرم ما حرموا ، [ ص: 577 ] من بني إسرائيل كان أو من غيرهم فبين خطأ ما قال الشافعي في ذلك ، وتأويله الذي تأوله في قوله : ” وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم ” ، أنه ذبائح الذين أوتوا الكتاب التوراة والإنجيل من بني إسرائيل وصواب ما خالف تأويله ذلك ، وقول من قال : إن كل يهودي ونصراني فحلال ذبيحته ، من أي أجناس بني آدم كان .

    About the surveys.. their accuracy is certainly something that should be questioned, especially since these surveys are often backed with socio-political aims. But like you said, the numbers do mean something. I don’t see them as definite whatsoever. As Mark Twain quoted Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” I guess my point was to affirm that the religious makeup of these countries is complicated. I also think the secular foundation of Western countries makes it difficult to specify the nation’s predominant religion. For example, in the US, you can find arguments on both sides stating that the country is/isn’t a Christian nation – with each side quoting the country’s founding fathers.

    I agree with you that it would be very difficult to establish our own halal meat and food industry to provide a solution to the masses, and that mainly stems from the overall lack of Muslim unity that you touched on. On a community level, basically there’s too many chefs in the kitchen. But on an individual/family level, like you said, it’s easier to address this issue and find your own solutions.

    I haven’t looked too much into the Mormon thing; I’m just aware that they have some unorthodox beliefs, such as believing that one can become a god, or that Adam and God are the same. They faced severe opposition early on from other Christians, but of course the tone has softened towards them these days. I remember that MM article and back then I searched in Arabic for any in-depth studies about whether we should consider Mormons to be from Ahl al-Kitab and I wasn’t able to find anything.

  20. Wow. That’s an interesting view that Imam at-Tabari mentioned from Imam ash-Shafi’i: that the Jews and Christians whose food is lawful for us are only those from Bani Isra’il (i.e., racially/ethnically). His view would mean that practically none of those attributing themselves to Judaism and Christianity, except a very small few, would fit the bill (for those who cannot read the Arabic, at-Tabari does state that ash-Shafi’i was wrong in this. He says that the meat of any Christian or Jew, regardless of race, is lawful for us according to what’s correct).

    With regards to what at-Tabari says of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib’s view and reasoning, the thing I find problem with it is that most of them do not have the same rigidity towards their religions as we do, moreso the Christians than the Jews, anyhow. Revisionism seems to have a stronger toehold with them than it does with us. What I mean by that is that we believe our religion is perfect and complete. There is no room for reinterpreting, reinventing, changing, altering, etc. Many Christian sects do this all the time, while trying to maintain their roots. Even the Catholics, who are known to be staunch adherents of the “old ways” have been making certain concessions as of late–if not as a whole, then definitely some outspoken individuals from within their community. For example, a brother just sent me an article written by some ordained Roman priest (who looks to be one of these revisionist types) who claims in the article that the Bible really has no problem with homosexuality. Throughout the article, he reinterprets or–as he makes it seem to be, corrects misinterpretations–of various texts to prove his point.

    Like it was mentioned by Hood Bradford and others (including myself) in that Mormon post on MM, Christians have some open ended concepts in their religion. These open ended concepts give room for some of these types of reinterpretations and alterations. So it’s kind of hard to use “not making lawful what they made lawful and not making forbidden what they made forbidden” as a good enough reason to say they no longer are Christians, especially when these things are not from their core tenets. And that’s not even taking into account the issue of religiosity that I mentioned in an earlier comment above (and by that I mean the strength of one’s adherence to his religion, whether out of weakness or ignorance, not disbelieving in it completely).

    Btw, it’s surprizing just how many views this blog post has been getting since I put it up. I had no idea it would garner that much attention–not that the numbers are staggering, but considering the fact that my blog’s been dead for a while and total views to the blog have been consistently around the 50 mark, three consecutive days at 100+ (four if it hits there after today) is really surprizing to me.

  21. Yusuf says:

    I’m inclined to what you’re saying about us judging sects belonging to other religions. It does seem odd for us to step in and specify who is or isn’t a Christian if they themselves are attributing themselves to Christianity and declaring it their religion. This is also what I’ve found many scholars state about this point.

    About Imam al-Shafi’i (rahimahullah).. I read what was in Tafsir al-Tabari about the Bani Isra’il roots thing, but I couldn’t find a reference for it from al-Shafi’i himself. I found that he opposed eating the meat of Arab Christians, as well as meat from an animal that was slaughtered in other than Allah’s name. I found this excerpt from al-Mawardi’s Al-Hawi al-Kabir – Also see To get to the bottom of something like that most likely requires asking a skilled student or scholar of the Shafi’i madhhab.

    One observation I’ve made is that many of us behave differently towards this halal meat/food issue in the West than when we are in Muslim lands. For example, would members of a Deobandi organization in the West exercise those same stringent legal opinions in Muslim countries? Is this their practice, for example, in Pakistan? From my personal experience, this doesn’t occur. If it does, it’s certainly not on a large, noticeable scale. Rather, the prevailing notion is that Pakistan is a Muslim country and so the meat in the market is halal. This is alongside the fact that in Pakistan, there are groups that many Deobandis consider outside the fold of Islam, such as Barelwis, and they have their own butcher shops and restaurants. There’s no massive effort to deter the population from purchasing meat from their businesses though. As far as I know, Barelwis make up at least 25% of the population, and in some regions like Punjab numbers are even higher. This is the behavior in Muslim countries towards groups that are considered very deviant, if not outside Islam, by them. So what about in a non-Muslim country in which the Muslims are only 1-5% and the dispute is occurring with other Muslims that are, in general, not even possessing those astray beliefs? Is there still such a need to maintain fine points in fiqh and not work towards a point of agreement as Muslims? (No intentions whatsoever to call my Deobandi brothers out, but it’s just a convenient example, especially since they were mentioned above. If I put enough thought into it I could come up with an example for other places, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.)

    PS I’m not too surprised at the hits lol.. the halal meat issue is emotional for many of us. Write a post about jinn or dreams and you’ll probably get even more hits.

  22. Authentic Abu Musa says:

    Jazakallahu Khair to the brothers for posting the different opinions of the scholars on this subject as it adds to the certainty either towards acting upon or avoiding an action.

    Btw keep up as I’m sure a lot of people can benefit from your posts. It’s boring when one reads the same stuff others copy from another site or a response from elsewhere but the material you guys are providing is class material!!!

  23. Wa iyyakum, brother “Authentic Abu Musa”. And much thanks and appreciation for the kind words; may Allah reward and bless you with every good.

  24. Maddermonk says:


    It always surprises when people make the statement that the Jews and Christians of Today are not the “People of the Book” specified in the Quran, which is ludicrous. They are basing this on what exactly? The fact that Christians worship Jesus, and even his Mother and they and the Jews are not upon tawheed? These are things already mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah as being the traits of the Yahood and Nasaarah and if these are descriptions of the Ahlul Kitaab in the time of the Prophet (salallaahu Alaihi wa sallam) then in what manner have the Jews and Christians of today strayed from how they are already described in the texts? I can understand the bit about a great many people becoming atheists,etc being a reasonable arguement but even the last census done by Canada show that more than 70% of the people still self-identify as Christians.

    The Christians and Jews of today are no different than the were during the time of the Prophet, they believed in the Trinity then as they do now, they corrupted the divine texts as they do now, they deified Jesus then as they still do now. They made the Halaal Haram and vice-versa even back then as they do now. They gave obedience to their Priests and Rabbis over the texts as they do now.

    So how are they different?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: