Ahl al-Kitab and Their Meat

Question:

As-Salamu-Alikum,
The Quran says that one can eat from the People of the Book (Christian and Jew). I would like to know if there is any condition that must be fulfilled for someone to be considered “People of the Book”. If there is, then are today’s Christians and Jews those from whom we can eat?

Answer:

Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

In the Shafi’i School, restrictions are found in this regard. They are:

1) The issue of “tahrif.” Tahrif, or in Arabic التحريف, is creedal/scriptural interpolation.

2) The issue of “naskh.” Naskh, or in Arabic النسخ, is abrogation.

In brief, for non-Israelite peoples’ meat to be halal, they must have entered into the religion (i.e. Christianity or Judaism) prior to naskh and tahrif [or after if they did not delve into it]. (Tuhfat al-Muhtaj v. 7, p. 322)

The issue of naskh is considered for Israelite peoples (those who trace their lineage back to Yaq’ub b. Is-haq b. Ibrahim (alayhim as-salam)), and their fathers must have entered into the religion before it. Yet, the issue of tahrif before naskh is less rigorous. (Mughni al-Muhtaj v. 4, p. 312; Tuhfat al-Muhtaj v. 7, p. 324)

Now, in regards to the question, “then are today’s Christians and Jews those from whom we can eat?”

When one is basing their decision by what is found in the Shafi’i School, then the above-mentioned restrictions must be taken into account. Some Christian peoples entered Christianity late; for example, the Saxons in 804 or Lithuania in 1387. Entering Christianity so late is after naskh; and therefore, problematic. Hence, it would depend on which Christians or Jews one is asking about…

And Allah knows best.

Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Dept.