Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
Some scholars say that it is haram to give food to a non-Muslim who is morally responsible during the day in Ramadan. Others say that it is permissible to feed them during the day in Ramadan.
What is the position of the Shafi’i school on issue?
Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. Jazakum Allah for your question.
Both answers quoted in the question are correct in their own way, one being more general than the other.
The Shafi’i Opinion
The opinion of the Shafi’i school is that it is impermissible to give food or sell food to a non-Muslim during the fasting day, as quoted in Ibn Hajr’s Tuhfa, Imam al Sharqawi’s Hashiyat al Tahrir, and Ba Fadl’s Bushra al Karim.
This ruling is based on the Shafi’i position that non-Muslims are legally responsible for both the obligation of accepting Islam and the agreed-upon details of the shariah (furu’), as mentioned by Imam Nawawi in his Sharh Sahih Muslim.
Therefore, in the Shafi’i school, if a Muslim feeds a non-Muslim during the day it is as if he is assisting the non-Muslim in sin.
Other madhabs, such as the Hanafi school, hold that non-Muslims are not held accountable for the details of the Shariah, and therefore a Muslim feeding a non-Muslim during the fasting day of Ramadan does not amount to assisting them in sin, as they won’t be asked about it on the Day of Judgement.
Though I cannot be sure in what exact context Sayyid Habib ‘Umar intended his words, it appears that he was adopting a broader approach to the answer, not a madhab-specific answer, but rather a da’wah based approach grounded in using wisdom in a situation with a greater purpose in view, namely, guiding others to Islam. Note that Habib did not mention ‘the Shafi’i opinion’ in his answer.
Utilising a broader opinion from another school is a valid, and sometimes necessary approach in some circumstances. Adopting the strict position of one’s own school may not always be in the greater interest and benefit of the given situation.
This is fiqh in practice (tatbiq); sound knowledge translated into action with wisdom and contemplation. The application of which depends on time, place and people.
In summary, both answers are correct in their own way, the first is more madhab-specific, more text-based, while the second answer seems to be more general, da’wah focussed, and with practicality and wisdom as the guiding principles.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this clarifies things for you insha’Allah.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.