Eating the Meat of the People of the Book

Ustadh Salman Younas answers questions about the lawfulness of eating meat slaughtered by Jews or Christians, and what to do if halal meat is hard to get.


Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

Since in our countries (South America) it is very problematic to get halal meat, and where even halal meat is of dubious provenance, is it lawful to eat the meat obtained from the people of the Book?

And if so, how does this apply to meat is feasible to get in our countries, which mostly comes from slaughterhouses, making impossible to know who slaughtered the animal, much less whether it was invoked the name of God to do so under the Christian or Jewish rites.


Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well. It is only permitted to eat the meat of the People of the Book (ahl al kitab), namely, the Jews and Christians, if there is a proper slaughtering. The conditions for a proper slaughtering are:

1. The one slaughtering be a Muslim, a Jew, or a Christian.
2. That the name of God be consciously uttered when the slaughter takes place.
3. That the animal be slaughtered at its throat.
4. That at least three of the four main veins of the throat be cut with a sharp object, such as a knife.

(Ibn Abidin, Radd al Muhtar; Abu Bakr al Razi, Tuhfat al Muluk)

If one can ascertain that the above conditions are being met, it would be permitted to eat such meat. If unable to, then one should avoid and veer on the side of caution. The ruling given in our times is that kosher meat is generally permissible to eat, whereas Christian meat is not.

Meat Is A Luxury

One thing to recall is that eating meat for most of us is a luxury and not a necessity and the health benefits of avoiding its excessive consumption are well known. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his Companions, Allah be pleased with them, were known to eat meat rarely and scarcely.

However, at the same time, the scenario you mention indicates the need for Muslims to work towards building a halal industry within their respective communities, with the assistance of scholars, local businessmen, and so forth.

This may not be an easy task in the world we currently live in but with with some effort and tact results are bound to manifest, beginning with smaller projects, such as local slaughter houses, and then building from there.



Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.
Photo by Nikola Knezevic on Unsplash

Should I Buy Halal Food for My Cats? [Shafi’i]

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

I am taking care of 3 cats. Do we need to buy halal food for them?

Answer:Wa alaykum al-Salam

There are two areas of concern relating to your question. One is feeding animals carrion or non-slaughtered meat and the other is purchasing of such meat.

Feeding animals carrion:

Non-slaughtered fish is permissible for both human and animal consumption. The Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam said regarding the Ocean, “Its water is pure and its carrion halal.”

Meat and chicken carrion however, even though considered impure may be given as feed to animals. Imam al-Nawawi stated, “It is permitted to feed bees with impure honey and to feed dogs and birds carrion.”

Buying and selling carrion:

According to the Shafi’i school, the selling or purchasing of carrion is impermissible. One may consider the carrion to be a minority ingredient in cat food and thus consider its purchasing permissible such as in the case of one purchasing a home that has been plastered in impure mud, but this analogy may not be accepted by all.

After consulting our teacher, Maulana Taha Karaan, he advised adopting the Hanafi position that considers the sale of anything holding legal benefit as valid (kullu ma fihi manfa’ah tahillu shar’an fa inna bay’ahu yajuz).

And Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Shaykh Abdurragmaan
received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz–a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan – the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur – the current Mufti of Tarim, Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani – the Shafi’i Mufti of Makkah, Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi, Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf, Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh, Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki, Sh. Ala ad- Dind al-Afghani, Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

What Is the Ruling Regarding Accidentally Consuming Haram Food?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question:As salaamu alaykum,

We have falsely assumed that vitamin tablets were okay because they do not have a gelatine capsule. But they contain vitamins derived from pork gelatine. What should we do?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

If the tablets contained pork, you should not have taken them. If you accidentally took them, you should repent for your error.

Please see: A Guide for Consuming Various Meats, Foods, Alcohol, Animal By-Product Ingredients, and Cosmetics and: A Reader on Tawba (Repentance)

And Allah knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

How Can I Overcome Waswas Regarding the Permissibility of Food?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalamu’alaykum

I have waswasa in distinguishing between Halal and Haram food.
It has got to the point that I am almost not eating/drinking anything but tea , water, milk. I have a tendency whenever we buy any food to go straight onto Google and google the ingredients which puts me into more doubt.

How can I overcome these waswas?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

This is a mistake. What you have described is not from the guidance of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), and you should immediately stop following your neurotic misgivings.

Baseless misgivings are from the devil and his accomplices who seek nothing better but to make your life a misery until you don’t think Islam can work in your life.

Forget what you think you understand about the lawful and unlawful, and eat normally like other religious Muslims. Once you have acquired sufficient religious understanding, researched the food industry, how it works, and how the Sacred Law applies to it, and then verified your understanding with scholars, you can make some judgement about ingredients; but, until then, you should focus your energies on worship, good company, and circles of remembrance and learning.

The religion isn’t taken from the internet, nor from people’s own brains. This is light passed down from heart to heart. The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets, and they are the ones who show the path to Allah.

See: A Reader on Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings)

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Can I Eat Haram Meat When I Am in a Non-Muslim Country?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Salam,

When a Muslim lives in a non-Muslim country and does not find any halal food nearby, can he eat non-halal food like chicken, beef or sheep? And if lard may have been used as cooking oil for seafood or fish what I should do?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

No, it is not permitted to eat unlawful food.

As such, you should seek out some Muslims (or organizations) who can assist you in finding reliable sources of food.

In the meantime, you should ask for clarity from the restaurant before proceeding to eat therein.

Pray the Prayer of Need (salat al-hajah). [see: How Does One Perform The Prayer Of Need (salat al-haja)?]

See also: Should I Eat at Restaurants With Food Cross-Contamination Problems?

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Is It Permissible to Eat at a Place Owned by a Non-Muslim?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Asalamualaykum,
Is it permissible to eat dishes prepared with ritually slaughtered ingredients in non-Muslim restaurants? When eating at non-Muslim restaurants, there is a possibility that ritually slaughtered ingredients may be cross-contaminated with non-ritually slaughtered ingredients, but it is impossible to know with certainty.
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
I pray this reaches you in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
Yes, ​you can eat the permissible at a place owned by a non-Muslim.
In general, you should exercise caution when there is a strong possibility of contamination. ​ If in doubt, you should ask the staff regarding their procedures. ​
Please also see: Should I Eat at Restaurants With Food Cross-Contamination Problems?
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Should I Eat at Restaurants With Food Cross-Contamination Problems?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: In the past I have seen food being contaminated in a restaurant/food selling place that also sells haram food. For this reason I have avoided such places for approximately 3 years. Should I go by these doubts? How did the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his companions go about in such situation? If it is allowed then how about the knife they use to cut sandwiches (if same knife used for vegetarian and haram food)? Are we allowed to eat from the same utensils on which haram food/alcohol has been served (provided it has been washed)?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that this finds you in the best of health and spirits, insha’Allah.
If you are reasonably sure that there are contamination issues, it would be an emphasized sunna to exercise caution in eating from such a place.
And yes, you can eat from utensils that were used for unlawful (haram) substances, but have since been washed.
What is Caution (ihtiyat)?
Linguistically, caution is preservation, protection, or guarding.
And technically, it is defined as “guarding oneself against falling into sin.” [Tahanawi, Kashshaf Istilihat al-Funun, quoting Sayyid Sharif al-Jurjani]
In general, the legal ruling of caution (ihtiyat) is that it is recommended (mustahab).
Caution has differing rulings depending on circumstance:
It is obligatory to be cautious from the clearly unlawful (haram),
(2) Highly emphasised sunna when there is a reasonable possibility of the unlawful,
(3) Praiseworthy and encouraged when there is a reasonable possibility of the disliked,
(4) Disliked when there is no reasonable basis for it, and
(5) Impermissible when without basis, and it leads to a wrong or the unlawful.
Restaurants and the Presence of Sin
The primary purpose of a restaurant is to serve food. Thus it is not sinful in and of itself to sit in and eat from such a place, irrespective of any secondary activity.
However, it is disliked and blameworthy to choose to be in a place wherein sin is taking place, such as the presence of background music or alcohol. This is in the case it is not unavoidable.
Therefore, and according to our aforementioned principles, it would be praiseworthy to exercise caution in even eating from a place in which there is the secondary presence of sin.
Eating at Restaurants & Contamination Issues
If there is a reasonable possibility of contamination— whether due to bad practice of not using exclusive cutlery for vegetables and unlawful meat, or a shared use of oils for deep-frying, for example— then you should ask for details on how they prepare their food before deciding to eat something.
If you are certain that there are contamination issues, it would be obligatory to be cautious.
As an aside, Sheikh Nuh Keller writes, “Restaurants, coffee shops, and fast-food places are showcases of gluttony, nafs, and worldliness. They should only be used in unpremeditated cases that are not for the enjoyment of the self but for others, and not for the love of the fare or socialising but because they are pressing needs.” [Keller, Sea without Shore]
The Way of Taqwa
Mindfulness (taqwa) is an inward restraint that enables one to avoid that which displeases or distances from Allah–and to embrace all that pleases and draws close to Allah. It is a state of the heart, manifest in one’s attitude and actions–in one’s character and conduct. [see: The Book of Certainty: Qur’anic Themes & Reflections ]
When you have the choice, higher spiritual resolve and true Godfearingness (taqwa) would entail being cautious.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.” [Tirmidhi]
However, when difficult or there are other reasonable considerations, then you should stay within the limits, and you’ll be rewarded as per your intention and not as to what actually happened. This is the mercy of our Religion.
See also: Eating at Restaurants That Play Music  and: A Guide for Consuming Various Meats, Foods, Alcohol, Animal By-Product Ingredients, and Cosmetics
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Should I Cut Off Relations With Family Who Fed Me Haram Food?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Asalamualaykum,
My father fed me food which was haram. I only found out once I saw the take out box.  While I was eating it I felt strange but I disregarded the feeling as he is obviously my father. Once I found out the food was haram I walked out the house and stayed in my mothers home whom I live with. He apologized and asked for my forgiveness but my mother said what he did is unforgivable and I shouldn’t speak to him.  What should I do?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

Dear Seeker,

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Please give your father the benefit of the doubt and assume he made a mistake and won’t make it again. Be emphatic about the standards to which you adhere and, if possible, bring your own food next time. However, it is not good to cut your father off. Given that your parents are divorced, it’s important that you not get in the middle of whatever dispute they might still have. Reassure your mother that you respect her point of view and will take care not to consume any more unlawful food.

May Allah Ta’ala facilitate ease,

Zaynab Ansari

Foreign Sweets Sold in Mecca and Medina That Appear to Be Impermissible

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: We see many sweets sold in shops in Mecca and Madina which are impermissible (haram) back home. These sweets are produced/packed abroad, and appear to have the same ingredients. Should these sweets be avoided? We also see many ‘locals’ buying these sweets, whereby I assume that they think they are permissible (halal). Can you please clarify this issue?

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

If something is produced in a Muslim country, you can assume that it is halal. However, if there is reasonable doubt about it, then caution would be recommended. When there is strong doubt about it, then caution is necessary.

It is also necessary to avoid things imported to a Muslim country when you know that the same item, when sold in non-Muslim countries, has impermissible (haram) ingredients and you don’t have reason to believe that the local authorities are scrupulous about such matters.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani

A Reader on Halal Meat


Eating the Meat of the People of the Book

Can We Eat Meat Slaughtered by Jews and Christians?

Can We Eat Machine Slaughtered Meat?

Meat Handled, Processed, Packed and Transported by Non-Muslims

What Animals Are Halal and Haram to Eat in the Hanafi School?

Cutting Off the Animal’s Head Directly After Being Slaughtered

A Guide for Consuming Various Meats, Foods, Alcohol, Animal By-Product Ingredients, and Cosmetics

Being A Vegetarian