Islam, being the religion of peace encourages peaceful interrelationship between Muslims and non-muslims which includes the people of books (Christians and Jews). The best way by which prophet Muhammad spread the gospel of Islam is by good relationship he established with people regardless of their religions, culture and class. Christmas is around the corner and we Muslims should be more matured in the way we tolerate them and their ways.

Christians and Jews foods are allowed for muslims to consume. Rejecting their foods and refusing their salama speak against the peace and tolerant we claim to advocate as Muslims.

May I refer the readers to Qur’an, chapter 5 verse 5. Allah says:
This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers.

And whoever denies the faith
– his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.

This verse of Quran is express, clear and needs no further interpretation for anybody to understand.

This verse of Quran has never been abrogated by Allah in the Quran. For a proper understanding, in the same verse, Allah further allows us to marry their ladies.

What sense would we derive from this verse if the intendment of law is for us to marry a woman whose food will be prohibited?

According to Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in his Halal wal-Haram Fil Islam (The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam), the application of the phrase “the food of those who were given the scripture” is general and includes their meats, produce and other food, excepting what is haram in itself, eg. the flesh of a dead animal, pork, and blood.

These exceptions are also in the categories of food Christians and Jews are prohibited from eating (Leviticus))
Since it is the belief of every Muslims that Quran will forever remain relevant and can never be outdated at any point in time. It is transgression for any Muslim to say the current Christians and Jews are not those ones referred to as ‘the people of books’. Quran says in the last line of the verse above; …And whoever denies the faith – his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.

Assuming without conceding that some scholar says the Christians and Jews of this moment are not the ones referred to by this verse of the Quran, what differentiate them? Christians and Jews believe in Trinity concept during the prophet era and now. They celebrate Xmas during prophet era and now. What are they doing at the moment that was strongly contradictory to our beliefs than the trinity concept? Mind you, Quran still recognizes them as ‘the people of book’. Do we stop relating with the current muslims because they are transgressing. There is a class of Muslims who will not respond to ‘Salama’ from fellow Muslims because they think they were more honorable in the sight of Allah.

Al-Tabari reported someone asking Abu al-Darda whether he could eat the flesh of a lamb slaughtered for the Church of St. George that he had been given.  Abu al-Darda responded in the affirmative, saying “O Allah, may You pardon us.  Are they not the People of the Book, whose food is halal for us and ours for them?”
Imam Malik, when asked about animals slaughtered for Christian festivals, he replied:

“I classify it as makruh but not haram; makruh because I am afraid it may have been dedicated to someone other than Allah but not haram because perhaps with respect to the People of the Book the meaning of the phrase ‘that which has been dedicated to any other than Allah’ applies only to those animals which they slaughter for the purpose of seeking the pleasure of their deities and not to eat.  As for what they slaughter to eat, it is their food, and Allah says ‘The food of those who were given the Scripture is permitted to you’”

Why do we complicate islam when the religion is simply to ease our way?
The famous Qadi Ibn al-Arabi further supports this permissibility for what is slaughtered by People of the Book as food. Responding to an enquiry about the lawfulness of partaking in the meal of a Christian who beheaded a chicken to cook it, he says:

“Eat it as this is his food and the food of his priests and monks.  Although this is not our way of slaughtering the animal, Allah has permitted their food to us unconditionally and also other things in their religion excepting those which Allah says they have falsified.

Our scholars have said they give us their women in marriage and it is permissible to engage in sexual intercourse with them. In matters concerning halal and haram, sexual intercourse is of graver import than eating; how then does it make any sense to say that their food is not halal?”

Some people still disregard their meats because it was not slaughtered by Muslim and the name of Allah was never mentioned to it.

Imam Malik narrates a revealing incident occurring in the Madinan period of one who came to the Prophet (p) saying, “O Messenger of Allah, people from the desert bring us meat and we do not know whether they have mentioned Allah’s name over it.”  The Prophet (p) replied “Mention the name of Allah over it and then eat it.”   (Bidayatul Mujtahid, Vol.1, Book 14, Ch.4).

By virtue of being Muslims, we are people with culture of spreading and exchanging ‘salama’ (peace).

May I refer the readers to Quran 4 Verse 86
وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُمْ بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا أَوْ رُدُّوهَا
When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.

Prophet Muhammad encourages us to exchange ‘salama’ at all time. Initiating ‘Salama’  is an encouraged tradition of prophet while reciprocating the ‘Salama’ is compulsory to all muslims.

There is no limit to those who we return ‘Salama’ to once it is offered. There are some muslims who will not return ‘salama’ because they think your islam is not stronger enough and they believe they are better before Allah compared to other muslims. I am not surprise when I see muslim who refuse to return ‘salama’ to none muslims. Those who believe in this principle of not reciprocation to salama to Christians and Jews belief in the bellow Hadith

وعن  أنس قال: قال رسول الله ﷺ: إذا سلم عليكم أهل الكتاب فقولوا: وعليكم.
متفق عليه
The  hadith above restricted Muslims responding to salamu alaikum said by Christians /jews to  waalaikum for  the following reasons :

لأنه جاء في رواية في صحيح مسلم أيضًا، إن اليهود إذا سلموا عليكم يقول أحدهم: السام عليكم، فقل: عليك

One begins to wonder why would prophet respond to ‘Salama’ in such a manner which is in contrary to chapter 4 Verse 86 of Quran. The way of prophet brings the Hadith into questioning also.

This calls for further investigation of the above Hadith and we came about what necessitates the directive of prophet from Aisha (R.T.A) in the bellow tradition from Sohihi Buhari Book.

مر اليهود بالنبي ﷺ، فقالوا:
السام عليك، قال: وعليكم، فقالت عائشة: السام عليكم، ولعنكم الله وغضب عليكم، فقال رسول الله ﷺ: مهلاً يا عائشة، عليك بالرفق، وإياك والعنف، أو الفحش…

A Jew passed by the Prophet Muhammad (s. a. w)  and said may the death be upon you and the prophet (s.a.w) wished him the same. Aisha said may the death be upon them and May Allah’s curse and wrath be upon them. The prophet said o!  Aisha be lenient….

The genuine salama from sincere heart of non Muslims would not have been reciprocated by prophet in that manner.

However  if the reason is no more then the rule should be shifted to what is known as a equal manner of reciprocation or better as  Allah s. w. t says : in Quran 4 Verse 86.

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