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.
Chapter 5 Al Māʹidah : Verse 5
Permitting the Slaughtered Animals of the People of the Book
(The food of the People of the Scripture is lawful to you..) meaning, their slaughtered animals. This ruling, that the slaughtered animals of the People of the Book are permissible for Muslims, is agreed on by the scholars, because the People of the Book believe that slaughtering for other than Allah is prohibited. They mention Allah’s Name upon slaughtering their animals, even though they have deviant beliefs about Allah that do not befit His majesty. It is recorded in the Sahih that `Abdullah bin Mughaffal said, “While we were attacking the fort of Khaybar, a person threw a leather bag containing fat, and I ran to take it and said, `I will not give anyone anything from this container today.’ But when I turned I saw the Prophet (standing behind) while smiling.” The scholars rely on this Hadith as evidence that we are allowed to eat what we need of foods from the booty before it is divided. The scholars of the Hanafi, the Shafi`i and the Hanbali Madhhabs rely on this Hadith to allow eating parts of the slaughtered animals of the Jews that they prohibit for themselves, such as the fat. They used this Hadith as evidence against the scholars of the Maliki Madhhab who disagreed with this ruling. A better proof is the Hadith recorded in the Sahih that the people of Khaybar gave the Prophet a gift of a roasted leg of sheep, which they poisoned. The Prophet used to like eating the leg of the sheep and he took a bite from it, but it told the Prophet that it was poisoned, so he discarded that bite. The bite that the Prophet took effected the palate of his mouth, while Bishr bin Al-Bara’ bin Ma`rur died from eating from that sheep. The Prophet had the Jewish woman, Zaynab, who poisoned the sheep, killed. Therefore, the Prophet and his Companions wanted to eat from that sheep and did not ask the Jews if they removed what the Jews believed was prohibited for them, such as its fat. Allah’s statement,
(and your food is lawful to them.) means, you are allowed to feed them from your slaughtered animals. Therefore, this part of the Ayah is not to inform the People of the Scriptures that they are allowed to eat our food — unless we consider it information for us about the ruling that they have — i. e, that they are allowed all types of foods over which Allah’s Name was mentioned, whether slaughtered according to their religion or otherwise. The first explanation is more plausible. So it means: you are allowed to feed them from your slaughtered animals just as you are allowed to eat from theirs, as equal compensation and fair treatment.
The Permission to Marry Chaste Women From the People of the Scriptures
((Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers) The Ayah states: you are allowed to marry free, chaste believing women. This Ayah is talking about women who do not commit fornication, as evident by the word `chaste’. Allah said in another Ayah,
(Desiring chastity not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as boyfriends (lovers).) ﴿4:25﴾ `Abdullah Ibn `Umar used to advise against marrying Christian women saying, “I do not know of a worse case of Shirk than her saying that `Isa is her lord, while Allah said,
(And do not marry idolatresses till they believe,) the people did not marry the pagan women. When the following Ayah was revealed,
((Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture before your time) they married women from the People of the Book. ” Some of the Companions married Christian women and did not see any problem in this, relying on the honorable Ayah,
((Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from those who were given the Scripture before your time) Therefore, they made this Ayah an exception to the Ayah in Surat Al-Baqarah,
(And do not marry the idolatresses till they believe,) considering the latter Ayah to include the People of the Book in its general meaning. Otherwise, there is no contradiction here, since the People of the Book were mentioned alone when mentioning the rest of the idolators. Allah said,
(Those who disbelieve from among the People of the Scripture and the idolators, were not going to leave (their disbelief) until there came to them clear evidence.) and,
(Desiring chastity, not illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girl-friends (or lovers).) And just as women must be chaste and avoid illegal sexual activity, such is the case with men, who must also be chaste and honorable. Therefore, Allah said,
(…not illegal sexual intercourse’) as adulterous people do, those who do not avoid sin, nor reject adultery with whomever offers it to them.
(nor taking them as girl-friends (or lovers),) meaning those who have mistresses and girlfriends who commit illegal sexual intercourse with them.