Fatwa Bank

Does the Term “Ahlul-Kitab” Still Apply Today?

22/02/2010

Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. I frequently hear the term “Ahlul-Kitab”. Does this term apply to the Jews and Christians of today with their gross violations of all the divine rules and teachings imbedded in the revealed books? Jazakum Allah khayran.

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother in Islam, first of all, we’d like to say that we are impressed by your question, which emanates from a thoughtful heart. May Allah Almighty help us all adhere to the principles of this true Religion, Islam, and enable us to be among the dwellers of Paradise in the Hereafter, Ameen.

In the first place, we would like to stress that Muslims should have good relations with all people of every religion. At school, at work, in the neighborhood, et cetera, a Muslim should be kind and courteous to everyone. Islam teaches its adherents to interact with all people and cooperate for the good and betterment of the whole mankind. Islam encourages Muslims to cooperate with everyone regardless of his/her religion or creed in all projects that are virtuous or beneficial to humanity or other creatures of God.

The Christians and the Jews of the People of the Book in our times are indeed those referred to in the texts of Shari`ah, in both the Qur’an and Sunnah, as “Ahlul-Kitab. Signs of disbelief noticed in the practices of some people of the Book, including Jews and Christians, in our times does not expel them from being “Ahlul-Kitab So, the rules and regulations related to them regarding permissibility of eating their food and marrying their chaste women are still applicable to them.

In this regard, Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author states:

 

Ahlul-Kitab or People of the Book consist of both believers and disbelievers, as indicated in the Qur’an, where Allah mentions the disbelievers among them, saying, “O people of the Book! Why do you disbelieve in the verses [about Prophet Muhammad] of Allah, while you (yourselves) bear witness (to their truth).” (Al `Imran: 70)

And, “Say: O people of the Book! Why do you stop those who believe from the path of Allah, seeking to make it crooked, while you (yourselves) are witnesses? And Allah is not unaware of what you do.” (Al `Imran: 99)

Allah refers to the believers among the People of the Book, making clear the difference between them and the disbelievers; He further says: “Not all of them are alike; a party of the people of the Book stand for the right, they recite the Verses of Allah during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer. They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right and forbid evil and they hasten in good works; and they are among the righteous. And whatever good they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knows well those who are the pious.” (Al `Imran: 113-115)

These people also believe in our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and in the Qur’an which was revealed to him. Allah says, “And there are, certainly, among the people of the Book, those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They do not sell the Verses of Allah for a little price, for then is a reward their Lord. Surely, Allah is Swift in account.” (Al `Imran: 199)

Signs of disbelief noticed in the practices of some people of the Book, including Jews and Christians, in our times does not expel them from being “Ahlul-Kitab So, the rules and regulations related to them regarding permissibility of eating their food and marrying their chaste women are still applicable to them.

In another Fatwa, Sheikh Al-Munajjid adds:

The Christians and the Jews of the People of the Book in our times are indeed those referred to in the texts of Shari`ah, in both the Qur’an and Sunnah, as “Ahlul-Kitab. They are to be reckoned as unbelievers just as they were in the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). They are the people of the corrupted Torah and Injeel, as evidenced by the fact that Allah called them “People of the Book” despite their being unbelievers and their books being corrupted. Following are some Qur’anic verses that prove this fact:

“O people of the Book! why do you reject the Signs of Allah, of which you are (yourselves) witnesses?” (Al `Imran: 70)

“O people of the Book! There has come to you Our Messenger, revealing to you much that you used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary): There has come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book.” (Al Ma’idah: 15)

Excerpted, with slight modifications, form: www.islam-qa.com

 

You can also read:

Scope of Amicable Dealings with Non-Muslims

Muhammad & Jesus: Common Ground

Domains of Muslim-Christian Cooperation

Does Islam Forbid Befriending non-Muslims?

 

 

Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid