Laws of Religion
Laws of Islam Concerning Food
from the Holy Qur’an, major hadith collections
and Islamic jurisprudence
From Islamic Source Documents: Qur’an and Hadith
The Qur’an forbids the consumption of meat obtained by gambling. (Editor’s note: The mention of arrows in Qur’an 5:3 is a reference to gambling and some English translations clarify that it specifically means gambling for meat.) Food obtained from People of the Book (referring to Jews and Christians and sometimes certain others) is lawful to eat.
Muhammad ate meat from a sheep that was purchased from a polytheist. (Editor’s note: This does not mean, however, that he would have eaten meat or other food obtained from a polytheist, but only that meat from the animal so obtained was eaten.) Skins of animals obtained from pagans must be tanned to purify them before food or drink that they hold can be consumed. Plates, drinking vessels, etc., obtained from the People of the Scripture or People of the Book (which include Jews and Christians) should be used only when there is no alternative, and they must be washed before they are used for food.
Muhammad purchased grain from a Jew by mortgaging his armor because he had nothing to feed his family. He also ate meat from a sheep cooked by a Jewish woman who had poisoned the meat, resulting in a lasting effect on the palate of Muhammad’s mouth. After the battle of Khaibar, Muhammad received, and ate, a gift of poisoned meat from Jews. When he questioned the Jews about this, they said that they were testing him to see if he was a true prophet, in which case he would not be harmed by the poison.
Muhammad permitted some of his companions to solicit charity or borrow food on collateral from Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf, who is identified as a Jew. The real purpose of this was to gain access to him so he could be killed, which was done because he spoke ill of Allah (God) and Muhammad.
From Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh§): Reliance of the Traveller
According to Reliance of the Traveller, using containers or utensils of non-Muslims for food or drink, or wearing their clothes, is offensive (but not unlawful.)
§The more general term sharia is often used loosely to mean the specific derived laws of fiqh, such as those summarized here.
Abbreviations used in footnotes:
BK: Hadith collection of al-Bukhari as found here (USC website) and here (ebook download). In a few instances, the hadiths on the USC website differ from those in the ebook download, either by having slightly different numbering of the hadiths or because the hadith appears only on the USC site and not in the ebook download. Such cases are noted in the footnotes by putting either “(USC)” or “(ebook)” after the relevant hadith number when it applies to only one of these two sources.
DJP: The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, by Ibn Rushd, translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, published by Garnet Publishing Ltd, Reading, UK. Volume 1, 1994. Volume 2, 1996. Limited preview is available here (Volume 1) and here (Volume 2). Full text online and download for Volume 1 is here and here and for Volume 2 is here and here.
RT: Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, revised edition 1994, published by Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, USA. It can be downloaded as a pdf file from various websites such as this one.
SR: al-Shafi‛i’s Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Majid Khadduri, Second Edition, published by The Islamic Texts Society. It can be downloaded here.
● The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.
 QR 5:3
 QR 5:5
 BK 3:47:787, BK 7:65:294, ML 23:5105
 ML 3:712, ML 3:713
 BK 7:67:387, BK 7:67:396, BK 7:67:404
 ML 21:4743-4744
 BK 3:34:282, BK 3:34:283, BK 3:34:309, BK 3:34:404, BK 3:35:453, BK 3:35:454, BK 3:41:571, BK 3:45:690, BK 4:52:165, BK 5:59:743, ML 10:3902, ML 10:3903, ML 10:3904
 BK 3:34:283
 BK 3:47:786
 BK 4:53:394, BK 7:71:669
 BK 3:45:687, BK 4:52:270, BK 4:52:271, BK 5:59:369, ML 19:4436
 BK 4:52:271
 ML 19:4436
 RT e2.3 (page 57)