Sunday, January 23, 2022

It’s halal, say religious leaders after debate over food donated by non-Muslims to flood victims

Former minister says there's nothing wrong with Muslims eating food prepared by non-Muslims, while a state mufti says it is allowed when there's no other option.

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Religious leaders have put forth differing views on food cooked by non-Muslims as debate on the topic continues in the wake of the flood disaster that hit the Klang Valley last week.

Former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, who was in charge of Islamic affairs under the Perikatan Nasional government, said there was nothing wrong with Muslims eating food prepared by non-Muslims who are not considered people of the book as long as it does not involve animals that have been slaughtered.

The people of the book refers to adherents of Christianity and Judaism, whose food and slaughtered meat Muslims consider halal.

His explanation followed an online debate over the distribution of food from the Sikh community to Muslim flood victims.

Zulkifli, a former mufti for the federal territories, had then attempted to put a stop to the debate.

“Sikhs are vegetarian,” he had tweeted. “This means they do not eat meat at all.”

The Sikhs from the Sahib Gurdwara in Petaling Jaya, along with volunteers from a variety of backgrounds including Muslims, had been preparing hot food for flood victims throughout the Klang Valley since Dec 19.

Their efforts came in the wake of the massive floods which hit eight states, causing the displacement of tens of thousands as well as losses in the hundreds of thousands.

Several areas such as Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam, Selangor – the worst-hit state – saw houses submerged to their roofs.

Attempts to offer assistance in the form of cooked meals became the subject of heated debate after a small group of social media users began questioning the halal status of such food.

Negeri Sembilan mufti Mohd Yusof Ahmad said Muslims are allowed by religious rules to consume food cooked by non-Muslims, but only during emergency situations when food supply is cut off.

He said in such an emergency, even food cooked from the meat of slaughtered animals such as chickens is not prohibited.

“In situations where there is no other choice and it is necessary to save a life, it is a must,” he said when contacted by MalaysiaNow.

“If there are other options like bread or fruit, then take what is believed to be halal.”

Yusof said concerns over the halal status of food cooked by non-Muslims stemmed from the possibility that non-permissible ingredients such as alcohol might have been added.

Yet if an individual has other options, it would mean that he or she is not in an emergency situation and therefore cannot take food believed to be non-halal, he said.

“Leave whatever which is doubtful (in the matter of what is halal) for that which is not doubtful,” he said, quoting from a hadith of Prophet Muhammad.

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