Monday, November 20, 2017 - 1 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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Some colleagues who are not Muslims return to their homes with sweets bought at temples. Are these permissible to eat?

Some colleagues who are not Muslims return to their homes with sweets bought at temples. Are these permissible to eat?

Answer

It depends on the nature of such sweets or other food. If they are offered as part of the worship of deities other than God the Almighty, then they are not permissible for a Muslim to eat. On the other hand, if they are simply sold at these places and carry no religious significance other than being traditionally associated with these places, then it is permissible for a Muslim to eat them. The difference is in the intention for which they are made and their presumed associations. For example, according to traditions, certain foods sold at certain temples are thought to aid in the recovery from certain illnesses. If there is a religious aspect to this association, such as the food being kept in the temple for a particular period, or certain prayers are read there, or any such matter, then Muslims are not to eat from these foods.

But if the ingredients are considered to have healing properties, then it is perfectly permissible to eat these foods. For example, ginger is known to be very beneficial and helps in healing certain illnesses. If the food you are offered is associated with recovery from illness because it contains ginger, then that is fine. But if the healing effect is thought to be the result of a deity’s blessing, then it is forbidden to eat or use it.

You need to know what you are offered. If you are offered such foods and you are unsure whether it carries a religious association that makes it unlawful to eat, you may accept them and keep them with you and when you leave you may give them to a poor person without telling him what they are or to some animals. This spares you embarrassment and, at the same time, allows you to observe the rules of Islamic law.
And God the Almighty knows best.
 

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