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.
In this fatwa:
In his response to the question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Islam calls all Muslims to have friendly relations with all and sundry. A Muslim is the one who loves others, likes to be loved by them, and strives along the road to build successful human and social relations with all. This is part of our religion.
The Muslim should seize the opportunity of social gatherings that do not contain haram foods, drinks, or activities (such as dancing) to clarify the true image of Islam and call others to discover its beauty and easy teachings, even in an indirect way.
If the non-Muslim friend is offering foods that are considered halal and therefore lawful for us to consume, one can eat the same without any inhibition whatsoever.
There is no question of the permissibility of vegetarian dishes. Likewise, one can also eat meat dishes if we can ascertain that they are halal and therefore lawful for us to consume.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as well as his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) used to eat from their pagan relatives and friends before hijrah and after; they only stayed away from foods that were haram or immolated to idols.
However, if they are served in dishes or vessels specifically used for cooking or fermenting intoxicants we must avoid them; if there are no alternatives then we must have ascertained that they have been thoroughly washed.
When accepting non-Muslim friends’ invitations, it is important to tell them what we are allowed to eat and what we are not. One may do so by giving them one of the short guides such as the Muslim Guide (published by the Islamic Foundation, Leicester, England) or any other books that may mention Islamic food restrictions and guidelines.
In this way, we can avoid embarrassing ourselves and our hosts. It could be an excellent way of introducing them to our cherished beliefs and practices.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.