A noted Saudi cleric has told a Gulf television news channel that any food, apart from meat, that is cooked or prepared by non-Muslims is halal, and so can be eaten by Muslims.
However, the statement by Mohammed Al-Jazlani, a sheikh and former judge, comes on the back of a conflicting edict by religious scholar Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manie, who is a member of Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Religious Scholars. With it, Al-Manie banned food prepared by foreign non-Muslim maids working in Saudi Arabia.
Indonesians and Filipinos make up the majority of household workers in the kingdom, where they often work as maids, drivers and gardeners. Filipinos, most of whom are non-Muslims, account for around 250,000 residents, while the population of Indonesians is estimated to be closer to 1m.
“Muslims are allowed to eat food prepared or cooked without prayers… and this is agreed on by Muslims scholars,” Jazlani told Al Arabiya in an interview this week.
He stressed, however, that Muslims should be careful not to eat in dishes previously used for serving pork or alcohol.
Sheikh Manie had earlier called for recruiting less non-Muslim maids from abroad, and urged immigration agencies to be more selective in their recruitment. He said maids from non-monotheistic religions should only be hired to do non-cooking jobs, such as cleaning.
“Do your own cooking and eat whatever you like. You have nothing to do with non-Muslim maids and those who are of non-monotheistic religions, because they are pagans,” Manie said in his Fatwa.
When asked about Muslims eating at restaurants, he said: “Do not ask or be suspicious about it except if you were told that the workers in the restaurant were Buddhist; only then, it will be a sin if you buy food from there.”