A deliberation on the contexts
of 6:121 and 5:5 reveals that the condition imposed by 6:121 (that is Allah’s
name should be positively taken on slaughtering an animal) is a universal
principle and the food of the People of the Book can only be eaten if, besides
other conditions, it also fulfils this condition. These other conditions are
stated at various places in the Qur’ān. To quote Sūrah Baqarah:
Believers! Eat of the good things
that We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is Him you worship.
He has only forbidden you dead meat and blood and the flesh of swine and that on
which any name other than Allah has been invoked. (2:172-3)
In other words, just as swine, dead
meat, blood, meat on which some other name has been taken cannot be eaten from
the tables of the People of the Book, similarly meat on which Allah’s name has
not been positively taken cannot be eaten from them.
It needs to be appreciated
that 5:5 has a specific background which makes it a verse that cannot be taken
independently. Until this verse was revealed, the food of the People of the Book
was forbidden for the Muslims. The reason for this was that many lawful edibles
had been made unlawful for them by Allah as a means to punish them for their
stubbornness. Similarly, they
themselves had made unlawful for themselves edibles which were originally lawful
for them like the camel.
Consequently, after the list of lawful and the unlawful edibles was set right by
the Prophet (sws), then only were the Muslims allowed to eat from their tables.