The Use of Unbelievers in Cooking and Cleaning

October 28, 2007


Q: We have a non-Muslim servant, is it alright to leave her to wash the clothes I pray in, and is it alright to eat what she cooks? And should I denounce her religion and explain to her the futility of it?

A: It’s alright to use unbelieving servants in cooking and cleaning, and similarly to eat what they cook and wear the clothes they sew and wash, if the main part [lit. body] appears to be clean. Her impurity is spiritual, and the Companions used non-Muslim servant women and slaves, and ate what they brought from their native non-believing countries, so as to learn from them, for their bodies seemed to be in good shape [lit pure feeling]. However, there is a Hadith that mentions washing their cooking utensils before cooking with them, if they have been used to drink alcohol or cook non-Halal meat or pork, and washing the clothing which touched their private areas. As for denouncing their religions and showing them the futility of them, that is allowed and desired of those following the current religion [ie Islam], be it heresy like paganism, or the abrogated and updated religions, like Christianity. The shame falls on those abrogated and updated religions [not the servant herself], but you need to invite her to Islam and explain its teachings and merits and what it contains, while showing the differences between it and the other religions.
Sheik Ibn Jabreen.

Taken from Fataawa al-Maraa “Fatwas on Women” by Sheikh Ibn Baz, Sheikh Authimein, and Sheikh Jabreen. Riyadh, Dar al-Watan lil-Nashr, 1993/1414. Translated by Josh Berer

Vocabulary and Translation Notes


غسّل To wash

عاب /  يعيب To denounce – from ‘shame’

بطلان – Futility

خاط / يخيط To sew

نجاسة That which impurifies and necessitates wudu’

معنوية Spiritual, based on meaning, rather than substance

طاهر clean, pure

ميتة Non-Halal meat.

عورة – Private area, part of the body not shown in public

منسوخ – Abrogated



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