What/who are ahlul kitab? Are Muslims a subset of ahlul kitab?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but: Ahlul kitab means "people of the book" in English. What is the "book" in this phrase, and what "people" are being referred to?

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Ahlu Al-Kitab literally means "people of the book." It refers to the Islamic belief that Allah (God) revealed (primarily) two major books prior to Islam: The Injeel (Gospel/Bible), and the Tawrah (Torah).

Hence, Ahlul-kitab is "the people of the (previous scriptures)," i.e. the Jews and Christians. It does not specifically refer to any particular sect within these two groups (eg. catholic vs. orthodox Christianity), but generally to both groups.

  • and how about ibraheem(abraham) and musa(moses) 9u7uf(scriptures), wont they be classified as books? why not?so what is a book how is it different from scriptures? – johan.i.zahri Aug 30 '16 at 16:29
  • @johan.i.zahri I don't have the citation you're asking for. I doubt that it exists in the Qur'an. For your second question, I suggest you open a new question on this site about the difference between books and "scrolls" (suhuf). – ashes999 Aug 30 '16 at 20:00
  • Injeel + Tawrrah = what Christian call "Bible". – Quidam Dec 22 '16 at 2:43

Asalamu wa alaikum,

Ahlul Kitab usually refers to the Jews and Christians. And the Book is usually the Bible and the Torah.

  • The Torah is a part of the christian Bible. – Quidam Dec 22 '16 at 2:44

Alhlul-Kitab means That have a Holly book (There religon Book that came from there Prophet). In other word Hazrat Esa(A.S) and his Ummah, Hazrat Mousa (A.S) and his Ummah, Hazrat Daud (A.S) and his Ummah And Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W) and his Ummah these are called Alhul-Kitab. Becase these Prophet have Torat, Zaboor, Injeel and Quran E Pak. These four Ummah Is Called Alhlul-Kitab.

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According to Quran (surah Alhaj), it refers to the followers of five religions: Islam, Jews, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Sabians. The origin of the word is from the Hebrew "הספר" meaning people of the book which Jews used to use to refer to themselves.

  • Can you link to evidence for including Zoroastrianism in Ahl Al-Kitab? – System Down Jun 24 '12 at 9:15
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    @SystemDown: In "al-Mizan fi tafsir al-Quran" it's said that by "مجوس" in Quran it's meant "Zoroastrianism ". – Gigili Jun 24 '12 at 20:37
  • Yeah I know "Magus" translates to "Zoroastrians", but what ayah or hadith refers to Magus as Ahl Al-Kitab? – System Down Jun 25 '12 at 2:37
  • According to the Hebrew Wikipedia, it is the other way around - the expression "עם הספר" was borrowed from the Quran, rather than the other way around. However, no citation is given. You certainly can't find it in the bible or the Talmud. Judging from a search of benyehuda.org, the expression in Hebrew was probably invented in the 19th century, the period of nascent Jewish nationalism. – Yuval Filmus Jul 2 '12 at 0:32
  • @SystemDown: The source I used says that ahlul-kitab is mentioned 31 times in Quran and mostly it's "Ahlul-kitab" versus "kuffar". If you find "Magus", you'll find the following ayah about "kuffar" so they're ahlul-kitab. – Gigili Jul 2 '12 at 17:47

Ahlul kitab literarily means "people of the book" i.e., those who were sent a prophet with a holly book. In other words, Ahlul Kitab means the Christians and the Jews...

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    This pretty much ignores the nuance of the actual question. Muslims, for example, were sent a prophet with a holy book: Are they too ahlul kitab? – goldPseudo Aug 14 '15 at 22:59

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