I have a question about Jews and Christians. Are Jews and Christians really the Qur'anic "ahl al-kitab (the People of the book)"? The reason I am asking this question is that I have a friend who says that the Jews are different from "the People of the book". He even says that Roman Catholics cannot be amongst the People of the Book. There are many Christians who worship Jesus' Statue which is even against the teachings of the Bible. He even claims that we cannot eat meal with Christians. I believe that is true but how does it put them outside: "the People of the Book" (Ahl al-kitab)? Please throw some light on this?
What makes the Jews and the Christians the People of the Book is the fact that they claim to be the followers of the Israelite Prophets (sws) who were basically the true Prophets of God. The Qur'an makes it clear that the Jews and the Christians do not follow the true teachings of God as taught by the Divine Messengers yet it accepts their status as the People of the Book. It is thus the claim from these groups that they are the followers of God that makes them the People of the Book and not the fact that they are truly following those books. The Qur'an itself says that if they followed books they would have recognized the last Messenger and the Last Book and would have followed it. The Qur'an frequently referred to the Jews and the Christians by this appellation.