What utensils and vessels (called inaa’ in Arabic, which includes cups, plates, utensils, and the like–though we’ll call it “utensils” for simplicity) are halal to eat from? This is important–your du’a is at stake! If you eat from haraam, Allah will not accept your du’a.
Scholars agree that all utensils made from pure and clean things–other then silver and gold, because we’re prohibited from eating from those–are pure and clean. So throw out your silverware, even if it’s only partially silver; gold plating is not allowed, either.)
Is it halal to eat from the cutlery (vessels–plates, cups, etc.) and utensils of non-Muslims? This issue most impacts Muslims living in non-Muslim localities, such as North America. What’s the answer? Scholars disagree on this. Let’s look at the opinions.
Opinion 1: We can eat from their utensils, because Allah made the food of non-Muslims lawful–the only things that make their utensils najas is najas stuff.
Opinion 2: We can eat from their utensils–when necessary. Abu Tha’labah Al-Khushani asked the Prophet, “we’re in a land inhabited by People of the Book. Can we eat from their utensils?” The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: “Don’t eat from them, unless you can’t find an alternative, in which case, wash them and eat from them.”
Opinion 3: We can use them if we don’t see non-Muslims eating pork or driking wine on them. Because in one hadith–a long hadith–the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) ran out of wudoo water. He used water from a water-skin of a mushrik and made wudoo with that (as did all his companions–because of barakah).
So what’s the conclusion? Allahu ‘alim, scholars put forward opinion three–you can use their utensils–so long as they’re not used for wine or eating najas stuff–because of the hadith of the water-skin.
What about eating at non-Muslim restaurants? If you go, and they serve alcohol, pork, or najas things, and they cook it on the same skillet/pan/grill/pot/container as your food, then it’s haraam. But if it’s, for example, a seafood restaurant, and the majority of their food is ok, then it’s ok. (But, it’s preferable to avoid this situation if you can.)
Wallahu ta’ala ‘alim.
Abdul-Bary Yahya. Lecture. AlMaghrib. The Purification Act. University of Toronto, Toronto. November 2006.