The Islamic Principles Pertaining To Halaal And Haraam

 

The question of what ought to be halal (lawful) and haram (prohibited) was one of the matters concerning which, prior to the advent of Islam, the peoples of the world had gone very far astray and were utterly confused, permitting many impure and harmful things and prohibiting many things that were good and pure.

They erred grievously, going either far to the right or far to the left. On the extreme right were the ascetic Brahmanism of India and the self-denying monasticism of Christianity. On the extreme left, the Mazdak philosophy emerged in Persia, advocating absolute freedom and allowing people to take whatever they wanted and do whatever they pleased, even exhorting them to violate what is naturally held inviolable by human beings.

The Arabs of the pre-Islamic era provide a noteworthy example of utter confusion regarding the criteria for making lawful or prohibiting things and actions. They permitted the drinking of alcohol, the taking of usury at exorbitant rates, the torturing and secluding of women, and many similar practices. When Islam came, the errors, confusions, and deviations with respect to the question of halal and haram were very widespread.

One of Islam's initial accomplishments was, therefore, to establish certain legal principles and measures for rectifying this important matter; these principles were then made the determining criteria on which the questions of what is halal and what is haram were to be based. Thus this vital aspect was determined according to the correct perspective, and rules related to matters of halal and haram were established on the The question of what ought to be halal (lawful) and haram (prohibited) was one of the matters concerning which, prior to the advent of Islam, the peoples of the world had gone very far astray and were utterly confused, permitting many impure and harmful things and prohibiting many things that were good and pure.

They erred grievously, going either far to the right or far to the left. On the extreme right were the ascetic Brahmanism of India and the self-denying monasticism of Christianity. On the extreme left, the Mazdak philosophy emerged in Persia, advocating absolute freedom and allowing people to take whatever they wanted and do whatever they pleased, even exhorting them to violate what is naturally held inviolable by human beings.

The Arabs of the pre-Islamic era provide a noteworthy example of utter confusion regarding the criteria for making lawful or prohibiting things and actions. They permitted the drinking of alcohol, the taking of usury at exorbitant rates, the torturing and secluding of women, and many similar practices. When Islam came, the errors, confusions, and deviations with respect to the question of halal and haram were very widespread.

One of Islam's initial accomplishments was, therefore, to establish certain legal principles and measures for rectifying this important matter; these principles were then made the determining criteria on which the questions of what is halal and what is haram were to be based. Thus this vital aspect was determined according to the correct perspective, and rules related to matters of halal and haram were established on the basisof principles of justice.

The ummah (nation) of Islam thus became an ummah occupying a position between the extremist deviations to the right and left, which Allaah describes as a

"middle ummah, the best ummah that has ever been brought forth for mankind." (Q3[Aal-Imran]:100)

To Make Lawful and to Prohibit Is the Right of Allah Alone

The second principle is that Islam has restricted the authority to legislate the haram and the halal, taking it out of the hands of human beings, regardless of their religious or worldly position, and reserving it for the Lord of human beings alone. Neither rabbis nor priests, kings or sultans, have the right to prohibit something permanently to Allaah's servants. If someone does this, he has certainly exceeded his limits, usurping the sovereignty which, with respect to legislating for the people, belongs to Allah alone.

The Qur'an took to task the People of the Book, that is, Christians and Jews, for putting the power to make lawful and to prohibit things and actions into the hands of their rabbis and priests. Allaah says:

"Do they have partners (with Allah) who have prescribed for them in religion that concerning which Allah has given no permission? (Q42[Shura]:21) 

He also says: 

"They have taken their rabbis and priests as lords besides Allah, and the Messiah, son of Mary, although they were commanded to worship no one except the One Allah. There is no Deity but He, glory be to Him above what they associate with Him!" (Q9[Tawbah]:31)

'Adi bin Hatim (RA),who had been a Christian before accepting Islam, once came to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). When he heard him reciting the above ayah he said,

"O Messenger of Allaah, but they do not worship them." The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) replied, 

"Yes, but they prohibit to the people what is halal and permit them what is haram, and the people obey them. This is indeed their worship of them." (Tirmidhi)

From these explicit verses of the Qur'an and from clear hadith of the Prophet (salallahualayhiwa sallam), the jurists of Islam grasped with certainty that it is Allah alone Who has the right to make lawful or to prohibit a matter, either through His Book or through the tongue of His Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam).

The Prohibition of Things Is Due to Their Impurity and Harmfulness

It is the right of Allaah, the One Who created human beings and bestowed innumerable gifts on them, to legalize or prohibit as He deems proper, and to place obligations and responsibilities upon them as He sees fit. As His creatures, they have neither the right to question nor to disobey Him. But Allah is not arbitrary in what He commands. Because He is merciful to His servants, He makes things halal and haram for a reason, with peoples' well-being in view.

Accordingly, He has neither permitted anything except what is pure nor has He prohibited anything except what is impure. It is true that Allah had prohibited certain good things to the Jews, but this was only as a punishment for their rebelliousness and transgression of the limits set by Allah. Thus He says:

"And to the Jews We forbade every animal with claws, and of cattle and sheep We have forbidden them their fat, except what is carried on their backs or entrails, or what is connected to the bone; thus did We recompense them for their rebelliousness, and indeed, We speak the truth." (Q6[An'am]:146)

Elsewhere in the Qur'an Allah has described other manifestations of this rebellious attitude: 

"Because of the wrongdoing of the Jews, We prohibited to them some of the good things which 1had been permitted to them, and because of their hindering many from the path of Allah, and their taking usury although they had been forbidden to do it, and their wrongfully devouring peoples wealth ..."(Q4[Nisaa]: 160-161)

When Allah sent His final Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) with the eternal complete religion to humanity after it had developed to a state of maturity, He demonstrated His mercy by removing these prohibitions, which had been a temporary penalty for a rebellious, stiff-necked people. And the coming of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) who would relieve them of this burden was foretold to the Jews and Christians, who, as the Qur'an states:

"...they find described in their own scriptures, in the Taurat and the Injeel. He commands them what is right and forbids them what is evil; He makes lawful to them what is good and makes unlawful what is foul; He releases them from their burdens and from the yokes which were upon them ..."(Q7[A'raf]:I57)

In Islam, ways other than prohibiting the good things were prescribed by Allah for the eradication of sins which include: sincere repentance which cleanses sins as water cleanses dirt; good deeds, which compensate for evil ones; spending in charity, which extinguishes fire; and trials and sufferings, which disperse sins as the winter wind disperses dry leaves.

Accordingly, we know that in Islam things are prohibited only because they are impure or harmful. If something is entirely harmful it is haram, and if it is entirely beneficial it is halal; if the harm of it outweighs its benefit it is haram, while if its benefit outweighs its harm it is halal. This principle is explained in the Qur'an in relation to wine and gambling: 

"They ask you concerning wine and gambling. Say (O Prophet): In them is great sin and some benefit for human beings, but the sin is greater than the benefit. " (Q2[Baqarah]:219)

By the same logic, if it is asked, what is halal in Islam, the answer is, the good things. Good things are those which moderate people acknowledge to be wholesome and which are approved by human beings in general without relation to the habits of a particular group. Allah says:

"They ask you what is lawful to them (as food). Say: Whatever is good is lawful to you.." (Q5[Maidah]:4) 

He also says: "Today whatever is good is made lawful to you...."(Q5[Maidah]:5)

The Muslim is not required to know exactly what is unclean or harmful in what Allah has prohibited; it may be hidden from him but be apparent to someone else, or its harm may not have been discovered during his lifetime but may be understood at a later period. What is required of a Muslim is simply to say, 'We have heard and we shall obey."

Do we not observe that Allaah prohibited the eating of pork without the Muslims being aware of the reason for its prohibition apart from the fact that the pig is a filthy animal? Centuries passed, and then scientific research discovered the presence of parasites and deadly bacteria in its flesh. And we even have a worldwide swine flu epidemic. Yet even if scientific research had discovered nothing in pork, or if it had discovered much more than this, the Muslim would still continue to believe it to be unclean.

Another example of this is in the Prophet's saying: 

"Avoid three abominable acts (that is, the one who does them is cursed by Allah and by the people): defecating in streams, defecating on roadways, and defecating in shaded places." (Abu Dawud)

People of earlier times merely knew that these were filthy acts, abhorrent to civilized taste and public manners.

With the advancement of science, we now know that these "three abominable acts" are hazards to public health, as they are the root causes of the spread of such dangerous diseases as hookworm (ankylostoma) and bilharzias (schistosomiasis).

Thus, as the light of knowledge penetrates more deeply and new discoveries are made, the beneficial aspects of the Islamic legislation relating to the lawful and the prohibited-in fact, the benefits of all its legal injunctions-become apparent to us. How could it be otherwise when they come from the Wise, All-Knowing, and Merciful God?

"...and Allah knows the mischief-monger from the one who puts things a right. And if Allah had willed, He could have put you into difficulties; indeed, Allah is Mighty, Wise ... " (Q2[Baqarah]:220)

 

What is Halal Is Sufficient, While What is Haram Is Superfluous

One of the beauties of Islam is that it has prohibited only such things as are unnecessary and dispensable, while providing alternatives which are better and which give greater ease and comfort to human beings.

 

This point has been explained by Ibn al-Qayyim (RAH): Allaah has prohibited seeking omens by drawing lots but has provided the alternative of istikhara which is a supplication for seeking Allah's guidance. He has prohibited usury but has encouraged profitable trade. He has prohibited gambling but has permitted staking on forms of competition which are useful for their (the Muslims) religious striving, such as horse or camel racing and competing in marksmanship.

He has prohibited (to men) the wearing of silk but has given them the choice of other materials such as wool, linen, and cotton. He has prohibited adultery, fornication, and homosexuality but has encouraged lawful marriage. He has prohibited intoxicating drinks in order that they may enjoy other delicious drinks which are wholesome for the body and mind. And He has prohibited unclean food but provides alternative wholesome food." (Rawdah al-Muhibbeen, p. 10, and I'lamal-Muwaqq'in, vol. 2, p.111.) Thus, when we survey the Islamic injunctions in their totality, we find that if Allah limits the choice of His servants in relation to some things, He provides them with a still wider range of more wholesome alternatives in relation to other things of a similar kind. For assuredly Allah has no desire to make peoples' lives difficult, narrow, and circumscribed; on the contrary; He desires ease, goodness, guidance, and mercy for them, according to His saying:

 "Allah desires to make clear to you and to guide you to the ways of the (righteous) people before you and to turn to you in mercy; and Allah is Knowing, Wise, And Allah desires to lighten your burden for man was created weak." (Q4[Nisaa]:26-28)

 

Whatever Is Conducive to the Haram Is Itself Haram

Another Islamic principle is that if something is prohibited, anything which leads to it is likewise prohibited. By this means Islam intends to block all avenues leading to what is haram. For example, as Islam has prohibited sex outside marriage, it has also prohibited anything which leads to it or makes it attractive, such as seductive clothing, private meetings and casual mixing between men and women, the depiction of nudity, pornographic literature, obscene songs, and so on.

Accordingly, Muslim jurists have established the criterion that whatever is conducive to or leads toward the haram is itself haram. A similar principle is that the sin of the haram is not limited only to the person who engages in it but extends to others who have supported him in this, materially or morally; each is held accountable according to his share.

For example, in the case of intoxicating drinks, the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) cursed not only the one who drinks them but also the one who produces them, the one who serves them, the one to whom they are served, the one to whom the price of them is paid, etc. This point will be discussed again later. Again, in the matter of usury, the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) cursed the one who pays it, the one to whom it is paid, the one who writes the contract, and the one who acts as a witness thereto.

Accordingly, we derive the rule that anything which assists in the doing of what is haram is itself haram, and anyone who helps another person to do it shares in the sin of it.

 

Falsely Representing the Haram as Halal ls Prohibited

Just as Islam has prohibited whatever leads toward the haram, it has also prohibited resorting to technical legalities in order to do what is haram by dubious means and excuses inspired by Shaytan. It has reprimanded the Jews for resorting to such practices. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: 

"Do not do what the Jews did in order to (technically) legalize Allah's prohibitions by flimsy excuses." (Tirrnidhi)

This is a reference to the fact that Allah had prohibited the Jews to hunt on the Sabbath (Saturday). To get around this prohibition, they would dig ditches on Friday so that the fish would fall into them on Saturday, to be caught on Sunday. Those who .resort to rationalizations and excuses to justify their actions consider such practices to be permissible, but the jurists of Islam consider them haram, since Allah's purpose was to prevent them from hunting on the Sabbath, whether by direct or indirect means.

Calling a haram thing by a name other than its own or changing its eyes moist and prevent friction between the eye and the lid. They also wash away foreign substance from our eyes. In addition, they also contain an antiseptic called lysozyme which disinfects the eye and prevents infection. The ability to shed tears is thus a remarkable feature of our wonderfully designed bodies, as is our sense of pain. What to do when in pain When a Muslim feels pain what does Islaam recommends him to do?

 

Seek Medication

Every physical pain has a cure and a Muslim is recommended to seek medical explanation and cure for it. Allaah's Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: 

"Allaah has sent down both the disease and the cure, and He has appointed a cure for every disease, so treat yourselves medically, but use nothing unlawful." (Abu Dawud)

 

There is no contradiction between using permissible physical medicines as prescribed by doctors and using spiritual medicines such as ruqyah and seeking refuge with Allaah and other du'aa's that are proven in sound reports, the two may be combined, as the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) did. It was proven that he used both kinds of treatment, and he said, "Strive to pursue that which will benefit you and seek refuge with Allaah, and do not feel helpless." The following are some of the duaas recommended in painful moments:

 

1 - It was narrated from 'Uthmaan ibn Abi'l-'Aas (RA) that he complained to the Messenger of Allaah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) about a pain in his body that he had suffered from the time he became Muslim. The Messenger of Allaah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said to him:

 "Put your hand on the part of the body that hurts and say Bismillaah (in the name of Allaah) three times. And say seven times: A'oodhu Billaahi wa qudratihi min sharri ma ajid wa uhaadhir (I seek refuge in Allaah and His power from the evil of what I feel and worry about)." (Muslim)

2 - It was narrated from 'Aa'ishah (RA) that when the Messenger of Allaah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) came to a sick person or a sick person was brought to him, he would say:

"Adhhib al-ba's Rabb an-naas, wa'shfi anta al-Shaafi, laa shifaa'a ilia shifaa'uka shifaa'an laa yughaadir saqaman (Take away the pain, O Lord of mankind, and grant healing, for You are the Healer, and there is no healing but Your healing that leaves no trace of sickness)." (Bukhari)

You should also recite al-Faatihah and al-Mu'awwidhaat, and in the whole Qur'aan there is healing, as Allaah says: 

"And We send down of the Qur'aan that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism and act on it), and it increases the Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers) nothing but loss" (Q 17 [al- Israa]:82)

3 - It was narrated from Abu Sa'eedal-Khudri (RA) that some of the companions of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) came to one of the Arab tribes. They asked them for hospitality but they refused to welcome them. Whilst they were like that, the chief of that tribe was stung. They said: 'Do you have any remedy or someone who can recite ruqyah?' They said: 'You did not offer us hospitality, so we will not do anything until you give us something in return.' Then they agreed upon a flock of sheep.

Then he started to recite the Essence of the Qur'aan - i.e., Soorat al-Faatihah - and he collected his saliva and spat at him (at the site of the injury), and he recovered. The sheep were brought and they (the companions) said: We will not take them until we ask the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). So they asked him and he smiled and said: 

"How did you know that it is a ruqyah? Take them and give me a share of them. "(Bukhari)

4 - It was narrated from 'Aa'ishah (RA) that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to recite almu'aawidhaat and blow over himself during his final illness, and when he became too ill (to do that), I used to recite them and blow over him and wipe his hand on him for blessing. Mu'ammar said: I asked al-Zuhri how he used to blow and he said:

He used to blow on his hands then wipe his face with them. (Bukhari)

Narrated AbudDarda': I heard the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) say:

"If any of you is suffering from anything or his brother is suffering, he should say: Our Lord is Allaah Who is in the heaven, holy is Your name, Your command reigns supreme in the heaven and the earth, as Your mercy in the heaven, make Your mercy in the earth; forgive us our sins, and our errors; You are the Lord of good men; send down mercy from Your mercy, and remedy, and remedy from Your remedy on this pain so that it is healed up. (Abu Dawud)

Suicide is Forbidden

However, no matter how great our pains are, we must never become desperate as to contemplate suicide. Suicide is a major sin. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) stated that the one who commits suicide will be punished with something like that with which he killed himself. Abu Hurayrah (RA) narrated that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: 

"Whoever throws himself down from a mountain and kills himself will be in the Fire of Hell, throwing himself down therein forever and ever. Whoever takes poison and kills himself. his poison will be in his hand and he will be sipping it in the Fire of Hell forever and ever. Whoever kills himself with a piece of iron, that piece of iron will be in his hand and he will be stabbing himself in the stomach with it in the Fire of Hell, forever and ever." (Bukhaari)

It was narrated from Thaabit ibn al-Dahhaak (RAH) that the Messenger of Allaah (salallahu alayhi wa sal/am) said: "

Whoever kills himself with something in this world will be punished with it on the Day of Resurrection.  (Muslim)

It was narrated that Jundub ibn 'Abd-Allaah (RA) said: The Messenger of Allaah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

 "Among those who came before you there was a man who was wounded and he panicked, so he took a knife and cut his hand with it, and the blood did not stop flowing until he died. Allaah said: 'My slave hastened to bring about his demise; I have forbidden Paradise to him. (Bukhaari)

 

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

 

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