MUHARRAMAAT – PROHIBITIONS THAT ARE TAKEN TOO LIGHTLY – INTRODUCTION
Praise be to Allaah; we praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allaah from the evil of our own souls and from our evil deeds. Whomever Allaah guides will never be led astray, and whomever Allaah leaves astray, no-one will guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allaah Alone, with no partners or associates, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger.
Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted, has laid down obligations which we are not permitted to ignore, and has set limits which we are not permitted to transgress, and has set out prohibitions which we are not allowed to violate. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whatever Allaah has permitted in His Book is allowed, and whatever He has prohibited is forbidden; whatever He has remained silent about is a concession, so accept the concession of Allaah, for Allaah is never forgetful.” Then he recited the aayah: “. . . and your Lord is never forgetful” [Maryam 19:64]. (Reported by al-Haakim, 2/375; classified as hasan by al-Albaani in Ghaayat al-Maraam, p. 14) The things which have been prohibited are the boundaries or limits set by Allaah: “. . . And whosoever transgresses the set limits of Allaah, then indeed he has wronged himself . . .” [al-Talaaq 65:1] Allaah has issued a threat to the one who transgresses His set limits and violates His prohibitions, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “And whosoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment.” [al-Nisaa’ 4:14] Avoiding that which has been forbidden is a duty, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whatever you have been prohibited to do, avoid it, and whatever you have been commanded to do, do as much of it as you can.” (Reported by Muslim, Kitaab al-fadaa’il, hadeeth no. 130, Abd al-Baaqi edition). It is well-known that some of those who follow their desires, who are weak at heart and have little knowledge, become irritated when they hear lists of prohibitions. They grumble and mutter, “Everything is haraam, you haven’t left us anything that is not forbidden! You make our lives boring and miserable. You don’t talk about anything but what is haraam, but religion is supposed to easy, not strict, and Allaah is Forgiving and Merciful.” In response to such remarks, we say: Allaah, may He be glorified, rules as He wills and there is none to put back His judgement. He is All-Wise and Aware, and He allows whatever He wills and forbids whatever He wills, may He be glorified.
One of the basic principles of our being His slaves is that we should accept whatever He decrees and submit fully to it. His rulings stem from His knowledge, wisdom and justice, and are not the matter of frivolity or foolish whims, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His words. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [al-An’aam 6:115] Allaah has explained to us the governing principle behind the allowing and prohibiting of various things (interpretation of the meaning): “. . . He allows them as lawful al-tayyibaat [(i.e., all good and lawful) as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.], and prohibits them as unlawful al-khabaa’ith [(i.e., all evil and unlawful) as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.] . . .” [al-A’raaf 7:157].
So what is good and pure is halaal, and what is evil and unclean is haraam. The right to determine what is halaal and what is haraam belongs to Allaah alone. Whoever claims this right or affirms it for someone else is a kaafir whose extreme kufr places him beyond the pale of Islam, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Or have they partners with Allaah (false gods) who have instituted for them a religion which Allaah has not allowed? . . .” [al-Shooraa 42:21] Furthermore, no-one is allowed to speak about matters of halaal and haraam except those who have knowledge of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. Allaah has issued a stern warning to those who speak about halaal and haraam with no knowledge (interpretation of the meaning): “And say not concerning that which your tongues out forth falsely: ‘This is lawful and this is forbidden,’ so as to invent lies against Allaah…” [al-Nahl 16:116] Things which are definitively forbidden have been clearly stated in the Qur’aan and Sunnah, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Say: ‘Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty – We provide sustenance for you and for them; come not near to al-fawaahish (shameful sins, illegal sexual intercourse, etc.) whether committed openly or secretly; and kill not anyone whom Allaah has forbidden, except for a just cause (according to Islamic law). This He has commanded you that you may understand.” [al-An’aam 6:151] The Sunnah also mentions many prohibitions; for example, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has forbidden the sale of wine (intoxicants), dead meat, pork and idols.” (Reported by Abu Dawud, 3486; see also Saheeh Abi Dawud, 977). “Whatever Allaah has forbidden, its price is also forbidden.” (Reported by al-Daaraqutni, 3/7; it is a saheeh hadeeth). Some texts mention specific types or groups of prohibitions, such as when Allaah forbids certain types of food (interpretation of the meaning): “Forbidden to you (for food) are: al-maytatah (the dead animals – cattle-beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine, and the meat of that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allaah, or has been slaughtered for idols, etc., or on which Allaah’s name has not been mentioned while slaughtering, and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by the goring of horns – and that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal – unless you are able to slaughter it (before its death) – and that which is sacrificed (slaughtered) on al-nusub (stone altars). Forbidden) also is to use arrows seeking luck or decision . . .” [al-Maa’idah 5:3] Allaah has also mentioned that which is forbidden with regard to marriage, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your foster mother who gave you suck, your foster milk suckling sisters, your wives’ mothers . . .”[al-Nisaa’ 4:23] Allaah also mentions what kind of earnings are forbidden, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “. . . Allaah has permitted trading and forbidden riba (usury) . . .” [al-Baqarah 2:275] Allaah, Who is Merciful towards His slaves, has permitted innumerable good things, of many kinds. He has not described the permitted things in detail because they are so many; in contrast, He has described the prohibitions in detail because they are limited, so that we will be aware of them and can avoid them. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “. . . He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity . . .” [al-An’aam 6:119] But what is halaal is permitted as a general principle: as long as something is good and pure, it is permitted: “O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth . . .” [al-Baqarah 2:168] It is a part of His Mercy that He has made all things halaal in principle, except where there is proof (daleel) that they are haraam. This is part of His generosity and bounty towards His slaves, for which we must obey him, and give praise and thanks. When some people hear a detailed list of the things that are haraam, they become alarmed about the rules of Sharee’ah. This is due to their weak faith and poor understanding of Islaam.
One cannot help wondering whether these people really want to be given a list of every type of thing that is halaal, so that they can be convinced that Islam is easy! Do they need for us to enumerate every type of good thing so that they can rest assured that Islam will not make their lives dreary? Do they want to be told that the meats of camels, cattle, sheep, rabbits, deer, goats, chickens, pigeons, ducks, geese and ostriches over which the name of Allaah has been mentioned, and fish and locusts, are halaal?
That vegetables, herbs, fruits and edible seeds are halaal? That water, milk, honey, oil and vinegar are halaal? That salt, seasonings and spices are halaal? That using wood, iron, sand, stones, plastic, glass and rubber is halaal? That travelling via riding-beasts, cars, trains, ships and airplanes is halaal? That using air-conditioners, fridges, washing-machines, tumble-dryers, mills, dough-mixers, meat-grinders, juicers, medical instruments, engineering tools, calculators, microscopes, telescopes, machinery for extracting water, oil and minerals, filters for purifying water, printing presses and so on is halaal?
That wearing cotton, linen, wool, camel hair, fur, permitted leathers, nylon and polyester is halaal? That in principle marriage, buying, selling, sponsorship, bills of exchange, renting, professions and trades such as carpentry, metalworking, repairing machines and tending sheep are all halaal? I wonder what would happen if we were to explain all this in detail to them. “And what is wrong with these people that they fail to understand any word?” [al-Nisaa’ 4:78] As regards their claim that Islaam is easy, this is true, but they are twisting the truth to try and prove something that is false. What is meant by saying that Islaam is easy is not that it is in accordance with their desires and opinions, but that is it easy in accordance with what the Sharee’ah has brought. There is a huge difference between violating prohibitions by making false claims about Islam being easy – although it is easy, beyond any doubt – and availing oneself of legitimate concessions such as being allowed to join or shorten prayers; to break one’s fast when travelling; to wipe one’s socks when performing wudoo’ – for one day and one night for a person who is not travelling, and for three days and three nights in the case of travelling; to perform tayammum when one is afraid to use water; to join two prayers together when one is sick or when rain is falling; to look at a non-mahram woman for purposes of marriage; to have the choice, in the case of making expiation for a broken vow, between freeing a slave or feeding or clothing the poor; to eat the meat of dead animals when necessary – and other kinds of concessions allowed by Sharee’ah.
In addition to the above, the Muslim should realize that one principle underlies all the prohibitions in Islam: Allaah is testing His slaves by means of these prohibitions, to see what they will do. One of the things that distinguishes the people of Paradise from the people of Hell is that the people of Hell indulge in the desires with which the Fire is surrounded, whereas the people of Paradise patiently endure the hardships with which the Garden is surrounded. Were it not for this test, the obedient would not be distinguished from the disobedient. People of faith look at the difficulties involved from the perspective of the reward they will earn by pleasing Allaah, so obedience becomes easy for them.
The hypocrites, on the other hand, view these difficulties as a matter of pain, suffering and deprivation, so obedience becomes a heavy burden on them. By foregoing what is prohibited, the obedient person gains much more: whoever forsakes something for the sake of Allaah, Allaah will compensate him with something better, and he will enjoy the sweet taste of faith in his heart. This paper discusses a number of the prohibitions that have been proven in Sharee’ah, based on evidence from the Qur’aan and Sunnah. (Some scholars have grouped the prohibitions under headings such as al-kabaa’ir or major sins.
Among the best books on the topic is Tanbeeh al-ghaafileen ‘an a’maal al-jaahileen by Ibn al-Nahhaas al-Dimashqi, may Allaah have mercy on him). These prohibitions include actions which are widely practised among many Muslims. By mentioning them my intention is to correct and advise people. I ask Allaah to guide me and my Muslim brothers, and to help us to adhere to the limits which He has set and to avoid the things that He has prohibited, and to save us from our evil deeds. And Allaah is the Best to guard, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.
MUHARRAMAAT – PROHIBITIONS THAT ARE TAKEN TOO LIGHTLY
English Translation Book by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid