Halal And Haram in Islam
Allah (SWT) says in Quran:Al-Baqarah # 188
Do not eat one another’s property falsefully and do not take it to the rulers as a disputed property so that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully.
The circumstances in which this verse was revealed is mentioned in Roo-hul-Maaani.
Two companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) had a dispute about a piece of land and they brought their dispute to Prophet Mohammad (SAS). The claimant did not have any witness to support his claim. The Messenger of Allah (SAS) asked the other party, “Can you swear by Allah that it belongs to you.” He consented Prophet Mohammad (SAS) then recited the following verse by way of reminder before he swore. Al-Imran # 77
Indeed those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah’s covenants and their own oaths, they will have no portion on the day of Judgement. Allah will neither speak to them nor look towards them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them. There’s will be a painful torment for them.
The present owner of this piece of land listened to this verse and then refused to swear. He was afraid that there may be some form of cloud on his title or doubt about his ownership of this piece of land and he did not want to be a loser on the Day of Judgement. Hence Prophet Mohammad (SAS) gave this property to the claimant. Note that this verse was revealed to prevent the acquiring of other’s property by wrongful means. Similarly making a false case, false swearing and false witnessing are all Haram. In the first verse the use of word ‘Bainakum’ is very interesting. Allah is teaching us that when you usurp others wealth it encourages others to usurp yours as well. For example if one person mixes water in milk, another sells impure eatables, still another sells mixed dates. Each one is eating another’s wealth wrongfully. In fact it amounts to using ones own wealth wrongfully and nobody is a winner. Secondly it teaches us that it causes pain to others losing their wealth just like it troubles you losing your wealth. Hence treat others wealth like your own wealth in safeguarding it.
Um-Salma narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAS) said: “I am a human being like you. You bring your disputes to me. May be one of you makes more eloquent and impressive presentation and thereby I am lead to decide in his favor. Dont forget real knowledge is with Allah (SWT) alone. If it is not your right don’t take it. Since what I am giving you in this case will be a piece of Hell.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Hence we conclude that any court or even the court of the messenger of Allah (SWT) cannot make Hallal a Haraam and vice-versa.
Similar verses came in other places in Quran. Allah says in surah Al-Baqarah:# 168
O mankind eat what is lawful and wholesome in earth and do not follow the foot steps of satan. Satan is your obvious enemy.
Similarly Allah (SWT) says in Surah An-Nahl:
O The messengers, eat what is wholesome and do good deeds. Indeed Allah (SWT) sees what you do.
In these two verses the word Halal and Tayyib is used. Here Halal means what is permissible (without a knot or without restriction). Tayyib means that is Halal and furthermore you like it or are tempted to eat it.
We conclude from this that good deeds cannot take place unless we eat Tayyab. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) explained this verse by stressing that this order is not for the prophets only but for all their followers as well. The Messenger of Allah (SAS) said that the supplication of a person eating Haram is not accepted. He added: “Many people put lot of effort in worship of Allah and then spread their hands saying O Allah! O Allah! Please accept our suplication. But if their eating is haram, their drinking is haram, their clothing is haram, how would then their prayer be accepted?” (Muslim and Tirmidhi)
There are several other sayings of the Messenger of Allah (SAS) which clarify Halal and Haram for us. The Messenger of Allah said, “Those who eat Halal, follow the tradition of the Prophet and do not harm others will go to Heaven.” His companions said: “Oh Prophet (SAS) this is very common in your followers now.” The Messenger of Allah said “And there will be people in the future who will follow this as well.” (Tirmidhi)
Abdullah bin Umar (RU) narrates that the Messenger of Allah said: “If you have the following four characteristics they are enough for you, even if you did not gain anything else in this world:
(a) Safeguard covenants (b) Speak the truth (c) Treat others nicely (d) Eat Halal.
Once Sa’ad bin Abi Waqas (RU) requested the Messenger of Allah (SAS) to make a dua for him so that his supplications are granted by Allah. The Messenger of Allah (SAS) said to him: “Oh Sa’ad, If you eat Halal and Tayyab, Allah will answer all your prayers. The Messenger of Allah added: “I swear by the Allah (SWT) in whose hands is my life, when a person eats a tiny piece of an item which is Haram, none of his deeds are accepted by Allah (SWT) for forty days. When the flesh of the body is built from Haram then his body only deserves the Hell-fire.”
Ma’adh bin Jabal (RU) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAS) said: “When we are gathered on the Day of Judgment no one will be able to leave his place till he answers the following five questions:
(1) How did he spend his lifetime?
(2) How did he spend his prime youth?
(3) How did he earn his living?
(4) How and where did he spend it?
(5) How much did he act upon his acquired knowledge?
Abdullah bin Masoud narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAS) said: “I swear by God in whose hands is my life, a person is not a true Muslim until his heart and tongue become Muslim and his neighbors are safe from any form of harm from him. When a person owns Haram wealth then gives it to charity, it is not accepted by Allah. If he spends from it wont be flourish. If he leaves it for survivors he is leaving something which paves the way for them to Hell-fire. Allah does not erase bad deeds with more bad deeds. Allah however, washes out bad deeds with good deeds.”
Abdullah bin Omar (RU) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAS) addressed a group of immigrants and said: “I seek the refuge of Allah and hope that the following five characteristics are not generated among you:
(1) When there is extensive shameful behavior or permissiveness or nudity or violation of Islamic dress codes in a group, then Allah (SWT) inflicts upon them plagues and other diseases which their forefathers had never heard of.
(2) When people cheat in weighing (usurp other’s rights as was the practice of the people of Prophet Shuaib (AS)) then Allah (SWT) sends famine and a high cost of living. They experience extreme physical hardship as well as cruelty from their rulers.
(3) If they don’t pay Zakat, it stops raining in their land resulting in economic disaster.
(4) When they break the covenants of Allah (SWT) and his Messenger (SAS), the foreign enemies are sent who snatch away their wealth forcefully. (Obviously this is one of the reasons that Muslims are suffering all over the world now).
(5) If their officials do not make decisions according to the guidance of Allah (SWT) provided in the Quran then Allah creates hatred among them and they keep quarreling among themselves. (Muslim)
May Allah (SWT) save us from all of these ills. It is clear that various ceremonial activities and rituals will not unite the Muslim Ummah. They will be united by only following Halal ways.
It is very interesting to note that verse # 188 of Al-Baqarah is right after the detailed instructions about fasting where it is prohibited to use certain Halal things for a limited time during a fast. Hence, the purpose of fasting is to discipline and gain experience in constraining oneself in the use of Halal things. This training, perseverance and patience is very valuable. It will enable a person to use this experience in total abstinence of Haram things.
Furthermore, when one breaks one’s fast one should provide only Halal food. If it is Haram, the fast will not be accepted, by Allah (SWT).
Last but not least, the criteria for Halal and Haram has to be only one from Allah (SWT). Any other international conference or agreement will not solve the problem since the intentions of various parties will be tinted by their own interests. Similarly, agreements made under pressure for individual or national affairs are not impartial and hence, not valid. Only Allah’s law will be fair to all concerned for all of the times.
As mentioned earlier Allah (SWT) Himself decides Halal and Haram. It is not even left to the discretion of Prophets of any time. Allah’s system is faultless.
May Allah enable us to adhere to Halal and save us from gray areas and doubtful situations.