We have been blessed with the religion of Islam which guides us to the correct path. It has clear rules of what is allowed and what is forbidden.
We refer to these rules of what is allowed and what is not as halal and haram. As Muslims, we define our character through the adherence of these rules.
One thing worth mentioning is that this is a misconception that Islam restricts us as people in this world. The misconception is that we are forbidden from living our lives and that the religion places a barrier on freedom.
This is worth exploring as it is a common misconception that we should eliminate. In Islam the default position on anything is that it is allowed. Only if through the evidence of what Allah SWT and the Prophet SAWS has conveyed should something be considered Haram and therefore forbidden for us to do.
The other point to remember in reference to this is that time and time again, we are being told by western science that things which were forbidden, have a negative impact in this material life as well as disobeying Allah SWT.
One example of this is the common topic of drinking Alcohol. Science tells us that it damages the liver as well as other organs but alongside that, we also know the impact it has on society through reckless behaviour during intoxication as well as the impact it has on services such as Emergency Departments in Hospitals across the country.
Dear brothers and sisters, the forbidden things, in comparison to what we are allowed to do is just a few and even these things are all things which harm us in this life also.
Alongside what is permissible and what is not is a spectrum of grey areas which are often more difficult to navigate. Often in these times, we seek the help of our scholars and our teachers. However, this is not an area that hasn’t been advised upon by the best of teachers.
The imam referenced a hadith in which the Prophet SAWS spoke of the grey areas between halal and haram.
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “What is lawful is clear and what is unlawful is clear, but between them are certain doubtful things which many people do not know. So he who guards against doubtful things keeps his religion and his honour blameless. But he who falls into doubtful things falls into that which is unlawful, just as a shepherd who grazes his cattle in the vicinity of a pasture declared prohibited (by the king); he is likely to stray into the pasture. Mind you, every king has a protected pasture and Allah’s involved limits is that which He has declared unlawful. Verily, there is a piece of flesh in the body, if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Verily, it is the heart.”
Dear brothers and sisters, what we can deduct from this is that the default position of us on the grey matters should be to avoid it where possible. We do this because, as the saying goes, it’s ‘better to be safe than sorry’. If the matter is not one that is essential to us, then why take the risk of falling foul of the one who created it all?
As we know, if we leave something for the sake of Allah SWT then certainly it will be for our benefit.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to reflect that this life isn’t one of constraint for us as Muslims. Often, when we live in a society where the forbidden is so mainstream and in fashion, we can feel constrained by the rules we abide by, but if we reflect then those rules are both for our benefit and small in number.
As the Prophet SAWS mentioned:
Verily Allah ta’ala has laid down religious obligations (fara’id), so do not neglect them; and He has set limits, so do not overstep them; and He has forbidden some things, so do not violate them; and He has remained silent about some things, out of compassion for you, not forgetfulness — so do not seek after them.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to be mindful of todays reminder as the consequences of haram activities may be that our duas aren’t accepted or that we are lacking on the day of Judgement.
And so, the reminder concludes with 3 practical tips to ensure that we make the most of this lesson.
- Be mindful of what you are doing. Life is not to be spent in recklessness. We must be conscious of what we are doing as ignorance is not an excuse.
- Ask Allah SWT to guide is towards what is permitted and to keep us protected from things that is not permitted.
- Tread the safe path, if we are worried that something that we are doing is in the grey area between halal and haram, then the best course of action is that we leave it for the sake of Allah SWT and with the confidence that He will replace that with something better.
Dear brothers and sisters, this life is a blessing in that Allah SWT gifts us with the things which make us happy. But be under no illusion, this is a test that we are all living. Some things are clear and others are masked by tradition and convention. Let us remind ourselves and one another that ultimately our return is to Allah SWT and therefore work towards returning to Him with our record worthy of presentation.