Halal and Haraam

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Ask Allah SWT to guide is towards what is permitted and to keep us protected from things that is not permitted.
  3. 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.

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Dear brothers and sisters, Allah SWT does not prohibit anything without reason. Of course, should Allah SWT prohibit anything, then who are we as His slaves to question it?

But the point here is that for the scholars throughout the ages, the scientists studying the laws of our faith, it becomes evident that what has been prohibited is impure to us, our outcome and our well-being. There is, in fact, worldly reasons to back up the divine law. A case in point is one that the khutba expanded upon and that was the topic of Alcohol.

Allah SWT refers to the topic of intoxicants in the Quran in Sura Maidah, ayat 90-91 which says:

O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.

Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?

Dear brothers and sisters, firstly, the word alcohol isn’t mentioned. The word mentioned is Khamr. Khamr is translated as that which intoxicates. This can be in any form. That means drinking, eating, snorting, injecting and smoking.

So, in this country we have a definition of intoxicant as something which intoxicates. Intoxicates is to diminish physical or mental control temporarily.

The Prophet SAWS also mentions this in a hadith:

Khamr is that which befogs the mind

So despite the popular culture of this country saying that Alcohol is ok is small amounts or smoking weed is not as bad as other drugs, our Prophet SAWS removed this ambiguity for us.

Secondly, this is an impurity. How do we know this? Because in that ayat mentions the word Rijsun. This is translated best as filth, abomination, evil and of course, impure.

Dear brothers and sisters, in order to be able to tackle the problem of our society, we ought to be able to address all the whisperings that make people hooked on these works of Satan.

But as we know, one can become dependent upon these things so how does one tackle that? The first step is obtaining control of the mind. And that comes about by confirming through the Quran and the Hadith that there is no grey area for drinks or drugs. They are impure and thus prohibited.

But earlier it was mentioned that impure things are detrimental in this life as well as the next. Does it apply here? How did the first ayat end? It ended with “so avoid it so that you may be successful”

Think about that. Allah SWT is telling you that there is a direct correlation between intoxicants and success. Engage in one and you will not experience the other. We see that in our society and on our media. Even the famous have their so-called drink demons that they fight. They also check into rehab clinics. Some commit suicide. Despite the fame and fortune, is that a success?

So let’s discuss success. Forget the fact that drink and drugs causes the mind to become lazy and directly affects your success. The question is: what is it to be successful? Money, love, children, health? Success can be different things to different people but inevitably success is happiness.

To be successful is to be happy with life. It doesn’t get measured in money, things or people around you. It how those things make you feel. Success is that feeling that the world is shining on you and you feel on top of the world.

Dear brothers & sisters, these ayats are a true miracle for those who analyse. Drink and drugs make you feel on top of the world. Let’s not dismiss that. This is fact otherwise why would people do it?

The difference is though that the happiness from intoxicants is temporary. That was mentioned in the definition earlier. Ask those who drink and do drugs and they will tell you that the so-called “come down” is so severe at times that it makes people a danger to themselves and others.

And hence more drink is needed, more drugs are needed, a bigger high is needed. The individual becomes more and more reliant on the intoxicant as time progresses in order to keep feeling happy. Alternatively they quit the intoxicant but feel depressed without it and yearn for that feeling again.

Allah SWT speak directly of this in these ayats and in His divine mercy, offers the solution directly afterwards! Allahu Akbar.

He says that Shaytaan only wants to keep you away from remembrance of Allah and prayer. Why was that mentioned straight after the ayat on success? It’s because, dear brothers and sisters, happiness is success and happiness comes from remembrance of Allah and through sincere prayer.

Subhanallah. That is some lesson. And it is truth. And it is a remedy for this society and this ill.

And lastly, the ayat ends “so will you not stop?”

You see, dear brothers and sisters, despite what you may hear, there is no intoxicant that cannot be overcome. The power to stop is within each and everyone suffering from this affliction. Allah SWT ends with the question directed at us because the control is within each and every one of us to stop. This is fact and what we believe as Muslims as this is what Allah SWT has told us in this ayat.

There is no mistaking the fact that impurities exist and affect our communities and societies. There is no mistaking the fact they are tough to overcome. But the start begins by understanding the deception of that happiness and the confirmation that it can be beaten through recognition, discussion, support and affirmative action.

May Allah SWT protect us from impurities. May Allah SWT enable us to overcome actions of impurity. And may Allah SWT reward us for our efforts in overcoming actions of impurity.

Ameen Walhamdullilahi Rabilalameen.

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