Chapter 4: The Halal And The Haram In The Daily Life of The Muslim


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Chapter 4: The Halal And The Haram In The Daily Life of The Muslim
Beliefs and Customs

Faith (iman) is the foundation of the Islamic society, and tauheed (the belief in the existence and unity of God) is the essence of this faith and the very core of Islam. The safeguarding of this iman and of this pure tauheed is the primary objective of all the Islamic teachings and legislation. In order to keep the Muslim society purified of all traces of shirk and remnants of error, a continuous war must be waged against all belief-systems which originate in man s ignorance of the divine guidance and in the errors of idol worship.


Respect for Allah's Laws in the Universe

One of the fundamental beliefs which Islam inculcates in the soul of Muslims is that this vast universe does not run itself without any control and guidance, nor does it follow the misguided, blind, conflicting, and contradictory desires of men or of any other creatures residing in it. The Qur'an says: If Reality had been in accord with their desires, the heavens and the earth, and whosoever is therein, would have been in corruption.... (23:71)

Quite to the contrary, the universe is bound by permanent laws, as the Qur'an states elsewhere: Thou wilt not find any changes in the sunnah (practice or rule) of Allah, nor wilt thou find in the sunnah of Allah any turning aside. (35:43)

Muslims have learned from the Book of their Lord and the practice of their Prophet (peace be on him) to respect these laws of the universe, to understand and to use the causes and relationships which Allah has established among things, and to reject the alleged esoteric causes propagated by priests, charlatans, and imposters.


The War Against Superstitions and Myths

A class of deceivers known as soothsayers or diviners existed in Arab society during the Prophet's time; they pretended to know the events of the past and future through their contact with the jinn or through other secret sources. The Prophet (peace be on him) then declared war on this deception, which had no basis in knowledge, divine guidance, or a revealed scripture. He recited to them what Allah had revealed to him: Say: No one in the heavens and the earth knows the Unseen except Allah.... (27:65)

Accordingly, the Unseen is known neither to the angels, the jinn nor human beings. Acting on the command of his Lord, the Prophet (peace be on him) proclaimed, ...If I had knowledge of the Unseen, I should have had abundance of good and no evil should have touched me. Truly, I am but a warner and a bringer of good tidings to those who have faith. (7:188)

Concerning the jinn who labored for Solomon, Allah Ta'ala says: ..It became clear to the jinn that if they had known the Unseen, they would not have continued in the humiliating punishment (of their task). (34:14)

Accordingly, anyone who claims to know what pertains to the Unseen utters a falsehood against Allah and the truth, deceiving the people.

Once a delegation came to the Prophet (peace be on him) and, supposing him to be one of those who claimed to have knowledge of the Unseen, they concealed something in their hands, asking the Prophet (peace be on him) to tell them what it was. The Prophet (peace be on him) told them in plain words, "I am not a diviner. The diviner, (what pertains to) the divination, and the soothsayers will all be in the Fire."


Believing in Those Who Foretell the Future Constitutes Kufr

Islam's campaign was not confined to the soothsayers and diviners but included all those who go to them, ask their help, and believe in their superstitions and errors. The Prophet (peace be on him) said, The salat of one who goes to a soothsayer, asks him something and believes in what he says will not be accepted for forty days. (Reported by Muslim.)
He also said, "Whoever goes to a soothsayer and believes in what he says has denied what was revealed to Muhammad," (Reported by al-Bazzar, from good and strong transmitters.) for what was revealed to Muhammad (peace be on him) asserts that the knowledge of the Unseen belongs to Allah alone and that Muhammad (peace be on him) has no knowledge of it, much less anyone else: Say: I do not tell you that the treasures of Allah are with me or that I know the Unseen, nor do I tell you that I am an angel; I follow only what is revealed to me....(6:50)

If, after being aware of this clear and explicit statement of the Qur'an, the Muslim believes that some people can foretell future events and know the secrets of the Unseen, he has indeed denied what was revealed to the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him).


Divination With Arrows

For the reason mentioned above, divination with arrows was prohibited by Islam. The Arabs of jahiliyyah used three arrows for divination; on one arrow was written, "My Lord commanded me," on another, "My Lord forbade me," and the third was left blank. If they planned to go on a journey, to marry, to carry out a raid, etc., they would go to the temple where these arrows were kept. One arrow would be selected randomly. If they selected the "commanding" arrow they would proceed with their plan; if they selected the "forbidding" arrow they would not proceed with it; while if the blank arrow was drawn they would replace it and repeat the process until they received a clear indication.

The practices in our society of making decisions on the basis of what is observed in sand, seashells, tea leaves, cards, palms, of opening a book at random, and the like are similar to this practice. (This also indicates the practice of astrology, belief in horoscopes, and related matters. The Prophet (peace be on him) said, "If anyone acquires any knowledge of astrology, he acquires a branch of magic." (Ahmad, Abu Daoud, and Ibn Majah) He also said, "The astrologer is a diviner, the diviner is a magician, and the magician is an unbeliever." (Razi))

Islam has prohibited all such practices and considers them sinful. After mentioning the prohibited foods, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala says: ...And (also forbidden) is predicting the future by means of divining arrows, for that is impiety....(5:4 (3))

And the Prophet (peace be on him) said, He who consults with soothsayers or divining arrows, or returns from a journey because of an ill omen, shall not attain the high rank (in Paradise). (Reported by al-Nisai.)



In like manner, Islam condemns magic and those who practice it. Concerning those who learn magic the Qur'an says: ...They learned (only) what harmed them and what did not benefit them....(2:103)

The Prophet (peace be on him) counted the practice of magic among those major deadly sins which destroy nations before destroying individuals and which degrade those who practice them in this world prior to the Hereafter. Said he, 'Avoid the seven destroyers.' The listeners asked, 'O Messenger of Allah, what are they?' He said, 'Associating (partners) with Allah (shirk), magic, taking a life which Allah has made sacred except in the course of justice, devouring usury, appropriating the property of the orphan, fleeing from the battlefield, and slandering virtuous believing women who are indiscreet.' (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

Some jurists consider magic as unbelief (kufr) or as leading toward unbelief, and some have even advocated that those who practice it should be put to death in order to purify the society of their evil. The Qur'an has taught us to seek refuge in Allah from the evil of the practitioners of magic: (Magic should be understood to denote witchcraft, sorcery, and all related practices.) ...From the evil of those who blow on knots.... (113:4), since blowing on knots is one of the methods which such employ. The Prophet (peace be on him) said, "Whoever blows on knots practices magic, and whoever practices magic is a mushrik (polytheist)." (Reported by al-Tabarani through two chains of transmitters, one of which is reliable.)

Just as it is haram for the Muslim to consult with diviners or fortune-tellers concerning the secrets of the Unseen, it is likewise haram for him to seek the help of magic, or those who practice it, to cure an illor to remove a difficulty. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) disowned such persons, saying He is not of us who seeks an omen or for whom an omen is sought, who divines or for whom divination is made, who practices magic or asks someone to practice magic for him. (Reported by al-Bazzar on good authority.)

Says 'Abdullah bin Mas'ood, Anyone who goes to a diviner, a practitioner of magic or a soothsayer, asking something and believing in what he says, denies what was revealed to Muhammad. (Reported by al-Bazzar and Abu Y`ala on good authority.)

And the Prophet (peace be on him) said, "The alcoholic, the believer in magic, and the one who breaks the ties of kinship will not enter the Garden." (Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih.)

The sin of such things is not limited to the practitioner of magic alone but includes those who believe in his magic, encourage him, and trust in what he says. The sin becomes greater and more flagrant if the magic is used for purposes which are haram in themselves, such as sowing discord between a husband and wife, inflicting bodily injury, and other evil uses, which are popular among those who practice magic.


Charms and Amulets

In the same category is the hanging of charms, seashells and the like in the belief that they will bring about the cure of a disease or act as a protection from it. There are still some people in the twentieth century who hang a horseshoe on the door. Moreover, we still find today charlatans in various countries who exploit the ignorance of simple people by writing amulets and charms for them, drawing lines and talismans and reciting strange incantations, with the claim that these practices will protect the bearer from the aggression of evil spirits, the influence of demons, the evil eye, envy, and so on.

As far as the prevention and treatment of disease are concerned, Islam has prescribed measures which are well known, condemning those who turn away from them to the deceitful methods of swindlers. The Prophet (peace be on him) said, "Seek the remedy, for He Who created illness also created its cure." (Reported by Ahmad.)

He also said, "There is a remedy in three things: a drink of honey, bleeding by a cupper, and cauterization by fire." (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

In our time these three types of cures include, by analogy and extension, all medicines which are taken by mouth, surgical intervention, and therapies utilizing heat or electricity.

As for wearing beads, seashells, charms and amulets, or reciting certain incantations to treat or prevent illness, such practices are sheer ignorance and error, are contrary to the laws of Allah Ta'ala, and constitute a denial of tauheed.

'Uqba bin 'Amir narrated that he came to the Prophet (peace be on him) in a group of ten persons. The Prophet (peace be on him) accepted the oath of allegiance (bay'ah) from nine of them, withholding himself from the tenth. "What about him?" they asked There is an amulet on his arm," the Prophet (peace be on him) replied. The man tore off the amulet and the Prophet (peace be on him) then accepted his oath, saying, "The one who wears it is a polytheist." (Reported by Ahmad and al-Hakim; the words are from al-Hakim. Ahmad's transmitters are reliable)

The Prophet (peace be on him) also said, May Allah not fulfill the hopes of the one who wears a charm; may Allah not protect the one who hangs seashells. (Reported by Ahmad, by Abu Y'ala with good transmitters, and by al-Hakim, who classified it as sound.)

'Umran bin Hasin narrated that the Prophet (peace be on him) saw a man wearing a brass bracelet on his arm and he said to him "Woe to you, what is this?" He replied, "To protect me from weakness." The Prophet (peace be on him) said, Indeed, this only increases your weakness. Throw it away, for if you die wearing it, you will never attain success. (Reported by Ahmad, by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, and by Ibn Majah without "Throw it away" to the end.)

These teachings of the Prophet (peace be on him) penetrated the minds of his companions, and they rejected such erroneous and false practices, neither accepting nor believing in them. 'Isa bin Hamzah narrated, "I visited 'Abdullah bin Hakim who had a fever. I said, 'Why do you not wear a charm?' He replied, 'I seek refuge in Allah from that.' " In another version he said, "Death is preferable to that." The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said, "Whoever wears a charm will be left to rely on it." (Reported by al-Tirmidhi.)

'Abdullah bin Mas'ood once saw his wife wearing a knotted thread around her neck. He pulled at it and broke it, saying, "The family of 'Abdullah is free of associating anything with Allah for which He has sent no authority." Then he said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) say, 'Incantations, amulets and spells are shirk.'

Someone once said to him, "Abu 'Abdur-Rahman (as he was commonly called), we are familiar with incantations and amulets, but what are spells?" He said, "Something which women employ to make their husbands love them.'' (Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih. Al-Hakim has a shorter version, and he says it has sound transmitters.) Accordingly, a spell denotes a kind of magical practice.

Scholars say that if incantations are in a foreign language so that one does not know what is being said, they are prohibited out of fear of their being mixed with unbelief and magic. However, if what is being said can be understood and there is mention of Allah in it, it is commendable because it is then a supplication to Allah and is not meant to be a cure or a medicine. The incantations of jahiliyyah were intermixed with magical formulae, polytheistic phrases, and nonsensical utterances.

It is reported that 'Abdullah bin Mas'ood forbade his wife to utter such jahili incantations. She told him, "I went out one day and saw such and such person. One of my eyes then began to water (meaning that it was the effect of his evil eye and envy). But when I recited an incantation it stopped watering, and when I left off reciting it, the eye started watering again." Ibn Mas'ood said, "That is Satan. When you obey him he leaves you alone, but when you disobey him he stabs your eye with his finger. But if you do as the Prophet (peace be on him) did, it will be better for you and will most probably cure your eye. Bathe your eye with water and say, Remove the hurt, O Lord of mankind. Heal me; Thou art the Healer. There is no cure except Thy cure which leaves behind no disease. (This is Ibn Majah's wording. Abu Daoud has a shorter version of this hadith, and al-Hakim a shorter one than either of the preceding.)



Drawing evil omens from certain articles, places, times, individuals, and the like was, and still is, a current superstition. In antiquity, the people of the Prophet Salih (peace be on him) said to him, We augur an evil omen of thee and those with thee....(27:47)

And whenever a calamity struck them, Pharaoh and his people ...ascribed it to evil omens connected with Moses and those with him. (7:31)

Many times, when Allah Ta'ala tried the unbelievers by sending a calamity, they would say to the messengers of Allah (peace be on them all), ...Indeed, we augur an evil omen from you. (36:18)
The reply of the messengers was, Your auguring of evil omens is with yourselves (36:19), meaning, "The cause of your evil omens is in your own attitude, stemming from your unbelief, stubbornness, and arrogance in regard to Allah and His messengers."

The Arabs of jahiliyyah had a long history of such practices associated with a variety of beliefs which persisted until the coming of Islam, which abolished all such notions and brought the people back to the way of sound reason. The Prophet (peace be on him) classified the auguring of evil omens with divination and magic in his saying, He is not of us who seeks for evil omens or for whom evil omens are sought, who divines or for whom divination is made, who practices magic or for whom magic is practiced. (Reported by al-Tabarani on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas through good transmi.)
The Prophet (peace be on him) also said, "Augury from drawing lines in the sand, from the flight of birds, and from stones pertains to shirk." (Reported by Abu Daoud, al-Nisai, and Ibn Hibban in his Sahih.)

The auguring of omens has no basis in science or in reality but is a weakness of the mind and a superstition. How can a sane human being believe that a certain person or place, the cry of a bird, the flick of an eyelid, or the hearing of a certain word can bode something evil? Even if there is some weakness in human nature which is conducive to the seeking of omens from certain things, one should not surrender to this weakness, especially when a decision is to be made or an action is to be taken. It is stated in a hadith that No one is free of three things: suspicion, auguring evil omens, and envy. Thus, if you have a suspicion, do not pursue it; if you augur an evil omen, do not turn back; and if you are envious, do not transgress. (Reported by al-Tabarani.)

In this way these three things will remain mere thoughts which cross the mind without affecting the actual behavior, and Allah Ta'ala will forgive them. Ibn Mas'ood reported the Prophet (peace be on him) as saying three times, "Auguring evil omens is shirk (polytheism)."

And Ibn Mas'ood added, "None of us fails to be affected by this, but Allah removes such influences through our trust in Him" (Reported by Abu Daoud and al-Tirmidhi.), meaning that although there is no one among us who is not affected by this weakness at one time or another, this weakness is removed from the heart of the person who turns to Allah, trusting in Him and not letting such ideas obsess him.


The War Against Jahili Customs

On the one hand Islam launched an attack on jahili beliefs and superstitions which were a threat to reason, morals, and manners, and on the other, on jahili customs, which were the product of chauvinism: boastfulness, pride, and the glorification of the tribe.


No Chauvinism in Islam

Islam's first step in this direction was to reduce every kind of group chauvinism to dust, forbidding the Muslim to revive any of the disputes of such chauvinism or to summon others toward it. The Prophet (peace be on him) declared himself free of responsibility for anyone who practices it, saying, He who calls others to group chauvinism does not belong to us; he who fights for the sake of group chauvinism does not belong to us; and he who dies upholding group chauvinism does not belong to us. (Reported by Abu Daoud.)

There is no special distinction for a certain color of skin, a particular race of mankind, or a special region of the earth. The Muslim is forbidden to be a partisan of one race against another, one people against another, or one country against another. It is not permissible for a believer in Allah and the Last Day to support his people without regard for whether they are right or wrong, just or unjust.

Wathilah bin al-Asq'a narrated, "I asked, 'O Messenger of Allah, what is chauvinism?' and he replied, That you should help your people in wrongdoing." (Reported by Abu Daoud.)
And Allah Ta'ala says: O you who believe, be steadfast in justice, as witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or parents or kindred. (4:135)
...And do not let hatred of (other) people cause you to deviate from justice. (5:9 (8))

"Help your brother, whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed," was a well-known proverb in pre-Islamic jahiliyyah which people used to take literally. The Prophet (peace be on him) changed its meaning in a subtle fashion. After the faith was firmly established in the hearts of his Companions, he once repeated this proverb to them. They were shocked, saying, "O Messenger of Allah, we know how to help the oppressed, but how can we help the oppressor?" He replied, "Stop him from wrongdoing; that is helping him." (Reported by al-Bukhari.)

We know from these statements that a call toward nationalism or racism is a call of jahiliyyah, and Islam, its Prophet (peace be on him), and its Book have totally rejected it. Islam does not recognize any loyalty other than to its belief, any relationship other than that of its brotherhood, or any differentiation among human beings other than on the basis of belief and unbelief .Even though he may be a fellow countryman, a relative, or one's own blood brother, the unbeliever who shows hostility to Islam is an enemy to the Muslim. Says Allah Ta'ala: Thou wilt not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day loving those who resist Allah and His Messenger, even if they are their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred....(58:22)
O you who believe, do not take your fathers or your brothers as friends if they love unbelief more than faith....(9:23)


Lineage is Without Significance

Al-Bukhari reported that Abu Dharr and Bilal, the Abyssinian, both of whom were among the earliest Muslims, once quarreled and insulted each other. Carried away by his anger, Abu Dharr said to Bilal, "You son of a black woman!" Bilal complained about this to the Prophet (peace be on him), who turned to Abu Dharr, saying, "Are you taunting him about his mother? There is still some influence of jahiliyyah in you!'' (Reported by al-Bukhari.)

Abu Dharr narrated that the Prophet (peace be on him) said to him, "Look! You are no better than a white or black man unless you excel in the fear of Allah." (Reported by al-Bukhari.)
The Prophet (peace be on him) also said, "You are all children of Adam, and Adam was created of dust." (Reported by Ahmad.)

Thus Islam made it haram for the Muslim to boast about his genealogy and kinship, mentioning his forefathers and saying, "I am the son of such and such," or "I am white and you are black, I am an Arab and you are a non-Arab." What is the value of kinships and genealogies when all people come from one single origin? And even supposing that genealogy had value, how does it add to the credit or debit of a person to have been born to this or that father? Said the Prophet (peace be on him), These genealogies of yours are not a reason to revile anyone. You are all children of Adam. No one has superiority over another except in religion and taqwa (the fear of Allah). (Reported by al-Bazzar)
Mankind is descended from Adam and Eve....On the Day of Resurrection Allah will not ask you about your kinships and genealogies. The most honorable among you in the sight of Allah is the one who is the most God-fearing (mutaqqi). (Reported by Ahmad.)

The Prophet (peace be on him) launched a fierce attack on those who boast about their fathers and grandfathers, saying, Let people cease to boast about their ancestors who have died, who are merely fuel in hell, or they will certainly be of less account than the beetle which rolls dung with its nose. Allah has removed from you the pride of jahiliyyah and its boasting about ancestors. One is either a God-fearing Believer or a wicked sinner. All people are children of Adam, and Adam was created from dust. (Reported by Abu Daoud and al-Tirmidhi; the wording is from the latter, who classified it as good. It is also reported by al-Bayhaqi through good transmitters.)

People who boast about their remote ancestors among the pharaohs or the choesroes (the rulers of ancient Persia) and the like should take note of this hadith. As the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) has stated, these ancestors of theirs, whether Arab or non-Arab, or pre-Islamic jahiliyyah, are nothing but the fuel of hell.

During the Farewell Pilgrimage, while thousands of Muslims gathered in the sacred place, during the sacred month, the Prophet (peace be on him) delivered his last public address, emphasizing the basic principles: O people, your Lord is One. Know that there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab or of non-Arab over an Arab, nor of a white over a black or of a black over a white, except through consciousness of Allah (taqwa). Verily, the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah is the one who has most taqwa. (Reported by Ahmad.)


Mourning for the Dead

Among the customs of jahiliyyah which were denounced by Islam was the prof wailing, lamenting, and showing excessive grief for the dead.

Islam's teaching concerning death is that it is not the annihilation of an individual, causing him to become non-exis, but that it is a journey from one world to another and that no amount of mourning will bring the dead back to life or change the decree of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. The Believer should receive death, as he receives any other calamity which may befall him, with patience and dignity, repeating the ayah, To Allah we belong and to Him do we return. (2:156)

The pre-Islamic manner of mourning for the dead is strictly forbidden to the Muslim. The Prophet (peace be on him) declared, " He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes, and cries out in the manner of jahiliyyah is not of us." (Reported by al-Bukhari.)

The Muslim is not permitted to wear a mourning band, discard his adornment, or change his usual attire to express his sorrow and grief. (The wearing of black as a sign of mourning is prohibited in Islam, even in the case of a widow in mourning for her husband. (Trans.))
However, a wife must observe a mourning period ('iddah) of four months and ten days for her deceased husband in loyalty to the sacred ties of marriage; in Islam this period is considered an extension of her previous marriage and she is not allowed to receive any new proposals of marriage during this period. Thus, she is required to refrain from adorning herself during that time both as a sign of mourning and in order to keep the thought of remarriage out of her own mind and that of her potential suitors. However, if the deceased is someone other than her husband, for example, her father, brother or son, it is haram for her to mourn for more the three days. Al-Bukhari reported concerning Umm Habeebah and Zaynab bint Jahsh, both of whom were wives of the Prophet (peace be on him), that at the time of the deaths of Umm Habeebah's father Abu Sufyan bin Harb, and Zaynab's brother, each of them perfumed herself, saying By Allah, I am not in need of perfume, but I heard Allah s Messenger (peace be on him) say, It is haram for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for a deceased person for more than three nights, except for the husband (for whom the period of mourning is) four months and ten days. (Reported in the Book of "Funerals" in al-Bukhari's Sahih.)

The period of mourning for the deceased husband is obligatory and should not be violated. A woman came to the Prophet (peace be on him) and said, "My daughter's husband has died, and her eye is infected. May she use kohl?" (In addition to being an adornment, kohl also possesses medicinal value for the eye.) The Prophet (peace be on him) said, No, and repeated it twice or thrice. (Reported in the Book of Divorce in al-Bukhari's Sahih. The narration here is that of Umm Habeebah, and Zainab's narrative is similar.) This demonstrates that adorning or beautifying herself during the prescribed period of iddah is prohibited to the widow. As grief and the expression of it are natural, she may mourn and weep but without wailing and shouting. Upon the death of Khalid bin Walleed, 'Umar heard some women weeping. Some people wanted to stop them from it but 'Umar said, "Let them weep for Abu Sulayman (the name by which Khalid was called), as long as they do not throw dust on their heads or start crying out."