The purpose of writing this book did not extend
beyond discussing what is halal and haram in actions and outward behavior. As for the halal and haram
in the actions of the mind and the movements of the soul, it was not our intention to deal with them in this volume even
though such diseases of the soul as envy and covetousness pride and arrogance, hypocrisy and ostentation, greed and lust,
are among the major sins. Islam declares unrelenting war on them, and the Prophet (peace be on him) has warned of their evil
consequences characterizing some of them as "the diseases of earlier nations" and calling them "the razor" which shaves not
hair but religion
Anyone who studies the Qur'an and the Sunnah
of the Prophet (peace be on him) knows that soundness of heart and integrity of soul are considered as the basis of success,
both for the individual and for the society, in this world and in the Hereafter: Indeed, Allah does not change the condition
of a people until they change what is in themselves....(13:11)
The Day on which (neither) wealth nor sons will be
of no avail except to the one who brings to Allah a sound heart. (26:88-89)
Hence, the Prophet (peace be on him) has
said, The halal is clear and the haram is clear. Between the two there are doubtful matters concerning which
people do not know whether they are halal or haram. One who avoids them in order to safeguard his religion and
honor is safe, while if someone engages in a part of them he may be doing something haram, like one who grazes his
animals near the hima (the grounds reserved for animals belonging to the king which are out of bounds for others' animals);
it is thus quite likely that some of his animals will stray into it. Truly, every king has a hima, and the hima
of Allah is what He has prohibited. (Reported by al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others; the narration is taken from al-Tirmidhi.)
He then explained the value of the heart, the
source of the emotions, inclinations, and intentions which are the basis of all human behavior, saying, In the body there is a piece of flesh such that if it is good the
whole body is good, while if it is corrupted the whole body is corrupted, and that is the heart.
For the heart is the
chief organ of the body and rules it. If the ruler is good, the subjects are good, but if the ruler becomes corrupt, the subjects
In the scale of Allah it is the heart and the
intentions which have weight, not the face and the tongue:
Allah does not look at your physical features, but He looks at your hearts.
Deeds are judged by their intentions,
and everyone will be judged according to what he intended.
Such is the place of the actions of the heart
and the affairs of the soul in Islam. However, because they relate to the character of the individual rather than to what
is lawful and what is prohibited, we have not dealt with them in this volume. These inner aspects of Islam have been discussed
by other scholars and by Muslim Sufis in great depth and detail. They have referred to the moral and spiritual sins as "diseases
of the heart," have diagnosed their causes, and have prescribed remedies for them in the light of the Book of Allah and the
noble Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be on him). Imam al-Ghazzali has devoted one-fourth of his encyclopedic work about
Islam, Ihya 'ulum al-deen, to this topic, terming them "fatal diseases," since they lead a person to degradation in
this world and to the Fire in the Hereafter.
Another point to be noted is that we have dealt
here only with sins of "commission" and not those of "omission," although sins are of two kinds: doing something which is
forbidden and not doing something which is obligatory. The second type of sin was not the subject matter of this book, although
we have touched upon it here and there in the course of discussion. Had we aimed at describing the sins of omission, we would
have been discussing an entirely different subject; we would then have been describing all the obligations which Allah has
laid upon the Muslim, for unquestionably not doing them or neglecting them is haram. For example, seeking knowledge
is an obligation on every Muslim man and woman. If the Muslim keeps himself in the darkness of ignorance, he will commit sins
through lack of knowledge and consequently will not carry out his religious obligations such as salat, zakat, fasting,
and hajj, which are pillars of Islam. It is not permissible for the Muslim to abandon them without a legitimate excuse
since not to carry them out is a major sin, while to downgrade their value and ignore them is to abandon Islam.
To give another example, it is an obligation on
the Muslim ummah to muster military power to the utmost extent of its capacity in order to defend itself and to keep
the enemy of Allah and of Islam at bay. This is a general obligation on the entire community of Islam and, in particular,
on those who are at the helm of affairs accordingly, the neglect of such an important obligation is a major sin and a great
shame. We could go on multiplying examples, since the case of all the other obligations, whether individual or collective,
We do not claim to have covered the whole range
of what is halal and what is haram. In these pages we have only highlighted the most important matters which
are permissible or prohibited in the personal, family, and social life of the Muslim, especially those matters which people
neglect or consider insignificant due to their ignorance of the reasons behind a prohibition or permission. We have attempted
to show the deep wisdom of the Islamic Shari'ah in its legislations concerning the halal and haram, so
that anyone who possesses two eyes can observe that Allah Ta'ala is not arbitrary in His commandments, neither permitting
things in order to be indulgent to people nor prohibiting them in order to make their lives miserable. Rather, He has legislated
for them what is in their own best interest, safeguarding their lives, intellect, property, morals and honor, and guiding
them toward success in this world and in the Hereafter.
All man-made laws are inherently defective and
incomplete, since the law-makers, whether they be individuals, governments, or legislatures, 1imit themselves to dealing with
material considerations, neglecting the demands of religion and morality. They are forever confined within the narrow bounds
of nationalism and the interests of a sector of mankind, paying little attention to the world at large and to the wider concerns
of humanity; they legislate for the present, not knowing what lies in their future, nor what the effects of their laws will
be. Over and above all this, legislators are human beings subject to their own weaknesses, desires, and prejudices ("Indeed,
he (man) is unjust, ignorant.") (33:72) It is therefore not strange that man-made laws are shortsighted, shallow, biased
toward the material interests of the society, and that they provide only temporary remedies. It should not be surprising if
human legislation concerning what is legal or illegal is to a great extent influenced by public opinion, by lobbyists, and
by what is popular or unpopular; accordingly, things are often made legal even if it is known that they are extremely dangerous
and evil in their consequences.
One example of this may be sufficient. The government
of the United States legalized drinking, repealing the earlier legislation which had banned it. The repeal of prohibition
was enacted despite full knowledge of the evil and harm which the consumption of alcohol causes to individuals, families,
and society. In contrast to this, the Shari'ah of Islam is free of all such defects. How can it be otherwise when it
was legislated by the All-Knowing Creator Who is aware of His creation, what is suitable for it, and of what it is capable?
...Allah knows the one who makes corruption from him who sets things right....(2:220)
Should He not know Who
created (all things)? And He is the Subtle, the Aware. (67:14)
This is the legislation of the All-Wise God. He
did not prohibit anything unnecessarily nor permit anything randomly. His creation is mand His laws are harmonious.
It isthe legislation of the All-Merciful Lord.
He desires ease for human beings and does not desire hardship for them. How can it be otherwise, when He is more compassionate
to His servants than the mothers who bore them?
It is the legislation of the All-Powerful King.
He is independent of His servants and is not partial to one race or one generation, permitting to some what He prohibits to
others. How could this be, when He is the Lord of all being?
This is what the Muslim believes concerning what
Allah has made halal or haram and what He has legislated in relation to other aspects. He therefore accepts
it with a convinced mind, a contented heart, and with a strong determination to implement it. Indeed, he believes that his
happiness in this world and his success in the Hereafter depend entirely upon his observing the limits set by Allah following
His injunctions, and observing His prohibitions. In order to secure his happiness and success in both worlds, therefore, he
must restrain himself from transgressing these limits.
In order to illustrate how observant the first
generation of Muslims was with regard to the limits set by Allah and how hard they strove to implement His commands, we cite
two examples from their lives.
In our discussion concerning the prohibition of
alcohol, we mentioned how deeply the Arabs loved drinking wine and how greatly they enjoyed drinking parties. Then Allah Ta'ala
gradually turned them away from drinking until He revealed the decisive verse prohibiting it totally and forever, calling
it "an abomination of Satan's doing." (5:93 (90) ) Thereupon the Prophet (peace be on him) forbade Muslims to drink
alcohol, to sell it, or to give it as a gift to non-Muslims.
When the Muslims heard about the prohibition of
khamr, they at once brought out their stocks of wine and poured them into the streets of Madinah as a declaration that
they had abandoned drinking. Even more remarkable in expressing their total submission to what Allah had legislated was the
action of those who were engaged in drinking wine when the verse, "Will you not then desist?" (5:94 (91) ) reached
them. Without hesitating for a moment they threw whatever drinks were left in their glasses upon the ground, exclaiming, "O
Lord, we have desisted!"
When we compare this manifest success in combating
and eradicating alcohol from the Islamic society with the disastrous failure of the government of the United States (A more
detailed discussion of this comparison is given in our book, Al-'aqidah dururat li al-hayat (The Role of Belief in Life),
under the heading of "Belief and), which decided one day to combat this evil by means of laws and force, we cannot escape
the obvious conclusion that human beings do not reform themselves except by means of the Shari'ah of Allah, which relies
on the faith and the consciences of the people before endeavoring to apply authority and force.
This concerns the response of the first generation
of Muslim women to Allah's prohibiting women the display of their adornment and enjoining modesty and the covering of their
'awrah. During the period of jahiliyyah women used to go about with their hair, neck and breasts uncovered,
displaying the ornaments they wore such as earrings and necklaces. Allah Ta'ala then prohibited Muslim women this wanton display
of the period of Ignorance, commanding them to be different and distinguishable from the women of jahiliyyah by observing
modesty and by drawing their head-coverings over their hair, neck and bosoms in order to conceal them.
The following are narrations from the Mother
of the Believers, 'Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), concerning the manner in which the Muhajir and Ansar
women received the divine injunction which required a major change in their life-styles, affecting their appearance, dress,
and ornamentation. She said, "May Allah shower His mercy on the early Muhajir women. When the verse, 'That they
should draw their head-coverings over their bosoms' (24:31) was revealed, they tore up their garments to cover themselves."
(Reported by al-Bukhari.)
Once when some women were in the company
of 'Aishah, they mentioned the women of the Quraish and their merits. 'Aishah remarked, The Quraish women were indeed good,
but, by Allah, I have seen no one better than the women of the Ansar in applying the Book of Allah and believing in
the revelation. When the ayah of Surah al-Noor, 'That they should draw their head-coverings over their bosoms,'
was revealed, their men returned to their homes and recited it to their women. No sooner did the man recite it to his wife,
his daughter, his sister, or any other female relative, then she tied any piece of cloth available to her, perhaps from a
curtain having pictures on it (on her head), so that when they came to pray behind the Prophet (peace be on him), it looked
as if crows were sitting on their heads. (Ibn Kathir mentions this in his discussion of this ayah, on the
authority of Ibn Abi Hatim.)
This was the response of the believing women to
what Allah had legislated for them. They hastened to implement what He had commanded and to abandon what He had prohibited
without hesitating, stopping to think about it, or waiting. They did not even delay a day or two so that they could get a
suitable, soft piece of cloth and sew it to fit their heads and cover their bosoms, rather, any cloth which was available,
whether rough, brightly-colored, or having pictures on it, was sufficiently soft and befitting. If no other cloth was found,
they simply tore up the garments they were wearing and tied the strips to their heads, not caring about their appearance,
which, as the Mother of the believers has described it, resembled that of crows sitting on their heads.
The point we wish to stress here is that mere
academic knowledge of the halal and haram, and of the limits of these is not sufficient. Although the major
sins and principal obligations are known to every Muslim, nonetheless we find a great many of them indulging in these sins
and neglecting those obligations, and rushing toward the Fire with their eyes wide open.
If the Muslim is well-versed in the knowledge
of his religion and its Shari'ah, and at the same time possesses a fully alert conscience which safeguards the limits
so that they cannot be overstepped, he is indeed rich in all goodness. The Prophet (peace be on him) spoke the truth when
he said, "When Allah intends good for a person, He makes his own soul a watcher over him." (AI-Iraqi said, "Al-Dailami
reported it in Musnad al-firdaus on good authority.")
We end our book with the following
supplication which has come to us from the early Muslims: O Allah, make us independent of Thy haram with Thy halal,
of disobedience to Thee with obedience to Thee, and of any other than Thee with Thy bounty.
All praise is for Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, Who
guided us to this; had He not given us guidance, we would not have been guided.