The Doubtful Things between Halal and Haram

The Doubtful Things between Halal and Haram

On the authority of Abu 'Abdullah, Al-Nu'man Ibn Bashir  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them both, who said : 'I heard Allah's Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) say: "The Halal (lawful) is clear and the Haram (prohibited) is clear, and in between them there are some things that are doubtful ,which most people do not know - if they are Halal or Haram - Thus ,whoever avoids the doubtful, safeguards his religion and honor, but one who engages in the doubtful, falls in the Haram."

The example of this is like the shepherd who grazes his animals near Al-Hima (i.e. the ground reserved for animals belonging to the king ) ;it is thus quite likely that some of his animals will stray into it (Al-Hima).Every king has a Hima and the Hima of Allah is what He has forbidden. Truly! There is a lump of flesh in the human body; when it is healthy, the whole body is healthy, and when it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted. Certainly it (this lump) is the heart." (Bukhari and Muslim)


The word Halal has entered English dictionaries. It literally means lawful. In technical terms, it means the name given to the legal category of things which are permissible in Islam. Halal is that which has been made lawful through the Holy Qur'an or through the Sunnah of the Beloved Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him).

According to Islam, 'the first principle established by Islam is that the things which Allah has created and the benefits derived from them are essentially for man's use, and hence are permissible. Nothing is Haram except what is prohibited by a sound and explicit Nass (Qur'anic verse or clear, authentic and explicit Hadith) from the Law-Giver.'

This leads us to understand that the sphere of forbidden things is very small, while the sphere of permissible things is extremely vast.

Haram or Non-Halal:
Haram literally means the prohibited or unlawful. In technical language it means 'that which the Law-Giver has absolutely prohibited, the Holy Qur'an or in the sound clear Sunnah; anyone who engages in it is liable to incur the punishment in this world.'

As a matter of fact, 'there is only small number of sound and explicit texts (in The Qur'an and Sunnah) concerning prohibitions.'

In the eye Shari'a, there are different degrees of Haram. It may be major, minor and disliked.

By the way, the right to make lawful and to prohibit is the Right of Allah alone.

According to " A Dictionary of Islam ", Hima literally means "guarded ,forbidden", a portion of land reserved by the ruler of a country as a grazing ground; a private pasture. Truly, every prince has a hima, which is forbidden to the people, and the hima is the thing forbidden by him to men. In other words, the grounds reserved for animals belonging to the king which are out of bounds for others' animals. So if the others' animals extend beyond these bounds and graze in the king's hima, owners will be punished.

This is a beautiful simile to show us that those who violate Allah's Hima [prohibitions] will be punished.

Guidance and Moralities

This Hadith addresses the believer's conscience, which is the overseer whose duty is to take charge of work and see that it is properly done. In simpler words, it is the criterion that shows the Muslim's adherence to the Halal, avoiding the Haram and keeping away from committing doubtful actions.

This Hadith urges Muslims to avoid doubtful actions since committing them could lure one to dare the prohibited actions themselves.

This great Hadith leads us to mention a number of rules concerning the Muslim's behavior and conduct individually and in society. Among them are:

1. The Halal is very clear in Islam. Examples: All wholesome things, including lawful foods and drinks, clothes, good adornments, marriage, etc. since the basic principle refers the permissibility of things as long as there is no a text [from the Qur'an or Sunnah] that forbids.

2. The Haram is also clear and limited. Examples: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, wine intoxicants, killing others, perjury, ingratitude, theft, bribery, adultery, fornication, usury, interest, swearwords, insult, cheating, envy, hatred, lying and other similar things that good people avoid.

3. Whatever is conductive to the Haram is itself Haram.

4. Good intentions do not make the Haram acceptable.

5. The Haram is prohibited to everyone alike.

6. The prohibition of things is due to their impurity and harmfulness.

7. Necessity dictates exceptions.

However, this Hadith adds that 'there is a grey area between the clearly Halal and the clearly Haram. This is the area of what is doubtful. Some people may not be able to decide whether a particular matter is permissible or forbidden, such confusion may be due to either to doubtful evidence or because of doubt concerning the applicability of the text to the particular circumstances or matter in question.

'In relation to such matters, Islam considers it an act of piety for the Muslim to avoid doing what is doubtful in order to stay clear of doing something Haram. This is similar to what was discussed earlier concerning the blocking of the avenues, which lead to what is Haram.'

By the by, a Muslim is allowed to deal with one most of whose property is Halal, even eating from his food, unless the Muslim recognizes something Haram, which we are requested to avoid since eating Haram darkens the heart and spoils one's actions.

This Hadith states that doing what is Halal, keeping away from what is Haram and avoiding doubtful things constitute an indication of a sound heart, which represents the center of one's leadership and source of good and evil.

The Beloved Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: "He who gives for Allah's sake, prevents for Allah's sake, loves for His sake, hates for His sake, has achieved a complete faith."

Finally, if we direct our tendencies and activities toward good and for Allah's sake, our Iman will be perfect, inward and outward.

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