Look, if something is clearly prohibited in the religion of Islam, then it is prohibited, and no need to go and try to make it otherwise. Likewise, if something is clearly permissible, then no one should be hard pressed to find a reason to make it prohibited. One area where people have become very unstable in their religion, is when they become obsessed with making things haraam, which were not previously haraam by the Book or the Sunna. Granted there are things in the religion of Islam which God has clearly made prohibited; fornication, stealing, lying, intoxicants, murder, backbiting, paganism, and so on, where there is clear textual evidence. However, there are other things, for which there is no clear evidence from the Book or from the Sunna, which renders it prohibited. Yet, people insist upon making them prohibited using triangular reasoning, as if Allah somehow forgot to make these things prohibited. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, Allah has made duties obligatory, so do not neglect them; and He has set limits, so do not transgress them; and He has remained silent concerning things as mercy for you, not out of forgetfulness, so do not search them out”.
There are far more things that are permissible in Islam, than there are prohibited. This is by Divine design, since it would be nearly impossible for someone to know the exact ruling, on everything they do in life, and it would be unreasonable for a person to research each and every action in their life, to try to find a justification for it in our religious texts. It is much more important for people to be acutely aware of what is prohibited than it is for them to be acutely aware of what is permissible. Therefore, the scholars of Islamic law, have come up with a principle of law that says that the legal basis of all things (except for acts of worship) is permissibility. The textual foundation for this rule is the verse: “O ye people! Eat of what is on earth, Lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of Satan, for he is to you an avowed enemy”.
The above verse mentions two things; lawful (halal) and good (tayyib). In other words, God places an even greater burden upon anyone who wishes to declare something on the earth as unlawful, because not only does He declare the lawful nature of things, he also clarifies that those natural things on the earth that he made lawful, are also good and wholesome. Thus when a person makes something prohibited that God has made permissible without proof, not only is he is contradicting God’s law, he is impugning God’s divine judgment, by insinuating that it is not good and wholesome, which is like saying that God makes bad choices.
This is why scholars with better discernment, and the Imams of the four schools of law, were very reluctant to render something prohibited without strong irrefutable evidence. They used to say things like, ‘I do not like so and so a thing’, or I would discourage so and so a thing’, without prohibiting it outright, because of their fear of rendering something prohibited after God has made things upon the earth permissible.
An example of how Allah looks at someone who makes haraam what Allah has rendered halal is seem in his dealing with His Beloved, the Prophet ﷺ himself, after the Prophet ﷺ made something prohibited upon himself, that Allah had already allowed him. “O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Seeking to please thy spouses. But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. This is in the case of the Prophet ﷺ who Allah loves more than anyone else of our ummah. Thus, even the Prophet ﷺ was not exempt in the prohibition of making things prohibited that Allah has made permissible.
Some Muslims are nearly obsessed with going around searching into things that are already permissible, to render them haraam, and then try to hold people as moral hostages, to these newly prohibited things that they have found some way to make prohibited. We have to counteract the cultural mindset that makes Muslims eager, and seemingly overjoyed, when they find something new, that they can declare haraam. There is enough prohibited activity in people’s lives today to keep us busy for the rest of the century.
There is no need to go about searching for new things to declare haraam. If people simply focused on avoiding the things that are already haraam by the Book and by the Sunna, they would be better off. Don’t be one of those people. The Prophet ﷺ, said, “the worst Muslim criminal amongst other Muslims, is the one who asks questions about something that was not made prohibited on the people, then it becomes prohibited as a result of his questioning”.
When people go about trying to find new things to make haraam, they have usually overlooked many things that were already haraam. If you become one of those people, you are very likely to be unsuccessful in the area of faith, and understanding of religion, because by doing so, you are bound to anger Allah in a very personal way. As Allah has said: “But say not – for any false thing that your tongues may put forth,- “This is lawful, and this is forbidden,” so as to ascribe false things to Allah. For those who ascribe false things to Allah, will never prosper”. Unless something is specifically prohibited in the Book or in the Sunna, it is better to leave it alone. Don’t be the person who jumps on the bandwagon, every time people get excited when they find something else that can call prohibited.
There is a certain legal threshold that is needed when we say that something is haraam. Something can be unethical but not haraam, or undesirable, but not haraam, or disliked, but not haraam. Many Muslims today, unfortunately, are inclined towards extremism and fanaticism, so we have to be more careful when we say something is haraam without evidence. There have been numerous instances, where Muslims, killed or maimed other Muslims for celebrating the Prophet’s birthday (which there is difference of opinion of scholars whether it is haraam or not), or where Muslims were condemned by other Muslims for visiting their families on certain days, and a few years ago, Muslims were shot dead in their homes, by other Muslims for watching the World Cup soccer match on television. Muslims routinely call each other infidels, fight and kill each other, and argue back and forth, other over issues newly made haraam issues, such as, Thanksgiving, Baby showers, birthdays and the like.
When things were doubtful, scholars of our Salaf (early generations) used to use the phrase; I do not like this or do not like that, without rendering something haraam without evidence. Notwithstanding that rendering something haraam without evidence is a major sin (kabeerah). Our goal as Muslims, should be to base our faith upon knowledge, and to try to curb the tide of extremism, and moral dysfunction in our ranks, and to stay focused upon what is clear in our revealed texts.
Therefore, never be in a rush to render something prohibited that is not already prohibited in the Book of Allah or in the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ, but concentrate first, upon those things, that we know for a fact, and that are confirmed by textual evidence (Quran and Sunna), to be haraam. If you stay focused upon these things, you won’t have time to go about searching for things to make prohibited. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.
Taken from the upcoming book: [Branches of Faith; Seventy-Seven Principles from the Quran and the Sunna that Support Stability in Your Life], by Imam Luqman Ahmad. Available in sha Allah, on January 1st, 2016, at Amazon.com.
Shaykh Luqman Ahmad is the Imam, and Executive Director the Islamic Society of Del Paso Heights in Sacramento California. He can be reached at email@example.com. He is also the author of the book: “The Devils Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect”, available at Amazon.com.
 Authentic hadith, collected in the Sunan of ad-Daraqutani.
 Except in the case of ibaadah (worship). Matters of worship need to be cleared by textual evidence, since the Prophet ﷺ said, “Pray in the manner in which you have seen me pray”.
 Quran, 2:168.
 Quran, 66:1.
 Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.
 Quran, 16:116.