The Dangers of Making things Haraam, Without Having Clear Evidence, by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

6/21/19 I’m selling my car to visit my terminally ill brother in the hospital. See details at the end of the this blog post.

haran and halal.Look, if something is clearly prohibited in the religion of Islam, then it is prohibited, and there is no need to go and try to make it otherwise. Likewise, if something is clearly permissible according to our scriptures and the practice of the Prophet (SAWS), 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 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”.[1]

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[2]. 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”.[3]

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 himself, after the Prophet 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”.[4]  This is in the case of the Prophet who Allah loves more than anyone else of our ummah. Thus, even the Prophet 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 , 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”.[5]

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”.[6]  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 , 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.

Luqman Ahmad

Shaykh Luqman Ahmad currently delivers the khutbatul Jum’ah is the Islamic Society of Folsom in California. He can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com. He is also the author of the book: “The Devils Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect”, available at Amazon.com.


[1] Authentic hadith, collected in the Sunan of ad-Daraqutani.

[2] Except in the case of ibaadah (worship). Matters of worship need to be cleared by textual evidence, since the Prophet said, “Pray in the manner in which you have seen me pray”.

[3] Quran, 2:168.

[4] Quran, 66:1.

[5] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[6] Quran, 16:116.

Dismantling the Culture of Muslim Sectarianism, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

In Afghanistan it’s dreadful enough that the U.S. military machine has blown the country to smithereens, now obvious obstacles to rebuilding has been augmented by the violently competitive warlords, fighting each other for power. In Iraq, intermittent violence between Sunnis and Shiites boils like a volcanic crescendo waiting to erupt should the American forces ever decide to leave. In Kurdistan another powder keg is slowly igniting between the Kurds, the Arabs and the Turkmen.

In Tajikistan after the recent fall of the Russian empire, the country capitulated into a vicious civil war. Tens of thousands of Muslims were killed and close to a million were displaced in a conflict that although ostensibly was between fundamentalist Muslims against Marxist Muslims, was really about clan rivalry and ethno-nationalism. Whether it is civil strife in Uzbekistan, sectarian violence in Somalia, Wahhaabi-Shi’ite, or Tuareg darker-skinned Muslim clashes in Mali, or Mosque bombings in Iraq, the tragedy of Muslim on Muslim violence and intolerance in the Muslim world goes unabated.

Such is the culture of sectarianism. While hardly a Muslim innovation, we seem to have perfected it in the modern age. It’s the “my race is better than your race, my nationality is better than your nationality, my politics are better than your politics, my tribe is better than your tribe, my Islam is better than your Islam” mentality. This mindset has led us to either depend on despotic, ruthless rulers to keep us from each other’s throats, or set about trying to kill, control and marginalize each other in the name of Islam, region, political party, tribe or race. If the notion of tribal, ethnic or racial preference taking precedence over Islamic solidarity became outdated with the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, then certainly, now in the 21st century, it should have become an ancient relic of antiquity. By now, we should be laughing at our since discarded ignorance the same way that Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab once laughed at himself for the time when, overcome by hunger, he ate one his idols for lunch.

Alarmingly, this culture of Muslim-sectarianism is gradually finding its way into America. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with a little ethnic, tribal or even racial pride. Unbridled however, it swaggers into racism and very easily graduates into the type of sectarian modality that we are burdened with today. Instead of sheepishly reminiscing how once upon a time in America there were such things as an Afghani Mosque, an Afro-American Mosque, or an Arab Mosque, we find ourselves foolishly trying to relive an undignified and disastrous past of sectarianism, based on tribal, ethnic or racial loyalty. Destined for failure, the sectarian trend of American Muslims communities must be eradicated before it gets out of control. Anecdotally, it should come as no surprise to Muslims in America that we are met with intolerance when we fail at tolerance amongst ourselves. The American civil war, the numerous race riots throughout American history, and the civil rights protests of the sixties, has convinced much of America that racism, segregation and narrow-minded bigotry is counter-productive. Even biracial marriage, once considered intolerable, has become an innocuous, accepted social practice. Ironically, amongst Muslims living in America, inter-racial marriage is still largely taboo. The Prophet, peace be upon him, saw the self-destructive pattern inherent in sectarian proclivities and the potential damage that it posed to the Muslim peoples. This is why he opposed it from the very beginning. After the conquest of Mecca, the Prophet, peace be upon him, commanded Bilal, the freed African slave, to climb atop the Kaaba to make the call to prayer. After Bilal did so, someone remarked, “Muhammad couldn’t find anyone to be a muezzin except this black crow!” Others uttered similar derisive statements about Bilal. When the Prophet, peace be upon him, was informed of these remarks he summoned the men who made them and they admitted their statements. Then the verse was revealed; “Oh you people, surely We have created you from a male and a female. And We have made you into tribes and nations in order to know one another. Surely the most righteous amongst you to Allah is the most pious.” Regrettably, these types of sentiments still prevail amongst us.

During the seventies and eighties, America’s response to racismand bigotry was to embark on an elaborate, slogan-laden campaign of re-education and behavior modification. African American history entered public schools, anti-discrimination and anti-segregation policies were adopted in employment, education, finance, and politics. It took a while for people to catch on and it is still a work in progress but here we are, a generation later, and those efforts have been largely successful. Thirty years ago, sexual harassment in the work place was commonplace. However, through public awareness, extensive re-education, and aggressive prosecution, most Americans now consider sexual harassment unacceptable. There was a time when a husband could brutalize his wife, send her to the grocery store with two black eyes and not receive anything more than a furtive scowl from his neighbor. Now after a generation, a hearty bruise bearing slap in the face will get someone jail time.

In six-century Arabia, idol worship was widely accepted. However after re-education in the form of wahy (divine inspiration), not only was it abolished but never again since that time have statues been worshipped in the Arabian peninsula. Re-education, a successful tool employed by the Prophet, peace be upon him, still has merit. Muslims in America and elsewhere will never achieve the desirable standards of unity and cooperation established by our revealed texts, unless we dispassionately address the underlying causes of our malaise.

In the United States, a domestic culture has emerged that allows us to agree to disagree. We are accustomed to being able to work together, side by side for a common good. From kindergarten we are taught to get along, to work together, to play together and mend our differences. Even in the ruthless world of American politics, opposing forces frequently find common ground and build coalitions. Thus, we need to amplify the message that we neither want nor need the type of sectarianism, intolerance and racism practiced by Muslims in the Muslim world, here in the United States.

Americans as a group increasingly abhor racism. African American Muslims are exceptionally appalled by it and resist it so defiantly because for over four hundred years, they have lived through some of the worst examples of racial bigotry and subjugation in history. Much like the oblivion of many white racists in earlier times to their deranged attitudes about race and ethnicity, many immigrants Muslims fail to perceive the indifference shown to African American Muslims, or Muslims of color. Likewise, many African American Muslims also fail to realize the inherent dangers of Black Nationalism.

In the early 1960s when some of the first modern mass waves of Muslim immigrants came to the United States, an alliance between converts and immigrant Muslims was forged. They needed each other as they do now. It is lamentable that after gaining a secure foothold in American society, many immigrant communities have started to show an unhealthy indifference towards the indigenous African American and to a degree, the white American Muslim population. Obviously that is not the case for all immigrant Muslims. However, this ominous drift is strong enough that there is widespread consensus amongst those affected that it is a growing crisis. We are slowly moving away from unity and moving towards separation and disunity. This is why there is an imminent need for reeducation. Unity, like faith, needs to be taught by imams in their sermons and teachers need to address it in schools. New converts to Islam and newly arriving Muslim immigrants need to be oriented towards it from the very beginning. Although older Muslims tend to be deeply entrenched in sectarian tendencies, much hope prevails for the coming generations. However the time for re-education is now while we as Muslim peoples in America are still in our adolescence. Otherwise we may find ourselves twenty-five years from now in the same pathetically fragmented condition that haunts the Muslim world today.

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