Cautiousness in the Matter of Halāl and Harām
Shaykh Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh
In light of the recent meat contamination issue that has shaken Europe, I would like to touch upon the subject of halāl and harām. For a Muslim, life revolves around doing only what is permissible (halāl) and refraining from the impermissible (harām). This applies when deciding what food we consume and in every other aspect of our lives too.
In the Qur’ān Allāh ta-ala addresses the best of humanity, the Ambiyā alyhis salaam, saying, “O Messengers, eat from the good things and act righteously…” (23:51)
The importance of the command to eat only what is good can be realised when we consider that in this āyah Allāh ta-ala directs the command to His Messengers sallallahu alyhi wasallam, and through them addresses the believers in general, as explained by Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam: O people, Allāh is pure and only accepts what is pure; Allāh has commanded the believers to do [the same as] that which He has commanded His Messengers to do: “O Messengers, eat from the good things and act righteously. I am fully aware of what you do.” And He has said, “O believers, eat of the good things We have provided to you…” (Muslim and At-Tirmidhī)
If the Ambiyā alyhis salaam those who are already pure and immune from sin are given this command, it is all the more important for normal believers to adhere to it.
Halāl and Harām Affects Your Deeds
The Mufassirūn state that the reason Allāh ta-ala mentions consuming pure things together with doing righteous deeds is that one assists and leads to the other: consuming only what is halāl and pure results in the tawfīq to do good deeds.
Once Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqās radiyallahu anhu asked Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam to make du‘ā that Allāh ta-ala make him from the mustajābadda‘ wah (one whose du‘ās are always accepted). Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam replied, “O Sa‘d, make your food pure: you will become mustajābadda‘ wah.” (AtTabrānī and AlBayhaqī)
Conversely, consuming harām creates serious obstacles to accomplishing good, as can be understood from the ḥadīth in which Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam describes a weary traveller, unkempt and dishevelled, who raises his hands to beseech Allāh ta-ala, saying, “O my Rabb, O my Rabb!” Despite the fact that Allāh ta-ala readily accepts the du‘ā of someone in that state, his pleas are not accepted because his food is harām, his drink is harām, his clothes are sourced from harām and he has been nourished with harām.
Further, the ‘ibādah of someone who consumes harām is not accepted for forty days. Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam said, “A person tosses a harām morsel into his stomach, and [as a result] his deeds are not accepted for forty days.” (AtTabrānī and AlBayhaqī)
In another hadith Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam said, “Whoever’s flesh has grown from harām, the Fire [of Jahannam] is more deserving of him.” (AlHākim)
And he said, “That body will not enter Jannah which has been nourished with harām.” (AlBukhārī)
On the basis of this hadīth, Sahl ibn ‘Abdullāh radiyallahu anhuma said, “Salvation lies in three things: eating halāl, fulfilling the farā’id and following the sunnah of the Prophet sallallahu alyhi wasallam.”
Learn the Rules of Halāl and Harām
Therefore, it is essential to know the rules of halāl and harām, and to make sure we follow them. We need to refer to authentic ‘Ulamā to acquire this knowledge, without which we cannot be sure that what we are consuming is halāl. Sahl ibn ‘Abdullāh radiyallahu anhuma said, “Consuming halāl will not be correct except with knowledge.”
We need to know what it is we are eating and drinking. It is our responsibility to check the lists of ingredients on products we buy and to be familiar with which ingredients are halāl and which are harām. We should take heed from the meat contamination scandal and be ever vigilant that the food we buy really is what it is claimed to be. It is not sufficient to take at face value any company or authority that claims to certify food as ḥalāl. We need to know that the criteria and processes such authorities use are fully compliant with the Sharī‘ah and rigorously implemented. Whether food products are certified or not, it is ultimately our responsibility and religious duty to check thoroughly and to the best of our ability, that what we purchase is halāl. We must be content at heart that we are buying halāl, and not just ignore the doubts in our hearts and be complacent. Being negligent in matters of halāl and harām is one of the signs of Qiyāmah. Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam said, “There will come a time upon the people when a person will not care where he takes from, whether from halāl or harām.” (AlBukhārī)
Cautiousness in the Matter of Halāl and Harām
It is reported in the hadīth that one night Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam found a date under his side and ate it. He then spent the rest of the night awake and restless. When his wife asked him about it he replied: “I found a date under my side and I ate it. [Then I remembered that] we had some sadaqah dates [in the house] and I feared that it was from them.” (Ahmad)
Such was the cautiousness of Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam in matters of halāl and harām. The Sahābah radiyallahu anhum too went to great lengths to ensure they only consumed what was pure and halāl. Abū Bakr radiyallahu anhu had a servant who used to bring him food. On one such occasion, after Abū Bakr radiyallahu anhu had eaten some of the food, the servant asked, “Do you know what that was?”
Abū Bakr radiyallahu anhu replied, “What was it?”
He said, “I used to practice divination in the times of Jāhiliyyah (ignorance), and I was no expert. I deceived a person, and he came to me and paid me for it, and what you just ate was from that [payment].” Hearing this, Abū Bakr radiyallahu anhu inserted his hand into his mouth and vomited out the contents of his stomach. (AlBukhārī)
Our pious predecessors also shared this concern. Shaykh Mawlānā Ya‘qūb AnNānotwī rahmatullahi alyh was once invited to a meal at a person’s house. He had eaten only one morsel when he felt that there was something wrong with the food: possibly it had not been purchased with halāl earnings. When he queried the origin of the food it turned out that indeed it was not from halāl, but he had unsuspectingly swallowed that one morsel. The respected Shaykh states that he did tawbah and istighfār, but continued to experience the negative effects of that harām morsel for months. For months he was haunted by urges to commit various sins. Such purehearted people such as the Shaykh can identify such feelings and understand them. Those whose hearts are accustomed to sin will not be able to understand this as their hearts will not feel the effects of harām.
Earnings Must be Halāl Too
Normally, when the subject of halāl and harām is discussed, we assume it only applies to food and drink. However, it is evident from this hadīth that the Sharī‘ah requires all that comes into the possession of an individual to be pure and halāl, starting with the wealth he earns. Rasūlullāh sallallahu alyhi wasallam said: When a servant [of Allāh ta-ala] earns anything from harām and spends from it, he is not blessed in it; and if he gives it in charity, he is not rewarded for it; and if he leaves it behind [after death], it becomes his provision for the [journey towards] hellfire. (Ahmad)
Indulging in usury, deceit, theft and dealing in harām commodities, such as alcohol and drugs, are all examples of harām and illegitimate sources of income. This means that if someone earns a living through harām, then no matter if the food he buys is not harām in itself; it will be harām due to the earnings with which it was bought. And if he bought harām food with this harām wealth, its severity will obviously be twofold.
May Allāh ta-ala grant us all the true understanding of halāl and harām and make us from amongst those who always consume halāl, and may He save us from all types of harām.
Courtesy of Riyādul Jannah, Vol 22 Issue 2
(February 2013/ Rabī‘ul Ākhir 1434)