Prof. Irfan Shahid looks at the present Muslim society and their attitude towards the Islamic Shari’ah and brings into limelight the importance of Halal (legitimate) and Haram (illegitimate) in the life of Muslims in the light of the Qur’ān and the Sunnah.

Islam puts great emphasis on business transactions, especially Halal (legitimate) and Haram (illegitimate). Allah clearly has defined the parameter of Halal and Haram in the Qur’ān. One should read the commandment of Allah regarding income

 before making his own judgement on the way of earning. Islam has created a scale to measure the legitimacy of income and profit on business. Allah said in the Qur’ān:

“Do not devour one another’s property wrongfully, nor throw it before the judges to devour a portion of other’s property sinfully and knowingly.” (The Qur’ān, 2:188)

“Do not devour another’s property wrongfully unless it is by trade based on mutual consent.” (The Qur’ān, 4:29)

Nowadays, people are concerned only about career, dignity, status and profession. Parents are teaching similar values to their children. The coming generation of Muslims is unaware about Islamic muamilat (business dealings) due to this practice. Some people have synchronised Islam in Prayer only. It is noticed among the new generation of the migrated European society; some youth attend the prayer in the first row behind the Imam, but when the prayer is finished, they start selling opium, which is prohibited in Islam. It is felt that the following hadīth carries a lesson for the present generation of Muslims.

The Prophet ﷺ said: “A time will come upon the people when they will not care as to how he gets his money whether legally or illegally.” (Bukhari)

Today people are much concerned about Halal foods, especially in fast-food takeaways and corporate hotels. Halal and Haram are not limited to only fiscal things like pork, alcohol, interest and gambling. Halal and Haram are also in the spiritual aspect of Shari’ah which is also based on operation and management.

A method of earning is Halal, but due to some manipulation and adultery, it may turn into Haram. For instance, a milkman daily sells milk, which he gets from his cattle but one day, he mixes some water or some chemical to increase the quantity of milk. This minute mixing makes his income Haram. Shari’ah does not allow earning income through this method. It is ظلم (oppression) in Islam.

Ramadhan is a sacred month and dedicated to worship. Eating, drinking and having relationship with the wife is prohibited in the day but it is observed in many western countries during Ramadhan that some Muslims open their restaurants, inviting people to eat and drink. Moreover, they have written on the board that they are serving Halal food. Running such a business in the month of Ramadhan is Haram. Halal income is the spirit of the body; it induces the body to do charitable work. Haram income never lets him do righteous work; it provokes the consumer to commit sins and do distractive work.

Halal does not only refer to how our food is prepared and how our animal is slaughtered but also to how we earn our money. Once upon a time, a friend sent me a photo of canned food produced in China. It was pork but on the top of the container was written ذبح علی طریقۃ الاسلام (it is slaughtered on the method of Islam). Imagine! How seriously people have taken this issue, which is next فرض (compulsory) after الصلوۃ (Prayer).

The Prophet ﷺ said: “Seeking of a Halal earning is the (next) Fardh (duty) after the Fardh (Salah)”. (Baihaqi)

He also said: “The body which consumes illicit (Haram) earning is a proper fuel for hellfire.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet ﷺ said: “Leave what makes you doubt for things that do not make you doubt.” (Tirmidhi)

Earning Halal income is a part of worship. Allah has promised to reward for earning Halal Income.

The concept of Halal and Haram is not limited to physical goods and services; it is also applicable to the method of earning and business operation.

The basic meaning of Halal is lawful. Commodities and services permitted by Allah are Halal. In the Islamic terminology, Halal is referred to any physical goods and services allowed to use and take benefit from it. Most of the goods and services are Halal except a few declared Haram in the Qur’ān and forbidden in the Hadīth.

It is a very strange situation when people are having Haram income and searching for Halal foods. When the reality of Halal and Haram is explained to the people, they contrarily argue that they are paying Zakah, so their income is Halal. They believe that they can earn some money through Haram activities and Allah will forgive them when they spend some portion of the income on social welfare of people. Some people advise not to discuss Islam outside the masjid; they think market is a separate part of human life. Islam is not concerned with market and method of earning, while more than twenty-five per cent of texts in the Holy Qur’ān and hadīth discuss the issues of Muamilat (Business Dealings).

Some may ask not to mix worldly affairs with Islam. They feel Islam is limited to five times prayer in the masjid. It seems that they have imprisoned God in Masjid. People are more concerned about Halal food than Halal income. Islam covers the broader aspects of human life. Limiting Islam to physical Halal and Haram is narrow thinking. Islam is a complete system of life and a solution to every human problem.

Eating Haram Income may change the human behaviour. Allah does not accept the supplication of a person who eats income earned through Haram activities. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has given an example of a person who travelled far, becoming dishevelled and dusty and he raises his hands to the sky, saying, “O Lord! O Lord!” while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful, and he is nourished by the unlawful, so how can he be answered. (Sahih Muslim)

Moreover, Allah encourages people to eat Halal things and discourages eating Haram things. As Allah says: “O you mankind! Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the devil, for he is to you an avowed enemy.” (The Qur’ān, 2:168)

This Qur’ānic verse explicitly indicates that consumption of Haram food and income induces a lot of mischiefs in human behaviour. Thus, it is disallowed to eat unlawful food and income. Allah has created most of the things Halal for human beings except a few that are clearly declared in the Qur’ān.

Allah has forbidden for you the meat of a dead animal, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that (any food and meat) which has been dedicated to other than Allah but if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits; then is he guiltless. Allah is often Forgiving Most Merciful. (The Qur’ān, 2:173)

Allah has mentioned in the Qur’ān the features and attributes of the goods and services that are Haram.

Forbidden for you are carrion, blood and pork, and what has been dedicated to other than Allah, and animals which have been strangled, and animals which have been killed by a blow, and animals which have fallen to their death, and animals which have been gored, and animals which wild beasts have eaten except those you are able to slaughter properly – and animals which have been sacrificed on altars, and deciding things by means of divining arrows – that is deviance. Today those who disbelieve are despaired of overcoming your religion. So, do not be afraid of them but be afraid of Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you and completed My blessings upon you, and I am pleased with Islam as a religion for you. But if anyone is forced by hunger, not intending any wrongdoing, Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (The Qur’ān, 5:3)

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “O people, Allah is pure and He accepts only what is pure.” (Muslim)

Allah said, “O Messenger, eat from good things and act righteously, for I know what you do.” (The Qur’ān, 23:51) and He further said: “O you who believe, eat from good things We have provided for you.” (The Qur’ān, 2:172)

Before the advent of Dajjal, dua (supplication) will not be accepted due to eating Haram income. Dajjal will be enforced on people when they will not have any sense to distinguish between the legitimate and the illegitimate. Mushrooming fast food industry is a key source of tangible Haram goods. People will make dua (supplication) to get rid of Dajjal, but the supplication will not be accepted due to the consumption of Haram. Most of the people will depend on Haram foods. It is noticed when a person feeds Haram to his children, the latter also behave irrationally. Children are found involved in various Haram activities, and they do not obey their parents. There are numerous negative impacts of Haram Income. Being a Muslim, one should abstain from Haram Income, Haram Foods and Haram Business.

[Prof. Irfan Shahid is an India-based Shari’ah scholar and economist. He has graduated from Loughborough University, UK. His area of studies includes Economics, Banking, Stock Markets, Islamic Finance, e-commerce, Business Studies and Islamic Studies. He has authored several books and research papers on Economics, Islamic Finance and the Stock Market. Prof Shahid has worked as an adjunct professor at various universities in India and abroad. Currently, he is associated with Mumbai University. He is also working as a consultant for Idrak International. [email protected]]

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