Forbidden Limits

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Forbidden Limits


Whatever I forbid you, then avoid it, and whatever I enjoined, then perform of it what you can (Muslim)

The forbidden things are the limits set by Allah, “These are the limits set by Allah so approach them not.” [2:187] Allah indeed has threatened whoever transgresses these limits and violates them when He said, “And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein, and he shall have a disgraceful torment.” [4:14]

“Whatever I forbid you, then avoid it, and whatever I enjoined, then perform of it what you can.” (Muslim)

Avoiding what is forbidden is an obligation because the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, said, “Whatever I forbid you, then avoid it, and whatever I enjoined, then perform of it what you can.” (Muslim) What is often observed is that when one of those who follow their temptations and lack knowledge, hears of the things forbidden being enumerated, he gets upset and complains, saying: “Everything is forbidden, you did not leave a thing but made it forbidden, you made our life impossible, you are oppressing us, you have nothing but what is forbidden and disliked. The deen is easy and the matter is widely interpreted, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Oft-Pardoning.” To answer these people we say:

Allah judges what He wills, there is none to put back His judgment and He is the All-Knower, the All-Aware of things, therefore He makes lawful whatever He wills and He forbids whatever He wills. It is the essence of our worship to Allah to accept what He ruled and to submit completely. His laws originate from His Knowledge, His Wisdom and His Justice, “And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His Words. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [6:115]

Allah the Almighty has made clear to us the criterion upon which is decided the lawful and the unlawful, when He says, “For He commands them what is good and forbids them what is evil.” [7:157] Therefore what is good is lawful and what is evil is unlawful. Deciding what is permitted and what is forbidden is Allah’s right and His Alone, and whoever claims it is his right or another person’s right beside Allah is a Kafir (disbeliever) and has committed a major Kufr, such disbelief that takes him out of the Islamic creed, “Or have they partners with Allah, who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not allowed?” [42:21]

Besides, it is not permitted for anyone to talk about what is lawful and what is unlawful except for the people of knowledge who are well acquainted with the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Those who decide what is lawful and what is not without any knowledge have been greatly warned by Allah, “And say not that which your tongues put forth falsely: ‘This is lawful and this is forbidden,’ so as to invent lies against Allah…” [16:116] The unquestionably forbidden things are mentioned in the Qur’an and in the Sunnah, such as in the following verse: “Say (O Muhammad): Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty…” [6:151] Likewise, numerous prohibitions were mentioned in the Sunnah, such as what the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, said: “Verily, Allah has forbidden selling wine, dead animals, the flesh of swine, and idols’ statues.” (Abu Dawud) And he also said: “Verily, when Allah forbids one thing He also forbids its value [i.e., selling it]” (Ad-Daraqutni)

Some texts may mention the prohibition concerning a certain type such as what is mentioned in the Qur’an concerning food, “Forbidden to you are the dead animals (not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine, and the meat of that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah, or has been slaughtered for idols etc., or on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering, and that which has been killed by strangling or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by the goring of horns, and that which has been partly eaten by a wild animal -unless you are able to slaughter it before its death, and that which is sacrificed on stone altars.” [5:3] Another example is what Allah mentioned concerning marriage: “Forbidden to you (for marriage) are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your foster mother who gave you suck, your foster milk-suckling sisters, your wives’ mothers…” [4:23] Allah ta ala also mentioned what is prohibited to earn, saying: “Whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden usury…” [2:275]

Allah Who is Merciful to His servants, has made lawful to us innumerable good things, we can not even imagine their diversity. For this reason He did not mention them in detail because they are so numerous and can not be counted, however, He mentioned in details the prohibited things because their number is limited, and so that we can recognize them and therefore avoid them, as He said: “He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity…” [6:119]. As for what is allowed, Allah has made it lawful in general as long as it is good in itself for He said: “O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth,” [2:168] And so it is out of His Mercy that He made permissible for us all things in general, until they are proven unlawful, and this is out of Allah’s Generosity subhanahu wa taala. It is therefore our duty to obey and be thankful.

Some people are unable to observe the correct manners of speech when they hear what is forbidden being enumerated to them. This is a sign of their weak faith and their lack of knowledge of the Shariah. Do these people want what is permitted to them being enumerated instead, so that they become convinced that the Deen is in reality easy? And do they want all the types of good and lawful things be counted to them, so that they are reassured that the Shariah is really not making their life miserable?

Do they want it be said that the meat of slaughtered camels, beef, sheep, rabbits, deer, ibex, chicken, pigeons, ducks, geese, and ostriches is lawful, and also the dead, not slaughtered locusts and fish are lawful?

And that the vegetables, the legumes, the fruits, and all the cereals and all other fruits that are eatable are lawful.

And that water, milk, honey, oil, and vinegar are lawful. And that salt and spices are lawful.

And that the use of wood, steel, sand, stones, plastic, glass and rubber is lawful.

And that riding beasts, cars, trains, ships, and airplanes is lawful.

And that the use of air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, drying machines, mixers, beaters, juicers, grinders, all the medical, engineering, computing, and building instruments and machines, and all the instruments used in meteorology, astronomy, water exploitation, oil and mineral exploitation, and their refinement, and computers, printers, and calculators is lawful.

And that wearing cotton, wool, fur, animal hides, nylons, and polyesters is lawful.

And that in general marriage, trade, bail, exchange, hiring, professions and crafts including carpentry, iron working, machine repairing and shepherding are lawful.

Is it possible, I wonder, that we exhaustively account for all what is lawful? So what has come to these people that they fail to understand a simple fact?

As for their argument that the Deen is intended to be easy, it is a truthful statement, which they have misinterpreted and used for the wrong purpose, for the meaning of easiness in this Deen is not according the wishes and ideas of people, but according to what the Shariah came down with, and so there is a great difference between trespassing what is forbidden under the false argument that the Deen was intended to be easy -and no doubt it is- and using certain lawful permissions such as combining and shortening salahs and breaking the fast during travel, combining two salahs for the sick person and when it is raining, eating unslaughtered animals under compulsion of necessity, and other special permissions the Shariah allowed.

In addition, the Muslim should know that there is a wisdom behind the prohibitions. That Allah tests His servants with these prohibitions and so He sees how they behave. What distinguishes the dwellers of Paradise from the dwellers of Hell Fire is that the later immersed themselves in the temptations which were surrounding Hell, and the dwellers of Paradise were patiently bearing the hardship and calamities which were surrounding Paradise. Were it not for this test those who disobeyed would not be discerned from those who obeyed. Those who believe look at the hardship in anticipation of the reward and as a way of obeying Allah’s order to earn His pleasure, and so the hardship becomes bearable. The hypocrites look at the hardship with the fear of pain and deprivation, and so the burden on them is heavy, and the obedience is hard.

By abandoning what is forbidden, the obedient believer tastes a certain sweetness: Whoever abstains from a thing for the sake of Allah, then Allah will compensate him with what is better, and he will experience the sweetness of belief in his heart. This article deals with prohibitions that pertain to the aqeedah, and worship, some of which might take one out of the fold of Islam. These prohibitions are widely ignored in many Muslim societies today and the purpose of mentioning them here is.