by Hadhrat 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'ālā addresses the best of humanity, the Ambiyā 'alayhimus salām, 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'ālā directs the command to His Messengers 'alayhimus salām. Moreover, Allāh ta'ālā has addressed the believers with a similar command, as explained by Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi 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)

Halāl and Harām Affects Your Deeds

The Mufassirīn state that the reason Allāh ta'ālā 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.

As a result of consuming halāl, du‘ās are readily accepted by Allāh ta'ālā. Once Sayyidunā Sa'd ibn Abī Waqqās t asked Rasūlullāh s to make du'ā that Allāh S make him from the mustajāb-ud-da'wah (one whose du‘ās are always accepted). Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam replied, “O Sa'd, make your food pure: you will become mustajāb-ud-da‘wah.” (At-Tabarānī, Al-Bayhaqī)

Conversely, consuming harām creates serious obstacles in the acceptance of du'ās, as can be understood from the hadīth in which Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam describes a weary traveller, unkempt and dishevelled, who raises his hands to beseech Allāh ta'ālā, saying, “O my Rabb, O my Rabb!” Despite the fact that Allāh ta'ālā 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 sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, “A person tosses a harām morsel into his stomach, and [as a result] his deeds are not accepted for forty days.” (At-Tabarānī and Al-Bayhaqī)

In another hadith Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, “Whoever's flesh has grown from harām, the Fire [of Jahannam] is more deserving of him.” (Al-Hākim)

And he said, “That body will not enter Jannah which has been nourished with harām.” (Al-Bukhārī)

On the basis of this hadīth, Sahl ibn 'Abdullāh rahimahullāh said, “Salvation lies in three things: eating halāl, fulfilling the farā'id and following the sunnah of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam.”

Learn the Rules of Halāl and Harām

Therefore, it is essential to know the rules and injunctions related to halāl and harām, and to make sure we follow them. We need to refer to reliable 'Ulamā to acquire this knowledge, without which we cannot be sure whether what we are consuming is halāl. Sahl ibn 'Abdullāh rahimahullāh said, “Consuming halāl will not be correct except with knowledge.”

It is necessary that we have the knowledge of what 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 halāl. 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 ensure 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 sallallāhu 'alayhi 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.” (Al-Bukhārī)

Cautiousness in the Matter of Halāl and Harām

It is reported in the hadīth that one night Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam found a date under his side and ate it. He then spent the rest of the night in restlessness. 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 sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam in matters of halāl and harām. The Sahābah radhiyallāhu 'anhum too went to great lengths to ensure they only consumed what was pure and halāl. Abū Bakr radhiyallāhu 'anhu had a servant who used to bring him food. On one such occasion, after Abū Bakr radhiyallāhu 'anhu had eaten some of the food, the servant asked, “Do you know what that was?”

Abū Bakr radhiyallāhu '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 radhiyallāhu 'anhu inserted his hand into his mouth and vomited out the contents of his stomach. (Al-Bukhārī)

Our pious predecessors also shared this concern. Shaykh Mawlānā Ya'qūb Nānotwī rahimahullāh 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 pure-hearted 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 sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:

When a servant [of Allāh ta'ālā] 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 two-fold.

May Allāh ta'ālā 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.

Riyādul Jannah, Vol 22 Issue 2