Permissible & Prohibited UNDER Shariah LAW

Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid
13 min readJan 22, 2022


Shariah (or divine law) also has its do’s and don’ts permission and prohibition

Like many religions, Islam required a certain code of conduct for its believers. Islam contains many rules for daily life and human relationships. The first source of these rules is the Quran and the second is the hadith or reports of the prophet Muhammad’s words or actions.

In order to build a structure, the edifice is built upon a foundation and the is foundation based on the Shariah Law. Like conventional law, Shariah law also has its do’s and don’ts.

In my previous article, I explained that Shariah is derived directly from the Quran, the holy book and the Sunnah, the teachings and practices of the holy prophet, Mohammad PBUH and that together these two cover all aspects of human life.

Where an answer cannot be derived directly from these, religious scholars may give rulings as guidance on a particular topic or question.

In Arabic, Shariah literally means “the clear, well-trodden path to water”.

Shariah acts as a code for living that all Muslims should adhere to, including prayers, fasting, and donations to the poor.

It aims to help Muslims understand how they should lead every aspect of their lives according to Allah’s wishes.

Shariah can inform every aspect of daily life for a Muslim. For example, a Muslim wondering what to do if their colleagues invite them to the pub after work may turn to a Shariah scholar for advice to ensure they act within the legal framework of their religion. Other areas of daily life where Muslims may turn to Sharia for guidance include family law, finance, and business.

Islamic Jurisprudence (FIQH):

The study of Shariah law is called FIQH ( Islamic jurisprudence). In other words, FIQH can be described as the human understanding of Shariah. Fiqh, the term for Islamic jurisprudence, is a process by means of which jurists derive sets of guidelines, rules, and regulations from the rulings laid down in the Holy Quran and the teachings and living example of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Sunnah. Over the centuries, these have been formulated and elaborated upon by successive generations of learned jurists, through interpretation, analogy, consensus, and disciplined research.

Conventionally, Fiqh has been categorized into two groups. The personal aspects of the law are covered under fiqh-ul-Ibadaat while the social aspects are covered under fiqh-ul-muamulaat. Fiqh relating to muamulaat (dealings or transactions) covers the study of interactions between human beings. Conventional classifications of law like family law, contract law, property law, civil law, trust law, international law, etc. all fall under this branch of Fiqh. Islamic finance is also considered a part of muamulaat (or dealings).

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Like any legal system, Shariah is complex and its practice is entirely reliant on the quality and training of experts. Islamic jurists issue guidance and rulings. The guidance that is considered a formal legal ruling is called a fatwa.

Fatwa is a religious edict or a decree on matters that do not have clear answers from the Quran.

Usually, fatwa’s are issued by fatwa committees. A fatwa committee consists of aalim ulama, knowledgeable scholars of scriptures and laws. Any scholar producing such opinion must provide an argument and basis for that opinion, to other scholars. In some cases, ulama’s may disagree with one another and have differing fatwas.

A fatwa is merely an educated opinion, it cannot be enforced, and it is not universally accepted. The Holy Quran states that it is a sin to allow what is forbidden and to forbid what is allowed.

Fatwa is basically the Islamic ruling in any issue/area of life. A fatwa can only be given by a person who has been allowed to give from a certified institute. The person who gives Fatwa should be an aalim with an extra course done in “Fatawah”.

There are five different schools of Islamic law. There are four Sunni schools: Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanafi, and one Shia school, Jaafari.

The five schools differ in how literally they interpret the texts from which Shariah law is derived. Interpretation of Islamic law is also nuanced according to local culture and customs, which means Sharia may look quite different in different places.

Thus, we see that a fatwa is an opinion rendered by an expert in Islamic jurisprudence which serves to advise and guide but is by no means mandatory. In fact, quite often fatwas are issued, on a subject, by different muftis that run counter to each other. This can easily happen when scholars vary in the emphasis they place on the divergent sources of fiqh to derive their conclusions. Which is why, in several Islamic countries following the Shariat, fatwas are often debated among scholars and finally affirmed by a consensus determined by the supreme religious council of the country.

Permissible & Prohibited Under Shariah Law:

Just as conventional law encompasses and binds human actions, so does Shariah law. At this point, it is beneficial to understand how Shariah categorizes human actions. The ‘amaal (or actions) of human beings can either be Halal (permissible) or Haram (prohibited). On a descending scale, these are very clearly categorized as

  • Fard/Wajib (obligatory)
    - Mandub (recommended)
    - Mubah (permissible)
    - Makruh (reprehensible)
    - Haram (forbidden)

Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted in Islam. The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful, Sinful, and prohibited. Halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life. While many things are clearly halal or haram, there are some things that are not clear. Further information is needed to categorize them as halal or haram. Such items are often referred to as mashbooh, which means doubtful or questionable.

In religion Islam, there are things declared as Halal and there are things that are forbidden and declared as Haram. We as Muslims should try to follow the things which are permitted (Halal) and to strictly avoid the things which are forbidden (Haram) in Islam.

Allah Almighty stated in the Quran about what is forbidden to Muslims in these words:

“O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship. He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful”. (Quran, 2:172–173)

The above verses state the foods which are forbidden to Muslims. Since the exceptions are always present in almost every matter, therefore Quran also leaves the gap for those who are dying from hunger, and thus they are allowed to eat whatever they find available to feed their hunger. Other than edible things, Quran has also mentioned the non-edible things which are haram. Allah says in Surah Al-Araf, verses 32 & 33:

“Say: ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allâh which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of His providing? Say: ‘They are, on the Day of Resurrection, exclusively for those who believed during the life of this world. Thus do we explain the signs for those who know?‘ Say: ‘What my Rabb has indeed prohibited are shameful deeds, whether open or secret, and sin and rebellion without just cause, and that you associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and that you say concerning Allâh that about which you do not know.’” (The Holy Quran 7:32–33)

The Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH said:

“Halal is clear and the Haram (unlawful) is clear. Between the two there are doubtful matters concerning which people do not know. One who avoids them in order to safeguard his deen (religion) and his honor are safe, while if someone indulges in it, he may be indulging in the unlawful ” (Bukhari)

Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) has divided the matters into three categories:

1. Permissible (Halal) :

Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted in Islam. In Islamic principles, the term Halal takes a specific, well-defined meaning.

2. Prohibition (Haram):

In Islam, everything considered harmful either to the body, mind, soul, or society is prohibited (haram), while whatever is beneficial is permissible (halal).

3. Mashbooh ( Doubtful):

And in between halal and haram, there are doubtful matters. Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) advised the Muslims to not fall into doubtful matters, he said: “So whoever abstains from the doubtful matters has saved his religion and his honor”.

As Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) specified the things into three categories, therefore we must follow the things as per the guidance of the messenger of Allah.

The lawful (halal) and the prohibited (Haram) in Islamic shariah law is not a simple matter. İt is not for any human to decide what is lawful and what is prohibited, not even the Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH through his own personal judgments that depend on no Divine source. Nobody has the authority to declare anything like food, dress action, etc lawful or prohibited. Moreover, it is one of the striking features of Islam that all human beings, whatever the class or rank they enjoy are equal before halal and haram injunctions. There is no double standard in the shariah.

The only criterion for defining the halal and the haram is the Holy Quranic injunctions revealed from Allah, who knows what benefits man most, as well as the authentication Prophetic Sunnah, as it is based on a Divine revelation.

Defining halal and haram is not an easy matter, many Muslim scholars from different schools of thought hesitate to handle such matters. Schools of thought of Islam have different religious authorities who in turn have different rulings regarding what is halal and haram. To illustrate this point, Sunnis consider the hadith in the collections of Bukhari and Muslims to be reliable whereas Shi’as do not. These are a few reasons why Muslim sects differ regarding their rulings.

İt is my observation that

Most contemporary people on Islam fall under one of two groups.

The vision of one group has been blurred by the glamor of Western civilization. Overawed by this great idol, they worship it, approach it imploringly abs stand before it humbly, with downcast eyes, accepting western principles and customs as unassailable and proven beyond doubt.

Accordingly, if one aspect of Islam is agreeable they accept it while if another opposes them, they try to find similarities and agreements, offer excuses and apologies, or resort to far fetched explanations and distortions, if Islam had no choice except to surrender to the philosophy and customs of Western civilization.

When we examine their views, we find that they permit things that Islam had prohibited, such as home decorations ( animal pictures, statuses, etc ) interests, wearing prohibited kinds of stuff, and so on. They frown upon things that Islam has permitted, such as slaughtering animals in Eid or else and so on. As if in their view, whatever is legal in the west is halal and whatever is illegal is haram.

They forget that Islam is the word of Allah and his words are always uppermost. Islam came to be followed, and not to follow, to be dominant and not subordinate. How can the lord of man follow the man and how can the creator submit to the whims, you this creature.

İf the truth had been in accord with their desires. The heaven and the earth and all therein would have been in corruption.
Holy Quran 23 :71

The other group is frozen in its fixed opinions concerning questions about halal and haram, following a statement in a text which they assume to be Islam. They do not budge a hair’s breadth from their position, nor do they try to weigh their opinion against the argument of others, and to arrive at the truth after a comparison Abe critical evaluation of opinions. İf one of them were to be asked his opinion concerning music, marriage, women’s education, and other similar matters, the most likely answer would be Haram. This group has forgotten the caution exercises by our righteous forebears in such matters, who never applied the word Haram to anything unless they knew it to be definitely prohibited.

İf there was the slightest doubt about the matter they would only say, “ We disapprove of it “ or we don’t like it or some other similarly mild statement.

The word of any person other than the prophet Muhammad pbuh is sometime acceptable and sometimes objectionable. İmam Mâlik

The concept of the lawful and prohibited has been Known to everyone since ancient times. However, people have different in defining the scope, variety, and causes of prohibitions, most of which were a product of their primitive beliefs, superstitions, and myths. Then came the divinely revealed religions, with their laws and injunctions concerning the halal and haram, uplifting mankind from the level of superstition, myth, and tribalism to the level of dignity which believes a human existence.

However in the religion revealed prior to Islam there existed some prohibitions and permissions which were legislated for a temporary period, in relation to the specific conditions of the people and their environment.

Finally, when mankind had reached the stage of intellectual maturity and was ready to receive the last message from Allah, Islam came with its complete, comprehensive, and eternal shariah for the whole of mankind.

Concerning this, after mentioning what he has prohibited as food, Allah says

This day I have perfected your religion for you and have completed My favor upon you, and have chosen Islam for you as religion. ( The Holy Quran 5:3)

İslam’s view of the halal and the haram is very simple and clear. İt is a part of the great trust which Allah offered to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains, which they declined but which man accepted. This trust requires man to carry and to assume accountability concerning them. This responsibility is the basis on which the human individual will be judged by Allah and given his reward or punishment. Because of this trust, Allah gave man intellect, willpower, and freedom of choice, because of this. He sent his messengers and revealed His books. İt is not for man to question. Why is there halal and haram? Why am I not left free to do as I please? For this is precisely the test of his freedom of choice and action. Moreover, man is neither a purely spiritual being like the angels nor simply a creature of instinct like the animals. Rather he occupies a position between the two, he can attain or even surpass the spiritual heights of the angels or he can sink to the level of the beasts, or even lower.

From another perspective, the halal and the haram are part of the Total legal system of Islam. İt’s shariah is a system whose primary objective is the good of mankind. The Islamic shariah removes from human beings harmful, burdensome customs and superstitions, aiming to simplify and ease the business of day-to-day living. İt’s principles are meant to protect man from evil and for him to benefit all aspects of his life. And they are meant to benefit everyone in the community rich or poor, ruler or ruled, man or woman as well as to benefit the whole humanity all over the world, with its multitudinous groupings and in every period of time throughout succeeding generations.

Book Recommendation :

Many Islamic scholars explained “ The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam” in their books and different places. today I’ll share with you one of my favorite books on this topic.

The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam (Al-Halal Wal Haram Fil Islam):

by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

This popular book dispels the ambiguities surrounding the honorable Shariah and fulfills the essential needs of Muslims in the current age. It clarifies the Halal(Lawful) and why it is Halal, and the Haram (Prohibited) and why it is Haram, referring to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (Peace be upon him). It answers all the questions which may face Muslims today and refutes the ambiguities and lies about Islam.

Final Thoughts:

İn view of the fact that halal and haram constitute such an important subject, i hope this article helps you to understand the basic concepts and beliefs in İslam about halal and haram.

Islam is the religion based on certain rules, and whoever breaks the rules will fall into the category of disbelievers, because the rules are set by the Creator of this universe. In religion Islam, there are things declared as Halal and there are things that are forbidden and declared as Haram. We as Muslims and being true believers should try to follow the things which are encouraged (Halal) and to strictly avoid the things which are discouraged (Haram) in Islam.

Allah has declared the deeds which are haram in Holy Quran. Allah said that it is also haram to claim anything haram which is not considered as haram by Almighty Allah. Islam is not only a religion but it is the most proper way of living, based on certain rules and regulations. So, in order to make our standards of living good and as per the teachings of Islam, we should avoid committing deeds that are forbidden by the Lord.

At first glance, the subject of Permissible and Prohibited may seem easy to write about, but in fact, it is extremely difficult.After all diffculties, i have cleared my heart of all desires except that of pleasing Allah and to seek the truth.

verily good deeds do away with evil deeds.

And that is a reminder for those who remember.

Be patient with yourself. And Keep learning!!

I will be calmer, I will spread love as long as I can, I will live a spiritual life, I would do what I please no matter what and I would prove my theories.

Always start your day by renewing your intention that everything you do for yourself and your community, whether it be your acts of worship or daily chores. It all has to be merely for the sake of Allah (SWT) and Also, I ask Allah (SWT) to make my work dedicated only to him and forgiveness from Allah (SWT), if I have got anything wrong. It is He who is the Hearing, the knowing.

Finally, İ pray Allah to benefit those who read this article and others, grant me truthfulness in what I say and do, preserve my thoughts and my pen from deviation and guide me in all my affairs.

And all praise and thanks are due to Allah, without Whose help and guidance nothing can be accomplished.

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Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid

"Versatile Wordsmith | IT Solutions Strategist | Motorcycle Voyager | Multilingual Enthusiast". I’m so deep even the ocean gets jealous