The concept of HALAL from Qur’an and Sunnah perception

Earning for a living is a mutual and common instinct for all living creatures on earth. Human being described as the caliph of Allah on the earth* is ordered to earn for a living as a way and means of..


Earning for a living is a mutual and common instinct for all living creatures on earth. Human being described as the caliph of Allah on the earth* is ordered to earn for a living as a way and means of life to be able to comply and practice accordingly to the purpose of his creation and his presence on the earth* . Unlike animals and other living creatures which are just living on the earth to serve‡ and ease man’s life, since there are no divine obligations upon them.

Mankind is requested to work and to seek the bounty of Allah for his living. This effort of earning should only be in the boundary of a rational manner not at the expense of others. Since mankind is naturally greedy, having the tendency of earning by any means, the Qur’an and Sunnah had traced for Muslims some ethics which they have to follow throughout their life to avoid falling into illegal and unlawful earnings.

The aim of this paper is to discuss the concept of halal and haram used by the Qur’an and Sunnah, and to explain how to make Muslims understand them accordingly. The Qur’an and Sunnah use the word halal and haram in two different meanings i.e. moral conducts and material. It is very common to hear in Muslim societies the connotation of halal or haram? Or this is not halal. Even to a certain extent, in some multi-religious societies the word halal becomes the first thing to be noticed by non-Muslims about Islam. The concept of halal plays a bigger role in the life of businessmen where they have to satisfy the demands of their Muslim customers for example to get the confidence in buying and selling in this sensitive part of Muslim belief. The non-Muslim businessmen who are being “forced” to live together with Muslims as citizens of the same country, where they have to gather and mix together in some religious or social occasions to exchange foods or gift. Unfortunately, the word halal which means legal or lawful is being narrowly understood by many Muslims. A lot of us comprehend halal as to that before any animal become halal to be eaten, it must be slaughtered according to the Islamic way and the food should not contain any forbidden elements. The holy Qur’an and Sunnah’s conception of halal, as a matter of fact consists of two components. Even though, slaughtering animals according to the Islamic way is very important and crucial to make any meat halal, the Qur’an and Sunnah also emphasize a lot on the origin and the source of particular earnings of a Muslim.


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Faculty of Qurán and Sunnah. Islamic University Science of Malaysia (USIM), Bandar Baru Nilai, 71800 Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, MALAYSIA.


* Referring to Surah Al-Baqarah verse 30 «And remember when your Lord said to the angel: “Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generation after generation on earth» and Surah Hud verse 61 «… O my people! Worship Allah: you have no other ilah but Him. He brought you forth from the earth and settled you therein… ». It is well spread among previous and contemporary scholars referring to the above mentioned verses that mankind is the Caliph of Allah on the earth , but there are some contemporary scholars who rejected this opinion saying that there is no proof from the Qur’an neither Sunnah saying that mankind is the Caliph of Allah on the earth since the verse did not say MY Caliph but just a caliph, which means that mankind is the successor of a previous creatures -jinn- who lived on the earth before mankind † Referring to Surat Adh-Dhariyat verse 56. «And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (alone)». * Surat Al-Jathiyah verse 13. «And (Allah) has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth.»


Halal and Haram in Qur’an and Sunnah

Money plays a very important role in human life. It is the engine and machine of life, the cause of numbers of conflicts around the world, and capable of putting an end to relationships of close friends and family members. The holy Qur’an and Sunnah, knowing the sensitivity and impact of money on people, had protected it with a fence of ethics and rules. In addition, the longest verse in Qur’an is about money§ . The prophet (p.b.u.h.) for its importance insist on it in his farewell sermon.

«It is unlawful for you to shed the blood of one another or take (unlawfully) the fortunes of one another». [Muslim/ 1218]

These divine rules and regulations are to organize people’s business transactions and all deals related to money to avoid quarrels and clashes. These rules and regulations are not restricted to the ordinary Muslims, but also include prophets. The prophet said:

«O people, Allah is Generous and He therefore, accepts only that which is good. And Allah commanded the believers as He commanded the Messengers by saying: «O Messengers, eat of the good things, and do good deeds; verily I am aware of what you do» [Al-Mu’minun: 51]. And He said: «O those who believe, eat of the good things that We gave you» [Al-Baqarah: 172]. He then made a mention of a person who travels widely, his hair dishevelled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky (and thus makes the supplication):" O Lord, O Lord" whereas his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, and his clothes are unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How can then his supplication be accepted?» [Muslim/ 1015]

The prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) taught the ummah this teaching in practice. In his last sermon five days before his demise, he said:

«He whom I have might lash his back; I offer him my back so that he may avenge himself on me. He whom I have ever blasphemed his honour, here I am offering my honour so that he may avenge himself» Then he descended, and performed the noon prayer. Again he returned to the pulpit and sat on it. He resumed his first speech about enmity and some other things. A man then said: "You owe me three Dirhams." The Prophet said: «Fadl**, pay him the money. » [Ar-Rahiq Al-Makhtum, p. 400]

The Qur’an and the Sunnah, in their efforts to guide Muslims and inculcate these teachings in their minds, use clear and strong words which does not carry other meanings or interpretations but halal in both, materials and moral conducts.

 Haram Material

Haram material is referring to maytah (dead animals) and pork and any meat that is not slaughtered in the name of Allah. It is mentioned in four places in the holy Qur’an.

«He has forbidden you the maytah (dead animals), and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering). But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, or transgressing due limits, - then is he guiltless. For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.» [Al-Baqarah: 173]

« Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maytah (the dead animals), blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering (that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah, or has been slaughtered for idols) 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. …But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.» [Al-Ma’idah: 3]

«Say: I find not in that which has been revealed to me anything forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be a maytah (dead animal) or blood poured forth (by slaughtering or the like), or the flesh of swine (pork); for that surely is impure or impious (unlawful) meat (of an animal) which is slaughtered for idols or on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering). But (even so), if a person is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, - thy Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.» [Al-An`am: 145]

«He has forbidden you Al-Maytah (the dead animal), blood, the flesh of swine, and any animal which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols or on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering). But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, - then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.» [An-Nahl: 115]

 It is encouraging to know that Muslims generally are very concerned about the halal and haram material every where. They are very strict in looking for Islamic symbols of halal in any products. Some of them will refuse to eat any food unless he is certain and sure that it is of Muslim-slaughtered food or it does not contain any Islamic forbidden elements.

“I was informed by a religious teacher that some young boys after stealing a chicken, they requested him to slaughter it according to Islamic way to make it halal for them.”

This paradox behaviour is a result of ignorance, the stolen animal does not become halal by being slaughtered by a religious teacher neither by an ordinary man contrary of what many Muslims think.

The Qur’an and Sunnah emphasize more on the moral halal and haram which touch directly to the public rights (haq adamiy or haq fard), whereas the halal and haram material are Allah’s rights (haqqu Llah) .

 As mentioned by the scholars of Islamic jurisprudence, the public right is priors to Allah’s rights in certain things. (Asy-Syatibi, vol. 1 p. 652; Sha’ban, p. 223; Sano, p. 181)‡‡.

 It is stated in the end of the four verses above that a Muslim can consume a forbidden meal, such as maytah or pork under necessity and emergency case, whereas there is no single verse or hadith where it is allowed for a Muslim to take someone’s money or belongings without his permission or consent, except in one situation as reported by Al-Bukhariy and Muslim in the hadith.

Narrated by `Uqbah bin `Amir: We said, “O Allah’s Apostle! You send us out and it happens that we have to stay with such people as do not entertain us. What do you think about it?” Allah’s Apostle said to us: «If you stay with some people and they entertain you as they should for a guest, accept is; but if they do not do then you should take from them the rights of the guest, which they ought to give.» [Al-Bukhariy/ 6137] [Muslim/ 1727]


it is called by scholars ayat dayn or mudayanat, the verse of debt ** He is the prophet’s cousin, the son of the prophet’s uncle - `Abbas. 2

Haqqu Llah or divine right is for two types, 1- such as prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, zakat. 2- social right, any thing related to people, their belonging, life, security dignity, any thing of public interest. It is called Allah or divine right for its sacred, for no one has the right to drop it, since it concerns all ‡‡ The Divine or social or public right is never forgiven by Allah unless the owner(s) of the right himself (themselves) forgive whereas Allah can drop His right and forgive. See Surah An-Nisa’ verse 48, 116 and Surah Az-Zumar verse 53. In this regard it is said that the servant’s due or private life is prior to Allah’s right. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) once asked his Companions: «Do you know who the insolvent is?». They replied, “An insolvent man among us is one who has neither dirham with him nor wealth.” The Prophet said: «The insolvent of my Ummah would be the one who would come on the Day of Judgment with prayers and fasts and zakah but (he would find himself bankrupt on that day as he would have exhausted his funds of virtues since) he hurled abuses upon others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully consumed the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others. Thus, every one of them would be given of his good deeds (that is, his virtues would be credited to the account of those who suffered at his hand). And if his good deeds fall short to clear the account, then he would be given of their sins and he would be thrown into the Hellfire.» [Sahih Muslim/ 2581].


Haram Moral

Moral haram is referring to all sorts of cheating and fraud conducts in business transactions and other deals related to money.

«And do not eat up your property among yourselves for vanities, nor use it as bait for the judges, with intent that ye may eat up wrongfully and knowingly a little of (other) people's property.

» [Al-Baqarah: 188] «O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!

» [An-Nisa’: 29] «O ye who believe! There are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in Falsehood devour the substance of men and hinder (them) from the way of Allah. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah: announce unto them a most grievous penalty» [At-Taw bah: 34]

These three verses in a very clear manner prevent Muslims from exploiting each other in all types of activities of earning. It is much regretful to realize that Muslims in this particular situations are on the brink of the pit of hell (jahannam).

«All flesh feed by haram deserve nothing but hell.» [At-Tirmizi/ 641]

 In their effort to reduce the unemployment rate and the dependence of citizens on the government for jobs, many governments encourage and help by giving loans to their citizens to start business in small and medium industries. This policy reduces the government’s burden tremendously, furthermore it helps to create more jobs opportunities.

Unfortunately, some Muslims do not bother or make efforts to abide by the Islamic rules and ethics in earnings, either due to ignorance or negligence, in their daily activities of earning moneys, including businessmen, academicians, politicians and others.

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