When it comes to maintaining halal and haram, the majority of Muslims in the western countries think about drinking alcohol and eating pork. Without a doubt, these two are major sins, but there are sins which are much graver in nature that Muslims are doing willingly and unwillingly.
There are several Quranic verses about halal and haram with clear guidance that Muslims should maintain and refrain from.
However, this article will not be about detailing each and every haram actions that have been mentioned in the Quran. Rather, primary focus will be given on haram activities that young Muslims do not consider to be haram due to their lack of knowledge.
5 Widespread Haram Acts That Majority of Muslims Do
1. Listening to Music
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It will not be wrong to say that music is the most widespread haram that Muslims are engaged in. You will hardly find Muslims, young or even elderly, who do not listen to music. Only practicing individuals restrain themselves from it, which is a very small portion of the total Muslim population in any country.
You will find people arguing that listening to music does not harm anyone, so it cannot be haram. This argument is flawed because haram and halal are not only based on harming oneself or others. For example, not praying does not harm someone physically, but still, it is one of the greatest of all haram after Shirk.
Even though apparently, there is nothing harmful we see in music, but the hearts become corrupted when listening to music. And if music is in someone’s heart, Quran will not be soother of that heart. Music and the Quran cannot be in the same place.
Quran states about music –
“And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e., music, singing) to mislead (men) from the path of Allah...” [Luqman 31:6]
About the interpretation of this verse, many companions of the prophet including Ibn Abbas and many salaf including Hasan Al Basri used to say that this verse is referring to singing and music. That is one of the reasons why music is considered haram in Islam. If you want to know more in detail, be sure to check this fatwa out.
And the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ even warned us about these people who consider music as halal –
“Among my ummah there will certainly be people who permit zina, silk, alcohol and musical instruments...” (Narrated by Al Bukhari and Tabarani)
2. Getting into Relationship & Dating
Similar to music, it is really rare to find young Muslims who do not engage in pre-marital relationship which is haram in Islam. Haram relationship quotes are pretty much everywhere on the internet. These days, they treat it as something “shameful” for not having a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Islam did not only make zina haram, but it also gave a clear instruction for Muslims that they should not even come close to zina. Allah says in the Quran –
And come not near to unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a fahishah [anything that transgresses its limits a great sin], and an evil way (that leads one to Hell unless Allaah forgives him). [al-Isra 17:32]
Even though zina primarily means having sex other than your spouse, it also forbids actions that may lead to the actual zina. And most of the times, relationships lead a boy and girl to have sexual intimacy.
Staring at non-mahrams without any real cause is haram according to this hadith –
When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw a young man merely looking at a young woman, he turned his head so as to make him look away, then he said: “I saw a young man and a young woman, and I did not trust the shaytan not to tempt them.” (Sahih al-Tirmidhi)
It is obvious that when two people love each other, they at least touch each other, if not the actual act of zina. However, these touching and holding of hands are also haram. Let us read what Islam says about haram relationships based on a hadith –
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “It is better for a Muslim to have a nail driven into their head than to touch someone who is not of close relations to them (non-mahram).”
So, you cannot have any physical contact before marriage with someone you “love”. Even with the intention of getting married, engaging in a haram relationship will not be acceptable, because relationship outside marriage is in and of itself haram.
Most people would say that they are in a relationship to get married in future. But they do not realize that they might not live till that day. Moreover, these relationships often do not last long enough. Many people had a relationship with a person, and end up marrying someone else which often work as a negative force in their marriage.
But you may have love for someone in your heart, and want to get married. In that case, the man should approach the wali (father, grandfather, brother, etc) of the girl for a marriage proposal as soon as possible. Delaying it may open the door for fitnah, e.g., talking on the phone, texting, etc., which are haram too.
Hence, you may want to read this article which discusses a similar situation.
This is another wide-spread haram act which a huge number of young boys and girls fall upon. Many people think that as they are not married yet, they can do masturbation because it will restrain themselves from committing the actual zina. However, this whole idea is WRONG.
“And those who guard their chastity (i.e., private parts, from illegal sexual acts). Except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, – for them, they are free from blame. But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.” (Al-Mu’minun 23:5-7)
According to Imam Ash-Shafi, this transgression act is referring to masturbation. This verse also covers unlawful intercourse with person other than wives and rightful slaves.
People who masturbate, often face issues with intercourse with wives when they get married. Issues like premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, poor sperm count, low testosterone, etc. are the results of masturbation.
Even if a person does not face the above problems with his wives, surely his intimacy lifespan will be highly reduced by a significant number of years. If without masturbating, a person can enjoy intimate life for 50-60 years, a person who masturbates may end up having the ability to intimate in his late 40 or early 50.
Hence, from the medical point of view, masturbation has many negative effects. It causes loss of memory, poor focusing ability, back pain some sort of, reduced eye vision, and other health issues.
Above everything else and most importantly, we as Muslims regard any actions to be legitimate or illegitimate based on the divine instructions, i.e., Shari’ah. Masturbation leads on to more evil actions, promiscuity and unlawful desire.
Allah said in the Quran to not go near Zina [al-Isra 17:32]
A growing number Muslims are doing tattoo on their body and over last 2 decades it has become rampant. Even though there is nothing that directly indicates about tattooing in the Quran, but this action is also haram, and cursed by the Prophet ﷺ himself. The person who does tattoo and whom it is done for, both are cursed.
Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “May Allah curse the women* who do tattoos and those for whom tattoos are done, those who pluck their eyebrows and those who file their teeth for the purpose of beautification and alter the creation of Allah.” (Al-Bukhari, al-Libas, 5587; Muslim, al-Libas, 5538)
*Although the hadith mentioned women here, but the same rule applies for all Muslims here.
Tattoo also falls under the category of changing the creation of Allah which is also haram. Furthermore, it is imitating the disbelievers as we all know that modern source of this trend of tattoo is from the Western culture.
As smoking was not practiced during the period of the Prophet, so the Quran does not mention anything directly. But based upon some verses, scholars found principles under which smoking is regarded as haram. Allah SWT says in the Quran –
“You may eat, drink (lawful drink), but not waste” [Al-A'râf 7:31]
"Do not kill yourselves for God Almighty is most merciful to you" [An-Nisa 4:29]
Smoking kills, but it does slowly, that is why people do not take it seriously. It causes serious health conditions, and even death for a huge number of cases. It is consensus of reliable scholars that smoking is haram.
Also, spending for cigarettes is considered as a waste of money. Therefore, it comes under the verse mentioned above in Surah al-A’raf, verse no. 31.
During the early ages, some minority of mufti gave a fatwa on smoking that it is not haram, rather it is makrooh. But that view of the minority also changed when medical science and research found that smoking is causing too much damage inside the human body, and smoking is directly responsible for lung cancer.
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“There should be no harming or reciprocating harm.”
This hadith alone forbids all types of acts that are linked to harming people. Whether it be weed, smoking, or alcohol. You will find people saying, “Where in the Quran does it say smoking is haram?”
Well, the matter of alcohol was present during the early age of Islam, and that is why it was directly mentioned in the Quran and hadith. But smoking is something that came way after that early age of Islam. So, scholars gave their opinions based on the information they had of their times regarding this matter.
As recent medical science and research confirmed that smoking is severely harmful for the human body, and those who indirectly inhale smoke being surrounded by the smoker. Also, passive smoking is harmful for pregnant moms and their babies in their womb. It’s totally unislamic to cause harm to others as well as to oneself.
Other Haram Acts
Riba, Drugs, pornography, gambling, free mixing events, etc. are also haram according to the Quran and hadith. People who fear Allah SWT and have love for his Messenger ﷺ, will keep them away from these acts.
Halal Acts that are Viewed as Bad in Modern Society
It is quite sad but true that there are several acts that Allah made halal, but Muslims often think negatively towards those. Some of these things are mentioned below –
1. Polygamy or Plural Marriage
Having more than one wife is considered quite a bad practice in our society these days. Often people think that the person who keeps more than one wife, has a bad character. However, it strongly goes against the Islamic law and practice.
This is something that Early Prophets along with their people, Our Prophet ﷺ and his companions, and many righteous scholars acted upon.
Allah SWT says in the Quran –
... and marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.” [al-Nisa 4:3]
Often people do not do justice to earlier wife/wives when they get a new one. And this is one of the reasons why women cannot accept this act from their heart. If someone needs to have more than one wife, he must do the justice among them. This justice is mainly equality in terms of spending and share of nights.
2. Early Marriage
Our society has made marriage quite difficult, and zina so easy. For young individuals, it only takes so little money to commit zina with a prostitute, but the same person would need whole lives’ savings and more to get married. This is an underlying reason for today’s aged population of never married individuals.
The desire for marriage starts to grow right after the puberty and it continues throughout the teenage years and beyond. The society we live in has all sorts of facilities (and encouragement) for the youngsters to fall into haram relationship during these early years of life, and made it legally impossible for many to get married early.
Whereas, Allah SWT encourages to get married to keep ourselves protected from haram acts –
“But let them who find not [the means for] marriage abstain [from sexual relations] until Allah enriches them from His bounty” [an-Noor 24:33]
3. Having More Kids
Many countries, including countries having Muslim majority, encourage people to have family planning to limit the number of kids they can have. However, when you look at western countries, their so-called superstars, presidents and politicians, you will find it quite common that they have at least 3 kids, or more than that for most cases.
They tell us to limit the number of kids, but they are having more kids than us nowadays. This is because they try to limit the number of Muslims in different countries. In the name of “population problem” family planning has been made quite popular in third world countries.
But, the number of Ummah will be a thing for rejoice for our Prophet ﷺ. Having a large family is encouraged in Islam for various reasons.
“And those who say: “Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders of the Muttaqun (the pious)” [al-Furqan 25:74]
This dua indicates the number of our wives and kids is a blessing. If we choose our wives how Islam suggests and give upbring to our kids following the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, they will become a matter of inner-peace for us.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the meaning of halal and haram in Islam?
Halal means permissible or permitted in Islam. It can be any food, act of behavior, or saying, etc. Oppositely, haram means prohibited in Islam. Things that are not permissible come under this category. It can also be any food item, , act of behavior, or saying, etc
2. Is love haram or halal?
Love is absolutely halal if done in the permissible way, i.e., with one’s spouse. Relationship of love with opposite gender is outright haram in Islam.
3. Can a haram relationship turn halal?
Allah has made marriage halal, and relationship outside marriage haram. A sincere Muslim or Muslimah, does not seek ways around to turn a haram act into halal.
In most unlikely event, if those who were involved into haram relationship of love before or outside the fold marriage; they can get married after making sincere Tawbah with remorse and hate for what they have done in the past. However, this is to be noted that sign of sincere Tawbah is to hate what someone has done unlawfully in the past. In that case, it is likely that previous haram relationship and the cause of haram relationship will be hated by the sincere Muslim who has done Tawbah and thus he or she will seek a halal marriage afresh.
4. Is keeping pets haram in Islam?
Most household pets are halal, except for dogs and some specific animals. Also, there are certain rules and conditions for petting animals, e.g., for example, pets cannot be purchased with money; it can be adopted or taken as gift.
Maintaining halal and haram is not only about eating pork and drinking alcohol. These haram acts will affect you from a health perspective, but there are worse haram matters that can cause greater harm to your spirituality.