THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HALAL
THE MEANING OF HALAL
By Hossam Ed Deen Allam
The Meaning of Halal
At the outset, it is vital to stress the fact that Islam is a ‘deen’, meaning, it is a way of life with protocols, rules and manners guiding and regulating every aspect of life. Since obedience to Allah, the One and Only Creator of all that exists, and attaining the pleasure of Allah, the Most Merciful, constitute the prime aim of every Muslim, it is vital to lead a life that is in line with what Allah the Almighty has made ‘Halal’ or pure and permissible.
‘Halal’ is an Arabic term that signifies being lawful or permitted. The antonym of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited. Noteworthily, Halal and Haram describe the act that the accountable Muslim carries out. Thus, performing a certain act can be halal or haram.
In principle, the original ruling regarding doing something is PERMISSIBILITY.
"هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا"
"He is the One Who created everything in the earth for you.” al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:29
The Importance of Seeking Halal
Muslims are urged to seek knowledge in terms of the Islamic rulings regarding all spheres of activity —acts of worship, social interaction, among other things— with the intention of conducting their duties on the basis of accurate knowledge as well as in light of extensive assurance. In this context, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) is reported to have said:
عن معاوية رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "من يرد الله به خيرًا يفقه في الدين" ((متفق عليه))
Mu'awiyah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Messenger of Allah said, "When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of Deen." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
In the same connection, the Noble Quran clearly declares:
(وَلا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَذَا حَلالٌ وَهَذَا حَرَامٌ لِتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ لا يُفْلِحُونَ)
The Significance of Halal
Do not falsely declare with your tongues, “This is lawful, and that is unlawful,” ˹only˺ fabricating lies against Allah. Indeed, those who fabricate lies against Allah will never succeed. an-Nahl (The Bee) 16:116
Accordingly, he/she must learn all about the duties he/she is required to undertake, such as purification, the manner of performing the prayer (salaat ) and the lawful and unlawful foods and drinks in Islam. He/She is also encouraged to learn about the acts that are recommended but not obligatory.
"يَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا أُحِلَّ لَهُمْ قُلْ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ"
“They ask you, ˹O Prophet,˺ what is permissible for them ˹to eat˺. Say, “What is good and lawful.” al-Ma`idah (The Table, The Table Spread) 5:4
(قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاّ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَلا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلادَكُمْ مِنْ إِمْلاقٍ نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ وَلا تَقْرَبُوا الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَلا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلا بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ) (الأنعام: 151).
“Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Come! Let me recite to you what your Lord has forbidden to you: do not associate others with Him ˹in worship˺. ˹Do not fail to˺ honour your parents. Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for you and for them. Do not come near indecencies, openly or secretly. Do not take a ˹human˺ life—made sacred by Allah—except with ˹legal˺ right. This is what He has commanded you, so perhaps you will understand.” al-An`am (Cattle, Livestock) 6:151
From an Islamic jurisprudential perspective, it is safe to state that everything that is useful, good and pure is permissible, and everything that is evil, harmful and malicious is forbidden. This understanding is based on the following two Noble Quranic verses:
قال تعالى: (قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ قُلْ هِيَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ * قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالإثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَنْ تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لا تَعْلَمُونَ) (الأعراف: 32-33).
Ask, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Who has forbidden the adornments and lawful provisions Allah has brought forth for His servants?” Say, “They are for the enjoyment of the believers in this worldly life, but they will be exclusively theirs on the Day of Judgment. This is how We make Our revelations clear for people of knowledge.” Say, “My Lord has only forbidden open and secret indecencies, sinfulness, unjust aggression, associating ˹others˺ with Allah ˹in worship˺—a practice He has never authorized—and attributing to Allah what you do not know.”
al-A`raf (The Heights, The Elevated Places) 7:32
Stay tuned for the upcoming article!