Islamic Prohibitions And Their Harms


What are islamic prohibitions and harms?

Allah Almighty in the Noble Quran has made it permissible for us to benefit from good and clean things, and rebuked those who tried to prohibit them. Then, by pointing out that He does not prohibit things that are beneficial to humanity but only those that are harmful, He stated:

“Say: the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason…” (Al-A`raf (The Ramparts), 7:33)

Sins and transgressions are similar to poisons that lead people to material and spiritual destruction. However, Satan and the carnal self dress them up to make them appear sweet and attractive to people. People who are deceived by this, in turn destroy their spiritual lives at the end.

In contrast, however, the default is that most things are permissible. Prohibitions are similar to exceptions, and they are only a few. However, who knows why, the Son of Adam aspires for prohibited things, which are limited in number, and sets aside the permissible.

1. Interest

While interest, which depends on the principle of obtaining goods without paying a price, outwardly looks like a helpful and convenient means for people, in reality it does not serve any other purpose than exploiting the helplessness of people who are in difficulty. For this reason, it is a great violation of the rights of the subjects of God. It is a malignant tumor that corrodes the economy from within and mutes religious and moral feelings. It causes the rich to gain more power and the needy to be exploited further. As such, it causes deep chasms between social stratas, whereas, as famous economists term it, the best societies in terms of economic levels are the ones which can set inflation and interest rates to zero.

In addition, interest brings many other evils such as causing artificial price increases; stifling moral feelings such as altruism, cooperation, solidarity, love, mercy, and compassion; fueling selfishness and self-centeredness; and stimulating ambitions to obtain money and influence at all costs.

Interest keeps away people from working and earning and being busy with production. Those who get used to interest desert basic ways of earning such as farming, tradesmenship, and commerce. What’s left is making money with money, and that is a harmful situation that decreases production.

Earning money with money via interest is against individuals and society even though some people may like it. Moreover, in the long run, because interest turns the labor-capital relationships in a society upside down, it ends up turning against the people who feed on interest.

In the Noble Quran, it is announced that Allah and His Messenger declared war on those who are busy with interest.[1] In another noble verse it is stated that:

“Those who devour usury will not stand except as stand one whom the Evil one by his touch has driven to madness.” (Al-Baqara (The Cow), 2:275)

Thus, in the sight of our Master the Prophet, the most evil of earnings is the one obtained via interest.[2] To protect his nation from this grave sin, the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) cursed all who take interest or cause people to take interest, the officers who conduct transactions with interest, and the witnesses of such contracts. He stated that in terms of sinning they are all at the same level.[3]

Our Master the Prophet’s cursing of all who helps interest is for the purpose of expressing in the clearest fashion that in Islamic society there is no place for interest whatsoever and that no one must even come close to it, thus closing shut all the avenues of evil and mischief.

Interest is a sin that is prohibited in all religions. This is because its harm is obvious. In the Noble Verse, it is stated that interest had been prohibited to Jews as well.[4]

It is wrong to think that an interest-free economy is impossible today. An interest-free economy is very well possible. Indeed, there are societies who accomplished this. Islam has strictly prohibited interest, but in turn it recommends working as partners and increasing capital by working with it. This is because this method is useful for everyone. In addition to this, Islam encouraged lending, as much as the means permit, for the sake of Allah (Qard Hasan), and it considers the loan given to those in difficulty as more virtuous than supererogatory charity. On the other hand, by ordering Zakat and supererogatory charity (sadaqah), Islam provides a complete economic stability and order to the society.

2. Drinking Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks are harmful drinks that are completely antithetical to human nature. The true state is that human beings are sober and alert. It is not acceptable to lose control and become drowsy and lazy. The result of leaving alertness is generally to fall into deviation. The latter course is inevitable for those who see drinking alcohol as natural.

Drinking alcohol is a great cause of mischief for both the individual and the society. Drinking alcohol harms mental capabilities, while all affairs regarding the world and the hereafter can only be conducted with intelligence. When mental capabilities are lost, a person makes unbelievable mistakes. Just like spirits fire up the moment a spark falls into them, it is that easy to fire up evil in a mind and heart that are addicted to alcohol.

Through alcohol and gambling Satan instills animosity and enmity among people, he sets them against each other. By preventing them from the remembrance of Allah, prayer and worship, he makes them destitute here and in the hereafter. In short, Satan destroys both their world and their hereafter.[5]

Russian professor Rachinsky says the following wise words:

“Satan waits within the bottle and takes away from alcohol addicts all they have. He evens grabs the last shirt that they have and the last bite that the baby that they are holding would eat. In addition, Satan takes away from the people and families that he enslaved their health, chastity, conscience, cheer and joy, serenity and happiness. As he breaks the resolution and feeling to work, he also deprives them from all kinds of earnings. First of all, kindly think about how much intermediary labor is lost in vain in producing alcohol and drinks. Kindly calculate how much food, drink, and labor is wasted unduly to prepare this many kinds of alcoholic drinks. If the billions of kilograms of bread, plums, figs, and grapes that people recklessly wasted in the swamp of alcohol were to be added up, there would never be hunger or pricy food in the world. Leaving aside human beings, every kind of food sufficient to even feed animals could have been found!

“The budget of the Satan in the bottle cannot be known in its entirety. This is because those who follow Satan pay fully the tax of using alcohol. But the same people drag their feet to pay back what they owe to other people. Satan always and fully cashes all of his receivables. Even if these people do not have sufficient money to pay, they either steal or kill or sell the honor and chastity of themselves or their families, but they make sure that they pay the tax of Satan.

“Because of alcohol, the lives of many valuable and outstanding people have been destroyed. These people have always lost the values that they have. Alcohol and drinking have ruined the health of millions of great people. Just like sound and large buildings cannot be built on top of a swamp, it is not possible to establish lasting order and a serene life in a nation of alcoholics and drunks. For this reason, the activities of amelioration need to start first from waking up this nation from this terrible situation.”[6]

According to the World Health Organization’s latest reports that encompass thirty countries, 85% of homicides (about 60-70 % of these victimizing one’s own family), 50% of sexual assaults, 50% of violent incidents, 70% of domestic violence, 60% of absenteeism, and 40-50% of mental illnesses originate in alcohol abuse. The likelihood of mental problems developing in babies born to alcoholics is about 90% high. For an alcoholic woman, the risk of giving birth to a baby who has a handicap is 35%. This is because alcohol prevents growth in the mother’s womb and the after-birth development, and it causes mental retardation, shortness of height, and behavioral problems. Since the children of alcoholics live in a family atmosphere with continuous quarreling and violence, the risk of increased emotional collapse and behavioral problems is very high. Hence, most of these children are unsuccessful in school and in life.[7]

According to an official report of the English government, the burden of fighting, injuries, hospital expenses and the like due to alcohol on the English economy is an annual 20 billion sterling pounds (about 30 billion US dollars).[8]

The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) has commanded us, “Never drink alcohol because it is the mother of all evil and mischief.” (Ibn-i Majah, Ashriba, 1). He also said, “If much of something makes one drunk then even a little of it is also prohibited.” (Abu Dawud, Ashriba, 5/3861; Tirmizi, Ashriba, 3/1865).

For this reason, one should not be deceived by those who say “Nothing happens by drinking a little so as not to cause drunkenness.” The criterion is quite clear, if more of something causes drunkenness, then a little of the same is also prohibited. Islam wants to prevent evil in the best manner by blocking all the roads to sin. It disregards theoretical solutions that do not go well with the practice of life. It establishes prohibitions with great wisdom in order for them to be deterred and gives the most appropriate punishments to those who violate these prohibitions. This situation shows how much our religion values human beings and embraces them with infinite compassion and mercy.

3. Fornication

Fornication and adultery have always been seen as a wrong and antisocial behavior by the human intellect, morals, legal systems, and all divine religions. Adultery causes blood lines to mix and families to dismantle, precipitating the dissolution of bonds such as kinship, neighboring, and friendship as well as jeopardizing the roots of spiritual and moral values in a society. Such behavior makes human beings slaves to bodily desires, debasing human honor and dignity.

Fornication and adultery also have many harmful consequences in terms of health. People who indulge them are most prone to contagious sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis and gonorrhea. The deadly anti-immune disease AIDS, which today’s medicine cannot cure, spreads mostly through illict sexual intercourse.

Allah Almighty who loves His subjects very much does not want them to fall into such hideousness. For this reason, He prohibited us from even approaching fornication, not to mention committing it. He said:

“…come not near shameful deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that you may learn wisdom.” (Al-An`am (Livestock), 6:151)

“Nor come near adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).” (Al-Isra` (The Night Journey), 17:32)

That is, one must keep away from any road or means that provide a basis for adultery. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) expresses as follows how harmful for the heart unnecessary glances are:

“Staring at the prohibited is one of Satan’s poisonous arrows. Whoever quits this out of (fearful) respect of Allah, Allah grants him a belief whose sweetness he will feel in his heart.” (Hakim, IV, 349/7875; Haythami, VIII, 63).

For this reason, Islam first takes precautions such as having men and women cover up in the fashion prescribed by the religion, ordering to stay away from behaviors that will draw undue attention to each other, prohibiting the seclusion of men with women when legally foreign to each other, and prevention of lewdness in the society. This is why words, glances, or close relationships that could lead people’s thoughts into undue directions are condemned as actions that pave the way for adultery. Islam does not even stop at these and gives duties to families and the society to educate children, not to delay the age of marriage unless there is a necessity, to make marriage easy, and to hold religious and moral values alive in the society.

As can be gleaned from such directives, the goal of Islam is not to punish the guilty but to have people live in security and serenity by preventing the environment of crime to form in the society. Indeed, in Islamic history the punishment of adultery has rarely been seen.

In addition to the sins listed above, Islam also strictly prohibits the following major sins: homicide, conducting magic, oppressions, disobeying parents, lying, treason, backbiting (speaking in a way that a person would not like had he been present), to abuse an orphan’s property or goods, slandering, stealing, and gambling.[9]

[1] Al-Baqara (The Cow), 2: 278-279. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) mentions one more thing that Allah declares war on, which is to show hostility do the friends of Allah. (Bukhari, Rikâk, 38) Apart from these no rebel or sinner has been threratened with this severly.

[2] Ibn-i Abî Sheybe, Musannef, VII, 106/34552; Vâkıdî, III, 1016; ; Ibn-i Kathir, Bidâye, V, 13-14.

[3] Muslim, Musâkât, 105-106. Also see Bukhari, Büyû’, 24, 25, 113; Abu Dawud, Büyû, 4/3333; Tirmizî, Büyû’, 2/1206; Ibn-i Mâce, Tijârât, 58.

[4] An-Nisâ (Women), 4: 160-161.

[5] Al-Mâida (The Table), 5: 90-91.

[6] Grigory Petrov, Ideal Öğretmen (The Ideal Teacher), Istanbul 2005, pp. 48-52.

[7] Musa Tosun, Article: “Içki” (Alcoholic Drinks), Diyanet Islâm Ansiklopedisi Islamic Encyclopedia of (Republic of Turkey, Presidency of Religous Affairs), XXI, p.463.

[8] The Guardian, Saturday March 27 2004, “Sobering thoughts about a claim”, Sean COUGHAN.

[9] Bukhari, Shehâdât, 10; Vasâyâ, 23; Muslim, Birr, 55, 56; Abu Dawud, Adab, 35/4875; Ahmad, III, 154, 135. For details see Murat Kaya, Efendimiz’den Hayat Ölçüleri (Crietria for Life from our Master the Prophet), Istanbul 2007, pp. 308-458.

Source: Dr. Murat Kaya,The Final Divine Religion: ISLAM

Its Essence is Oneness of God (Tawhid)