Kifah MustaphaUnderstanding the Term “Haram” or Forbidden  (Part Two)
No need for unlawful matters
There are enough permissible or “halal” things to substitute for unlawful ones. This is a concept that should rest in the heart of every believer. All that God declared unlawful was substituted by the presence of something which is healthy, lawful and beneficial. For example, the prohibition of usury or interest, which targets the vulnerability of a person to burden him with more debt, was substituted by normal trade and ethical loans that are meant to help your fellow brother. The prohibition of gambling which risks losing people’s wealth in a game based matter was substituted by honorable means of earning money through work or providing services. The prohibition of adultery and homosexuality was substituted by responsible relationships that protect the continuity of the human race and provide for spouses and children. The prohibition of intoxicants which alter the mind was substituted by the useful and healthy drinks of all kinds of fruits or vegetables, natural or flavored. With all that in mind, let no one then complain about missing things in life. God is fair, and all the guidance He (SW) brings to us is meant to protect us and our well-being.
That which leads to unlawful is also unlawful
In Islam, sins are in levels. One category is that there are major sins and minor sins. In many cases, the declaration of minor sins is seen as a guard to protect people from falling into major ones. Take for example when Islam prohibited adultery, it was also prohibited for a male (non-mahram) to be alone with a female in a non-public place or to look at a female (or vice versa) in a lustful way for the very simple reason to protect one from falling into the major sin of adultery. Or when Islam prohibited drinking liquor as a major sin it was also prohibited to sell it or serve it to protect one from falling into drinking it. This concept in Sharia is called in some cases (Sadd Al-Zari’a) or preventive measures.  Scholars agree on general rules that summarize major concepts in Islam. One of these general rules says that which leads to Haram is Haram.
Good intentions do not exempt Haram
In Islam intentions are the base of our deeds, but good intentions do not legitimize what is prohibited.  If normal actions of daily life are associated with good intentions, it will bring honor to them, raising those actions to a level of worship. For example, if one showers for cleanliness this is a neutral action, but if one showers prior to Friday noon prayer with the intention of practicing the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), this raises the level of the action to a rewardable act of worship. However this does not apply to prohibited matters because prohibited matters shall always remain unlawful except for extreme necessities. So, gambling with the intention of donating to the poor is not allowed, nor selling wine with the intention of creating jobs, nor stealing  to feed the poor, etc. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Allah is pure and will only accept pure things.”[1]
Check your heart
Every person has this natural inclination (Fitra) which, if not disturbed with lots of sins, will always lean towards what is lawful or unlawful. There are two guidelines to check things, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Consult your heart. Righteousness is that which the soul feels at ease and the heart feels tranquil. And wrongdoing is that which wavers in the soul and causes uneasiness in the chest, even though people have repeatedly given their legal opinion [in its favor].”[2]
In other words, if you do not feel at ease with something and you hate people to see you doing it, watch out, it might be a matter of Haram coming to you!
In another Hadith the Prophet (PBUH) said: “That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor, but he who falls into doubtful matters [eventually] falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Truly every king has a sanctuary, and truly Allah's sanctuary is His prohibitions. Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh, which, if it be whole, all the body is whole, and which, if it is diseased, all of [the body] is diseased. Truly, it is the heart.”[3]
Extreme necessities exempt Haram
The general purpose for Shariah rulings is to insure the (Maslahah) benefit for people by securing their extreme necessities and providing their normal needs and their improving [extra] needs.
Extreme necessities are what people’s lives depend on and what is needed to maintain their Maslahah. If this matter is not found, life would be disrupted and chaos would occur. These extreme necessities are related to five protected areas in Islam: Protection of religion, the self, the mind, the honor (nasl), and the wealth.
That is why if any of these matters is disrupted and the preservation of the human is a must then some acts of Haram will be allowed under such extreme circumstances with a condition; Allah (SW) said: {But whoever is compelled [by circumstances] without being rebellious and without being a willful transgressor- then no [penalty of] sin shall there be upon him} 2:173.
An example would be if someone is lost in a desert and dying from thirst and there is nothing available to drink but wine to stay alive then he is allowed to drink it in the amount necessary to preserve his life.
Other areas where Islam lifts hardships on people, especially in areas of worship are: Travel, illness, duress, being unaware and general unpreventable measures.
Sh. Kifah Mustapha
[1] Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim
[2] Hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad and Darimi
[3] Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari