By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
9 August 2015
The Quran makes it clear that man errs when he forbids to himself what God has not forbidden or enjoins what God has not enjoined. For example:
57:27 ….But the Monasticism which they (the Christians) invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them: (We commanded) only the seeking for the Good Pleasure of Allah; but that they did not foster as they should have done…..
(3:93) All food was lawful to the Children of Israel, except what Israel Made unlawful for itself, before the Law (of Moses) was revealed. Say: "Bring ye the Law and study it, if ye be men of truth."
Can The Prophets Prohibit What God Has Not Prohibited In The Quran?
Consider the following verses:
(7:157) "Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper."
(158) Say: "O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He That giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided."
(9:29) Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
Do the verses cited above imply that the Prophet has the discretion or power to prohibit what God has not forbidden in the Quran? The above verses, the contexts of which are the People of the Book, only mean that what the Prophet prohibits is what God has forbidden through His revelations contained in the Quran. Moreover, God has prevented the Prophet from forbidding to himself what God has not forbidden as is evident from the following verse:
(66:1) O Prophet! Why do you hold to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to you? You seek to please your wives (by doing so). But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
How can then the Prophet forbid to others what God has not forbidden? The Prophet therefore only forbade to others what God has forbidden in the Quran and enjoined what God has enjoined. There is therefore nothing forbidden to mankind beyond what is forbidden for them in the Quran. Do not take recourse to the Ahadith therefore to see what is forbidden.
What Has God Enjoined And Forbidden?
(6:150) Say: "Bring forward your witnesses to prove that Allah did forbid so and so." If they bring such witnesses, be not thou amongst them: Nor follow thou the vain desires of such as treat our signs as falsehoods, and such as believe not in the Hereafter: for they hold others as equal with their Guardian-Lord.
(151) Say: "Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from": Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to shameful deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.
(152) And come not nigh to the orphan´s property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice;- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear;- whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfil the covenant of Allah: thus doth He command you, that ye may remember.
(153) Verily, this is My way, leading straight: follow it: follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from His (great) path: thus doth He command you. that ye may be righteous.
(2:173) He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- then is he guiltless. For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.
(2:275) Those who devour usury will not stand except as stand one whom the Evil one by his touch Hath driven to madness. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury," but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. Those who after receiving direction from their Lord, desist, shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for Allah (to judge); but those who repeat (The offence) are companions of the Fire: They will abide therein (for ever).
(4:19) O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may Take away part of the dower ye have given them,-except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.
(5:3) Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah; that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
(5:63) Why do not the rabbis and the doctors of Law forbid them from their (habit of) uttering sinful words and eating things forbidden? Evil indeed are their works.
(5:79) Nor did they (usually) forbid one another the iniquities which they committed: evil indeed were the deeds which they did.
(5:90) O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan´s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper
(7:33) Say: the things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to Allah, for which He hath given no authority; and saying things about Allah of which ye have no knowledge.
(9:71) The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.
(16:90) Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.
(16:115) He has only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and any (food) over which the name of other than Allah has been invoked. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
(22:41) (They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs.
(24:3) Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry and but a woman similarly guilty, or an Unbeliever: nor let any but such a man or an Unbeliever marry such a woman: to the Believers such a thing is forbidden.
(31:17) (Prophet Luqman to his son) "O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.
(40:66) Say: "I have been forbidden to invoke those whom ye invoke besides Allah,- seeing that the Clear Signs have come to me from my Lord; and I have been commanded to bow (in Islam) to the Lord of the Worlds."
(60:8) Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.
(9) Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong.
What Wrongs Can Man Forbid To Each Other?
(3:104) Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.
Trespasses against truth or reason, injustice, shameful deeds, rebellion, usury, eating/drinking what is forbidden, dealing harshly and unfairly with people of other faiths who do not fight them for their faith, unlawful killing, devouring the property of orphans under their care, associating partners with God, gambling, excesses and wastage.
What Good Can Man Enjoin To Each Other?
What he may enjoin includes being good to parents, kindness to orphans, kin and the weak, justice, fair play, giving good measure, practicing regular charity, patience, forbearance and forgiveness, establishing regular prayer, obedience of God, keeping the covenants.
Anything beyond what is specifically mentioned in the Quran may be ignored or followed as per your inclination but is not binding. In any case, do not exceed the limits as warned in verse cited below:
16:116 But say not - for any false thing that your tongues may put forth,- "This is lawful, and this is forbidden," so as to ascribe false things to Allah. For those who ascribe false things to Allah, will never prosper.
Also do not concern yourself excessively with what is forbidden beyond what is made clear since God says in the Quran:
(4:31) If ye (but) eschew the most heinous of the things which ye are forbidden to do, We shall expel out of you all the evil in you, and admit you to a gate of great honour.
Enjoy the good things of life giving thanks to God
The good things of this world are meant to be enjoyed. Pleasure and enjoyment are not forbidden but enjoy the all good things of life giving thanks to God for God says:
(7:31) O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.
(32) Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment. Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand.
Focus On What Is Important and Not On the Trivial
Focus your energies more on the good that God enjoins on us avoiding what God has clearly forbidden. For all other things not specifically forbidden, use your reason and discretion and avoid excess or that which takes us away from what is good and pure and enjoined on us. Once we prioritize the good that is enjoined, we will automatically avoid all that which takes us away from it. Going into excessive detail about what is forbidden will make us avoid what is trivial ignoring what is important. It is far more important to do the right things than avoid minor mistakes through excessive caution. Show excessive concern for truth, justice, fair play, good neighbourliness, forgiveness and showing gratitude rather than sweat for the sartorial conventions in Islam. You can deceive man by outward appearances but not Allah.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com.