At the outset, the writer would like to stress that he does not attack any religion since he is convinced that all religions constitute a basic need for the life of their believers, much like the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat. But religion becomes a real problem for human societies when it deviates from, or flatly contradicts, humane standards. 


THIS DILEMMA BECOMES all the more acute and intense when deviation and contradiction become an integral part of the essence of religion, as is the case in Islamism, with its constant persistence in deviating and contradicting many human values, and its attempts to justify them in illogical ways.  Such things point to the reach of collective stupidity that has become rampant in Islamic societies. This is something that is not due to a lack of knowledge but a permanent refusal to acquire it and work with it.

Historically and objectively, the criterion of halal and haram, what is ‘permissible’ and what is ‘forbidden’ – on which Islamism is founded – cannot be consistent with any human values, since those values are not compatible with them: they are established solely according to what is beneficial or harmful to a person, regardless of his religion, culture or situation. Therefore, all peoples of the world, at every material and moral level, are unacquainted with anything termed “the lawful and the forbidden”, and recognize in their religious and worldly culture only those things that benefit them in their lives, and they reject everything that harms either them or others, or anything that contradicts the customs and laws that are in force.

The criterion of halal and haram cannot be consistent with any human values, since those values are not compatible with them

Even the Jews and the Christians did not take the “Ten Commandments” in Exodus 1:20-17 and Deuteronomy 6:5-21 as determining the permissible or forbidden, but considered that which affected the relationship of people with each other as qualifying as crimes: such as murder, theft, and false testimony (against all human beings, and not ‘against relatives’ alone), according to the Commandments. They then enacted appropriate laws and penalties for them and left other commandments to the individual’s conscience, as long as these did not cause harm to anyone. They enacted law on such things as worshiping another god, or making and sculpting statues, or doing good to those who love and keep the commandments of the Lord, or those who pronounced the name of the Lord in vain, on the sanctification of the Sabbath, on honouring one’s father and mother, and even on adultery and coveting the “one’s neighbour’s house’.

As for the Islamists, however, these claim that the Qur’an left nothing, small or large, without talking about it. As a consequence came all the taboos that Allah imposed on man in order to protect his religion, his person, his money and his honour, based on what was revealed in Surat Al-An’am verse 151, and Surat Al-Isra’ (verses 22 to 37) , which could be classified as ‘commandments’ – such as the prohibition of killing children (as opposed to others) out of the fear of poverty – because it is God who provides for all – or avoiding adultery, or taking a life, which God has forbidden (except by right), and not appropriating the orphan’s wealth (except in a way to provide something better) until such time as he reaches adulthood, honouring agreements, observing weights and measures strictly, refraining from speaking on matters without due knowledge, or strutting contentedly upon the ground (i.e. in self-delusion and arrogance). In Surat al-A’raf, 33 some of these prohibitions were repeated in this form:

Say: My Lord has only prohibited indecencies, those of them that are apparent as well as those that are concealed, and sin and rebellion without justice, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down any authority, and that you say against Allah what you do not know.

It is noticeable that humans never fought about worship when they worshiped the sun, the moon, fire, and trees because these are tangible elements, and no two persons can disagree as to their existence. They only fought about worship when they worshiped a hidden deity, one where even a shepherd could speak in his name and claim that he knew his intentions and what he wanted or did not want from the people! During his lifetime the Prophet of Islam issued permissions and prohibitions in the name of God, according to how people behaved at the time and in response to events taking place in the society around him. He thus would not have prohibited polytheism unless polytheism had been widespread in his society and enjoined by all religions before him. Then there are the outward and inward indecencies, or lack of kindliness to parents, or the killing of children out of fear of poverty, or taking a life which God has forbidden (except by right), or committing sins, injustice and immorality (except by right, again), and speaking about God without knowledge and so on. 

But these commandments attributed to God failed to secure the slightest protection for the new Muslim, either for his faith or for his person, his wealth or his honour. And that was due to the fact that they were generic in character and their force restricted by ‘exceptions’, something which allowed the jurists and clerics to roam and arbitrate concerning them just as they pleased. The issue of halal and haram thus became one among many superstitious and disputable issues forming the operative elements consolidating the collective stupidity among the Arabs and the Muslims.

Their religiosity became a copy formed over many decades from the two religions that preceded it, in addition to other elements hailing from different religions, but it was one that was artificial, elastic and open to rumours and gossip, to moulding and kneading, a ‘supermarket’ if you will, that everyone could enter and choose what they wished, or add to it or cancel from it what they wanted, and yet always able to find the apposite Qur’anic or prophetic hadith justification to support his point of view.

And if these were unavailable, he could always fabricate them in the timeworn, agreed upon manner. Hence, the halal and haram came to fall under this flexible and open-to-all pattern, and the words halal and haram in one form or another are mentioned in the Qur’an over 45 times, without being defined – which meant that the jurists and clerics could differ in their evaluation of them according to their various desires and material, jurisprudential and intellectual orientations. They were also subject, and responded, to the whims and priorities of the rulers through the ages, thus plunging the system into total chaos, and from which came all the absurd rules and controls that they innovated – linking on the one hand mankind’s humanity to a religious text yet at the same time justifying brutality with another religious text! 

This jurisprudential turmoil induced Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi to write, in 2012, a book on what is permissible and what is forbidden in Islam,[1] only for it to be met by the shaykhs of Al-Azhar and others with a chorus of denunciation and disapproval, accusing him of permitting what is forbidden and forbidding what is permitted. The cause for all this was the lack of any definition for halal and haram, and their being dependent upon whim, mood and the level of education and training, and upon how far the jurists were subject to rulers’ inclinations and political priorities!

They claim that the process of permitting and prohibiting is a right exclusive to God alone, except that they in turn include the Prophet in this divine right, in that what is permissible is ‘what God and His Messenger have permitted’, and what is forbidden is ‘what God and His Messenger have forbidden’, and it is not permissible for anyone, whosoever he may be, to permit or prohibit anything except according to what is indicated by legal evidence from the Book and the Sunna, according to verse 116 of the Surat al-Nahl:

And speak not, concerning that which your own tongues qualify (as clean or unclean), the falsehood: “This is lawful, and this is forbidden,” so that ye invent a lie against Allah. Lo! those who invent a lie against Allah will not succeed.

Then God commands them in Surat al-Tawba 29:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited.

Then the loquacious Abu Huraira comes up with many hadiths that he heard from the Prophet, one of which runs: 

Avoid that which I forbid you to do and do that which I command you to do to the best of your capacity. [2]

The matter did not end there, but the jurists and clerics also involved themselves in the myth of halal and haram based on the premise of the verse: 

So ask the people of the remembrance if you do not know[3]

– in their capacity as ‘rulers of the matter, heirs to the prophets, and custodians of the faith’ who are to be obeyed, along with one’s obedience to God and His Messenger. They thus can do the permitting and prohibiting in the name of God and His Messenger, so long as the issue is not something that goes beyond their elastic approach, changing and shaping their judgments according to their whims and moods, the varying level of their education and the diversity of their needs.  They then add different things on one day, then copy reproduce them or abandon them another day, without any sense of embarrassment or shame. 

[1] Yusuf al-Qaradawi, الحلال والحرام في الإسلام  (Download the book here). 

[2] Sahih Muslim 1337b.

[3] Qur’an XVI (al-Nahl), 43. 

Yusuf al-Qaradawi: an ill-received attempt to provide some order to the chaos