Thursday 3 February 2022

Forbidden and Preferred Acts - Part I

Qur'an is full of Divine cautions and warnings to provide guidance to the believers and keep them on the straight path of ultimate salvation. The forbidden and preferred acts are repeated at many a places in the Qur'an to keep reminding the believers not to deviate from the straight path by being lured in by the Satan and his associates and also spell out the preferred accts for them so that they are counted among the blessed and not among the oppressors and evil doers. It will be seen after reading the selected verse below, that Allah's commandments are not only for the Muslims but all of the mankind. If the forbidden acts are shunned and preferred acts followed, this world will be a real heaven to live in.
Allah thus cautions: "This is My way -that which is straight: follow it, then, and do not follow other paths lest they scatter you from His path. This is what He has enjoined upon you, so that you may beware.'" [Surah 6. Al Ana'm]
The above said verse follows verse 151 and 152 in which some forbidden and preferred acts are mentioned. In this post, we shall explain the verse number 151 (below) and will explain the verse number 152 in one of our coming posts:

قُلۡ تَعَالَوۡا اَتۡلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّکُمۡ عَلَیۡکُمۡ اَلَّا تُشۡرِکُوۡا بِہٖ شَیۡئًا وَّ بِالۡوَالِدَیۡنِ اِحۡسَانًا ۚ وَ لَا تَقۡتُلُوۡۤا اَوۡلَادَکُمۡ مِّنۡ اِمۡلَاقٍ ؕ نَحۡنُ نَرۡزُقُکُمۡ وَ اِیَّاہُمۡ ۚ وَ لَا تَقۡرَبُوا الۡفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَہَرَ مِنۡہَا وَ مَا بَطَنَ ۚ وَ لَا تَقۡتُلُوا النَّفۡسَ الَّتِیۡ حَرَّمَ اللّٰہُ اِلَّا بِالۡحَقِّ ؕ ذٰلِکُمۡ وَصّٰکُمۡ بِہٖ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ 
Tell them: Come, I shall tell you what your Lord has forbidden to you: do not associate anything with Him, treat your parents with kindness; [never be unkind to them,] and kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide you also and shall provide them too. And do not even go near vulgarities  whether they are open or hidden. And do not kill without justification any soul forbidden by God. These are the things God directs you to so that you use your intellect.
One is guilty of shirk if: (a) one sets up another besides Allah as god, or (b) one attributes to another any of those attributes that naturally and exclusively belong to Allah, or (c) one sets up a partner with Allah in His powers, or (d) in His rights.
According to (a), all those creeds which set up partners with Allah in the essence of His Godhead shall be shirk, e.g., the creed of Trinity of the Christians, the creed of musrhik Arabs to believe in the angels to be daughters of God and to attribute "Godhead" to their gods and goddesses and the members of the royal families.
According to (b), all those, who believe that someone other than Allah also possesses one or some or all of the attributes which exclusively belong to Allah, shall be guilty of shirk. For instance, it will be shirk if one believes that someone knows all about everything including the "unseen" or hears everything or is completely free from each and every defect and weakness, and is infallible like Allah.
According to (c), one shall be guilty of shirk, if one believes that someone else besides Allah is able to wield any one or all of those powers that exclusively belong to Him. For instance, one shall be committing shirk, if one believes that someone else besides Allah can, in a supernatural way, benefit or harm or fulfill heeds or help or protect or defend, or hear prayers, or make or mar destinies, or set the limits of lawful or unlawful, proper or improper, or prescribe laws (shar a) for human life. These shall be shirk, for all these things are the exclusive characteristics of Godhead.
It shall be shirk under (d) if one surrenders to another any or all of those rights to which Allah alone is entitled. For instance, Allah alone has the right that man should stand with bound hands, bow and prostrate before Him, or he should make vows and give offerings in His name alone or make sacrifices as a mark of gratitude in acknowledgment of His greatness; He alone has the right that He should be invoked to ward off troubles etc. Likewise, Allah alone is entitled to all forms of worship, devotion and glory and He alone has the right to be loved more than anyone or anything else and all other affections should be sacrificed for His love. He alone should be feared so that one would not dare displease or disobey Him openly and secretly. He alone has the right to be obeyed unconditionally and unreservedly; and His Guidance alone should be made the sole standard of judging right from wrong and none else should be obeyed except in accordance with the obedience to Allah. If ever one of these rights is surrendered to someone other than Allah, it will be setting that one as a partner with Him, whether that one is given the title of god or not.
"Kind treatment to parents" includes respect and honor, obedience and desire to please and serve parents etc. , This right of the parents has been stated in the Qur'an at several places immediately after the rights of Allah. This is a clear proof that this right of the parents is only next to the right of Allah and has priority over all human rights.  

The Arabic word fawahish فَوَاحِشَ applies to all kinds of impure acts, whose obscenity is absolutely obvious. The Qur'an declares adultery, sodomy, nudism, calumny, marriage with father's wife as "indecencies." Besides these, theft, drinking and beggary have also been included in the list of indecencies in the Traditions. Likewise, all other obscene acts are also indecencies and the Divine Commandment demands that such acts should neither be committed openly nor secretly.  

" and do not slay the soul sanctified by Allah except in just cause; " This is the declaration of the sanctity of human life by Allah Who has made it inviolable as a basic principle. As regards its destruction "by right", the Qur'an allows this in three cases and the Holy Prophet added two more to these. The Qur'an makes it lawful to take the life of the one:

(1) who is proved guilty of the intentional murder of another person.

(2) who opposes Islam and obstructs its establishment so as to leave no other alternative than to fight with him,

(3) who spreads disorder within the Islamic territory or exerts to overthrow the established Islamic government.

Besides these, the Holy Prophet has made it lawful to .take the life of the one:

(4) who, in spite of being married, is proved guilty of adultery,

(5) who becomes an apostate and deserts the Islamic Community.

These five are the only cases in which it becomes lawful to take human life and there is no other case in which it becomes lawful to take human life and there is no other case besides these in which human life may be taken, be it that of a Muslim, or of a dhimmi, or of an unbeliever. 

Let us now see how other eminent scholars of Islam interpret the abovesaid verse:

For explanation of the verse by Ibn Kathir click here (It is being referred separately as the explanation is quite long and readers may read it in own time to comprehend it better)

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Say: "Come, let me convey unto you what God has [really] forbidden to you: "Do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him; and [do not offend against but, rather,] do good unto your parents;" In the consensus of all the commentators, the phrase interpolated by me between brackets is clearly implied in the above commandment, since it is mentioned among the things which God has forbidden - and being good towards one's parents is not only not forbidden but, on the contrary, enjoined over and over in the Qur'an.

" and do not kill your children for fear of poverty - [for] it is We who shall provide sustenance for you as well as for them;" This may possibly refer to abortions dictated by economic considerations. 

"and do not commit any shameful deeds, be they open or secret; and do not take any human being's life - [the life] which God has declared to be sacred - otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice: this has He enjoined upon you so that you might use your reason;" Sc., "and not resort to brute force whenever your private interests are involved". The expression "otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice" refers to the execution of a legal punishment or to killing in a just - that is, defensive - war, or to individual, legitimate self-defense.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
Instead of following Pagan superstitions, and being in constant terror of imaginary taboos and prohibitions, we should study the true moral law, whose sanction is God's Law. The first step is that we should recognise that He is the One and Only Lord and Cherisher. The mention of goodness to parents immediately afterwards suggests: (1) that God's love of us and care for us may -on an infinitely higher plane- be understood by our ideal of parental love, which is purely unselfish; (2) that our first duty among our fellow creatures is to our father and mother, whose love leads us to the conception of divine love. Arising from that is the conception of our converse duties to our children. God provides sustenance (material and spiritual) not only for us, but for them; hence any custom like the Pagan custom of sacrificing children of Moloch stands condemned. Then come the moral prohibitions against lewdness and all unseemly acts, relating to sex or otherwise, open or secret. This is followed by the prohibition of killing or fighting. All these things are conformable to our own interests, and therefore true wisdom from our own point of view.

For the comprehensive word haqq I have used the two words "justice and law"; other significations implied are: right, truth, what is becoming, etc. It is not only that human life is sacred, but all life is sacred. Even in killing animals for food, a dedicatory formula "in the name of God" has to be employed, to make it lawful: see n. 698 to v. 5, and n. 962 to vi. 138.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
"Tell them: Come, I shall tell you what your Lord has forbidden to you: " The implication is that the things prohibited by their Lord are not the ones they regard, as prohibited because of their superstitions. The real prohibitions are the ones He has designated in His sharī‘ah. The religion on which Abraham (sws) had left them contained all these prohibitions. They have remained prohibited in all the sharī‘ahs of God.

" do not associate anything with Him, " If anyone is regarded as a deity with God, then in the terminology of the Qur’ān, this is called shirk (polytheism). It means:
  • a. to regard someone to have the same genre as that of God or to regard God to have the same genre as someone; or
  • b. to regard someone to have a role in creation or in running the affairs of the creatures and in this manner make someone God’s peer to some extent or another.
Examples of the first type of polytheism are the beliefs of Christians and the Polytheists of Arabia about Jesus (sws) and Mary (sws) and about the angels respectively. The belief of waḥdat al-wujūd is another example of this.

Examples of the second type are the beliefs regarding Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in Hinduism and the beliefs regarding Ghaws, Quṭub, Abdāl, Dātā and Gharīb Nawāz among Muslims. Belief in evil spirits and stars and in the powers of Satan, also belong to this category of polytheism.

"treat your parents with kindness; [never be unkind to them,]  After God, the greatest right is that of the parents. Thus the second directive cited here relates to them. Though it is stated under

 مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ yet the Qur’ān, instead of a negative style, has adopted a positive style for it. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī has explained this. He writes:
… The novelty of style in the verses under discussion may be kept in mind in that some directives are stated in a positive way and some in a negative one. For example, polytheism, murder of children, lewd acts, killing, consuming the wealth of children are mentioned in a negative way. On the other hand, kindness to parents, measuring and weighing honestly, justice in words and deeds and keeping promises are stated in a positive way. Exactly the same style has been adopted in these directives in verses 22-38 of Sūrah Banī Isrā’il. The reason for this is that the deduction of the positive from the negative and vice versa is an obvious phenomenon. When a thing is mentioned in a positive way by urging people to adopt it, then it necessarily means that what is opposite to it is prohibited. Similarly, if a thing is prohibited, then it automatically means that its opposite should be adopted. In other words, if polytheism is prohibited, then monotheism should be adopted. Likewise, if it is said that the rights of the parents should be fulfilled, it means that their unkind treatment is forbidden. In the light of this style, all directives which are stated in a positive way but are under حَرَّمَ as far as the construction of the discourse is concerned, their opposites should also be kept in mind. Thus the whole sentence would be to the effect: “neither show disrespect to the parents nor scold them; in fact, be kind to them.” The advantage of this style is that what is needed to be stated with stress is cited in words and its opposite is deemed to be understood from the style of the discourse as its natural consequence. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 3, 198)

" and kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide you also and shall provide them too." This is a reference to the cruel custom of burying alive of infant girls found in the Arab jāhiliyyah. One reason of this was that they thought that since a woman was not an earning hand, why should the burden of her upbringing be borne? The verse forbids their killing and says that those who kill them are not their providers. In fact, they are not even the providers of their own selves, let alone of their children. Their only responsibility is to work hard to provide a source of livelihood. After this, the results are the responsibility of God.  

" And do not even go near vulgarities "   Ie., extra-marital sex is forbidden whether done openly or in private. The plural is used to cover homosexuality, bestiality and other such vulgar and sinful acts. Moreover, the word used for prohibition is

لَا تَقۡرَبُوۡا. The purpose is to ask people to abstain from things which can lead a person or become a motive for him to be led to these vulgar acts. 
Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes: … The words لَا تَقۡرَبُوۡا are used by the Qur’ān for those wrongdoings of which even a shadow is destructive for a person, which are not only dangerous themselves but the motives of which are also equally dangerous, which shower their filth on him from a very long distance and then engulf a person in such a manner that it becomes impossible for him to disengage himself from them. A person can only succeed to protect himself from such wrongdoings when he fully protects his eyes, tongue and heart and is able to clog every hole from which it can creep up to him and stays short of every place that can cause him to stumble. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 3, 201)
" And do not kill without justification any soul forbidden by God." This is a statement of the sanctity of life which is found in every religion and moral code. It is expressly stated in verse 5 of Sūrah al-Mā’idah that the life of a person can only be taken in two situations: if he kills someone or if he, while being rebellious to the state, goes after the life, wealth and honour of others. This latter situation is called fasād fī al-arḍ by the Qur’ān. Any killing that does not fall into these two scenarios is unjust and according to the Qur’ān is the second greatest sin after polytheism.

" These are the things God directs you to so that you use your intellect." The implication is that they should act sensibly and instead of deciding for themselves about the lawful and the unlawful they should turn to the actual religion of Abraham (sws) in which God has given these directives.

Qur'an Wiki:
Having challenged the unbelievers to produce their witnesses and rejected their claims concerning what they considered as forbidden, the surah gives a detailed outline of what God has truly forbidden. Side by side with the list of prohibitions, we find some positive commandments that must be observed. Failure to act on these is also forbidden. The list begins with the most important prohibition of all, namely, associating partners with God. Indeed, the first article of faith which establishes the principle of God’s oneness provides the foundation for all prohibitions.

When we reflect on these commandments, we find that they provide an outline of our religion as a whole. They form the most essential element in the life of the human conscience as they establish the principle of God’s oneness. They are also most essential for the life of the human family and human community since they ensure mutual security within society and make cleanliness an important quality of all social transactions. They are indeed pivotal for human life, since they guarantee the rights of every individual, linking them to the need to fulfil the covenant that exists between God and His servants. This keeps these commandments on the right course outlined by the starting principle of believing in God’s oneness. When we look at the comment made at the end of these commandments, we find that God, limitless is He in His glory, states that they constitute the right path leading to Him. All other routes and tracks are deviant, leading away from Him.

“Say: ‘Come, let me tell you what your Lord has forbidden to you.’” The Prophet is here instructed to speak to people and tell them what their Lord has forbidden to them, not what they allege to have been forbidden. It is their Lord who has made the following items forbidden, because His alone is the position of Lordship which includes the aspects of fostering and directing, as well as issuing legislation. Hence, He is only exercising His authority, because He is the Lord. God alone is the one who enjoys all rights of Lordship.

“Do not associate partners with Him.” This is the foundation upon which the structure of faith is built. It is to this rule that all duties and obligations should refer and from which all rights and privileges are derived. It must be properly established before any discussion of commandments, prohibitions, obligations, systems and laws can take place. The first and most important requirement is that people should acknowledge that God is their Lord who governs their lives in the same way as they believe in His oneness. No partner can be associated with Him either as a deity or as a Lord. People must acknowledge that God alone controls the universe and conducts its affairs, as He indeed holds them accountable on the Day of Judgement for what they have done in this life and rewards them accordingly. They must also acknowledge at the same time and in the same measure that He alone has the authority to provide the law which human beings must administer and enforce.

“Be kind to your parents; do not kill your children because of your poverty —We provide for you and for them.” This highlights the family tie between human generations. God knows that He is more kind and compassionate to human beings than their parents or children. Hence, He enjoins upon children to be kind to their parents and on parents to be kind to their children. He links this commandment to the recognition of His absolute Godhead and the acknowledgement of His unique Lordship. He tells them that He alone provides for their sustenance. Hence, they must not impose any severe conditions on parents in their old age or on children in their tender years. They must not fear poverty, because God provides sustenance for parents and children alike.

“Do not commit any shameful deed, whether open or secret.” Since God has urged His servants to take good care of their families, He has also impressed upon them the need to maintain the family foundation, which is also the basis of society. This equates with purity, decency and chastity. Hence, they are forbidden to commit all types of indecency, whether openly or secretly. This prohibition is then closely related to the commandment immediately preceding it and to the first commandment. No family can survive and no community can prosper if they sink into shameful indecency, whether open or secret. Purity, cleanliness and chastity are the basic essentials for the healthy living of both the family and the community. Those who like to see indecency spread throughout the community are the ones who try to weaken the structure of the family and to bring about society’s collapse.

“Do not take any human being’s life — which God has made sacred, except in the course of justice.” These three offences, associating partners with God, adultery and murder are frequently mentioned in the Qur’an in quick succession as things to avoid. This is because they are, in a sense, crimes of murder. The first, associating partners with God, murders sound human nature, while the second, adultery, is a murder of the community, and the third is a murder of individuals. When human nature is not nurtured by belief in God’s oneness, it becomes dead. 

Killing children by reason of poverty has already been forbidden. This is now followed by a prohibition of killing any human being. The way this prohibition is phrased suggests that every individual crime of murder seeks to kill the human soul in general. This is supported by the verse in the preceding surah which states: “If anyone slays a human being, for anything other than in punishment of murder or for spreading corruption on earth, it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; and if anyone saves a human life, it shall be as though he had saved all mankind.” (5: 32) The aggression used in killing is against the right to life and against humanity in general. It is on the basis of this rule that God has guaranteed that human life shall always be considered sacred. In addition, the Muslim community feels safe and secure in the land of Islam. Every individual in that community feels secure as he works and contributes to the life of that community. He is exposed to no risk except by the dictates of justice. Such justice which allows a human being to be killed is clearly explained in God’s law. This is not left to anyone’s decision or interpretation. Furthermore, its detailed explanation only became law after the Muslim state was established and had acquired enough power to be able to implement its laws.

Before continuing with the list of prohibitions and commandments, the surah separates what has already been mentioned from what is to come by highlighting God’s directives and commandments: “This He has enjoined upon you so that you may use your reason.” This comment is given in accordance with the Qur’anic method which makes it clear that every instruction and every prohibition is given by God. This serves to enhance the impression that the authority which bids and forbids in human life belongs to God alone. This adds much weight to the effectiveness of these instructions and prohibitions. There is also a reference here to using our reason. Indeed, it is only logical that this authority is the only one to whom people submit. We have already mentioned that this authority belongs to God, the Creator, who provides sustenance and who controls every aspect in human life and in the life of the universe.

Please listen to explanation of the ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Reference: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Qur'ān - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.


جزاک اللہ خیر

Thank you Jamil - Be blessed

Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More