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Haraam ( ) (often Haram) is an Arabic term meaning "forbidden". In Islam it is used to refer to anything that is prohibited by the faith. Its antonym is halal.

The religious term haraam can be applied to:
  • certain behaviours, such as adultery or abuse and profane language.
  • certain objects and sacrilege.
  • certain foodstuffs or food ingredients, such as alcohol or pork.
  • and also to foods, objects and people that would normally be halaal but which were tarnished in some or other way, for example meat slaughtered in a non-permitted way or people with certain sexual preferences.

Haraam has, over the years, accumulated additional non-traditional uses to it. In Arabic-speaking countries, such as Lebanonmarker, saying "haraam" can mean, "what a shame" or "what a pity" (this meaning has been adopted by Modern Hebrew slang as well). This can be used formally or between friends. Children are commonly told not to mistreat other children or animals because it is 'haraam'.

Haraam also applies to ill-gotten wealth obtained through sin. Examples include money earned through cheating, stealing, corruption, murder or any means that involves harm to another human being. It is prohibited in Islam for a true Muslim to profit from such Haraam actions. Any believer who benefits from or lives off wealth obtained through Haraam is a sinner.

The word also appears in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopiamarker. It connotes the same idea of prohibition on religious grounds, however it is used by Christians in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, including bans on pork (more out of Jewish dietary laws, not Islamic).

Haraam is best known to non-Arabs by means of the related word harem, referring to the forbidden area of the palace where the women were quartered.

The Hebrew cognate Herem referes to the highest ecclesiastical censure in the Jewish community.

Quranic verses about Haraam

Here are some well known verses that are commonly referenced in regard to unlawful food or drinks:

"He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swineflesh, and that which hath been immolated to (the name of) any other than God. But he who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. Lo! God is Forgiving, Merciful".

"How should ye not eat of that over which the name of God hath been mentioned, when He hath explained unto you that which is forbidden unto you unless ye are compelled thereto. But lo! many are led astray by their own lusts through ignorance. Lo! thy Lord, He is Best Aware of the transgressors."

Here are verses that reference fornication being haraam:

"And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way."

"Those who invoke not, with God, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; - and any that does this (not only) meets punishment."

Here is a verse that references shirk being haraam:

"Say: I am forbidden to worship those on whom ye call instead of God. Say: I will not follow your desires, for then should I go astray and I should not be of the rightly guided."

Hadith sayings about Haraam

The Hadith is a compilation of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and there are a several sayings of the Prophet that relate to unlawful acts or food in the Islam religion. Below are some sayings from the Hadith collections:

Hadith mentioning haraam food and prohibition of alcohol:

In an incident narrated by Rafi’ bin Khadij, the Prophet told Muslims who wanted to slaughter some animals using reeds, “Use whatever causes blood to flow, and eat the animals if the Name of Allah has been mentioned on slaughtering them...”(Bukhari).

Narrated Abu Thalaba: "Allah’s Messenger forbade the eating of the meat of beasts having fangs "(Narrated by Bukhari).

From Muslim (from Abi Said): The Prophet said: "Allah has forbidden alcoholic drinks. Whoever this verse reaches while they still possess any of it, they are not to drink nor to sell."

Hadith mentioning fornication as haraam:

Prophet Muhammad explained: "If one of you were to be stabbed in the head with a piece of iron it would be better for him than if he were to touch a woman whom it is not permissible for him to touch."

Hadith mentioning shirk as haraam:

It is reported on the authority of Ibn Mas'ood that the Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever died while supplicating another deity besides Allah, will enter the Fire." (Narrated by Bukhari)

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