There is clearly a strong relationship between the soundness or corruption of a person’s heart and his food and earnings. A person’s heart becomes corrupt when he earns what is prohibited and dares to eat of it. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), said in this regard: “Indeed, what is lawful is evident, and what is unlawful is evident, and between the two are matters which are doubtful and unknown to many people.” Then he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, followed this with: “Beware! In the body there is [a piece of] flesh which, if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Behold, this [piece of flesh] is the heart.” [Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim]
The heart is like a king and the limbs are its subjects. They are good when the king is good and corrupt when the king is corrupt.
Al-Munawi, may Allah have mercy upon him, stated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, spoke about the heart after illustrating what was lawful and unlawful to indicate that consuming what is lawful lightens and reforms the heart, while doubtful things harden it.

A warning against eating the unlawful
The Islamic Shari‘ah (religious law) forbids its followers from consuming what is unlawful, whether it is other people’s money or rights, or foods that Allah, the Almighty has declared prohibited. Allah, the Almighty Says (what means): {And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful]} [Qur’an 2:188]
Commenting on this verse, ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said: “This is regarding a person who is indebted with something, but there is no evidence to prove that he is. When the creditor claims his right, this person refrains from repaying it, and sues the claimer although he knows that it is not his right and that he is sinful - and thus he consumes what is unlawful.”
Qatadah, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “O son of Adam, know that the judgment of a judge does not permit you what is unlawful. A judge passes a verdict according to his observation and the testimonies of witnesses, and he is a human and thus liable to make mistakes. Know that anyone who has been favoured with an invalid verdict will never have his case finished. Allah, the Almighty, will judge between him and the other party on the Day of Resurrection, giving the latter a verdict far better than the former had in this worldly life.”

Unjustly devouring the orphans’ property
There are various forms of consuming what is unlawful, the worst evil of which is devouring orphans’ property unjustly. This is strictly prohibited in the Qur’an; Allah, the Almighty Says (what means): {And test the orphans [in their abilities] until they reach marriageable age. Then if you perceive in them sound judgment, release their property to them. And do not consume it excessively and quickly, [anticipating] that they will grow up. And whoever, [when acting as guardian], is self-sufficient should refrain [from taking a fee]; and whoever is poor - let him take according to what is acceptable. Then when you release their property to them, bring witnesses upon them. And sufficient is Allah as Accountant.} [Qur’an 4:6]
In his commentary on this verse, Shaykh As-Sa‘di, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “The verse prohibits consuming the property of orphans while they are young, when they can neither take it from one nor prevent him from consuming it. One can devour it while they are still young, before they are grown and can take it or prevent him from consuming it. Many guardians who do not fear Allah and have no mercy upon or love for the children in their custody do this. They find the opportunity, which they seize, and thereby hasten to commit what Allah, the Almighty has prohibited. Therefore, Allah, the Almighty forbids this act specifically.”
Moreoever, this verse is followed by severe warning to those who devour the property of orphans unjustly. Allah, the Almighty Says (what means): {Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a Blaze} [Qur’an 4:10]
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was the most concerned with the well-being of his Ummah (nation) and with warding off evil from it. Therefore, he warned Muslims against consuming the unlawful, including the property of orphans. He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Avoid the seven destructive sins.” One of which is: “Devouring the property of orphans.” [Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim]

Consuming Riba [interest/usury]
Another form of prohibition which many people consider trivial and dare to indulge in is the consumption of Riba. Allah, the Almighty Says (what means): {But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden Riba} [Qur’an 2:275]
In forbidding the consumption of Riba and warning against its consequences, Allah, the Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains [due to you] of Riba, if you should be believers. And if you do not, then be informed of a war [against you] from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your capital - [thus] you do no wrong, nor are you wronged.} [Qur’an 2:278-279]
Who could bear a war against Allah the Almighty?
Additionally, Allah, the Almighty explains in the Qur’an that Riba is ultimately going to be destroyed. Allah, the Almighty Says (what means): {Allah destroys Riba and gives increase for charity} [Qur’an 2:276]
Moreover, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, counted the consumption of Riba as one of the seven deadly sins.
There are many other forms of consuming what is unlawful, including: theft, bribery, gambling, usurpation, fraud and deception, taking booty before it is distributed, and excessive overcharging or undercharging when selling or buying. We are not going to discuss in detail each of these, however our intention is to warn generally against consuming what is unlawful.

Supplications and the consumption of the unlawful
A person’s means of living, whether lawful or unlawful, has a direct impact on whether his supplications are answered. If a person investigates his sources of income for the sake of eating what is lawful, his supplication will be closer to being accepted and more likely to be answered. If the person dares to eat what is unlawful, he thereby causes his supplication not to be answered by Allah, the Almighty.
In this regard the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Indeed, Allah is Good and He therefore accepts only what is good. Allah commanded the believers as He commanded the messengers by Saying (what means):
• “O messengers, eat from the good foods and work righteousness. Indeed, I, of what you do, am Knowing.” [Qur’an 23:51]
• “O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” [Qur’an 2:172]
He then made mention of: “a person who travels widely, his hair dishevelled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky [and thus makes supplication saying]: “O Lord! O Lord!” But his diet is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothes are [of] unlawful [means] and his nourishment is unlawful. How could his supplication, then, be accepted?” [Imam Muslim]
Imam Ibn Katheer, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Eating from what is lawful is a cause for supplication and other acts of worship to be accepted, and eating from what is unlawful prevents the acceptance of supplication and other acts of worship.”
Ibn Rajab, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Eating, drinking, or wearing what is unlawful prevents supplication and other acts of worship from being accepted.”
Consuming what is unlawful does indeed prevent supplication and other acts of worship from being accepted. Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said: “Allah, the Almighty does not accept the prayers of a person whose belly contains something unlawful.”
Ibn Rajab said: “If [one’s] nourishment is unlawful, how can [his] deeds be acceptable?”
Wahb Ibn Al-Ward, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Even if you worship Allah endlessly, nothing will help you until you scrutinise whether what is in your belly is lawful or not.”
In sum, a Muslim should be sure that this worldly life is not his end, and that he will be reckoned in the Hereafter for any unlawful thing he earns. In the Hereafter, accounts will not consist of money; rather they will consist of good and evil deeds.
Therefore, everyone should fear Allah, and seek lawful sources for your living expenses and savings, and make sure that your consumption is not unlawful as mentioned in the Qur’an; {And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly...} [Qur’an 2:188]
May Allah, the Almighty guide all of us to do so, and keep all Muslims and us away from everything evil and unlawful.

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Seeking lawful earnings

O People, fear Allah as regards to yourselves and to your families. Fear him concerning your deeds and to your wealth. Fear him with regards to what you eat and to what you save.
Allah says the meaning of which translates as: “O Mankind eat from whatever is on earth that is lawful and good, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan indeed he is to you a clear enemy” (Al-Baqarah: 168).
Earning provisions and seeking sustenance, is something that is commanded to be done by Islamic law – Shari’ah. It is something that is dictated by nature.
Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has made the day for seeking livelihood and commanded people to walk among the slopes of the earth and eat of His provisions. He says which translates as: “He has known that there will be among you those who are ill, and others travelling through the land seeking the bounties of Allah and other fighting for the cause of Allah. So recite what is easy from it, meaning the Qur’an” (Al-Muzzammil: 20). The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said in the book of Imam al-Bukhari: “Never has anyone eaten a better food than what he has procured through his manual work”.
Dawood, ‘alaihi sallam, the messenger of Allah, ate only from the earnings from his manual work. Some of the Salaf said: “Some of the sins are not expiated but through seeking lawful provisions”.
From the narrations reported about Isa, ‘alaihi sallam, that he saw a man and said: “What do you do?” He said: “I am worshipping.” He said: “Who is providing for you?” He said: “My brother.” He said: “Where is your brother?” He said: “In the field.” He said: “Your brother is more of a worshipper to Allah than you”.
In Islam, worship is not only by standing on you feet – meaning standing the for prayer, while someone else goes to seek your provisions. Rather you go seek the lawful earning and also worship.
Being independent of people by earning lawful provisions is a great honour and strength, so much so that the Khalifa Umar Ibnul Khatab, radhiallahu ‘anhu, said: “I would not prefer to die in a position better than a position where I am buying for my family or trading.”
From the words of wisdom from Luqman, he said to his son: “O Son avoid poverty by lawful earnings. For no-one becomes poor but will adopt three characteristics
1. Softness in his religion.
2. Weakness in his mind.
3. His manhood and sense of honour will be lost.”
Lawful earnings and sound wealth safeguard the religion, protect one’s honour, beautify one’s face, and result in a strong position.
It is obvious from all this that seeking lawful provisions is desirable. For Allah is Tayyib, which implies goodness and kindness. He does not accept but what is good and lawful. Allah commanded the believers as He commanded the messengers, when He says which translates as: “O Messengers eat from the good foods and work righteousness. Indeed I am knowing of what you do” (Al-Mu’minun: 51). Allah also says which translates as: “O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you, and be grateful to Allah if it is indeed him that you worship” (Al-Baqarah: 172).
The greatest fruits of faith is the goodness of the heart, honesty, purity of the hand, and the soundness of the tongue. Good words are for good men and good men are objects of good words.
The most eminent objective of the messenger Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, is to make good lawful and to make evil prohibited, and on the Day of Resurrection the good consequences will be for good people.
Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says which translates as: “The ones whom the angels take in death being good and pure, the angels will say: “ Peace be upon you, enter paradise for what you use to do” (An-Nahl: 32).
In the book of Imam Tirmidhi, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Whoever eats from good, and acts according to Sunnah and people felt safe from his evil, will enter paradise”.
Also in the book of Imam Ahmad, Abdullah Ibnu Amri, radhiallahu ‘anhuma, said that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “If you have four things, then do not be concerned about what you miss out in this life: Preserving the trust, saying the truth, good manners, and chastity and purity in what you eat.”
Seeking lawful provisions and searching for it, is an obligation and a must. No slave’s feet will be moved on the Day of Resurrection until he is asked about his wealth. How he earned it? How he spent it? It is incumbent upon every Muslim male and female to look and search for lawful provisions and chaste and pure work, to eat of the lawful and spend on the lawful.
A good example is Abubakr, radhiallahu ‘anhu, who had a slave who brought him some food, which he ate. After which the slave asked him if he knew from where he had got the food. Abubakr asked: from where did you get it? He replied: “I acted as a soothsayer for a man in the pre-Islamic period, and not being good at it I deceived him. Today he met me and rewarded me for that soothsaying. From this you have eaten. Therefore, Abubakr, radhiallahu anhu, put his hand in his mouth and vomited all that he ate.
In another narration he said: “If it would not have come out except with my soul, meaning except with my death, I would have still forced it out. O Allah I ask you to excuse me for what my veins have carried from this and what has mixed in my stomach.” (Bukhari).
Umar, radhiallahu ‘anhu, drank some milk, which he liked. He asked the one who gave him the milk: “Where did you get this?” He said: “ I passed by the camels of Zakaah while they was drinking water so I took from its milk.” Umar put his hand in his mouth and vomited it up.”
A righteous woman advising her husband: “O husband fear Allah, and the provisions you bring us, for we can persevere through hunger but we cannot stand and persevere through the punishment of hell fire.”
These are the righteous ones. They bring out whatever is unlawful or questionable out of their stomachs, though it was something they had taken unknowingly from food or drink.
However, generations came after them, earning unlawful provisions, filling their stomachs and the stomachs of their families with it.
O Muslims, do you know of the man whom the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, mentioned in a Hadith found in Sahih Al-Bukhari: “He travels for long periods, his hair tousled, his feet dusty, raising his hands in supplications to the heavens saying, My Lord, My Lord, but he eats from unlawful earnings, he dresses from unlawful earnings, and he lives by unlawful earnings. His supplications will never be answered.”
This man has symptoms of humility, and poverty and his situation invokes pity, compassion, and the desire to help him in his need. He has lost his way, his journey is long, and he feels like a stranger, he has lost everything. He has lost connection with his Lord and has deprived himself of the support of his Lord. So his du’as (supplications) are not accepted. He ate from the unlawful, dressed from the unlawful and his lived on unlawful earnings, so his ‘hands’ (meaning his du’a [supplication]), were rejected.
Some of the Salaf said: “If you stand up in worship like a pole, meaning for a long time without giving up. It will not benefit you, until you watch for what goes in your stomach.”
What is amazing, O brothers, is the acts of some people who avoid lawful provisions in fear of getting sick, but they do not have enough fear of Allah to avoid unlawful earning.
Eating from unlawful means blinds the insight, weakens the religion, hardens the heart, darkens the mind, prevents the body from worship, entraps one in this life and prevents one’s du’a (supplication) from being accepted. Allah does not accept, except from the righteous.
Unlawful earnings and provisions have bad effects on the individual and the community. It removes blessings and causes the spread of diseases, disasters, financial crisis, unemployment, oppression, and disputes.
O Muslims, Woe to the ones who eat from unlawful provisions, raise their children and family by means of unlawful earnings. Their example is like the example of one who is drinking out of the seawater. The more they drink the thirstier they become. They drink as the drinking of a thirsty camel. They are not content with little provisions, nor do a lot of provisions satisfy them.
They enjoy unlawful provisions and they use twisted means – usury, gambling, stealing forcefully taking, and they give insufficient measures and weights. They conceal deficiency in items. They use magic, fortune-telling, they usurp the property of orphans and minors, they lie when they swear, they deceive, they plan, they forge, they betray, – all twisted – dark ways.
In the Hadith found in the books of Imam Al-Bukhari and An-Nasa’i, he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “A time will come on people, when a man will not worry where his earning come from, lawful or unlawful,” and in another narration he added: “Such is one whose du’as (supplications) and are not accepted”.
O workers and officers, businessmen, consultants, brokers, Muslim men and Muslim women, it is a duty upon you to seek what is lawful and stay away for the doubtful. Preserve the rights of people. Finish your jobs completely. Fulfil your pledges and your contracts. Refrain from cheating, and lying and delaying and fear Allah.
Lawful provisions are satisfying, bring ease, enlighten the heart, energise the limbs and the body, rectify and reform the situation of the person, make the body healthy, and Allah accepts the du’as (supplications) of such a person.
Muslim brothers, the best way to refrain from unlawful and illegal things is to stay away from doubtful things, and to persevere through devout, pious ways and means, when hesitant.
In the Hadith found in the books of Al Imam Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, Baiyhaqi and others, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The servant will not be among the pious until he gives up things that are objectionable for things that are not objectionable and harmful”.
In Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “So he who guards against doubtful things, keeps his religion and his honour blameless, but he who falls into doubtful things, falls into that which is unlawful.” Narrated by An-Nu’aman Ibnu Bashir.
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