Why Should Someone Be Muslim If Everything Is Haram?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question

Someone mentioned to me that he feels that most activities and “fun things” are prohibited in Islam and that the criteria of halal are very narrow and restricting. He holds the view that the prohibitions can even cause depression.

How could one tackle such a claim?

Answer

I hope you’re doing well, insha’Allah. May Allah grant you ease and facilitation in life and religion.

Who Is a Muslim? And Why Are We Muslim?

A Muslim isn’t merely “a follower of Islam.” Islam isn’t merely a “body of rules” without purpose.

Rather, a Muslim is one who recognizes and accepts with clarity and certitude the reality of Allah as God, the Wise and Merciful Creator of all existent things. [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid ‘ala Jawharat al-Tawhid; Razi, al-Tafsir al-Kabir]

Being Muslim is accepting this truth. The realization and acceptance of that truth entail gratitude (shukr) to one’s creator, sustainer, and benefactor–Allah Most High. One expresses this gratitude through submission (islam).

Thus, a Muslim views the rulings and limits of Islam as expressions of how we fulfill our reality and purpose in life–with gratitude rather than as burdens.

The Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk) asked, “Should I not be a truly grateful servant?” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Most Things Are Permissible

Allah Most High tells us, “He ˹also˺ subjected for you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth—all by His grace. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect.” [Quran, 45:13]

From the many meanings of this verse–and others–is that the basis of things in life is permissibility.

The things Allah Most High has prohibited are only a small subset of all things in life.

Why Are Some Things Prohibited?

Whereas the permissible is generally without harm, the prohibited has been prohibited because it is harmful. The harm may be worldly or spiritual, individual or social, direct or indirect. But the harm is real. [Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, al-Qawa‘id al-Kubra]

In verses after the one cited above explains the wisdom of moral responsibility:

“Whoever does good, it is to their own benefit. And whoever does evil, it is to their own loss. Then to your Lord you will ˹all˺ be returned.” [Quran, 45.15]

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.