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5:100 Good Intentions Do Not Make the Haram Acceptable

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Say: “Not equal are things that are bad and things that are good, even though the abundance of the bad may dazzle thee; so fear Allah, O ye that understand; that (so) ye may prosper.”

Good Intentions Do Not Make the Haram Acceptable

In all its legislations and moral injunctions, Islam lays great stress on nobility of feelings, loftiness of aims, and purity of intentions. The Prophet (peace be on him) said, “Actions will be judged by intentions, and everyone will be recompensed according to what he intended.” (Reported by al-Bukhari.) Indeed, in Islam the routine matters of life and its mundane affairs are transformed into acts of worship and devotion to Allah by good intentions. Accordingly, if one eats food with the intention of sustaining life and strengthening his body in order that he may be able to carry out his obligations to his Creator and to other human beings, his eating and drinking are considered worship and devotion to Allah Ta’ala. Again, if one enjoys sexual intimacy with his wife, desiring a child and seeking to keep himself and his wife chaste, it is considered an act of worship on his part, deserving of reward in the Hereafter. Concerning this the Prophet (peace be on him) said: When you satisfy your desire with your wife, it is counted for you as an act deserving of reward. Those who were listening to him said: Messenger of Allah, how can it be that one of us satisfies his desire and will then be rewarded for it? The Prophet (peace be on him) replied: Would he not be sinful if he had satisfied it in a prohibited manner? Consequently, if he satisfies it in a permissible manner, there is a reward for him. (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim. )

He also said: Anyone who desires what is permissible from the world, keeping himself away from sins, working for the sake of his family, and taking care of his neighbor, will meet his Lord with a face shining like the full moon. (The text of the hadith was narrated by al-Tabarani. )

In this manner, whenever any permissible action of the believer is accompanied by a good intention, his action becomes an act of worship. But the case of the haram is entirely different; it remains haram no matter how good the intention, how honorable the purpose, or how lofty the aim may be. Islam can never consent to employing a haram means to achieve a praiseworthy end. Indeed, it insists that not only the aim be honorable but also that the means chosen to attain it be pure. “The end justifies the means” is not the maxim of the Shari’ah, nor is “Secure your right even through wrong-doing.” This can never be, for the Shari’ah demands that the right should be secured through just means only.

If someone accumulates wealth through usury, forgery, gambling, prohibited games, or in any other haram manner in order to build a mosque, establish a charitable foundation, or to do any other good work, the guilt of having done what is haram will not be lifted from hbecause of the goodness of his objective; in Islam good aims and intentions have no effect in lessening the sinfulness of what is haram. This is what the Prophet (peace be on him) taught us when he said: Allah is good and does not accept anytbut good, and Allah has commanded the Believers, as He commanded His messengers, saying ‘O you messengers! Eat of whatever is good and work righteousness. Indeed, I am aware of what you do.’ (The Qur’an 35:31.) He also said, ‘O you who believe! Eat of the good things which We provide for you. (2:172.) The Prophet (peace be on him) then said, A man travels far, unkempt and dust-stained (for hajj, umrah, or the like), raising his hands to the sky (and saying), ‘O Lord! O Lord!’ while eating what was haram, drinking what was haram, wearing what was haram, and nourishing himself through haram means. How then could his prayers be accepted? (Reported by Muslim and al-Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Hurairah.)

He also said:
If anyone amasses wealth through haram means and then gives charity from it, there is no regard for him and the burden of sin remains. (Reported by Ibn Khazimah, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim on the authority of Abu Hurairah)

Again he said:
If a person earns property through haram means and then gives charity, it will not be accepted (by Allah); if he spends it there will be no blessing on it; and if he leaves it behind (at his death) it will be his provision in the Fire. Indeed, Allah Ta’ala does not obliterate one bad deed by another bad deed, but He cancels out a bad deed by a good deed. An unclean thing does not wipe away another unclean thing. (Reported by Ahmad and others on the authority of Ibn Mas’ood.)


Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf (1960). The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam. (p. 25).

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