What is haram?

By: Mohamed Ahmed

What is considered haram, or forbidden, in Islam? Well, that is what this article is about.

Let’s start from the roots. Islam is the fastest growing, and second most practiced, religion in the world. It is estimated to have almost two billion followers. To put that into perspective one in every four to five people in this world are Muslim. Islam has five pillars and rulings about what is and is not acceptable in their holy book the Quaran and the words of their prophet the Hadith.


Before we get to what is forbidden, let’s look at what is allowed. Halal is the term used for when something is permissible for a Muslim.

Permissible sometimes has a negative connotation, but it’s more like what’s normal for Muslims. This includes anything that isn’t haram, or looked down upon (there’s no easy English translation). Everything from the way you react when a member of your family is killed to when you are able to do certain things, is dictated by this branch of Islam, but the part most people want to know about is what not do. 


Murder: In Islam, murder is strictly prohibited. There is a clear line between self defense and murder. There are no circumstances where your life is not in danger and it’s OK for you kill someone.

There are rulings for compensating families impacted by killings and executions, but if you are not careful you could be breaking one of the largest taboos in Islam. 

Suicide: Suicide is one of the more clear cut taboos in Islam. You are not allowed to commit suicide in any situation. There is nothing in my research that pointed to there being a debatable point in which suicide was an option. 

Tatoos: Changing the body in a permanent way strictly for beutificational reasons is haram. This not only includes tattoos but plastic surgery, implants, and other such changes. Surgeries that are fixing something, like skin grafts, along with nose surgeries, are permissible to an extent, but not past a certain point. 

Domestic abuse: The Prophet said in a Hadith “The best of you are those who are the best to their wives.” It was also stated that you should try to get as close to your spouse as possible, akin to your best friend. 

Interest and gambling: Interest is taboo in Islam just for the fact that it makes the poor more poor. Charging or taking interest loans is haram. Gambling can make a rich man poor, a poor man rich, but most of the time a poor man poorer.

Adultery: Having pre-marital sex, or sexual relations is strictly forbidden in Islam. While you are married, you also cannot have relations with a mistress.

Alcohol and drugs: Alcohol is forbidden in Islam because it causes you to act irrationally and do things that you wouldn’t even think of doing before being intoxicated or high. Medicine in moderate doses does not count as drugs. 

Slaughtering animals the wrong way: The wrong way is haram. Excessive pain, along with not saying the name of God, while slaughtering is also haram. Muslims are not allowed to eat meat that was slaughtered incorrectly. 

Eating pork: Eating pork is haram. The only exception is if you are starving and have no intention of sinning you can eat pork. 

Portraits of Allah and prophets: You are not allowed to draw or depict the prophets in any kind of drawing; no exception.

Shirk is the worst sin of all: It is forbidden to put others with Allah (monotheism), or to reject his existence.

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