True Harm and Benefit
True harm is in the displeasure of Allah. The benefits and harms of this world are of absolutely no significance in relation to the displeasure of Allah Ta’ala. This issue has been unravelled in very clear terms in the Qur’aan Shareef. Allah Ta’ala declares: “They ask you (O Muhammad Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) about liquor and gambling, (whether these are halaal or haraam). Say: In these there is a big sin and many benefits.”
Subhaanallah! What a pristine way of responding. The thought of the many mundane benefits could have led people to think that these should, therefore, not be declared to be haraam. Allah Ta’ala does not brand this notion as baseless. In fact, it is accepted that there are benefits in these (liquor and gambling) for people; and not only one benefit, but plenty of benefits. Hence Allah Ta’ala uses the plural ’manaafi’ which means, ‘benefits’. But, there is a sin in it.
Here it is worthy of noting that in mentioning the benefits Allah Ta’ala uses the plural form, that is, ‘benefits for mankind’, and in mentioning the harm He uses a singular, that is, ‘sin’. If this was the speech of a human the contrast would also have been with a plural; ‘sins’ would have been said. But this is not the case here. Allah Ta’ala specifically mentioned the singular; and this is to alert us to the point that if something carries a thousand benefits, but there is a sin attached to it, in other words there is a speck of Allah Ta’ala’s displeasure in it, then those thousand benefits are worthless. The reason for this is that just as the pleasure of Allah, be it just a little, is a great treasure and hence Allah Ta’ala declares: “The pleasure of Allah is a huge treasure,” similarly, the displeasure of Allah Ta’ala is a huge calamity, regardless of the cause of that displeasure being just one sin. Accordingly, although the word, ‘sin’ is mentioned in its singular state, it is qualified with ‘big’.
The gist of this is that although there are many benefits in drinking liquor and in gambling, however, there is also sin involved. And this sin is so huge that it wiped out all those benefits. Thus, further on (in the Aayat) the word ‘benefits’ is discarded. Rather, the word, nafa’ or benefit is used. “Their sin is worse than their benefit.” Here the reason for using the singular is that preceding this it was declared that in contrast to the many benefits there is a sin involved. It is a rule that if a few grams of poison are mixed into a kilogram of sweetmeats then the kilo of sweetmeats will be inedible. In exactly the same manner, the benefits are not worthy of being procured in view of the one sin and hence the benefits are not even worthy of being expressed in the plural form. Allah Ta’ala thus says: “Their sin is greater than their benefit.”
This Aayat hands down the ruling that the worldly benefit or harm in something is not the basis for something being halaal or haraam, as some people think. Sometimes they even say, “What is the harm in this; there is benefit in it.” [Thus we find even so-called learned people labouring to promote the permissibility of appearing on TV and video. They have been duped into thinking that something which benefits another is necessarily permissible, irrespective of it flouting any established teaching and principle of the Shariah.]
You have observed that in spite of Allah Ta’ala affirming numerous benefits in liquor and gambling, but He still declares them to be haraam. The reason for this is simply that Allah Ta’ala loathes these for humans on earth and is displeased with their indulgence. It is therefore confirmed that the basis of something being haraam is the displeasure of Allah Ta’ala. Thus, good intentions are useless in so far as sins are concerned. A sin can never be permissible on the basis of any good intention. Good intentions are beneficial in permissible acts. In acts of Ibaadaat such as Salaat, Saum, etc. the acts are invalid without intention.
A Haraam Means Can Never Justify the End Goal
Thus, before embarking on anything one should scrutinize the means. If the means is permissible then the objective will be considered. If the objective is haraam then the whole exercise will be haraam. And if the means is haraam then this will preclude the attainment of the objective. The haraam means will not make permissible the acquisition of the end product. For instance, someone wishes to gather people for Salaat. Towards this end he opens a club room of dancing, music and games adjacent to the Masjid. Youngsters are lured to the Masjid with the bait of enjoying themselves in the club activities. Although the objective is for the youth to attend the Masjid for Salaat, however, a haraam means has been employed towards the end. The means will be decried and never be tolerated regardless of the hallucinated benefits.
Just consider this! In spite of Salaat being dear to Allah Ta’ala, a haraam means is never permitted for it. [The error of those who regard their TV and video shows to be permissible on account of being of benefit to others is thus manifest. They do not see the inherent harm due to being blinded by the notion of benefitting others. Our response is that when it is not permissible to adopt haraam means to call people for Salaat, in spite of Salaat being so loved by Allah Ta’ala, then by what stretch of Islamic logic will it be permissible to give bayaans on a haraam platform?]
The Mind-Set of a Muslim
The mind-set of a Muslim should be total shunning of anything in which there is the slightest displeasure of Allah Ta’ala. That activity in which there is the slightest displeasure of Allah Ta’ala is absolutely worthless, regardless of how many benefits there may be conceived in it. For a Muslim there is nothing dearer than the Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.
The Lovers of Allah Ta’ala ignore the external hardships they undergo. Worldly harm and loss do not deflect them from seeking the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala. They are happy and comfortable with whatever condition Allah Ta’ala decides for them. In Jahannam there is a group of Malaaikah known as Zabaaniyah or the Wardens of Jahannam. For the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala they care not of serving in this abode of chastisement and being all the time with the inmates of this terrible abode. Although they – the Malaaikah of Jahannam – are not affected by the punishment in Jahannam, but obviously they witness all the time the inferno of Hell, blood, pus, horrible scenes, snakes, serpents, etc.
Another group of Malaaikah are the Attendants of Jannat. They experience beautiful scenes, gardens, refreshing breezes, wonderful faces, and the company of the people of Jannat who are refined in their ways, whilst the Wardens of Jahannam have to put up with the inmates of Hell who scream, bellow and curse all the time. The position of the two groups of Malaaikah is palpably contrasting. Can it be averred that the Wardens of Jahannam are hurt and inconvenienced by their duty? Never! If they are told, “You have the option of being posted to serve in Jannat where there are beautiful sceneries, delightful bounties and wonderful people, but Allah Ta’ala prefers you here,” what will their response be? Their response will be: “O Beloved Allah! Without you Heaven will become hell and with you Hell is heaven.” This should be the mind-set of a Muslim. His gaze should be rigidly fixed on the pleasure and displeasure of Allah Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala by strictly following the Shariah.