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The Arabic language has two separate words, حرم haram and حرام harām, both derived from the same triliteral Semitic root H-R-M. Both of these words can mean “forbidden” and/or “sacred” in a general way, but each has also developed some specialized meanings.
A third related word derived from the same root, حريم ḥarīm, most directly corresponds to English “harem”.
This article covers the word ḥaram (with short vowels in the singular form). For the technical Islamic legal meaning of ḥarām with a long vowel (meaning something which is forbidden by Islam, such as eating pork), see haraam.More…
As used in Islamic urban planning, the word Haram (Arabic حرم) means “inviolate zone”, an important aspect of urban planning in Muslim civilization. Such protected areas were sanctuaries, or places where contending parties could settle disputes peacefully. Towns were usually built near a river which provided drinking and domestic water (upstream) and carried away waste and sewage (downstream, usually underground, unlike most cities in Europe in medieval times). Muslims claim to have introduced the idea of carrying capacity, and clearly sometimes did limit the number of families in any given town. The harams were typically positioned to ensure access to parkland and nature (which were given another name, hima), to restrict urban sprawl, protect water-courses and watersheds and oases. In this respect the rules strongly resembled modern zoning laws, with the same purposes.
The distinction between haram and hima is thought by some modern scholars to have been necessary due to a different means of deciding which regions were to have restrictions – the selection of haram was considered to be more up to the community while the selection of hima had more to do with natural characteristics of the region, which were considered to be best respected by jurists. This idea probably arises from two different obligations of the Muslim to respect ijma (consensus of neighbors within Islam) and practice khalifa (stewardship of nature under Allah). It may or may not reflect actual means of decision making historically.
See also: hima, carrying capacity, drainage basin, watershed, and bioregional planning
Haram can also mean an Islamic holy site of very high sanctity. The two sites whose Islamic sanctity is unchallengeably the highest of all are Mecca and Medina in Arabia, so that the Arabic dual form الحرمان al-ḥaramān or الحرمين or al-Haramayn refers to these two places. Since 1986, the Saudi monarchy has disclaimed all royal titles except “Custodian of the Two Holy Places” or “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques”.
In addition, the term ḥaram is commonly used to refer to certain other holy sites, such as the Haram ash-Sharif in Jerusalem — though over the protests of some, such as Ibn Taymiya, who declared that the only places which could be legitimately called “ḥaram” were Mecca, Medina, and probably also the valley of Wajj in Ta’if (but definitely not either Jerusalem or Hebron). One of the Islamic names of Jerusalem ثالث الحرمين thālith al-ḥaramayn (literally “the third of the two holy places”) resolves the tension between the unchallengeable preeminence of Mecca and Medina vs. the desire to recognize Jerusalem as having a special status within Islam in a somewhat paradoxical manner.
A Muslims Paradigm :-
Haram and Khamr
Haram: Haram is the Arabic word for that which is forbidden. Many things are Haram. Haram is a similar concept to immoral, generally that which is immoral to a Jew or a Christian will be Haram to a Muslim. Haram also has the meaning of unclean, that which will defile a person.
The worst form of Haram is Shirk. Shirk means to pair someone or something with God (Allah). Nothing is like God but God, nothing can be compared to God. A Muslim must not worship or pray to anyone or anything except God. No one is to be regarded as divine except God. This is why cults like the so-called “Nation of Islam”, the followers of Farrakhan, can not be considered to be Islamic, they commit Shirk by ascribing divinity to certain men, such as Wallace Deen Fard (a.k.a. Fard Mohammed).
Any sex outside of marriage is Haram, whether fornication (sex with [or by] an unmarried person), adultery (sex with a married person [or by a married person with someone other than their spouse]), pederasty (sex with a child), bestiality (sex with an animal), or homosexuality (sex with a member of the same sex). All are forbidden. One can not become a Muslim without giving up immorality. While there are homosexuals who claim to be Muslim, they can not be true Muslims while practicing this perversion.
Khamr: The greatest problem in our society today, however, is Khamr (intoxicants). Anything which befogs the mind, anything which can cause you to not think clearly, is Khamr. All alcoholic drinks, beer, wine, gin, whisky, rum, vodka, tequila, moonshine, etc., are Khamr. All illegal drugs are Khamr. Cocaine is probably the greatest problem in our community today, it is very much Khamr, an intoxicant. It destroys many people, making them unable to hold a job, look after their family, say their prayers, or do much of anything they need to do. A person who uses cocaine is a criminal legally and a sinner in Islam. A person who sells or gives cocaine to others is worse than someone who just uses it. Other destructive drugs such as heroin, ecstacy, LSD, etc., are just as bad, of course, but cocaine is the drug which is destroying our communities.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ” Every intoxicant is khamr, and every khamr is haram.”
Umar, the second Khalifah of the Prophet, declared from the pulpit of the Prophet: “Khamr is that which befogs the mind.”
Hypocrites: Those who say they are Muslims while using cocaine or alcohol or other intoxicants (Khamr) are hypocrites. Of course a Muslim, especially a new Muslim who has recently converted, may commit such a sin, but someone who habitually uses Khamr is not a Muslim. Someone who uses cocaine or alcohol (smokes crack or drinks beer, for example) should not call himself a Muslim. Someone who sells these things to others is even worse. When someone who uses Khamr says they are a Muslim and tells other people about the religion, they insult Allah and bring dishonor on Islam. Do not believe anything such a person says about the religion, for they are not real Muslims.