A member of my father’s family, by marriage, works as an insurance broker. From my understanding, since most forms of insurance are considered by the majority of ulema to be haram, his income is haram. Does this mean it is impermissible to consume food at their home, e.g. if my family is invited there for dinner? If it is haram, what is the best manner in which to deal with invitations to their home?
Secondly, I would like to know the implications of knowingly consuming something which is haram, say for example a brand of bread which is known to contain impermissible additives. I have heard that one’s salah is invalid for forty days after consuming such food. Is there any basis for this opinion?
If a person, whose income is unlawful (haram), invites one for food or gives something as a gift, then if more than half of his wealth is lawful (halal) and less than half unlawful (haram), it would be permissible to eat at his house or accept a gift from him, even without investigating if the food or gift was acquired from lawful wealth or otherwise.
However, if most of his wealth is certainly Haram, for example: this unlawful job is his sole means of income, then in such a case, there are two possibilities:
If he clearly stipulates that the food provided or the gift was acquired through Halal wealth, one may eat at his house or accept the gift. However, if this is not the case, it would not be permitted to eat at his house or accept his gift in the Hanafi School. One will have to investigate and ascertain this before eating at his house.
It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:
“If a taker of interest or the one who earns unlawful wealth was to give one a gift or invite one to his house for food, it will not be permitted to accept his gift or eat at his house if most of what he earns is unlawful, unless he informs one that it was acquired through lawful wealth which he gained through inheritance or by taking a loan. And if most of his earnings are Halal, there is nothing wrong in accepting his gift or eating at his house.” (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 5/343)
It should be remembered here that one should not dislike the person from the heart. One should try as much as possible to not hurt the person’s feelings. If it is possible, one may use this opportunity to explain and advice the person to refrain from earning unlawful wealth.
As far as your second question is concerned, the harms and ill-effects of consuming Haram food are quite severe indeed. In a Hadith the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “A body nourished on Haram sustenance (rizq) will not enter paradise.” (Sunan Tirmidhi)
In a narration, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him eternal peace) described the consumption of Haram food as the main cause for the non-acceptance of supplications (dua).
He (Allah bless him & give him peace) mentioned a man having journeyed far, is dishevelled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky (saying): O Lord! O Lord! – While his food is Haram, his drink is Haram, his clothing is Haram, and his nourishment is Haram, so how can his dua be answered! (Sahih Muslim)
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said to the Companion Sa’d:
O Sa’d! Purify your food, your supplication will be accepted. By the one in whose hand lays the life of Muhammad, verily a servant places a morsel of Haram in his stomach (and as a result) forty days of worship will not be accepted from him.” (Recorded by Imam Tabrani)
In another narration, it is narrated that an angel at Bayt al-Maqdis proclaims every day and night: “Whosoever consumes unlawful (haram) food, Allah Most High will not accept his obligatory (fard) and voluntary worship.” (See: al-Kaba’ir of Imam Dhahabi)
Although, the obligation of performing Salat, fasting and other obligatory acts of worship will be lifted from the person who consumes Haram food, but no reward will be gained. Thus, the meaning of the Hadith is not that one will have to make up (qadha) for the prayers, etc; rather, one will not gain any reward on worshipping Allah Most High.
Thus, one must make sure that his food, sustenance and income in general is Halal. May Allah Almighty save us all from the unlawful, Ameen.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK