Praise be to Allaah.
Haraam is that for which the one who does it will be punished and the one who abstains from it will be rewarded, if the reason for his abstinence is following the prohibition of Allaah. The halaal is that in which there is no sin in doing it and no sin in not doing it, but if a person intends to enhance his obedience to Allaah by doing it, then he will be rewarded for this intention.
Dictating what is halaal and what is haraam is the right of Allaah alone. There are people who make halaal some of that which Allaah has forbidden, and people who make haraam some of that which Allaah has permitted. Some people invent acts of worship which have not been prescribed by Allaah and which in fact He has forbidden. The asl al-deen or basic principle of religion is that the halaal is that which Allaah and His Messenger have permitted, and the haraam is that which Allaah and His Messenger have forbidden. The religion is that which Allaah and His Messenger have prescribed. No one has the right to go beyond the limits of the Straight Path with which Allaah sent His Messenger. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)”
Allaah mentions in Soorat al-A’naam, Soorat al-A’raaf and elsewhere the things for which He condemns the mushrikeen (polytheists, those who associate others in worship with Allaah), which is that they made haraam things which Allaah had not forbidden, such as the baheerah and saa’ibah (camels to which certain taboos were attached for the sake of their idols), and they permitted things which Allaah had forbidden, such as killing their children, and they prescribed in their religion things that Allaah had not permitted. So Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Or have they partners with Allaah (false gods) who have instituted for them a religion which Allaah has not ordained?
These things included things that are haraam in and of themselves, which they made into acts of worship, such as shirk (associating others in worship with Allaah) and things which are obscene, such as performing Tawaaf around the Ka’bah naked, etc.