Allâh [Glorified be He], set limits that must not be transgressed, and prohibited certain things that must not be violated.
The Prophet [sall-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam] said:
“Whatever Allâh made halâl [permissible] in His Book is permissible, and whatever Allâh made harâm [forbidden] in His Book is forbidden, and whatever Allâh has not mentioned [abstained from talking about] is a blessing. So accept from Allâh the blessing, for Allaah is never forgetful.”
He [sall-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam] then recited the following âyah [verse]:
“And your Lord is never forgetful.” [Maryam 19:64] 
Al-muharramât [the forbidden] are the limits of Allâh, [the Mighty and Magnificent]:
“These are the limits of Allâh, so do not approach them.” [Al-Baqarah 2:187]
Allâh has threatened whoever transgresses His limits and violates His sacraments stating [Glorified be He]:
“And whoever disobeys Allâh and His messenger and transgresses His limits – He will put him into the Fire to abide eternally therein, and he will have a humiliating punishment.” [An-Nisâ’ 4:14]
It is obligatory to avoid al-muharramât in view of the saying of the Prophet [sall-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam]:
“And whatever I forbade you, then avoid it and whatever I enjoined upon you, then fulfil as much of it as you are able.” 
Today when al-muharramât are being continuously and incessantly pointed out to people, those possessing weak souls, little knowledge and who often follow their whims tend to become bored, annoyed and impatient. They complain and grumble discontented saying: “Everything is harâm, you have prohibited every single thing, you have made us weary of our lives, our existence and caused us to become intolerant and frustrated. All you talk about is the harâm and all you do is make things harâm. There is no hardship in the religion, the matter is open to discussion and amenable to different interpretations, and Allâh is All-Forgiving and All-Merciful!”
In arguing with the likes of these we say:
Indeed, Allâh [the Mighty and Magnificent] decrees whatever He wills. None can comment on His Judgement and He is the All-Wise, the All-Knowing. Therefore He makes whatever He wills lawful and whatever He wills unlawful, [Exalted be He]. Among the basics of our worship to Allâh [the Mighty and Magnificent], is to accept and be satisfied with His Judgement and surrender to Him totally.
His Judgements [Glorified be He] stem from His Knowledge, Wisdom and Justice and are not haphazardly passed in vain or for fun: Allâh said:
“And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Al-An’âm 6:115]
In making clear to us the criteria around which permissibility and prohibition revolve, He [the Mighty and Magnificent] said:
“And makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil.” [Al-A’râf 7:157]
Hence, the good things are halâl while the evil things are harâm, and the right to make things permissible and prohibited is reserved for Allâh alone. Whoever claims this right for himself or grants [ascribes] it to other than Allâh is a disbeliever [kâfir] who has committed major infidelity or disbelief [kufr akbar] taking him outside the fold of Islâm.
“Or have they partners [i.e., other deities] who have ordained for them a religion to which Allâh has not consented?” [Ash-Shûrâ 42:21]
Moreover, it is not permissible to talk about the halâl and the harâm, with the exception of the people of knowledge who thoroughly know the Holy Book and are acquainted with the practices and line of conduct of the Prophet’s Sunnah. In fact, very strict warning has been given to those who make things halâl and harâm without due knowledge, as Allâh [Glorified be He] has said:
“And do not say about what your tongues assert of untruth: ‘This is lawful and this is unlawful,’ to invent falsehood about Allâh.” [An-Nahl 16:116]
The bulk of the common and general muharramât are mentioned in the Qur’ân and the Sunnah, as in His saying [Glorified be He]:
“Say: ‘Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty’.” [Al-An’âm 6:151]
The Sunnah also mentions many of al-muharramât, as in the saying of the Prophet [sall-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam]:
“Verily, Allâh has prohibited the sale of alcohol, dead animals, swine and statues.” 
The Prophet [sall-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam] also said:
“Verily, if Allâh forbids a thing, He also forbids its price [trade].” 
Some texts may mention muharramât, which are particular to a specific subject. For example, when Allâh mentioned the muharramât concerning food, He said:
“Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allâh, and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows.” [Al-Mâ’idah 5:3]
Allâh [Glorified be He] mentioned the muharramât regarding marriage by saying:
“Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your fathers’ sisters, your mothers’ sisters, your brothers’ daughters, your sisters’ daughters, your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives’ mothers.” [An-Nisâ’ 4:23]
He also mentioned the muharramât regarding earnings and profit, so He [the Mighty and Magnificent] said:
“Allâh has permitted trade and has forbidden interest.” [Al-Baqarah 2:275]
Furthermore, the good things that Allâh the All-Merciful to His slaves has made permissible to us are innumerable both in terms of quantity and variety. For this reason, He did not elaborate on lawful things since they are too many to enumerate, but He detailed the muharramât because they are limited, and so that we would be able to know and avoid them. He [the Mighty and Magnificent] said:
“While He has explained in detail to you what He has forbidden you, excepting that to which you are compelled.” [Al-An’âm 6:119]
As for the halâl, He made all things permissible in general as long as they are good:
“O mankind! Eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good.” [Al-Baqarah 2:168]
Out of His Mercy, He made permissibility the core [basis] of all matters until it is clearly proven otherwise. This is but a little of the generosity and blessings of Allâh [Glorified be He] upon His slaves. We should therefore be obedient, praising, and thankful.
When some people see that the harâm is greatly detailed and clearly set out and enumerated, they become intolerant of the legitimate religious ordinances; this stems out of their weak faith and limited understanding of the Sharî’ah [Divine Orders]. One wonders what it would take to convince these people that there is no hardship in the religion! Would they like to have the great variety of the halâl counted out to them? Would they want all types of good things listed and quoted so that they would be assured that the Sharî’ah would not inconvenience and spoil their lives?
• Do they want to hear that the meat of slaughtered camels, cows, goats, rabbits, antelopes, ibexes, chickens, pigeons, ducks, swans and ostriches are halâl, and that dead locusts and fish are halâl?
• Do they want to hear that vegetables, legumes, grains, fruits, and all the rest of the beneficial seeds and produce are halâl?
• Do they want to hear that water, milk, honey, oil, and vinegar are halâl?
• Do they want to hear that salt, spices and seasonings are halâl?
• Do they want to hear that the use of wood, iron, sand, stones and pebbles, plastic, glass and rubber is halâl?
• Do they want to hear that riding animals and travelling by cars, trains, ships and aeroplanes are halâl?
• Do they want to hear that using air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing-machines, dryers, mills and grinders, dough-mixers, food-processors, blenders and the various equipment and machinery employed in medicine, engineering, mathematics, observation and surveillance, astronomy, construction, drilling for water, oil and metals, refineries, desalination plants, printing and computers are halâl?
• Do they want to hear that wearing materials made of cotton, linen, wool and the lawful hair, fluff and skin of animals, nylon and polyester is halâl?
• Do they want to hear that the concept of marriage, trading, bonds, financial exchange, renting and tenancy, and all professions, occupations, crafts and skills of carpentry, smithery, fixing machinery and herding goats are halâl?
One wonders if it is possible to reach an end should we carry on enumerating and detailing! So why is it that these people can not comprehend what is being said?
As far as their objection that there is no hardship in the religion is concerned, then actually the concept is true, but they are using it to justify a doubtful and weak situation propagating a false belief. Indeed, the concept of ease in this religion is not to be explained according to the whims and opinions of people, but according to what the Sharî’ah has revealed. Therefore, there is a major difference between violating the muharramât by falsely objecting that the religion is easy – for undoubtedly it is easy – and abiding by legitimate licenses. Those such as combining and shortening prayers and breaking the fast when travelling; wiping on foot-wear and socks for a period of one day and one night for the resident and for a period of three days and three nights for the traveller; using sand for ablution (tayammum) when there is a fear of using water; combining two prayers for the sick and during rainfall; license to look at a strange woman  for the purpose of marriage; the right to choose in the atonement (kafard) for a false oath, between setting a slave free or providing food and clothing; eating dead animals out of necessity, and other extenuating conditions and legitimate licences!
In addition to what is mentioned above, the Muslim should know that there is wisdom behind the prohibition of things. One such wisdom is that Allâh afflicts His slaves with these prohibitions as a way of testing their behaviour under such conditions. One of the reasons why the people of Paradise (Jannah) are favoured over the people of the Hellfire is that the people of the Hellfire have immersed themselves in the temptations and illicit desires that surround the Fire, while the people of Paradise have shown patience and tolerance in the face of the adversities surrounding Paradise. These afflictions and tribulations are important in distinguishing those who obey from those who do not. The people of faith [Îmân] view the hardships that they encounter when fulfilling their obligations to Allâh, with the conviction that they will gain reward and secure Allâh’s pleasure by obeying Him; consequently their hardships become tremendously eased. The hypocrites, however, view these hardships with pain, suffering and deprivation and eventually find the burden too heavy, the pressure too intense, and compliance with Allâh’s orders increasingly difficult.
By avoiding al-muharramât, the person tastes the sweetness of the saying: “Whoever renounces something for the sake of Allâh, Allâh will compensate him with far better things”, the obedient would then sense the delight and pleasure of faith in his heart.
By Shaykh Muhammad Sâlih al-Munajjid
Forbidden: Issues of Great Importance that we Underestimate, Pgs. 8-17
1. Narrated by al-Hâkim 2/375; and was deemed hasan by al-Albânî in Ghayât al-Marâm, P. 14
2. Narrated by Muslim, Kitâb al-Fathâ’il, hadîth No. 130 [Print ‘Abdul-Baqî’]
3. Narrated by Abû Dâwûd, No. 3486, and it is in Sahîh Abî Dâwûd, No. 977 [its authenticity is agreed upon]
4. Narrated by ad-Dâraqutnî, 3/7, and it is an authentic hadîth
5. [Publisher’s note: Arabic Ajnabîyah. A woman whom a man is allowed to marry, but who is not married to her. This includes women who are not, for example, the wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, etc.]