Consumption of What is Unlawful Corrupts the Hearts and Prevents Supplications from Being Answered:

There is clearly a strong relationship between the soundness or corruption of a person’s heart and his food and earnings. A person’s heart becomes corrupt when he earns what is prohibited and dares to eat of it. The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said in this regard: “Indeed, what is lawful is evident, and what is unlawful is evident, and between the two are matters which are doubtful and unknown to many people.” Then he  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  followed this with: “Beware! In the body there is [a piece of] flesh which, if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Behold, this [piece of flesh] is the heart.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The heart is like a king and the limbs are its subjects. They are good when the king is good and corrupt when the king is corrupt.

Al-Munaawi  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him stated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  spoke about the heart after illustrating what was lawful and unlawful to indicate that consuming what is lawful lightens and reforms the heart, while doubtful things harden it.

A Warning against Eating the Unlawful:

The Islamic Sharee‘ah forbids its followers from consuming what is unlawful, whether it is other people’s money or rights, or foods that Allah The Almighty has declared prohibited. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful].} [Quran 2:188]

Commenting on this verse, ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said, “This is regarding a person who is indebted with something, but there is no evidence to prove that he is. When the creditor claims his right, this person refrains from repaying it, and sues the claimer although he knows that it is not his right and that he is sinful – and thus he consumes what is unlawful.”

Qataadah  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “O son of Aadam, know that the judgment of a judge does not permit you what is unlawful. A judge passes a verdict according to his observation and the testimonies of witnesses, and he is a human and thus liable to make mistakes. Know that anyone who has been favored with an invalid verdict will never have his case finished. Allah The Almighty will judge between him and the other party on the Day of Resurrection, giving the latter a verdict far better than the former had in this worldly life.”

Unjustly Devouring the Orphans’ Property:

There are various forms of consuming what is unlawful, the most evil of which is devouring orphans’ property unjustly. This is strictly prohibited in the Quran; Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And test the orphans [in their abilities] until they reach marriageable age. Then if you perceive in them sound judgment, release their property to them. And do not consume it excessively and quickly, [anticipating] that they will grow up. And whoever, [when acting as guardian], is self-sufficient should refrain [from taking a fee]; and whoever is poor – let him take according to what is acceptable. Then when you release their property to them, bring witnesses upon them. And sufficient is Allah as Accountant.} [Quran 4:6]

In his commentary on this verse, Shaykh As-Sa‘di  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The verse prohibits consuming the property of orphans while they are young, when they can neither take it from one nor prevent him from consuming it. One can devour it while they are still young, before they are grown and can take it or prevent him from consuming it. Many guardians who do not fear Allah and have no mercy upon or love for the children in their custody do this. They find the opportunity, which they seize, and thereby hasten to commit what Allah The Almighty has prohibited. Therefore, Allah The Almighty forbids this act specifically.”

Moroever, this verse is followed by severe warning to those who devour the property of orphans unjustly. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a Blaze.} [Quran 4:10]

The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  was the most concerned with the well-being of his Ummah (nation) and with warding off evil from it. Therefore, he warned Muslims against consuming the unlawful, including the property of orphans. He  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said:“Avoid the seven destructive sins.” One of which is:“Devouring the property of orphans.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Consuming Riba:

Another form of prohibition which many people consider trivial and dare to indulge in is the consumption of Riba (interest, usury). Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden Riba.} [Quran 2:275]

In forbidding the consumption of Riba and warning against its consequences, Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains [due to you] of Riba, if you should be believers. And if you do not, then be informed of a war [against you] from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your capital – [thus] you do no wrong, nor are you wronged.} [Quran 2:278-279]

Who Could Bear a War against Allah The Almighty?:

Additionally, Allah The Almighty explains in the Quran that Riba is ultimately going to be destroyed. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Allah destroys Riba and gives increase for charity.} [Quran 2:276]

Moreover the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  counted the consumption of Riba as one of the seven deadly sins.

There are many other forms of consuming what is unlawful, including: theft, bribery, gambling, usurpation, fraud and deception, taking booty before it is distributed, and excessive overcharging or undercharging when selling or buying. We are not going to discuss in detail each of these, however our intention is to warn generally against consuming what is unlawful.

Supplications and the Consumption of the Unlawful:

A person’s means of living, whether lawful or unlawful, has a direct impact on whether his supplications are answered. If a person investigates his sources of income for the sake of eating what is lawful, his supplication will be closer to being accepted and more likely to be answered. If the person dares to eat what is unlawful, he thereby causes his supplication not to be answered by Allah The Almighty.

In this regard the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said, “Indeed, Allah is Good and He therefore accepts only what is good. Allah commanded the believers as He commanded the messengers by Saying (what means): 
• “O messengers, eat from the good foods and work righteousness. Indeed, I, of what you do, am Knowing.” [Quran 23:51]

• “O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” [Quran 2:172]

He then made mention of: “a person who travels widely, his hair disheveled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky [and thus makes supplication saying]: “O Lord! O Lord!” But his diet is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothes are [of] unlawful [means] and his nourishment is unlawful. How could his supplication, then, be accepted?”[Muslim]

Imaam Ibn Katheer  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “Eating from what is lawful is a cause for supplication and other acts of worship to be accepted, and eating from what is unlawful prevents the acceptance of supplication and other acts of worship.”

Ibn Rajab  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “Eating, drinking, or wearing what is unlawful prevents supplication and other acts of worship from being accepted.”

Consuming what is unlawful does indeed prevent supplication and other acts of worship from being accepted. Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said, “Allah The Almighty does not accept the prayers of a person whose belly contains something unlawful.”

Ibn Rajab  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “If [one’s] nourishment is unlawful, how can [his] deeds be acceptable?”
Wahb ibn Al-Ward  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “Even if you worship Allah endlessly, nothing will help you until you scrutinize whether what is in your belly is lawful or not.”

In sum, a Muslim should be sure that this worldly life is not his end, and that he will be reckoned in the Hereafter for any unlawful thing he earns. In the Hereafter, accounts will not consist of money; rather they will consist of good and evil deeds.

Therefore, everyone should fear Allah and seek lawful sources for his income.

May Allah The Almighty guide all of us to do so, and keep all Muslims and us away from everything evil and unlawful.