Learning Islamic Rulings
A Muslim is required to learn about the Islamic rulings in all aspects of life—acts of worship, social relationships, among other things—in order to carry out his duties with accurate knowledge and immense certainty, as the Qur’an states, “Whomever Allah wishes to show goodness, He gives him understanding of the religion.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 71; Saheeh Muslim: 1037)
Therefore, he must learn all about the religious duties he is required to undertake, such as purification, the manner of performing the prayer (salaat ) and the lawful and unlawful foods and drinks in Islam. He is also urged to learn about acts which are recommended but not obligatory.
The Five Islamic Rulings
All human actions fall into five categories:
Fard (Obligatory): This denotes those acts which Allah commands Muslims to do. Those who do them will be rewarded, but those who neglect them will be subject to punishment. Examples of such acts include the five obligatory daily prayers and fasting during the lunar month of Ramadaan.
Haraam (Prohibited): This denotes those acts which Allah has prohibited. Those who leave them will be rewarded, but those who engage in them will be punished. Examples of such acts include drinking alcohol and committing illicit sexual intercourse.
Mustahabb (also called Sunnah: Recommended): This is used to describe acts which are rewarded but not punishable for their omission, such as smiling at people, initiating the greeting of Islam (by saying Assalaamu ?Alaykum) when meeting them and removing dirt or harmful objects from the road.
Makrooh (Disliked): This denotes those acts which Islam urges its adherents to avoid. Those who avoid them will be rewarded, and those who do them will not be subject to punishment. They include such acts as fiddling with one’s fingers during the prayer.
Mubaah (Permissible): This denotes those acts that are neither forbidden nor recommended. They are rather neutral and thus subject neither to reward nor to punishment. They include eating, drinking and talking.