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Actually, this came to me when I was watching some shieks talking about music status in Islam, and referring to the famous hadith that says:

There will be a group of my people who will make permissible for themselves adultery, pure silk, intoxicants and musical instruments (English).

Now, some scholars say that because this hadith make it clear that musical instruments are not permissible, then it is haram.

What I know is that things and matters can be in one of three states regarding permissibility: Halah, Haram, and In Between. Now, the above mentioned hadith says musical instruments are not permissible (Halal), but that doesn't mean it is Haram as there is another category, In Between.

The question again: If something is not Halal, does that mean it's Haram?

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States of permissibility or rulings in (Sunni) Islam fall under 5 categories (7 for Hanafis). One of those states is haram (impermissible) and the rest are at varying levels of permissibility (halal):

  1. Obligatory (fard or wajib)
  2. Recommended (mandub or mustahabb)
  3. Neither recommended nor disliked (mubah)
  4. Disliked (makruh)

All the above categories are "halal."

To answer your question, yes, if it is not halal then it must be haram. There is no "in-between." Imam an-Nawawi's hadith about doubtful matters refers to things about whose ruling we are unsure of (due to a lack of a clear cut text about them or for some other reason); it does not mean that there is a separate category "doubtful" that they fall under.

  • Then what is the state of doubtful matters? 40hadithnawawi.com/index.php/the-hadiths/hadith-6 – Ghasan Jun 29 '13 at 4:21
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    @Ghasan Those matters about which there is no clearcut ruling from the texts. It is our lack of knowledge which makes things "doubtful," not their inherent quality. – Ansari Jun 29 '13 at 4:52
  • Now this what makes sense. Put this in the answer for me to accept. – Ghasan Jun 29 '13 at 5:26
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Of course there are many things which aren't Halal or Haram by nature. But the way we make use of them or the situation in which they may get used makes them Halal or Haram.

But in practice, there is nothing other than Halal or Haram in Islam. cause when we want to analyse something practically we can't speak about it abstractly and we have to instantiate it in a given situation in time and space. Then the given situation assign the qualities of "Haram" or "Halal" to that something.

In your example, "musical instruments" are being accompanied by other Haram things like adultery that's why it's "not permissible" and therefore they are Haram. But this doesn't mean they are Haram by nature, otherwise the Hadith could easily state that "all musical instruments are Haram" without giving them any actual situation.

To wrap things clearly, although there are many things which aren't Halal or Haram by nature (abstractly), there are specific thing which are Haram in any situation; therefore they are ALWAYS Haram (Like Rape).

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