Changing the Names of Forbidden Things so as to make it Halal

Strange is the attitude of those who want that forbidden things be mentioned by name in the Qur’an, and thus call unlawful things by names other than their own to avoid their being forbidden. But remember that on giving rulings, Islam does not judge things by their names, but considers the characteristics of the things in question. Hence, if some people change the name of a forbidden thing, this does not change its being prohibited. For example, if some people call giving bribes a “present” or riba a “business dealing,” this will not affect the prohibition of these things.
Remember also that in addition to the Glorious Qur’an as the main source for the laws of Shari`ah, there are also the Prophet’s Sunnah, the unanimity of scholars (ijma`), analogy of parallel cases in Shari`ah, and other means of establishing personal legal opinions on issues that are not tackled in the Qur’an or Sunnah.
The legal rulings given in the Qur’an are tackled in a general way, and the Prophet’s Sunnah came to explain these rulings in detail. Had all rulings of Shari`ah been handled in detail in the Qur’an, it would have been difficult for Muslims to study and learn it by heart. As for the issues that have not been tackled in the Qur’an or Sunnah, the jurists established rulings and fatwas thereon by analogy of the rulings given in the Qur’an and Sunnah on similar cases.
Hence, the people who change the names of unlawful things, thinking this would make them lawful, in fact, deceive themselves and use futile argument in this regard. So, their claim is to be disregarded altogether.
The eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, may Allah rest his soul, states that: Just as Islam prohibits whatever leads to committing the unlawful, it also prohibits resorting to technical legalities in order to do what is unlawful by devious means and excuses inspired by Satan. It has reprimanded the Jews for resorting to such practices. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Do not do what the Jews did in order to technically legalize Allah’s prohibitions by flimsy excuses” (Ibn Al-Qayyim in Ighathat Al-Lahfan). This hadith refers to the Jews’ attitude when Almighty Allah forbade them to hunt on the Sabbath day (Saturday). To evade this prohibition, they would dig ditches on Friday so that the fish would fall into them on Saturday, and then be caught on Sunday. Those who resort to rationalization and flimsy excuses to justify their actions consider such practices permissible, but the jurists of Islam hold them as prohibited, for Almighty Allah’s purpose was to prevent them from hunting on the Sabbath, whether by direct or indirect means.
It is also a devious tactic to call an unlawful thing by a name other than its own or change its form while retaining its essence, since obviously a change of name or of form is of no consequence as long as the thing and its essence remain unchanged. Thus, when some people invent new terms in order to deal in riba (interest) or to consume alcohol, the sin of dealing in riba or drinking remains. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was reported to have said, “A group of people from my nation will consider alcoholic drinks permissible by giving them other names” (Ahmad). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was also reported to have said, “A time will come when people will devour riba, calling it a ‘business dealing.’” It is also a strange phenomenon of our time that people call obscene dance “art,” and ribafa’idah“ (interest).