The statement of the Shaykh that, “The Lawgiver orders only that which is a purely beneficial (i.e. no evil therein)” refers to the majority of al-ahkam ashshariyyah (the legal commands). Iman and tawheed are purely beneficial to the heart, the soul and the body in this life and the Hereafter.
From the examples of things that are purely beneficial, it is clear that which is purely evil, namely shirk (ascribing partners to Allaah in worship) and kufr (disbelief). They are purely harmful to the heart, the soul and the body in this life and the Hereafter.
Another example of that which is purely good is justice. Similarly, an example of that which is purely evil is oppression and injustice. Likewise, magic is purely evil.
Concerning magic, Allaah stated in Surah al-Baqarah (in the translation of the meaning): «And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. » Surah al-Baqarah (2:102).
Examples of that which is Predominantly Beneficial and Predominantly Evil
Sidq (truthfulness) is purely beneficial; lying is the opposite (i.e. purely evil). However, there may be situations where in some forms of lying, there may be a greater benefit that exceeds the evil therein. This would be an example of predominately beneficial, meaning the benefits far exceeds the evil. A specific instance of this is lying regarding war plans and reconciliation between people; the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) permitted this, as in the hadith of Umm Kulthoum bint ‘Uqbah: "He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar." [Narrated by al-Bukhari, hadith no. 2692].
In a similar narration in Saheeh Muslim, Umm al-Kulthoum reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “A liar is not one who tries to bring reconciliation amongst people and speaks good (in order to avert dispute), or he conveys good.”
Ibn Shihab said he did not hear that exemption was granted in anything what the people speak as lie but in three cases: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and the narration of the words of the husband to his wife, and the narration of the words of a wife to her husband (in a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them). [Narrated by Muslim, hadith no. 6303].
In this situation, there is a greater benefit that exceeds the evil.
Examples of that which is predominately evil are gambling and drinking alcoholic beverages. Their evil far exceeds their benefit, and that is why they are forbidden.
Allaah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) stated in Surah al-Baqarah (in the translation of meaning): «They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say:
"In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit."» Surah al-Baqarah (2:219).
In certain situations, there could be greater benefit in some forms of gambling; in such cases, the shariah takes that into account. For example, taking wages is allowed in three things: racing camels, racing horses, and shooting arrows; these are allowed since they encourage people to prepare for jihad; as such, there is a greater benefit that exceeds the evil therein. The same applies to contemporary means of jihad like tanks, rockets, planes, etc.
The general ruling concerning carrion, blood, and pork is that they are forbidden since they are harmful. However, if regarding these matters, there arises a situation of a greater benefit, for instance staying alive, then they are allowed. Allaah said (in the translation of the meaning): «But as for him who is forced by severe hunger, with no inclination to sin (such can eat these above-mentioned meats), then surely, Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.» Surah al-Ma’idah (5:3).
Therefore, in origin, carrion is forbidden because is harmful. However, since it is allowed in cases of necessity, then the harm is removed in such situations for two reasons. The first reason is that Allaah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) would not allow something for His slaves if there was harm in it. In addition, the person only eats carrion when there is a real need. Imam ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) pointed to this matter and gave the example of the story of Suhaib when he was touched by a sore inflamed eye (a form of trachoma); Suhaib came to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and found with him (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) some pieces of bread and some dates (know that the person inflicted with this kind of eye disease should not eat dates). The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told Suhaib to come close and eat, so he ate from the dates. The Prophet told him, “You eat dates when you have a sore, inflamed eye.” Suhaib replied, “I chew the dates from the other side.” To this, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) smiled in approval. From this, Imam ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) deducted the point of benefit that if the self is inclined to take that which is harmful due to the necessity, then the harm will be driven away by the intensity of his eagerness and inclination.