If somebody says that something is Haraam, they usually mean it is ‘forbidden’. Haraam refers to anything that is prohibited in the Qur’ran or would result in sin when committed by a Muslim. For example adultery, murder or money obtained through cheating or stealing. It can also refer to certain foods and drinks such as pork or alcohol, that are considered Haraam (حرام).
However, in some Arabic-speaking countries, Haraam, can also mean, ‘what a shame’ or ‘what a pity’ (yaa Haraam يا حرام). This is usually pronounced with a different intonation.
The opposite of Haraam (حرام) is Halal (حلال), which means permissible according to Islamic law.
Most non-Muslims have heard of ‘halal meat’, that is meat from animals slaughtered under the way and the name of God.
A harim, from the same root, refers to the sanctuaries in buildings which were exclusively for women.