Monday, January 30, 2006

The Easy Way

By Khurram Murad

Key Extracts:
Whatever is natural for human beings should be easy for them in every way, hence cause them to gravitate towards it easily, and consequently bring harmony, peace and tranquility to their lives. This describes Islam...

Allah comforts us by continuously reassuring us that He desires for us ease not hardship, despite the seemingly formidable trials and tribulations that we may sometimes face. He says in the Quran:

'God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship'(2:185)
'We shall speak to him, of our command, easiness'(18:88)
'Whoso fears God, God will appoint for him, of His command, easiness'(65:4)
'God will assuredly appoint, after difficulty; easiness'(65:7)
'Truly with hardship comes ease'(94: 6)

Prophet Muhammad (saw) advised us:
'This Deen or way of life is easy but if anyone overdoes it, it gets the better of him. So keep to the right course, approximate to perfection, rejoice, and ask for help in the mornings, the evenings, and some of the latter part of the night' (Bukhari).

The Prophet (saw) also said: 'Ibadah (act of worship) should be done with freshness of heart, not an exhausting routine carried out in spite of fatigue. 'Do those deeds which you can do easily, as Allah will not get tired [of giving rewards] till you get bored and tired [of performing good deeds! ... and the most beloved deed to Allah is the one which is done regularly even if it is little' (Bukhari).

Three principles to practising Islam:
1. The basic beliefs contain no mystery, hence easy to comprehend.
Every tenet in Islam is subject to analysis and inquiry and Islam does not present concepts or ideas which the intellect cannot grasp. Even the simplest of minds can understand its basic beliefs. It is therefore not surprising that its beliefs are universal.

2. Important obligations ordained upon Muslims are easy to undertake.
The duties and obligations laid down by Allah have been graded. And, it is the wisdom of Allah that the greater the importance He has attached to any act, the easier it is for everyone to accomplish it.

The five daily Salat (Prayers) and Sawm (fasting) during the month of Ramadan are compulsory upon everyone, since they are within every-one's reach to accomplish. Zakat (almsgiving) and Hajj (pilgrimage), on the other hand, are not compulsory upon everyone. If it were made compulsory upon everyone, then those who did not possess the financial means would be unable to carry out these duties. Therefore, these duties are obligatory only upon those who have the means to do so.

3. Provisions for derogation when it is genuinely impossible for someone to fulfill an obligation.

If a person is genuinely unable to stand up and pray, then he is permitted to sit down or even lie down and pray. If there is no water available to perform the wudu or ablution before prayer, then one can make tayammum, which is a simple dry ablution performed by using clean earth or dust.

Therefore, even when there appear to be difficulties, if one looks closely at the Shari'ah or Islamic legal code as a whole, one will find so many rules relating to derogation that enable one to practice Islam very easily-and this is the case regardless of the problem: political, economic or simply personal.

As long as one possesses the basic tools-a sound knowledge of what is stated in the Shari'ah regarding a particular matter and an awareness of the responsibility for ones own actions-a person may decide for himself when to derogate from the standard.

The Path of Moderation
Moderation which leads to balance, is a fundamental and distinguishing feature of Islam. Excesses may eventually develop into large problems and even become a threat to the well being and security of the Muslim community.

Allah tells us: 'We have made you a nation justly balanced' (2:143).

Prophet Muhammad commented: 'Do not overburden yourselves, lest you perish. People [before you] overburdened themselves and perished. Their remains are found in hermitages and monasteries' (Musnad of Abu Ya'la).

Abiding by the will of Allah requires that we seek and maintain a delicate balance between the various obligations that demand our attention; between our obligations to Allah, our obligations towards others and our obligations towards ourselves. Moreover, whenever the Prophet had to choose between two options, he always chose the easier, unless it was explicitly forbidden (Bukhari).

Making Islam Easy for Others
In sharing the message of Islam with people the Prophet was advised in the Quran: 'It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them If you were severe or hardhearted, they would have broken away from you' (3: 159).

The Prophet advised us to: 'Facilitate [religious matters to people] and do not make [things] difficult. Obey each other and do not differ [amongst yourselves].' (Bukhari & Muslim).

He also said: 'This Deen or way of life is easy'; 'Make it easy, don't make it difficult; 'Let people rejoice in being Muslims and not run away from it' and 'Cheerfulness towards other people, even a smile is a sadaqah or charity to be rewarded by Allah'.

Ease versus Hardship
To say, however, that Islam is easy and not 'difficult', is not to imply that Muslims will not face 'hardship'-and here the two terms must be distinguished. Indeed, although Islam is easy to understand and practice, the whole purpose of the trial is to make manifest the degree to which an individual is steadfast (and hence sincere) in his submission to Allah- and this is precisely what is indicated by the Quranic verse: 'And We will most certainly test you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of possessions and lives and crops' (2:155).

Notwithstanding these trials however, we can find ease in this world and the next. But, this will be so only if we are firm in our faith in Allah and follow the course prescribed by Islam, as He Himself has declared: 'But give good news to those who are patient, who, when a calamity strikes them, say: 'Indeed we belong to God and indeed to Him we shall be returning: They are those on whom are blessings from their Sustainer, and mercy-and those, they are the rightly-guided. (2: 155-157).

Did You Know:
Islam was described as Al-Yusraa (The Easy Way) during the early Makkan period.


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