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Islam is Easy, Muslims Make it Difficult

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There is an authentic saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself/herself in matters of religion will not be able to carry on with it. So, be not extremists, but try to attain perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.” (Bukhari)
In the above hadith or prophetic saying, religion refers to the broader notion of Islam i.e. Deen, a complete code which encompasses all aspects of human life. Deen is primarily categorised into Iman (faith), Islam (practice) and Ihsan (a sense of social responsibility borne from religious convictions). Islam propounds that there should be perfect ease, moderation and balance in all matters related to faith, religious practices and social responsibilities. This universal principle is basically enshrined in the holy Quran: “And God has not laid upon you any hardship in matters of religion” (22:78).
Ease in faith (Iman) implies that believing in religion is very simple and clear without any complexities. A fine example of ease in Islam (rituals and practices) is Namaz or Salah, an act of worship so vital to Islam that the Prophet said: “Namaz is the pillar of Islam”. Yet, Islam has prescribed complete easiness in the performance of this obligatory worship. Initially, the prayers of Namaz were fifty in number, but they were reduced several times until they became five. About the Prophet’s saying: “whoever overburdens himself/herself in matters of religion will not be able to carry on with it”, it implies that a person should not overexert himself/herself by engaging in too many religious acts, as it will eventually lead him/her to get tired and discontinue with them. Once, the Prophet PBUH saw his wife Aisha (r.a) sitting with a woman. He asked her about the woman. Aisha (r.a) introduced her to the prophet and also told him about her excessive praying. Disapprovingly, the Prophet said: “Do the only good things which are within your capacity (without overexerting yourself) as Allah does not get tired of bestowing rewards but you will surely get tired. And the best deed in the sight of Allah is that which is done regularly.” (Bukhari)
This hadith states that Deen does not overburden us with obligations or dogmas that are beyond our physical and intellectual capacity, as God himself says: “Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity” (Quran: 2:286). He further says: “Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you.” (Quran: 2:185).
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
New Delhi, [email protected]