بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔
Abstaining from extremism in relation to obedience towards Almighty Allah
Almighty Allah mentions in the Holy Quran, “Allah intends (to provide) ease for you and does not intend (to create) hardship for you” (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse no. 185). Before anything else we must try to understand the context of this verse. Declaring fasting as obligatory for believers, Almighty Allah says that whosoever witnesses the blessed month of Ramzan must fast in it. However, in case a person is sick or is on a journey, in that case he or she is allowed not to fast during the period of sickness or journey and observe fast as many during other days as he or she has missed (during his or her sickness or journey). After giving permission not to fast during sickness or while on a journey and compensating for the missing days of fasting by fasting for an equal number of days later, Almighty Allah said, “Allah intends (to provide) ease for you and does not intend (to create) hardship for you”. Similarly, in the previous verse of the same Surah (verse no. 184), in relation to an old person who cannot fast, Almighty Allah has permitted him or her not to fast but feed a poor in lieu of every fast that he or she misses.
What we get to know from this is that doing things the easy way does not mean doing things whichever way we want to; sometimes we offer Salah and sometimes we do not, sometimes we pay Zakat and sometimes we do not. Instead, in religion ease implies that there is not even a single commandment or instruction in the Holy Quran or Hadith that is beyond the realm of human capabilities, as mentioned very clearly by Almighty Allah, “Allah does not obligate anyone beyond his capacity” (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse no. 286). For instance, Almighty Allah has made it obligatory on every Muslim to offer prayer five times a day, whether man or woman, poor or rich, healthy or sick, powerful or weak, old or young, traveller or resident at a place, king or slave. In fact, even right in the middle of the battle, the believers are not excused from this obligation. However, there is this provision that in case a person cannot offer Salah while standing he or she is allowed to offer while sitting, in case it cannot be offered even while sitting then the person is allowed to offer while lying. In case a sick person can face the Qiblah and offer Salah, he or she should face the Qiblah and offer Salah. However, in case, due to some reason, it is not possible for the person to face Qiblah while offering the prayer, he or she could face in any direction and offer Salah. Similarly, for his obligatory prayers, a man is required to go to the mosque and offer them in congregation, however, in case he has a genuine and valid excuse, he can offer the obligatory prayers by himself in his home. It is compulsory to perform ablution (Wudu) before the prayer but in case someone is sick and cannot perform ablution, he or she should do Tayammum (dry ablution using purified sand or dust performed in lieu of ablution using water) and perform the Salah. In case one of the parts that are routinely washed during ablution is dressed or bandaged, wet hands can be run over that particular part or area while performing the ablution and the rest of the body part can be washed by water. By any stretch of the imagination, looking for ease does not imply that the person altogether stops offering Salah; something that has been called by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the coolness of his eyes.
Similarly, Zakat is to be paid once it is obligatory. However, in case the wealth is not as much as it should be for Zakat to become obligatory or the wealth is more than the minimum amount prescribed (Nisaab) but it has not been a year on the amount or the person is under debt (owes money to someone) that is more than the amount he or she possesses, then Zakat would not be obligatory on the person. Similarly, in Islamic Shariah, there is no Zakat on income. It means that there is no Zakat on a person’s expenditures on his family, their needs, on buying household items, and on the money spent on children’s education. In fact, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “If a person spends on his family then that too is charity; he will be rewarded for that” (Bukhari and Muslim).
The entire Muslim community agrees that for every adult Muslim, man and woman, it is obligatory to undertake fasting in the blessed month of Ramzan. However, someone who is sick or travelling is allowed to postpone fasting (during sickness and travelling) and fast later for as many other days as he or she missed. Similarly, for an extremely old person there is a provision for not fasting but give charity (as per the existing standard) for each of the fasts he is missing. Hajj (annual pilgrimage) is also a fundamental pillar of Islam just like Salah, Zakaat and Fasting. Once in a lifetime, the annual pilgrimage is obligatory only for that person who has been blessed by Almighty Allah with an amount of wealth required to undertake a return journey from his native country to Makkah and enough amount of wealth to meet the expenditures related to his family members till his return from the pilgrimage. As Almighty Allah has mentioned, “As a right of Allah, it is obligatory on the people to perform Hajj of the House – on everyone who has the ability to manage (his) way to it” (Surah Aal-’Imran, verse no. 97). Citing examples of the fundamental tenets of Islam, an attempt has been made to explain that in the religion of Islam, contrary to the way atheists understand, ease does not imply following one’s own desires. Instead, following the commandments of Almighty Allah as per the path laid down by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is Deen, even if doing so requires us to bear hardships. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Hell is surrounded by lusts and heaven is surrounded by hardships and adversities” (Bukhari). In case a person who wants to succeed in the Hereafter – something that every individual must earnestly seek – then he must do away with following his desires and live his life in accordance with the commandments of the Creator of the Universe and the path laid down by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In other words, in order to succeed with respect to the Hereafter, there is only one way and that is following the religion of Islam. Verily it is easy to follow the religion of Islam, as in Almighty Allah has not obligated the human being for any act beyond his capacity, however, what cannot be denied is that one has to face all kinds of adversities while living his or her life as per the religion of Islam. For instance, in relation to the Fajr Salah, one has to get up despite being in the middle of sound sleep, has to perform ablution even if it is winter, and has to go to the mosque to offer Salah. Notwithstanding the love for and need of wealth one has to give Zakat as soon as it becomes obligatory. While fasting one has to bear with hunger and thirst. In other words, in order to succeed in the eternal life one has to follow the commandments of Almighty Allah, even if that leads to facing hardships and adversities.
It is a commonly known fact that religion is not all about worshipping the Almighty. Acts of worshipping such as Salah, fasting, Zakat, Hajj etc. are an important part of the religion of Islam but Islam has other components such as dealings with fellow human beings regarding which one has to follow the instructions outlined in Islamic Shariah. Few individuals demonstrate exceptional allegiance to carrying out what is obligatory, compulsory, Sunnah and supererogatory but altogether overlook Almighty Allah’s commandments in relation to everyday dealings with others. Therefore, there are cases where despite being regular with the offering of Salah and observing of fasts, people, in their business transactions, cheat others by lying or indulging in bribery. Similarly, there are few individuals who altogether neglect Islamic teachings while dealing with others. On the other hand, there is a section of the Muslim community that, despite being completely neglectful of Islamic teachings with respect to all the aspects of the religion of Islam, considers raising objections to others (especially those who regularly offer Salah and observing fasting) as an important service to Islam.
We should adopt a moderate approach in relation to our obedience towards Almighty Allah. It means that alongside attending our obligations towards Almighty Allah we should not neglect our obligations towards fellow human beings. Along with regularly attending to Salah and fasting we should also look after our obligations towards our wife, children, other family members, neighbours, relatives, friends because in the religion of Islam there is no place for renunciation, which means that in Islam it is not considered religious to completely neglect our obligations towards the society in which we are living and sit in one corner of the mosque and remember Almighty Allah. There is no denying that as per the declaration of the Holy Quran it is in the remembrance of Allah that our hearts find peace and those who do not remember Allah are called as good as dead by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). However, making proper and permissible use of Almighty Allah’s provided resources and worldly items to acquire a dignified position for oneself and to get modern and contemporary education to ascertain our representation in every possible walk of life is also part of religion (These activities can be considered as a religious acts if performed with the norms of religion). I am enlisting few sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that provide a meaningful guidance in this respect.
Anas (RZA) narrates that three persons visited the house of the wives of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and asked them about how Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) worshipped. When they were informed about that, they thought themselves as lacking and insufficient in worshipping to Almighty Allah and said, “Where do we stand as compared to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)? All of his (PBUH) past and future sins (in case if there were any) have been forgiven”. One of them said, “I will offer Salah throughout the night for the rest of my life”. The other person said, “For the rest of my life, I will observe fast”. The third person said, “For the rest of my life I will stay away from women and will never have intercourse. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went to them and said, “Are you the ones who said so-and-so. I swear by Allah, I am the most submissive to Allah and fear Him the most among all of you, yet I observe fast and break it with Aftaar, offer Salah and sleep too, and even have intercourse with women. So, he who does not follow my way of life (Sunnah) is not from us (is not one of my followers)” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Ayesha (RZA) narrates that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) came to her and a woman was sitting with her at that time. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked, “Who is she”? I told him she was so-and-so whose Salah is talked about (well-known because of excessive praying). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Stop there! You should always hold on to deeds that are within your capacity. I swear by Almighty Allah, Allah does not get tired (of rewarding) but you will get tired. In the sight of Almighty Allah, the act of worship done on a regular basis is most pleasing” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Abdullah bin Masud (RZA) narrates that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Those who indulge in unnecessary severity in religion have ruined themselves”. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said this thrice (Muslim).
Abu Hurairah (RZA) narrates that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Religion is easy (to follow) and whosoever follows unnecessary severity in matters of religion gets overburdened by it. So, you should follow a path that is not of extremism and be happy and gain support and strength by worshipping in the mornings, the afternoons, and during few hours (last ones) of the night” (Bukhari).
Anas (RZA) narrates that once when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) arrived at the mosque and found a rope strung between two columns. He (PBUH) inquired about the rope (why was it strung between the columns). He was informed that the rope belonged to Zainab (RZA). She uses it to rest when she is tired (while praying). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Remove it. All of you should offer Salah (Tahajjud) as long as you feel good and pleasant about it. When you feel tired, you should sleep” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Abdullah bin Abbas (RZA) narrates that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was delivering the sermon. Suddenly he (PBUH) saw a man standing. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) inquired about that person. The companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “He is Abu Israel who has vowed that he will stand in sun and never sit down, nor will he ever come in the shade, nor speak to anybody, and will fast”. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Tell him to speak and let him come in the shade, make him sit down, and let him complete his fast” (Bukhari).
The gist of the discussion is that we have to follow the Islamic Shariah in each and every domain of our life, as mentioned by Almighty Allah, “O you who believe, enter Islam completely, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Surely, he is an open enemy of you” (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse no. 208). Therefore, while on the one hand we have to fill our mosques (inhabiting them), at the same time we also have to follow teachings of Islam while we are in the market, and have to improve our character and refine our morals. Alongside attending to the construction of madrasas and maktabas we also have to think about establishing centres and institutions that promote modern and contemporary education. Along with giving our children the required knowledge of the Holy Quran and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we have to educate them in modern sciences so as to make a valuable contribution in building an educated and knowledgeable society. Following the commandments of Almighty Allah, we have to fully abstain from bad deeds so that we attain success in the eternal life of the Hereafter. If we fear Almighty Allah, it will most certainly become much easier for us to follow His commandments and abstain fully from bad deeds.
Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (http://www.najeebqasmi.com/)