When I was a Christian, I used to believe that my way of worship was the easiest, and that my Lord was the Most Merciful and Most Just. I was partially right. It was very easy to be a Christian, no doubt. I could do as I wished with no fear of consequences for my actions because my God had forgiven me. But what I did not realize was that this forgiveness was unjust, and where there is no justice, there is no mercy.
Mercy is a byproduct of justice. If I were to be evil while my sister is saintly in her actions, why should we both have equal reward? Where is the justice in this? Where is the Mercy for my sister? When I cheat my friend, and I am forgiven and given the same reward as my cheated friend, where is the justice and mercy for her? For me, it is a great deal — all the pleasure none of the pain, but for her, it is unfair. This seemed and is intrinsically flawed. The true God can not be unfair. Thus, this philosophy can not be right. But what is right? Can retaliation for an evil deed be right? Christianity taught me to turn the other cheek when I was injured. It taught me that God forgave those who hurt me or others. It taught that God was neither vengeful nor retaliatory in nature, but I don’t see any justice in this if it is so. Neither do I see mercy. I see only pure ease for the evil and misery for the good.
One day, I was particularly bored, so I went into one of these political discussion chat rooms on the net. Just my luck (surprise, surprise), they were discussing Muslim terrorism. I read for a while, then decided to join in. Soon the conversation turned towards the essential beliefs of the Muslims, and one of the liberals brought up the issue of free speech in Muslim countries. I proceeded to talk to them of their own system and the results of its leniency.
I spoke about how the American people had traded some freedoms or rights for others. When asked to elaborate, I said. “You traded away the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the rights of free speech, freedom from virtue, and freedom from responsibility for your actions. Essentially, You traded the freedom of safety for the freedoms of speech, action and non-virtue.” You consider it acceptable to be afraid of the evil elements within your society, so much so that your women fear walking alone at night and your children can not play in peace in your neighborhood. The evil elements of your society are given free rein to terrorize the good, while you continue to preserve your precious right to complain about it. In pure Islam, we do not allow certain types of speech, that which harms the beliefs, persons and virtues of our people, but our people enjoy a higher quality of life because they are free to live moral, decent lives and to feel safe and comfortable in their homes, their neighborhoods, their cities and their countries. You have chosen the path to the left, but we have opted for a middle course — one which creates some restrictions and some freedoms. We believe that there can not be freedom without limits because that leads to anarchy and destruction.”
These people believed that the right to speak freely, to view pornography, to malign God, man and country were essential to happiness. The Muslim knows better — or should. Absolute freedom is dangerous. Allah knows this, that is why He chose for us Islam as our religion. That is why we, Muslims, always take the preferred middle course, a course which may have restrictions but which creates freedom as a result of the restrictions.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “…do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise).” Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 76, Number 470.
Our prophet was consistently asking us to take the middle course. This was and is for our own good. We have seen the results of extremism in both directions. The United States’ moral, cultural and physical decay is the perfect example of extremism in leniency and the USSR’s utter collapse is the example of extremism in harshness. Islam, the religion created by and sent to us by Allah, is the only system which can consistently narrow and expand our freedoms in such a way that our overall life is always improved. It may seem harsh when compared to some systems or lenient when compared to others, but its beauty comes from an overall balance.
“…Allah does not lay on any soul a burden except to the extent to which He has granted it; Allah brings about ease after difficulty.” (65:7)
and “On no soul does Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear…” (2:286)
Surely with difficulty is ease. With difficulty is surely ease (94:5-6)
Notice the symmetry. Allah does not make our deen to be more difficult than we are able to bear, nor does He make it completely easy. He provides us with ease and difficulty, and in His Great Mercy and Justice, He provides us more ease through this difficulty. In the last verse quoted, in its original form, the Arabic, we can see that there are two eases for a singular difficulty.
No one who is a true believer can claim that Islam is the easiest religion in the world. Its not, but through the hardships that we face, we are rewarded, and we are protected. We gain far more than we lose from the few restrictions given to us.
Sometimes, I think that it is all a matter of perspective. Some people (unfortunately, Muslims included) look to Islam and see so many restrictions. I ask them, “What do you mean?” They say, “Look, Allah has forbidden pork, alcohol, dead meat, illegal relations between men and women, gambling, music, women going out without the Islamic covering (hijab) etc… so many restrictions.” I say, “I see some restrictions — more than I see in Christianity which has none — but not a lot. Allah gave us a plethora of food and drink, more than can be named at one sitting and from this abundance, He forbid 3 or 4 kinds. Allah gave us marriage with open options for physical gratification, and He only forbid satisfaction of desires outside of marriage and two types within marriage which are physically harmful. Allah gave us many types of recreation, like the food, too many to count, and He forbid these two. Allah allows the woman to expose her beauty to her mahram (male family members who can not marry her), her husband, her Muslim sisters, and her female family members. Her paths for beautification are wide. He forbid for her only that she uncover in front of non-mahram men, as a protection to her and them. When I count all that Allah had forbidden and compare it to all that He has provided, I find the list of the forbidden to be quite limited.” It is a matter of perspective.
It is a shame that we allow the completely untamed Western values to taint our perspective. Islam is difficult because we either secretly or openly prefer the open worship of desire over the worship of Allah. We can be free — do whatever we want — think of nothing but that which gratifies us, but what is the result of this? Those of you in America — the answer should be easy for you — just open your door and take a walk. Look at the result. For the rest of you, just read — America is one of the most dangerous countries in the world (if you discount countries currently involved in a war — probably the most dangerous). One quarter of teen-aged girls end up as unwed mothers. Aids and other such diseases run rampant. The gay lifestyle is not only open but almost considered normal. Thousands of children are stolen from their parents annually; crimes against women are common, children are beating their parents, parents are killing their children. No one feels safe anymore. If we want the freedoms, we have to be willing to live with the consequences, and the Muslim should never be willing with these consequences.
Too many of us idealize this life. Young men from the Muslim world come here with the surety of knowledge that it is a good place to play, before they settle down with a good Muslim woman. Allah guide them! These ignorant and disobedient youths are taking back with them the diseases of this country. Not just the physical diseases, but the diseases of the heart. Do they think their actions are unknown by Allah or the people? As this becomes more acceptable to the families and friends of these men, it also becomes acceptable to society in general, until the day it is no longer necessary for the men to travel to find these women, because they will be their mothers and sisters. You don’t believe me? Take a good look around. Go to the chat channels, talk to some of these 15 and 16 year old Arab, Indo/Pakistani, Malaysian etc… girls. See what they have learned from their Muslim brothers — and be prepared to cry. Once again, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the destruction of the morality of the woman is a greater sin than the destruction of the morality of the men — it is not — both are equal in sin, but traditionally, the woman is stronger and the last to fall. When she falls, society is doomed because she is the creator of society. She is the educator of the next generation, the base of the future, and what will happen when the base is cracked?
True, Allah did not make our religion difficult for us. True, He did not make it beyond our capacity. This is all true, but we must not forget that He did not make it strife free either. Therefore, the common usage of the phrase, “Allah did not make the religion hard on me” in response to clear acts of disobedience is unacceptable for Muslims.
We can not fall upon the words of Allah to disobey Allah. This is ridiculous. Muslims are now using this to get out of any restriction imposed by Allah: “Sister, it is too difficult for me to wear jilbab to school, so I wear pants, Allah did not make the religion hard on me.” or “I do not borrow money with interest, but if I do not put my money in the bank, I will have no way to take care of my finances. Allah did not make the religion hard on me.”, or “I tried for years to find a wife, and I failed so that’s why I now have a girlfriend. Allah did not make the religion hard on me.” or “I do not have the time or ability to teach my children at home, so I send them to the public school. Allah did not make the religion hard on me.” No Allah did not make your religion hard on you, but remember — HE defined easy and HE defined hard. If Allah commanded it, it is by definition not hard. Allah is the Most Wise, the Most Just, the Most Merciful. Would He command for you what you can not do after promising to not do such a thing? Of course not. He knows we can do it. We know we can do it. The true problem is we do not want to do it.
Now, having said all this, what is the answer for all of this? Simple. Islam.
We are Muslims. We love Allah, we fear Allah and we obey Allah. In return, Allah protects us, forgives us and gives us Paradise. Sweet deal. Just as a sweetener to the pot, Allah makes it super simple. He provides us with tons of ways to gain easy blessings — to balance out our duties. I have always been particularly fond of one of these:
Narrated ‘Aisha: The Prophet said, “…Do (good) deeds which are within your capacity (without being overtaxed) as Allah does not get tired (of giving rewards) but (surely) you will get tired, and the best deed (act of Worship) in the sight of Allah is that which is done regularly.” Sahih Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 2, Number 41.
Why do I like this one so much? Because, to me, it is the symbol of Islam. A hardship (small) which brings with it much ease. And it is something I can do without too much trouble. Brothers and sisters. I want you to do yourselves a favor. I did this myself one day, and I have found it to be quite easy. Choose a deed, a small deed. Make it something easy for you. Don’t make it prayer all night unless this is something easy for you. Choose something very easy and small — example — smiling at your (mom, dad, husband, wife, blood sister or brother), making the 33 Subhana Allah, Alhamdulillah’s, Allahu Akbars after each salat, adding one sunnah salat, making adhan before you pray, cleaning the dishes for your wife or mom after breakfast in order to ease her burden for the sake of Allah, reading a verse from the Quraan every night, making the dua before you go into the bathroom, anything…. Just choose one simple good deed — one that is easy for you. This is very important — that it be easy. Next, make the intention to please Allah and Allah only, and then, do it consistently, every day. This is a deed for Allah that carries special blessings, not because it is big, but because it is consistent.
There is a hadith:
The prophet said to me, “Beware of the small sins. They are like when a people gather to make camp. They all gather small twigs and sticks and contribute to a pile till it becomes a large fire. The small sins are like that.”
Think of this gathering wood not as small sins but as small deeds. They will build as quickly, and inshallah may act as the barrier between you and the fire, while you did not even perceive them because you intentionally made them small and easy so you could keep them up consistently.
May Allah make this deed an expiation for our sins and grant us paradise as a result. Ameen.