Monday, May 23, 2011
Religion is ease not extremism
Being born a Muslim does not always give you a better insight into being Muslim than outsiders think. Only if you are blessed with religious parents do you realise what a benefit it is to be a Muslim. Then again even being born Muslim into an irreligious family is an unfathomable blessing. How can you understand that Allah (the Exalted) wants you to enter paradise and thus he made you Muslim without any effort on your part?
Many or most people who become Muslim suffer for a period once they become Muslim. They can be affected by all the different groups bashing each other and look on in bemusement about the slogans people chant. It takes time to get the prayer right and it also takes time to get your head around things. In addition to that a person’s family also needs time to get used to it; some families may never be able to accept it all. Others will grow to accept that their child has chosen another religion. To be without the support of the family that supported all your life is not something easy.
When one of the companions led a prayer and made the recitation long. Some of the congregation complained to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) whose face was seen to go red. He admonished the companion who lead the prayer advising him that people have needs and he should make the prayer light.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Whoever among you leads the people in prayer should shorten it, for amongst them are the weak, the old, and the one who has business to attend to. And if anyone among you prays alone, he may then prolong it as much as he likes.” (Bukhari).
If the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) heard a child cry when he was leading the prayer, he would shorten the prayer so the child could be attended to. Religion is ease and with ease comes mercy because you can be as hard as like on yourself but you have to be easy with others. Yet at the same time you cannot be so hard on yourself that you take things to extremes. You should be balanced and be in tune to the society that are living amongst.
So when you need to pray during the day you do not get up from your workspace and proclaim the call to prayer then start. You ask for a quiet room, make your ablution without making a mess of the toilet area and pray (in the room!). You do not come back from Jummah walking like you have make a conquest of a country that nobody has heard of. You come in with humility letting people experience the difference in your being. You do not let your beard grow so long that you could trip over it, if you did not pay attention. Nor are you extremely slack that you do not pray or fast and let your days pass by without taking advantage of the blessings of time that you are given.
Imam At-Tahawi in the Tahawiyyan Doctrine point number 104 states, “Islam lies between going to excess and falling short.” These are two extremes, those who are extremely slack and those who are extremely uptight. Why? Because this is the nature of the Nafs/ego it is either very lazy or extremely active and both these are destructive. If you are lazy then you do not do anything that is obvious but being extremely active means that you'll wear yourself out. So by being balanced only then do you get what you want from the deen and dunya.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Religion is ease and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that manner. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by offering the prayers in the mornings, afternoons and during the last hours of the nights.” (Bukhari 1/38)
We have people who look at Islam through cultural standpoints causing them to misunderstand Islam then transmit these misunderstandings to non-Muslims. Do we correct them? We do not, instead we defend issues of culture that allows others to attack our religion even though it is not a religious issue!
Islam is not about overburdening people it’s about giving them what they need and allowing them space to grow and make mistakes. It’s not about being harsh and breaking their hearts when they do not what you told them to. We assume that what we are doing is perfect and what everyone else is doing is flawed. One thing that I am learning that different methods need to be used with different people and no one method works with everyone. We realised the flawed method of our teaching when we saw how high the standard we set others and when the could not reach it we scolded them. This type of arrogance must be looked at in the cold light of day. Weren't you once a student and did you not make mistakes? We have learnt the hard way that people need encouragement not debasement, as it is only through encouragement do people grow. Know your audience.
One of the ways that leads people to extremism in belief is when they take the Quran and Hadith literally which leads to countless misunderstandings. As the Quran uses metaphors and if you translate those literally then you actually leave the meaning of the text and misinterpret the text thus you betray the text you are tying to teach! If you translated the phrase the door is ajar literally is would mean that the door is a like glass jar! But it does not mean that, it means that the door is not closed and open.
So that is why we have passages that we do not take literally and this is a whole science of sound Islamic doctrine. As some have clear meanings other do not, some need to be explained, some need clarification, some are doubtful, some are specific to certain people and others are general. This is the science known as Usul Al-Fiqh and you cannot pluck out a verse and translate it without understanding it correctly. Go to the scholars of Islamic doctrine who say that we believe in all of the Quran and those verses that we do not know the meaning of then we submit the meaning to Allah and we do not interpret, that’s the middle way!
We should be concerned about calling people to Islam and not be concerned with fighting them. As this is the first time in history that people want to kill innocent people and not invite them to Islam. And just because they have had the message does not mean that they can be killed. This has never happened before except in extremist groups. Allah (the Exalted) has given them chance, after chance, after chance to become Muslim what about you? Can’t you give them just one chance?
People who live in the West realise the goodness that they receive from many people here. Yet are we grateful? Suicide is a desperate act and we are not people in desperation we know that the promise of Allah (the Exalted) is true.
Extremist is a term that denotes they are taking something that belongs to the religion to an unacceptable level. This is not true they are leaving the understand of the religious precepts that they are trying to convey.
Being religious is about taking a balanced middle course thus avoiding harshness to others or by making things difficult for others. We invite people to Islam with mercy and ease but we cannot force people into Islam. We encourage those brothers and sisters who are not praying to the beauty of practice by encouraging them even though they may often fall short we do not give up on them. Many religious people do not realise the harm they do to others with their "my way or the highway" Islam. Islam is Allah's way and he commanded us with mercy and compassion. Any other way is not the ethical standard that is Prophetic way and raising his banner means raising the banner of hope not the banner that my group is the saved sect and yours is not.