Islam is simple, don’t make it complicated

Updated 02 April 2015

Islam is simple, don’t make it complicated

The Qur’an says: “We have sent down the Book to you which manifests the truth about all things and as guidance and mercy and good news for Muslims.” (Qur’an, 16:89)
It reminded me of a post I read on Facebook recently and I thought how true this is, but easy to forget. Society is often so focused finding complicated solutions when the answers are already in front of us. Muslims in particular have a lesson in it.

God intends for you ease
The religion is easy, beautiful and simply perfect. Why make things hard? The Qur’an reads: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.” (Qur’an, 2:185)
This verse explains that Islam is easy to follow and rather encourages us to create ease in religion. Unfortunately some Muslims, including some reverts, are under the misconception that the more stringent they are in following religion, the more pious they become. This is totally in contradiction to what our religion teaches us. The misconception is a result of lack of understanding of religion and at times drives some people away from religion, mainly because of the way it is presented to them.
Some people have aimed at causing religion to deviate from its essence, preventing religion from being practiced by attempting to add on many difficult practices and superstitions to it. Such practices have sadly resulted in people deviating from Islam. However from the information set forth in the verses in the Qur’an and the replete stories and Hadiths by the Prophet (peace be upon him), we can ascertain that it is easy for sincere Muslims to be good Muslims.
In this life we are tested and according to the morals and faith we show in this world God determines where our real life will be lived, that being Hell or Heaven. The test is quite easy; God wishes for us simply to live the life that brings happiness and peace in this world; in short to live our life in moderation.

Don’t go to extremes
It is known in fact that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) always resisted any tendency toward religious excessiveness. He once said to his close companion Abdullah ibn Amr: “Have I heard right that you fast everyday and stand in prayer all night?” Abdullah replied: “Yes, O Messenger of God”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do not do that. Fast, as well as, eat and drink. Stand in prayer, as well as, sleep. This is because your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you.” (Al-Bukhari, 127)
This Hadith indicates that it is significant to maintain a delicate balance between the various obligations that demand our attention; between our obligations to God, our obligations toward others and our obligations toward ourselves. This is also demonstrated in many verses in the Qur’an illustrating that God is both merciful and kind.
Confucius once said: “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” This deeply resonates as we read stories of how people strayed away from Islam because they failed to realize its beauty and were intimidated by restrictions feeling their life would be unhappy with Islam’s boundaries. There indeed is a need to clarify such misconceptions, and encourage and remind both born Muslim and reverts to question where did their beliefs originate from. Was it from the Qur’an and Sunnah or a tradition they have been following without knowing its origin?
In all reality, God created us and in turn He knows what’s best for us and those who do not know these truths feel they may lead happier and more comfortable lives when the limits are removed. God says in the Qur’an to pray for both the good in this world and the good in the Hereafter.
It also speaks about the enjoyment of life: “O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer, eat and drink but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not wasters. Say: ‘who has forbidden the beautiful gifts of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the things clean and pure which He has provided for sustenance.” (Qur’an, 7:31-32)
Concerning matters of practice in Islam we have been taught that the rule is that you are expected to follow the truth as much as is possible. God has promised that His expectations are simple. However, in order to follow them we need to understand; in turn allowing that this strategy would ensure things are kept simple.
In sharing the message of Islam with people, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was advised in the Qur’an: “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’.” (Qur’an, 3:159)
It is on this note that when the Prophet sent his companions to teach Islam to the people he advised them: “Facilitate religious matters to people and do not make things difficult. Obey each other and do not differ amongst yourselves.” (Al-Bukhari, 69)
God has created a natural balance between what is easy to follow for humans and what is the minimal requirement needed to be a morally, ethically and spiritually pious person. This can be shown for example when we increase the price of a commodity, or make things more stringent, as mentioned earlier, in religion we will find lesser people wanting to buy that commodity.
However, we must remember that easiness in religion has to be done in the way that God wants us to do it. It should not be mistaken for casualness. This is simply a reminder for all including myself as sometimes Satan attempts to divert us from religion, from God’s commands and good morals and even uses negative force on faith.
By insinuating unfounded suspicions in our thoughts, suggesting faithlessness or through actions and speeches, Satan tries to divert us from Islam and or its simplicity setting up many different traps for us. In short, Satan is our enemy, as mentioned in the Qur’an which narrates: “You who believe enter Islam totally. Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan he is an outright enemy to you.” (Qur’an, 2:208)

A balanced religion
One of the main features of Islam is that it is a balanced religion. It is known that whenever the Prophet had to choose between two options, he always chose the easier, unless it was explicitly forbidden. This again proves the beauty of Islam and God’s mercy toward us.
While aiming to reach the afore mentioned balances between human spiritual needs and material needs I have personally come to realize it can be done by simplifying our life and lightening our material baggage by focusing more on our spiritual and mental needs.
While I am not suggesting making vows of poverty, I support the idea of reducing our quest for material possession as one easy and balanced form of working in this world and doing good deeds for the next world.
I have learned one form of getting closer to God and obeying one of Islam’s pillars may be accomplished as we offer charity bringing happiness to those less fortunate. We must raise our children and remind ourselves that we can only keep what we have, by giving it away; somewhat like paying it forward, but for the afterlife if you may say so.
Balancing between individual rights and responsibilities, we find that as life continues to bring us down many familiar journeys, one of those being a quest of living, we must work toward making everything simpler including our worships if we are to continue on our steady pace toward our ultimate goal, Heaven.
Bear in mind we must allow others to influence us positively whenever we are going wrong. After all, God has promised that He is not going to make any soul accountable for anything more than what his potential is, promising that He will forgive those who repent.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.