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.


Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Updated 23 September 2016

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Brandon Yusuf Toropov gives a vivid account of his personal quest to study the most authentic verses of the Bible — the Q verses — and his coming into the fold of Islam. Thhis is the concluding part of his story.

I WAS interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q (the Q source: Q from German, Quelle, meaning ‘source,’ is a hypothetical written collection of Jesus’s sayings) and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it. This is because that narrative material was added many years later.

Wresting with the doctrine of the Trinity: The more I looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels. I found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions. Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word “Trinity”? If Jesus was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God? And, if Jesus was God, why in the world would he say something like the following? “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark, 10:18) Did he somehow forget that he himself was God when he said this?

The Holy Qur’an: In November of 2002, I began to read a translation of the Qur’an. I had never read an English translation of the entire text of the Qur’an before. I had only read summaries of the Qur’an written by non-Muslims. (And very misleading summaries at that.)
Words do not adequately describe the extraordinary effect that this book had on me. Suffice to say that the very same magnetism that had drawn me to the Gospels at the age of 11 was present in a new and deeply imperative form. This book was telling me, just as I could tell Jesus had been telling me, about matters of ultimate concern. The Qur’an was offering authoritative guidance and compelling responses to the questions I had been asking for years about the Gospels.
“It is not (possible) for any human being to whom God has given the Book and wisdom and prophethood to say to the people: ‘Be my worshippers rather than God’s.’ On the contrary, (he would say): ‘Be devoted worshippers of your Lord, because you are teaching the Book and you are studying it.’ Nor would he order you to take angels and prophets for lords. Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God’s will?” (Qur’an, 3:79-80)
The Qur’an drew me to its message because it so powerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus that I felt in my heart had to be authentic. Below, you will find just a few examples of the parallels that made my heart pliant to the worship of God. Each Gospel verse comes from the reconstructed text known as Q, a text that today’s scholars believe represents the earliest surviving strata of the teachings of the Messiah. Note how close this material is to the Qur’anic message.

On monotheism: In Q, Jesus endorses a rigorous monotheism. “Get thee behind me, Satan: For it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Luke, 4:8) Compare: “Children of Adam, did We not command you not to worship Satan? He was your sworn enemy. Did We not command you to worship Me and tell you that this is the straight path?” (Qur’an, 36:60-61)

On Aqaba: Q identifies a right path that is often difficult, a path that unbelievers will choose not to follow. “Enter ye in through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there are who go in there. Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew, 7:13-14) Compare: “The worldly life is made to seem attractive to the disbelievers who scoff at the faithful, but the pious, in the life Hereafter, will have a position far above them…” (Qur’an, 2:212)

On Taqwa: Q warns us to fear only the judgment of God. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath the power to cast into Hell. Yea, I say unto you, fear Him!” (Luke, 12:4-5) Compare: “To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God’s retribution is severe. Should you then have fear of anyone other than God?” (Qur’an, 16:52)

Earthly life: In Q, Jesus warns humanity plainly that earthly advantages and pleasures should not be the goal of our lives: “Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation. Woe unto you who are full! You shall be hungry. Woe unto you who laugh now! You shall weep and mourn.” (Luke, 6:24) Compare: “The desire to have increase of worldly gains has preoccupied you so much (that you have neglected the obligation of remembering God) – until you come to your graves! You shall know. You shall certainly know (about the consequences of your deeds.) You will certainly have the knowledge of your deeds beyond all doubt. You will be shown hell, and you will see it with your own eyes. Then, on that day, you shall be questioned about the bounties (of God).” (Qur’an, 102:1-8)

Crucifixion: We are left then with an amazing early Gospel, a Gospel that (non-Muslim) scholars believe is historically closest to Jesus, a Gospel that has the following characteristics: Agreement with the Qur’an’s uncompromising message of God’s Oneness; agreement with the Qur’an’s message of an afterlife of salvation or hellfire ... based on our earthly deeds; agreement with the Qur’an’s warning not to be misled by dunya, the attractions and pleasures of worldly life. A complete absence of any reference to Christ’s death on the cross, resurrection, or sacrifice for humanity! This is the Gospel that today’s most advanced non-Muslim scholars have identified for us ... and this Gospel is pointing us, if only we will listen to it, in precisely the same direction as the Qur’an! I became a Muslim on March 20, 2003. It became obvious to me that I had to share this message with as many thoughtful Christians as I could.