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Sciences of Qur'an and Hadith

The Deen (Religion) is Ease

Notes from Bukhari: Part I | Part II

http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilio/1672676295/in/photostream/How many times have you heard someone say practising Islam or being a ‘religious’ Muslim is difficult? Reflect on the following. Imam al-Bukhari in his Sahih relates the following hadith (record of the words of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him) in the chapter On The Deen Being Ease.

It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The deen is ease. Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered, so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course, accept the good news of the reward for right action, and seek help [to reach your goal by being constant in worshipping] in the morning, evening and some of the night.” (Hadith no. 39)

“The deen is ease.”

Word Analysis:

deen = Obedience, a state of abasement and submissiveness.

In the hadith, al-deen is referring to Islam as the means or the vehicle by which one is obedient and in a state of humble submission to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He). It is synonymous with shari`ah (law) and includes both Islam (i.e. practice) and Iman (faith).

yusr (ease / easy) = ease, facilitation without constriction.

Commentary:

Ibn Abi Jamrah in his commentary of the abridged Sahih of al-Bukhari, Bahjat al-Nufus, highlights a number of ways the statement ‘The deen is ease’ can be understood and demonstrated. Some of them are as follows.

  1. Deen here can be understood as both Iman and Islam together. Iman (faith) is ‘easy’ in the sense that it is straightforward without any complexities. This is demonstrated in the hadith where the Prophet ﷺ tests the slave girl to see whether or not she is a Muslim. He was satisfied by her action of simply pointing to the sky to indicate that Allah (swt) is above his creation and by her attesting to the fact that he was the Messenger of Allah. As for the ease in Islam, the practice, this is demonstrated by the famous hadith where a person asks the Prophet ﷺ about the obligations of Islam and the Prophet ﷺ  tells him about the five obligatory prayers, the obligatory fast of Ramadan and the obligatory zakat (charity). Each time the person asked if there was anything more than the obligatory prayer, fasting and zakat the Prophet ﷺ  replied that there wasn’t unless he wanted to do something extra voluntarily. While the person was leaving he said to himself, by Allah I will not increase nor decrease from that. The Prophet ﷺ said he has succeeded if he is truthful.
  2. The ease here could be referring to what you have been given as a deen compared to the previous nations and the fact that you have only been obligated with that which you have the capacity to do. Allah (swt) has removed the burdens that were in the shari`ah of the previous nations from this ummah (community). For instance, the process of repentance for this ummah is made by regret, giving up the sin and seeking forgiveness whereas for some previous nations repentance was through capital punishment (for some sins). Another example is that unlawful things for us have been made lawful in times of necessity whereas this was not the case for previous nations.  Also the fact that Allah (swt) has only burdened us with obligations that we have the physical and intellectual capacity to fulfil, for if he did burden us with something beyond our capacity, it still would have been acceptable as He is all Wise and the Omnipotent whose decisions none can overturn. Therefore it is from His favour and bounty that He has forgiven us and only made us responsible according to our capacity. As He says in the Qur’an: Allah does not burden the soul beyond its capacity (2:286). Therefore the one who is made responsible for that which one had the capacity to bear then that is from ease and not from hardship.
  3. The ease here could be that deen is easy for the one who has knowledge of the deen and it is difficult for the one that is ignorant of the deen.
  4. The ease referred to here could be the fact that the legal texts that imply an obligation without any room for other interpretations are few in number. The vast majority of legal texts are open to different interpretations (that lead to more than one valid legal option) and therefore this is ease and flexibility from the Master to His servants.
  5. The ease referred to here could be to shorten one’s hopes, because shortening one’s hopes is amongst the causes that assist one in the deen so that the deen becomes easy. This is due to the fact that when one’s hopes are shortened covetousness is reduced, zuhd (detachment from unnecessary things) becomes easy and performing good deeds becomes light. This is similar to what the Prophet ﷺ mentioned: “When one of you wakes up in the morning, do not expect (to live) till the evening and when one of you goes to sleep in the evening do not expect (to live) till the morning.”
  6. The ease referred to here could be to perform good deeds in reverence to the rights due to Allah (swt) since the deen belongs completely to Allah. When one does this the deen becomes easy due to the sweetness of obedience, performing deeds become effortless, and in fact, one is nourished by the deeds performed for the sake of Allah (swt).

About the author

Shafiur Rahman

Shafiur Rahman was raised in London, England. He earned a B.A. (Hons) degree in Accounting and Finance, a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and a Masters degree (with distinction) in Addictive Behaviour. He has over 15 years of professional management and consultancy experience in the ‘not for profit’ sector. In 1999 he was appointed as the founding director of Nafas, a pioneering Muslim drug treatment and education centre based in London. In 2006, he was the lead author of ‘Voices from the Minarets,’ a groundbreaking research into the situation of Mosques and Imams throughout the UK. Apart from his work and studies, he has always had a keen interest in youth and community work which led to him and his peers setting up the Brick Lane Youth Development Association (BLYDA) in 1989. He has also served Islamic Forum Europe (IFE), a grassroots dawah organisation, in various senior capacities since 1995. His Arabic and Islamic studies began in 1994 with scholars in the UK. In 2006 he travelled to study shariah at Ma’had al-Fath al-Islami in Damascus. He later moved with his family to Cairo where he is currently studying for a shariah degree at al-Azhar University and pursuing private Arabic and Islamic studies. Shafiur Rahman is also a founding director of Angelwing Media and is currently working on translating several Arabic texts into English. Shafiur can be reached at shafi.ibntayyib@gmail.com.

11 Comments

  • Salaamu alaikum all, This article is very inspiring Alhamdulillah! And I know first hand the power of being overpowered by complicating this deen. I TESTIFY THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH AND THAT PROPHET MUHAMMAD IS HIS MESSENGER. ALLAHU AKBAR! AMEEN.

  • Jazakallahu khair – NayiMuslimah – In the physical books It is hadith no.39 in both dar al-fajr’s version of sahih bukhari and in a good edition of fath al-bari that I have.

  • Alhamdullah excellent article and good reminder for us, it reminds us out off all the difficulty and trail and tribulations we face in this world, Allah made this beautiful religion easy for us

  • Salaams to all. This article seems to have been re-posted from before (or was newly commented on), so I did not see it until now.

    One issue that may not always be understood with respect to new (convert) Muslims, especially, is that people sometimes come from very different backgrounds which many “born” Muslims from traditional societies may almost not be able to comprehend.

    For example, I was raised in the USA in the 1940s and 1950s as a Protestant Christian. In that tradition, not only is there nothing like a Shari’ah, the very concept of anything like a Shari’ah was literally condemned as a matter of religious principle as wrong and contrary to the will of God! Also, the nature of our reality was that you read the Holy Book and pray to God in your own language. Period.

    When you grow up that way from infancy to young adulthood, it becomes part of the way you regard the nature of the universe itself. Then if someone like that is attracted to Islam, she/he does not immediately shed that mentality just by pronouncing the words of the Shahada itself (of course, Allah swt knows best). Now comes someone from a traditional society who may speak broken English (French, Spanish) and who does not really understand where some new Muslims are coming from, that individual often being a “leader” in the local mosque. He starts dumping rules all over the new Muslim with such things as cut your fingernails. (Seriously, that was the VERY FIRST thing I was told!)

    The new Muslim becomes bewildered at this attitude and mentality which are so different from what she/he grew up with, with what formed her/his whole outlook on life, so that she/he gets confused and discouraged: What do all these minute rules have to do with my relationship with Allah swt?!?!? Couple this with the poor (sometimes almost non-existent) reception some converts receive in some places, and she/he thinks, This Islam is an impossible burden. All these meaningless rules which are so contrary to the way I grew up. And the new person slips away.

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