Belief & Worship With the Divine

How Do We Get Closer to Allah? or Ease Series:  Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI

By AbdelRahman Mussa

This small series of articles aims to explore the following questions:

  • Does Islam promote ease or difficulty?
  • Does Islam state that the path to Allah is that of difficulty?

Previously we discussed:

  • With Hardship There is Ease
  • Wondrous Are The Believers’ Affairs
  • Seek Help Through Patience
  • He Always Chose The Easiest of Two Matters
  • Allah Wants Ease For You
  • Allah Wants To Alleviate The Burden
  • We Shall Test You With Something of Fear
  • Hell is Surrounded By Worldly Desire
  • When Is The Help Of Allah Due ?
  • Allah Tests What Is In Your Breasts
  • So That They Might Return To Allah
  • The Misunderstood Hadith

In this article, we will discuss what the goal is and there will be a small word about sacrifice.

Difficulty or Ease or Something Else?

If you are going through difficulty then your goal is not big enough and the biggest goal is Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He).

Surat al-Ikhlas is the surah of sincerity (Qur’an, 112). Allah, as described in Surat al-Ikhlas, is the ‘ahad,’ meaning the ONE.

All of creation is in pairs. If it is not Allah, then it is creation and it has a pair.

To achieve the outcome of a goal, you need to set the goal and fulfill the means to attaining the goal. You’ll notice that the means are always different from the goal. For example, if ‘getting to the door’ is your outcome, then ‘walking to’ the door is different than ‘being at’ the door.

With Allah, it is different; the means to getting to Allah is Allah. By remembering Him (the means), you attain Him. When you attain Him, you are remembering Him. Allah is the goal and the means.

Remember that if the goal is big enough, you won’t feel the paper-cut. Also realize that the easiest goal to attain is Allah, because the means equals the goal.

Finally, the terms ‘difficulty’ and ‘ease’ are used by the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) as being tools. The Prophet ﷺ used to choose ease over difficulty when he had a choice. In other words, he chose to do things easily when that was an option.

The terms are also used as description of circumstance, such as when ease and difficulty befall a believer.

Allah reminds us that any pain felt in His way is insignificant:

“…If you are in pain then surely they too are in pain, but you have a hope from Allah that they do not have…”(Qur’an, 4:104)

It’s important to mention that this verse is in the context of war. It’s important to mention that because ease is the usual status quo. Pain and difficulty only come by rarely.

It’s good that pain and difficulty isn’t the path to Allah, because we wouldn’t have been traveling much.

A Word on Sacrifice

Sacrifice is a form of self-inflicted difficulty. The term ‘sacrifice’ is not even stated once in the Qur’an. ‘Dhabh’ is stated in the Qur’an, which means ‘to slaughter,’ not to sacrifice. Sacrifice is a loss/giving-up of something (i.e. to give with no return).

In Islam, we are asked to INVEST, not sacrifice. And when you hear the term sacrifice in an Islamic talk/presentation, you are to remember that what is meant is “investment.”

Just think about Ibrahim `alayhi assalam (peace be upon him). Allah asked him to slaughter his son. (Note: the English translation of ‘sacrifice’ is inaccurate.)

How does he do it? After the third night, he tells his son about the command. Why does he tell his son? Is it with the hope that Ismail will say ‘no, I do not wish to be slaughtered?’ Is Ibrahim (as) looking for an excuse?

No. Ibrahim (as) could have just ignored the dream and not told his son. Why did Ibrahim (as) tell him then? Why didn’t he just cut his throat in the middle of the night, whilst his son was unaware?

It is because Ibrahim (as) wants his son to partake in the investment. He loves his son so he wants him to gain reward through this act of worship.

Ibrahim (as) moves the knife on his son’s neck. But the knife won’t cut. So Allah preserves Ismail. Moreover, Allah sends a ransom even though the parent should be the one paying the ransom in the effort to reacquire his son.

Did Ibrahim lose anything?

No, He didn’t lose his son. He doesn’t even have to pay a ransom!

He actually GAINS so much from this. Allah sends him a ransom. Allah keeps for him his son. Allah asks that they BOTH build His house (the Ka`ba) together for Him. Allah makes us remember their act of submission till the Day of Judgment.

Was there any loss in this whatsoever?

The next article will discuss:

  • A Practical Example of Pro Difficulty Thinking
  • Practical Examples of Pro Ease Thinking

AbdelRahman Mussa, a graduate of sharia and a therapist, is the founder of, a site specializing in practical tazkiyah (purification of the heart). To receive his free newsletter about tazkiyah, please visit the website.

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  • The author says, The term ‘sacrifice’ is not even stated once in the Qur’an…..however there is a verse in qur’an where it says, to say verily my prayer my sacrifice, my life and my death are for rabbil aalameen.
    we get the authors point (to invest instead of to sacrifice nevertheless.) jazakAllahu khayr.

  • Jazak Allaahu Khair for the depth provided in this matter. By the way the author has clearly stated the usage of sacrifice and Dhabh used in Qur’an

  • Assalamu Alaykom wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

    Akhi Mirza,

    BarakAllah feek for your comment. The word Nosok in that verse means the acts of worship that Allah (swt) wants of us to get closer to Him.

    النُّسْكُ – نُسْكُ :
    النُّسْكُ : كلّ حقٍّ لله تعالى .
    و النُّسْكُ الذَّبيحةُ يُتَقَرَّب بها إِلى الله .

    In terms of the fiqhi vocab, it usually means ritual, in many cases the animal that is slaughtered for Allah (swt).

    In the English translation it is translated as ‘sacrifice’ but that is a very loose translation.


  • Assalamu Alaykom wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

    Sister Nadia,

    Surah Kawsar ayah 2: “so pray to your Lord and ‘inhar'”
    the term inhar in Arabic means: “slaughter”.


  • Thank you. That the word sacrifice is never mentioned, makes a lot more sense to me. Allah does not need, so why should He want/need His creation to sacrifice for Him (lose something He gave in the first place, for no reward)? Allah is generous and wealthy, so why would He require His slaves to give to Him instead?

    However, we do have to have the kind of soul that will return to Him, for our own safety. Restraint and letting go is a kind of practice that He would want us to invest in for the Last Day, therefore this makes sense. It also makes sense to reward successful attempts (thus not a ‘sacrifice’), because then the psyche will remember it so, and it is then even more like a dry run for the Last Day. So, so hard, though.

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