Originally posted May 16, 2012
Notes from Bukhari: Part I | Part II
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 (prophetic narration) in the chapter of On The Deen Being Ease.
It is related from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ (peace be upon him), said, “The deen [religion] 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)
“Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered […]”
Ibn Hajar says that it means that whoever overburdens himself by excess in performing religious deeds without being gentle (on himself) will be incapacitated (to continue), cut off and therefore overpowered.
Ibn Hajar cites Ibn Munir as saying: “[…] This hadith contains knowledge from the emblems of Prophethood. Indeed we have seen and people before us have seen that everyone who goes to extremes in the deen is cut off [from continuity]. The intended meaning in the hadith is not to stop a person trying to perfect their acts of worship, for that is something praiseworthy, rather it is warning against the type of excess that leads to boredom, or against excess in supererogatory acts that leads to forsaking that which is more recommended, or that which leads to the performance of an obligation outside of its designated time. The example of the aforementioned is if someone prayed the whole night fighting off sleep until sleep overtook him in the last part of the night whereby he slept past the Fajr prayer in jama`ah [congregation] or past the best time for Fajr prayer or past sunrise after the designated time for Fajr prayer.”
Imam Ahmed narrates a hadith: “You will not attain this (deen) by excessiveness and the best of your deen is ease.”
“[…] so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course, […]”
Ibn Hajar says fasaddidu (which is translated here as direct yourselves to what is right) means sticking to al-sadad meaning that which is correct without excess or deficiency. The lexicographers say al-sadad means balance/moderation (tawasut) in actions.
Ibn Rajab says balance (al-tawasut) in religious deeds is to not fall short of whatever one has been commanded to do and to not burden oneself with that which is beyond one’s capacity.
Ibn Rajab also says about the word qaribu (translated here as follow a middle course) that it carries the same or similar meaning to al-sadad. Ibn Hajar says it means if you cannot achieve the ideal then do your best to attain that which is as close to the ideal.
“[…] accept the good news of the reward for right action […]”
Ibn Hajar says it means to accept glad tidings of the reward for continuous action even if it is small. Meaning the glad tidings is for someone who cannot perform deeds to the ideal and that he will not lose any reward if it was not due to his intentional shortcomings. The object of the glad tidings is the reward, however the actual word itself (reward) is omitted in the hadith to induce a sense of veneration and magnificence towards the reward.
Ibn Rajab says it means to convey glad tidings to the one who traverses the path of obedience to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) through moderation, consistency and balance for he is the one who reaches the destination. Indeed the path of moderation and balance is more virtuous than other paths, so the one who travels this path is given glad tidings. For indeed moderation in adhering to the path of sunnah (prophetic tradition) is better than exerting great effort in other paths. The best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad ﷺ so whoever follows his path is closer to Allah (swt) than anyone else.
Ibn Rajab continues to explain that virtue is not due to the abundance of deeds that one performs; rather it is due to it being sincerely for Allah (swt), it being correct in accordance to the sunnah, and by the abundance of knowledge and actions of the heart. So the one who is more knowledgeable about Allah (swt), His deen, His laws and His shari`ah (religious law), and more fearful of Him, more loving of Him, and has more hope in Him is more virtuous than the one who is not in this state even if the latter performs more physical deeds than the former. That is why some of the predecessors used to say that Abu Bakr radi allahu `anhu (may God be please with him) did not excel others by much fasting or salah (prayer) but rather it was due to something deeply embedded in his heart. Some of them said the thing that was in his heart by which he excelled others was deep love for Allah (swt) and His messenger ﷺ and sincere counsel for Allah (swt)’s slaves.
One of the reasons that Islam might be considered difficult, especially for a convert, is that there are many, many rules to follow compared to none in Christianity. In Christianity, as long one is sincere for God, there are no specific rules. One is guided instead by the principles of loving God and loving one’s neighbor. In contrast, Muslims are told how to pray, when to pray, how to fast, when to fast, and so on and so on and so on even to the exxtent of how to grow a beard and trim a moustache. For converts, there is no such thing as moderation because they have moved from a realm of a few principles to a world of hundreds of rules.
It takes time to get used to “all” these rules, but they are worth it.
perhaps the distinction is the more marked in modern times, because modern christianity has dispensed with many of the rituals, prayers, fasting, other worship that would have been expected of early or even medieval christians. thus the distinction you speak of is a relatively recent one, and due to christianity leaving that which was expected of christians in previous eras.
Kirana, the distinction for non-Jewish believers is not recent. There was a debate in the first-century church over whether non-Jews needed to keep the laws and rituals of the Jewish believes, and the conclusion was, No, they did not: “As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality” (Acts 21:25).
Of course, they were expected to pray, assemble themselves together for worship, love one another, stay away from sin, and so on. But the method of how they were to do that was left open.
This was good. Reed, Christianity insists that all the rules and laws in the Old Testament are for today’s believer. Jesus, pbuh, wants us to be obedient. He was always reinforcing the idea that he came to fulfill the law. He understood that laws are the guideposts put there by God/Allah to remind us of his sovereignty and love for us. It’s all about how we turn out at the end of our lives. Amazingly, Muhammad, pbuh, noticed the flaws in both religions. I am glad he pointed out the weaknesses since as I grow even deeper in this life, I will be aware of the hurdles ahead of time. Take care.
I was simplifying it because almost all Christians today are not Jews. That is, Jewish followers of Jesus were expected to keep the law, but non-Jewish Christians did not keep the law. Instead, in addition to the principle of love, they had only three constraints: “As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality” (Acts 21:25).
Hi Reed, thanks for your response. As you may well know, Jesus spoke mostly about the condition of the mind and what we think as being the crux of failure or success in our relationship with the Creator. If we curse someone in our mind, we have sinned. Under the law, we must commit the actual act before we are condemned. Many religions deal with the finished product of wrongdoing. Jesus wanted his followers to understand the power of our minds. The Bhagavad Gita says that we will NOT be held accountable for what we “think.” I think that is interesting. You see, all of our life, we learn nothing but lessons. We keep entering the same class until we learn to act accordingly. As Yasmin said, we must do our best. Not too extreme. He knows our hearts better that we know our own. Viniojubilee, I continue to hear others say, “Let us return to the Quran.” Hadiths are interpretations of the intent. How great is Allah/God, that he knows best how to speak to us in the time of need? We encourage one another by sharing as we feel comfortable. You are all good believers. Thank you.
Dear Mr Reed,
A true convert, one who discovers Islam, and falls in love with Allah and his prophet either instantly or gradually, will not find difficulty in following the way of Allah. You’re not expected to plunge into the deep end along with the ulama, sheikhs, sufis and prophets sir. If you are the convert, then take it a step at a time and take the middle way, or as this article points out, what is easy. If you can’t bear to grow a beard, or to trim it, then simply stick to what you have, keep it neat and clean and move on . Allah judges us by our faith, not by outward appearances. And Allah knows best.
That is why Islam is called the deen cos its a way of life. It tells us Muslims how we should live as a Muslim
Do you ever wish you lived close enough to a mosque that you could hear the call to prayer?
It would make it much easier for me. It would be less likely to forget or ignore the time of day.
THere’s a saying in Malay,
“Islam doesn’t angelize a person, but Islam makes a person, a person”
Islam teaches us to be realistic in our own way. thank you Saifur Rahman. This is a kind reminder for all of us.
I do really agree, The deen is ease, islam is ease if you live ur life according to quran. Don’t read many hadits, it will make many difficulties coz there are too many rules in hadits and too many inconsistency. Back to quran!
i do not agree with the title. practicing islam as a way of life is extremely difficult. in fact you are marginalized because the norm is contrary to the islamic spirit. just look around you at the society. they will scorn and ridicule you because you are a believer. i have faced the brunt of it. it requires a lot of patience, sabr and pure emaan to stand the ground. not easy sir!!!
The religion is easy for those without struggles! For those Sheiks, Muslims, and whoever lives in security, luxury, etc. I don’t know if such individuals exist, but for many Muslims facing the every day challenges of Modernity the religion is not easy. If a youth has physiological, emotional, or spiritual problems there is NO ONE to speak to. We can’t go to the Masjid because everyone has frowns and the Imams do a poor job of relating themselves to us. Furthermore, people are stigmatized for having mental or social issues.
I will say it openly I have had thoughts of suicide, of just leaving this life. When no one cares or is wiling to listen why go on. Maybe my death wil be a lesson to the Muslim community that there is a crisis among the youth and others. That they should wake up to our challenges and embrace us instead of shunning and crippling us. I know what they will say if I take my life, that I am doomed for hell, that I will burn there forever. But yet they fail to realize the context of my situation, something their minds cannot fathom. There is NO understanding of text and context and this translates into every area of Muslim living a youth will go through. Marriage, education, finances, friends, etc.
Lost Muslim- I hold the same grievances that you do with regards to our greater Muslim community- particularly in the US. We have issues and baggage as a community in a number of areas and it is frustrating, annoying and sometimes deeply depressing. There are many Imams and active Islamic workers- many of whom write for this website- who share similar concerns over our community and are discussing and proactively working for change and for a much needed, long-term shift.
You clearly have a perspective which needs to be shared with the community in a way which will help transform the community. You may be tired and angry and I’m positive there are many others who share in your sentiments. Perhaps instead of contemplating taking your life to make the community learn a lesson, you could contemplate how you can help change the discourse of the community. If your immediate community has issues beyond your ability to even approach because they’re so hard-headed in the ways they run affairs, perhaps you could find another organization that is more aligned with the way you want the community to start to head.
We have a LOT of factors which contribute to the baggage our community has and those issues are not simply going to go away. There are many people who recognize them and are seeking to create a change. Perhaps you can be among those in the forefront of transformative action.
You know that this problem is everywhere in every religion. Atheists suffer with the same problems. Religions are falling apart everywhere. This is a person problem. People need to be connected. We need more love. We need to give love as well as receive love. We need to be understood when we are young. When I was in school over 40 years ago, kids were mean spirited and wicked behind the backs of the teacher. Parents were having a hard enough time raising their children and paying their bills. In America, there were only a few dominant religions and people did not have too many places to seek help, so they took barbituates or drank. The world is different now, but people are still the same. We will never find perfection. We can be happier by doing what is right. We have to do these things all for the right reasons.
Maryam – I appreciate your concern and support! But suicidal thoughts are nothing new in me or in man. Shaytan wants us to lose hope and be done. I do not wish to be a debbie downer, but I find myself stuck between sets of extreme choices with no middle ground.
In terms of companionship either I am being called to zinna or I must meet a tens of thousands dollar mahar and high paying job which I will never have. In terms of education I don’t want to be the next Muslim doctor or engineer and alhamdulillah I have taken a passion for philosophy. However, I should supposedly give this up because all philosophers are atheists and it leads to atheism? To the contrary it is through philosophy that I enjoyed some of the greatest highs in my eman.
And finally in terms of identity, week after week from the mambar I am told such things as if you believe in democracy you are a kafir and the West is all evil. It’s ironic because if I was in Syria right now, where my family is, I would be on the verge of hunger and death. So is the security that Western societies provide to us evil?!!! These bifurcations are silly and annoying. Maybe I am exaggerating this, but I find myself in an intellectual vacuum, isolated, cut off, and in need of support.
I wish to be part of something positive, changing, and productive, but I just see one road block after another.
Dear brother, whatever mimbar you are hearing khutbahs from, I doubt it is one where the wisdom and beauty of Islam is being preached from properly.
I wish you could see that there are wonderful communities in this country, and awesome places in various learning institutions where ideas, thoughts, and intellectual discussion is given space to turn into productive learning experiences, as well as practical work to help and benefit others.
No community is perfect, but I feel your distress about the mimbar messages. I’d be pretty upset too, but its not like that everywhere. Are you in a major city with a major Muslim population?
AsSalamu Alaykum WaRahamatullah,
Dear Lost Muslim.
I understand what you are going through even though I have not been through it personally, but I know of many people who have. Everyone thinks of suicide once in their life, or feel very depressed at some point. A case like yours happened in our community, and the person actually committed suicide. It sure made a change in the community…but what benefit did the person get for himself by committing suicide? Shaytan won him over, and I don’t want that to be the case for you. From reading your comment, you seem like a very strong, understandable and educated person. It takes a lot of courage for a person to ask for help. I advise you to turn to Allah swt, ask Him for help, because after all… He is the one that is making you go through it. He is the only one that truly understands you. Cry to Him like a baby cries for his/her mother when they are lost. Speak to him in your prayers as if you see him, and that He is there, However if you can’t realize it, remember that He Himself is seeing you. Even though Allah knows everything in your heart and Mind…make Allah Your Diary, Let him know of your pain and struggles, Let Him know you are in need of His help, and let Him know that you are truly thankful for all that you have and been through. And I promise you, you will feel a lot better and you will find ease in your heart. Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest (Qruan 13:28)
And also I advise you to talk with the youth director at your masjid. If there isn’t any youth director, then make a change in your community since you would like to do something positive, changing, and productive…Ask to be a youth director. Be the first to make a change in your community. With you putting that first step, others in the same situation as yours will be helped as well, imagine how many youth you would be helping. Make the change while still living not when you’re deceased. There is no one in this dunya that doesn’t go through any time type of hardship or struggle. Don’t let shaytan take advantage over you because of a bump in the road. Always remind yourself that you have it way better than many people in this Dunya and there are people who are going through worse. And when you come to realize that say Alhamdulillah. “For indeed, with hardship will be ease. Indeed, with hardship will be ease”(Quran 94:5-6). Our prophet Muhammad (saw) is a great example, think of how much He went through. He went through the most struggles that anyone can ever imagine and He is the most beloved to Allah swt. One may ask…Why? If he was the most beloved to the Lords of the Heavens, then why did He have so many hardships? Why didn’t Allah make his life easier, if He loved him so much? When Allah puts you through trials and tests know that He loves you. Every time the prophet went through a hardship he would turn to Allah swt for help, and Allah would love him more. That is the Reason why, because Allah loves it when you go to Him. If you are struggling with life, then turn to Allah swt, because that is what Allah wants. Allah loves you, Live 4 Him.
Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned (Quran 21:35)
You are a serching Muslim. Do you think for any moment that not one prophet had their act together? Never! None of us ever will. I am 57 and a man. I have struggled my entire life to understand who I am and why I am here. I have been a wayward drunk. Terrible husband. Abused child. The list goes on. Now, I am very happy! I still have problems. I do lot live the life of a drunk or abused person. I now understand all the messages of all the prophets and the Imams. The main message is that you must persevere. Do not give up. If you are unhappy like now, reach out, and hopefully, someone will reach back and reason with you. Nobody ever learns from someone elses suicide! You can NOT teach people a lesson that they are not yet ready to learn. I teach people about eating starches, vegetables and fruit. People hate that message because they love their meat, junk food and candy and beer and everything else that is not good for you. My body is in great shape. I have no insurance. I have more energy than a 20 year old. So, tell me what ails you today? Thank you and salaam alaikum.
Remember the example of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): He also faced rejection by his own people and went through many struggles for years before Islam became established. People do not like to hear truth or anything different from their traditions, so you can expect rejection although it’s not easy to accept it. As Maryam said, try to find an organization that is open to your concerns.
Lost Muslim, You are absolutely right to say that the larger Muslim community stigmatizes Muslims who are going through psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual problems. Please do not give up hope! I am a Muslim Clinical Social Worker and we have a growing number of Muslm Mental Health professionals who are committed to dealing with the above issues that you described. Please let me know if you are interested to get resources, I will be more than happy to direct you!
Aliah – Yes I am interested in some resources please. Thank you!
Lost Muslim – please email me at email@example.com
I just need to know where you live so I can refer you to the right people/organizations.
In the previous posts, the subject of depression came up. In my studies, I’ve found it is something we all experience. What is the best way to cope with depression?
Is it watching a documentary on dire poverty, or watching a romantic movie, religion, a walk on the beach, community involvement, or is it physical exercise?
How do you cope? And, what does it mean?
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