Presently the societies are in a state of ideological confusion and flux. Materialism, terrorism, ignorance and intolera...
"That is the Book, without any doubt. A Guide for those who guard against evil." (Qur'an 2:2)
"These are the verses of the wise Book. A Guide and mercy for those who do good." (Qur'an 31:2-3)
"We clarify the verses for a people who reflect." (Qur'an 10:24)
"We have made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember: will anyone take heed?" (Qur'an 54:17)
"We clarify the verses for a people who reflect." (Qur'an 10:24)
"And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.
And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying."(6:115-116)
" ...... Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful. (5:6)
"..... Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship...."(2:185)
"O you who have believed, do not ask about things which, if they are shown to you, will distress you. But if you ask about them while the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be shown to you. Allah has pardoned that which is past; and Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing".(5:101)
"And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you..."(2:143)
Individual Responsibility & Accountability:
“O believers! You are accountable for none but for yourselves; anyone who has gone astray cannot harm you if you are on the Right Way. To Allah you shall all return and He will let you know the truth of all that you did.” (Qur’an;5:105)
“Give the warning to those in whose (hearts) is the fear that they will be brought (to judgment) before their Lord: except from Him they will have no protector nor intercessor: that they may guard (against evil).”(6:51)
“Leave those people alone, who take their religion as mere play and amusement and are deceived by the life of this world. However, keep on admonishing them with this (The Qur'an), lest their souls be damned by their own sinful deeds. They will not have any protector or intercessor to rescue them from Allah,” (6:70)
No blind following:
From a Quranic perspective, associations with God or to set up partners with God is not merely restricted to worshipping idols. It can take the form of desire (25:43), intercessors (10:18), property, goods and assets (18:34-42), other sources of knowledge holding authority in religion (6:19), religious leaders, scholars and revered personalities (9:31).
"...Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful"(27:64)
“(O man), do not follow that of what you have no knowledge. Indeed! the hearing and the sight and the heart - of each of these it will be asked”(17:36)
Throughout the Quran, the narratives engage with its audience appealing to make use of their intellect and reason (Arabic: Aql)
"Indeed, the vilest of living animals, in God's sight, are the deaf, the dumb and those that do not use their intellect (Aql - Arabic: yAQLun)"(8:22)
"And a soul and Him Who perfected / proportioned it. And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it. He is indeed successful who causes it to grow (purifies it), and he is indeed a failure who corrupts it (buries it)"(91:7-10)
"... Will you not use your intellect?" (Arabic: afala tAQLun?)(7:169)
"And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will mislead you from the way of God. They follow but assumption / conjecture (Arabic: Zana) and they only guess / lie (Arabic: Yakhrasun)"(6:116)
"Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are not except like livestock. Rather, they are [even] more astray in [their] way."(25.44)
"And indeed, he did lead astray a great multitude of you. Did you not, then use your intellect /reason (Arabic: tAQLun)? (36:62)
“They have taken as Lords beside God their Rabbis and their Monks and the Messiah son of Mary , when they were bidden to only worship One God”(9:31)
"And they shall say: O our Lord! surely we obeyed our leaders (Arabic: Sadatana) and our great men (Arabic: Wakubaraana), so they led us astray from the path"(33:67)
And when it is said to them, "Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger," they say, "Sufficient for us is that upon which we found our fathers." Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided? O you who have believed, upon you is responsibility for] yourselves. Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided. To Allah is you return all together; then He will inform you of what you used to do. (4:104-105)
And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart -about all those [one] will be questioned. (17:36)
When he said to his father and his people, "What are these statues to which you are devoted?" They said, "We found our fathers worshippers of them." He said, "You were certainly, you and your fathers, in manifest error."(21:52-54)
Rather, they say, "Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are in their footsteps [rightly] guided."And similarly, We did not send before you any warner into a city except that its affluent said, "Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are, in their footsteps, following."[Each warner] said, "Even if I brought you better guidance than that [religion] upon which you found your fathers?" They said, "Indeed we, in that with which you were sent, are disbelievers." (21:22-24)
Ask those who know:
“And before you also the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if you do not know, ask of those who possess the Message”(16:43)
“Before you, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If you do not know, ask of those who possess the Message. Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death”(21:7-8)
In both verses, Almighty God informing the Prophet that before him, Prophet's were only men like him who He had granted inspiration. They consumed food and they were not exempt from death. This was clearly a measure of reassurance for the Prophet so that there would remain no doubt in his mind that he was indeed a Prophet. It is to be noted that these verses are not directed at anyone but the Prophet and are context specific. What sense would there be to ask the 'believers' to consult 'people of knowledge' if the messenger himself was amongst their midst? This would also contradict many verses where God clearly asks the believers to refer their matters to the Prophet, especially in disputes. (4.59)
Also these verses are one of the most powerful support for verification. Even though God is revealing the message to the Prophet, he is still being asked to verify it for himself. This is one of the most powerful cues for the use of volition and self verification.
In this verse, God Himself is asking the Prophet to verify a particular claim. If any wisdom is to be extracted, it is one of verification not of blind following.
"And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few." (4:83)
"And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed! the hearing and the sight and the heart - of each of these you will be questioned"(17:36)
This does not imply that knowledge of learned people and their opinions should not be considered. Indeed, they should deserve appreciation according to their merits and sincere efforts. However, the opinions of others should not become beyond reproach or become cemented as indisputable fact. Only the word of God can attract such a designation. Otherwise, the critical enquiry of the opinions of humans should remain open. The four great Imams did a great work synthesising their knowledge of Quran and Hadith to the contemporary issues, through Ijtehad where possible. This practice should not freeze modern scholarship use their intellect and knowledge similarly to resolve modern issues. The common Muslims should also study and question the scholars to find answers in this era.
According to Dr.Khalid Zaheer; If a person is following a scholar because he himself is unable to understand the true meanings of certain verses or ahadith, it is understandable. You are either a scholar or a commoner. If you are a commoner, you can normally interpret the Qur'anic text yourself. To that extent, following a scholar is not only allowed but under normal circumstances
However, if a commoner decides that he is going to follow a certain scholar blindly (does his taqlid) then it is indeed a curse. When you follow somebody blindly, you don't listen to anyone else except your own scholar. And even if you listen to someone else, your intention is not to be open to the truth. You are so emotionally attached to your scholar's views that you don't even read the Qur'an with an open mind. If someone has made a scholar an Imam in that sense, it is indeed a seriously misleading approach which
the Qur'an describes as making scholars Rabb other than Allah. (9:31)
Gamal al-Banna leaves behind a legacy of controversial views on Islam | Egypt Independent
"Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you" [2:185]; and "Allah does not want to place you in difficulty" [5:6].
Such easiness is well explained in the hadeeth reported by Abu Hurairah, radiya Allahu 'anhu, that the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, said, "Religion is easy..." [Bukhari], he also said; "The best of your religion, is the easiest." [Ahmad]
The easiness of this religion was put into practise by the best of humanity, the one who came to deliver the message, as Allah, subhanahu wata'aala, said;
"Verily there has come unto you a Messenger from amongst yourselves, it grieves him that you should suffer any difficulty, he is anxious for you, for the believers he is full of pity and merciful" [10:128]
This understanding is clarified in a hadeeth in which the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, said; "… Allah did not send me to be harsh, or cause harm, but He sent me to teach and make things easy" [Muslim]. This understanding is further implemented by the mercy sent to mankind, Muhammed, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, in the hadeeth reported by his noble and pure wife, 'Aishah, radiya Allahu 'anhu, who said; "Whenever the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, has a choice between two matters, he would choose the easiest, unless it is sinful (act)" [Bukhari].
Many hadeeths have been reported on the matter of easiness: "Allah likes for this nation ease and hates for it hardship and adversity." [Tabaraani].
"We have been given a privilege over other nations... .we have been given verses that no one else has been given, the last two verses of Surah Baqarah(chapter 2)"Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error. Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear" After each statement, Allah responded by saying, "I did, I did, I did"" [Muslim].
To further emphasise this understanding to his companions, when once a Bedouin stood up and started urinating in the mosque, the people caught him; but he, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, ordered them to leave him and to pour a bucket or a tumbler of water over the place where he had urinated. The Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, then said, "You have been sent to make things easy and not to make them difficult" [Bukhari].
An example that illustrates this point is Salah, an act so important and vital to Islam that the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, said; "Between a person and disbelief is discarding prayer" [Muslim]. He also warned against leaving salah, even at the time of his death, in his very last breaths before departing from this world.
Yet in this worship Allah has also prescribed easiness. At first, the number of prayers was fifty in number, but they were reduced several times until they were five. Then it was proclaimed 'O Muhammad, the order is not changed. These five are (equal in reward) to fifty' [Tirmidhi].
Causes of hardship
If Islam is a religion of ease, why do we find many Muslims not practising it? Why do we find them doing very little of what they ought to be doing, and why do even those who practise their religion sometimes find it difficult?
There are reasons why the practice of Islam can becomes hard:
1) Lack of piety
When we speak about Islam being easy we are, in reality, speaking about the easiness of its acts of worship and morals. Religion by definition means commitment and an obligation to a master. Therefore, being a religious person means to be always aware that we are slaves to a master, Allah, subhanahu wata'aala.
From here we see the mistake of those who want 'ease' to mean 'doing nothing', just saying "I am a Muslim", committing themselves to nothing. It is obvious that they want it to be easy, but what exactly do they want? They want an easy life, a life without any religious practices.
The idle belief of 'existing only to live' has long ago been negated by Allah, subhanahu wata'aala. He said:
"Do you think you have been created for nothing and that you will not be resurrected and brought back to Allah again!" [23:115]. He also said: "Thinks man that he is left aimless?" [75:86].
Islam is easy to practice; but those who do not understand the reasons behind their existence, who do not understand the concepts of religion, but meanwhile are striving to secure themselves in this life; then surely they will find its practices difficult.
The easiness of Islam is felt in all of its commandments. Some people find this or that commandment hard to follow but this does not mean that the command is in itself hard; often it is the person who is the cause.
For example Salah, it is an easy act of worship, as Allah, subhanahu wata'aala, has made clear:
"And seek help in patience and prayer and truly it is (prayer) extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi'un (i.e. true submitting)" [2;45].
Prayer is an easy act of worship except, of course, for those who do not truly submit to their Lord; they will find it toilsome.
Why do they find it so? The answer is that it is not the prayer that is difficult, but it is the hearts of these people which have changed from good to bad, as Allah, subhanahu wata'aala, mentioned:
"Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up to pray, they stand with laziness …" [4;142]; in another verse He subhanahu wata'aala, said; "And that they came not to prayer except in a lazy state …" [9;54].
The rules of Islam did not come as mere do's and don'ts. Each obligation has wisdom and motivation behind it. It should make no difference to us if the wisdom for that particular practice is known or not, because if it is not known to us today, then if Allah wills, He will reveal it to future generations. What is primarily expected from us is to fully submit and implement every command.
For example, the giving of charity, which apparently decreases the wealth of the giver. Islam did not say "Pay charity, pay charity", as this would not motivate people and therefore make it difficult to act upon. Instead Allah says;
"Would you not like to give a loan to your Lord, and this loan will be paid back to you multiplied and you will be rewarded for it." [2:245]
The Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, said; "Verily, wealth does not decrease because of charity." [Muslim]
It seems Muslims often ask why this act or matter is Halaal or Haraam. With such an attitude they will never achieve their goal, because behind each injunction there is an aspect of wisdom. Without understanding this, practising Islam becomes a heavy burden. With strong belief, we do not even have to ask whether this or that is halaal or Haraam, but rather if it pleases Allah. Therefore we should take the rules seeking the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wata'aala,. If pleasing Allah subhanahu wata'aala, is, always, our aim, then undoubtedly the practice of religion becomes easy, no matter what apparent hardships we may encounter.
3) Inappropriate environment
It is true that sometimes we find it difficult to practise the religion, even those who are committed to it!
The reason behind this is that we are practising our religion in an non-religious environment. Islam is not meant to be practised while being immersed in a Kufr (disbelieving) society. Its practice will indeed be difficult in such an environment. Therefore, the difficulty cannot be blamed upon Islam as a religion, but rather on the circumstances of the society.
Returning to our example of prayer, we see that prayer by itself is easy, but if you have to stand alone to pray amongst non-Muslims, all of them watching you, it will suddenly become difficult. The obvious conclusion is that the prayer in itself is not difficult, but the environment has made it difficult.
Another example is that of a woman who wears hijaab and is happy to cover herself. If this were an Islamic society, it would have been difficult for her not to be covered, or for a man not to respond to the call to prayer and pray in a mosque. Thus difficulty is not the nature of our religion, but we are trying to be pure in a decadent and immoral environment. These realities are not unknown to Islam, because the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, already warned his companions some fourteen centuries ago, and by that has also warned us by saying, as reported by Abu Tha'laba, radiya Allahu 'anhu, "… Ahead of you are days which will require endurance (in the practice of religion), in which he who shows endurance will be like him who grasps live coals. The one who acts rightly during that period will have the reward of fifty men who act as he does."
The hearers said, "The reward of fifty of them, Messenger of Allah!" He replied, "The reward of fifty of you." A companion said about this difference in reward, "Now you find people helping you to do good deeds, but then they will not find things to help them but they will find things to resist and oppose them." [Tirmidhi].
So Islam is the religion of ease. If we accept it as a religion to start with, then we should take it with its concepts, and practise it in a pure environment (as opposed to a corrupted and decadent one); it will then become an easier religion to practise.
As it is not possible to have a 100% pure society, we have to strive to achieve this by being surrounded by good Muslims. In doing this, the religion will loosen the burdens around it.
The easiness of Islam has even been testified by the enemies of Islam. This was apparent in the statement of the Jews at the time of the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, when a man and a woman from amongst them committed fornication. Some of them said to the others: "Let us go to this Prophet, for he has been sent with an easy law …". [Abu Dawood].
So may Allah, subhanahu wata'aala, make us amongst those who
"Listen to the word and follow the best thereof, whom Allah has guided and those are men of understanding." [39;18].
Source: (Islam, the Religion of Ease ) الإسلام دين اليسر
What does Islam say about Visiting Graves? What are the appropriate manners for Visiting Graves in Islam?
Generally, visiting graves is mustahab (recommended) for men and permissible for women. Visiting the graves of saintly people, parents and close relatives is considered mandoob (desirable). It is permissible and possible for women to visit graves as long as they do not cry out, wail, behave hysterically and respect graves too much, which can cause mischief. This is because the Prophet advised a woman who was wailing at her child’s grave to endure; yet he did not forbid her to visit the grave. (Bukhari, Janaiz, 2, Ahkam II; Muslim, Janaiz, 15). In addition, it is narrated that Hazrat Aisha visited her brother’s, Abdurrahman b. Abi Bakr, grave. (Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 61).
The Prophet prohibited visiting graves during a period of time when belief in fate was not yet settled and traditions of the era of ignorance were still being practiced. However, later he permitted it. The following is stated in a hadith:
“I had prohibited visiting graves for you. From now on you can visit graves”. (Muslim, Janaiz, 106; Adahi, 37; Abu Dawud janaiz, 77; Ashriba, 7; Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 7; Nasai, Janaiz, 100; Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 47; Ahmad b. Hanbal, I, 147, 452, III, 38, 63, 237, 250, V, 35, 355, 357). Hadiths that state that the Prophet cursed on women who visited graves too often (Tirmidhi, Salat, 21; Janaiz, 61; Nasai, Janaiz, 104; Ibn Maja, Janaiz, 49) belong to the period of time when visiting graves were prohibited. Tirmidhi stated it clearly (Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 60). Hazrat Aisha and Ibn Abdilberr agreed on it.
According to the sound view of Hanafis, it is permissible for women to visit graves as long as they do not display extreme behaviors such as wailing and behaving hysterically. This is because the permission mentioned in hadiths applies to women too. (Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 60, 61; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Mukhtar, Istanbul, 1984, II, 242).
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The most abhorrent line of thought in any religion is delinking belief in God from rationality. Intellectual curiosity and free thought present a social dimension that is a natural reaction to society’s ever growing dogma, rigidity and shrinking of space for alternate voices in the garb of social and legal dictums (like the blasphemy laws). With a rise in violence and faith based attacks, the expression of internal convictions easily victimises the person declaring his or her non-belief.
In Pakistan, there was a time when discourse on the complexities of religion and existence of God were not the prime topics to discuss in intellectual and scholarly circles because people back then did not feel the need as it was somewhat more progressive and liberal compared to today. It is only with the process of Islamisation and strict adherence to religious codes and attribution of punishments that a reactionary current has been triggered and people are now asking questions about the wisdom and philosophy behind Islam. Many people, however, often neglect the fact that, within religion, most of the wisdom in Islam is derived from a multiplicity of the interpretations people hold on to and have faith in. Religion is what makes it believable to the self.
Reformation in religion is a translation of reconciling the practical aspects of life with one’s spiritual needs, which is in conformity with the requirements of the present time. Sometimes, it becomes a necessity. However, people advocating reforms have been targeted and killed for entering this domain by fundamentalists, especially when it is considered that religion cannot be fluid and must be preserved in its true form. Despite many interpretations and the contextual understanding of Islam, the orthodox have a tendency to deny any such logic that refutes the fundamentalist version. The problem begins when reformists clash with the orthodox clergy, who do not tolerate the modern notions of society today. With urban complexities and social transformations there is a need for a reinterpretation of the religion that people can easily relate to. The static version of religion, in itself, is a cause for worry as it comes into conflict with the universal values that have evolved with time with raised awareness of issues related to the environment, human traits and cultural values.
Many attempts have been made to align and reinterpret Islam with the universal values of acceptance and humanism. Many scholars are of the view that early Islamic society was much more liberal and tolerant and that what we see today is very different and more constricted in comparison. However, the intimidation of Muslim scholars propagating liberal Islam is not new; a renowned Pakistani Muslim scholar was made to leave this country amidst life threats he had to face for his views. Some Muslim scholars around the world have been killed or charged with apostasy, a crime in some Muslim countries.
The concept of ijtehad, which is to come to independent reasoning where religious texts have not provided clear guidance, has died away, thus making any social progress stagnant in Islam. The Sunnis believe that most of Islamic jurisdiction has been complete and hence ijtihad to them is no longer needed. However, Shia traditions seem to give importance to ijtehad. In the beginning of the 10th century, the Sunni movement was strong enough to put the process of ijtehad in the backseat, thus giving rise to taqleed where guidance is derived from set precedents in Islamic jurisdictions. The problem thus created was the abject denial of society’s changing dynamics that need proper address by religion and appropriate jurisdictions that are relevant for society’s progress. The problem of stagnation of due process of evolving wisdom gives precedence to intolerance and rigidity, as we are witnessing in the Muslim world today.
Given the principle that there is no compulsion in religion, one needs to be convinced in their rational, complex understanding to reconcile with religion. Unless human capacity is taken into consideration to convey the message of religion, the message of religion remains ineffectual. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) understood his society well and preached to his people in a manner that inspired and motivated them to bring positive changes to their lives. We also see in history that where forced conversions have taken place, societies remained backward and less inclined to development. The version of Islam being dictated to us by the Taliban and Islamic State (IS) has indeed destroyed societies that cannot conscientiously come to terms with their cruelty, which almost all liberal scholars have denounced and condemned. The counter discourse to the rigid views of the fundamentalist version becomes important for the very survival of Islam. Unless that is provided, repulsion against religion will remain an issue for those who consider rigid interpretations of religion to be against their conscience to accept.
Reformation in Islam is an ongoing process, albeit the strong opposition to them. There have been quite unconventional examples set by some scholars. One such example is that of a Muslim lady imam who leads prayers in a mosque in New York.
The need for making compatibility with religion work in modern social dynamics is pressing. It is time to do away with stagnant conventions that rely on the principle of non-progress in religious thought as opposed to allowing fluidity and flexibility in religious domain. Religion can only prosper spiritually if it remains independent from the human quest for more discoveries. In fact, making Islam the principle for scientific research and social progress as preached by Imam Ghazali is perhaps the reason why there have been no great discoveries and inventions coming from the Muslim world since then.
Need for reformation in Islam
The writer is a freelance columnist and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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