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Articles


Between Strictness and Commitment in Matters of the Faith

Author : Dr. Mohammad Al-Hunaiti

Date Added : 21-12-2021


 

 

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

 

Allah honored His Prophets with delivering His message to His servants and clarifying to them the problematic affairs of their everyday life. Almighty Allah says: “And before thee also the apostles We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message. (We sent them) with Clear Signs and Books of dark prophecies; and We have sent down unto thee (also) the Message; that thou mayest explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may give thought. “{An-Nahl, 43-44}. On their part, Prophets have undertaken this trust and endured severe harm while trying to deliver it. Later on, scholars took upon themselves the responsibility of delivering Allah`s message to all His creatures. They have done so by wisdom and beautiful preaching, guided by the words of Allah: “ Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. “ { An-Nahl/125 }. Allah has guided His servants to adopt  the beautiful manners of the greatest of His creatures, Prophet Mohammad. He said: “ It is part of the Mercy of God that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (God’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in God. For God loves those who put their trust (in Him). “{ Al`Imran/159 }.  This verse is perceived as a guidance to them, so that they adopt the  Prophet`s good manners  in inviting people to the way of Allah because an advocate shall never attain success unless he follows the guidance of the Prophet(PBUH).

 

Throughout the different stages of Islamic history, Muslim scholars have addressed the affairs of the public to maintain their wellbeing and protect them against following the ways of the devil and falling into the dark realms of ignorance. However, things didn`t remain the same, the more time had passed after the death of the Prophet, the more ignorance surfaced and spread amongst the people. Also, there might appear some people who took upon themselves the task of inviting to Allah and guiding people in matters of the Faith while being  ignorant as regards religious texts and their intentions. This is what the Prophet  meant in the Hadith narrated by Abdullah Bin Omar (May Allah be pleased with them): “I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying: "Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people, but He takes it away by taking away (the lives of) the religious scholars till none of the scholars stays alive. Then the people will take ignorant ones as their leaders, who, when asked to deliver religious verdicts, will issue them without knowledge, the result being that they will go astray and will lead others astray. “ {Bukhari&Muslim}.

 

Moreover, ignorance had emerged in addition to the spread of those who delivered religious verdicts ignorantly, and the result was leading the public astray because the latter couldn`t differentiate between right and wrong, or who is rightful and who isn`t. As a result, enemies made use of this situation to undermine the unity of the Muslim nation, break its steadfastness, divide it and erase its identity.

 

Scholars are the impenetrable fortress and the first defense line because they stand up to the enemies, counter their suspicious matters, uncover their plots and enlighten the public against them. Therefore, Allah`s enemies aggressively target  Muslim scholars and advocates through tarnishing their beautiful image because they are a priceless source of knowledge and enemies stand no chance with them but through  stigmatizing them with the worst of names and attributes in a bid to shun people away from them. An example of such words is “ At-Tashaddod “ i.e hardship in matters of the Faith.

 

If we are to arrive at a definition for the concept of “ Tashaddod “ , we will see that it covers a number of human activities, so not taking advantage from the exemptions granted in offering acts of worship can be called “ Tashaddod “ in one instance, offering too many supererogatory acts of worship at the expense of the obligatory acts of worship can be called “ Tashaddod “ and obligating one`s-self to do something not stipulated in Islamic Law could be a form of  “ Tashaddod ”  and this had actually happened at the time of the Prophet{PBUH}. Amongst the examples on this are: 

 

First: The narration of Muslim on the authority of Jabir Bin Abdullah{May Allah be pleased with them} who said: “ While the Prophet was on a journey, he saw a group of people surrounding a man to protect him from the sun rays, so he asked: what is wrong with him ? They said: he is observing fast(Saum). The Prophet(PBUH) said: { observing fast while travelling isn`t from piety }(Muslim).

 

The above Hadith reflects that the Prophet{PBUH} criticized the one who didn`t make use of the exemptions granted by Allah in acts of worship, and subjected himself to perdition. Ahmad narrated on the authority of Abdullah Bin Omar{May Allah be pleased with them} who said that the Prophet{PBUH} said: “ Allah likes His exemptions to be taken advantage of as he dislikes sins to be committed “{Ahmad}.

 

Second: The narration of Bukhari on the authority of Abdullah Bin Amr Bin Al-Aas{May Allah be pleased with them} who said that the Prophet{PBUH} said: “O `Abdullah! Have I not been informed that you observe fast during the day and offer prayer all the night.'' I replied, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah!'' Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Don't do that. Observe fast for few days and then leave off for few days, perform prayers and also sleep at night, as your body has a right upon you, and your eyes have a right upon you; and your wife has a right upon you. “ {Bukhari}.

 

Ibn Battal said in his commentary on the Sahihain: “ A Muslim shouldn`t wear himself out in observing acts of worship to the extent of failing to make love to his wife and provide for her. “{Bukhari 13/317}.

 

Third: The narration of  Bukhari on the authority of Ibn Abbas {May Allah be pleased with them} who said: “ While the Prophet (PBUH) was delivering Khutbah (religious talk), he noticed a man who was standing, so he asked about him and was told that he was Abu Israel who had taken a vow to remain standing and not sit, or go into the shade, or speak while observing fast. Thereupon Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Tell him to speak, to go into the shade, to sit and to complete his fast''.{Bukhari}. In this Hadith, the Prophet{PBUH} didn`t approve of Abu Israel`s act which wasn`t stipulated in Islamic Law such as standing under the heat of the sun, or not talking, but since fasting is an act of worship, he ordered him to complete it.

 

Islam guides its followers to abstain from “ Tashddod “ in the aforementioned situations. This is embodied in the Hadith of Imam Ahmad, it reads as follows: “ This Faith(Islam) is strong, so be gentle in its application “{Ahmad3/199}. This Hadith shows that the Islamic Faith is strong and deeply-rooted, so apply it gently and don`t overburden yourselves.{At-Taiseer Bishreh Aj-Jamie` As-Sagheer1/352}.

 

Moreover, Abu Dawood reported that Anas {May Allah be pleased with him} said that the Prophet{PBUH} said: “ Don`t bear down heavily upon yourselves, so that you be not borne down heavily upon for there were people who had done as such, so Allah bore down heavily upon them and the result is reflected in their ruins.”{Snan Abu Dawood}. Moreover, Mu`adah narrated: A woman asked 'Aisha, "Should I offer the prayers that which I did not offer because of menses" 'Aisha said, "Are you from the Huraura' (a town in Iraq?) We were with the Prophet and used to get our periods but he never ordered us to offer them (the Prayers missed during menses)." {Bukhari}.

 

Thus, Islam strictly forbids hardship because it undermines interests in matters of the Faith as well as those of  worldly life. This is why we notice a huge disparity  between “ Tashaddod “ within the aforesaid concept and the concept of commitment. A committed Muslim is one who performs religious obligations and duties, abstains from all that is unlawful, follows the Prophetic tradition and avoids all that is regarded reprehensible by the Muslim jurists.

 

A Muslim who adheres to the guidance of Allah in doing righteous deeds, seeks to  please Him and eschews His punishment achievesthe peak of  devoutness decreed by Almighty Allah Who says: “O ye who believe! Fear God as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam. “{Al-Imran 103}. It was reported that when Ali was asked about “ Taqwa “, he said: Fearing Allah, adherence to the rulings decreed in the Quran, content with what is little and being prepared for the day of departing this life. One who fulfills the injunctions decreed by Allah in the best of manner can`t be described as strict, or any other attribute that is intended to shun the public away from whoever adheres to the teachings of Allah and consequently His religion itself.

 

As a result, it is impermissible to describe a Muslim who adheres to the teachings of Islam as strict because by doing so you are actually describing Islam itself , and this denies what is explicitly stated in the Holy Quran where  Almighty Allah negates describing His religion as strict and difficult. He says: “And strive in His cause as ye ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline). He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Apostle may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer, give regular Charity, and hold fast to God! He is your Protector - the Best to protect and the Best to help! “ {Al-Hajj/78}.

 

Finally, I would like to highlight a very important issue that is the spread of strictness in opinion and thought amongst the younger generation of Muslims where you realize that there is a unilateral interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah{Prophetic tradition} without consulting the opinions of the Muslim scholars about their interpretation, so it has led  the youth of today to harbor strict views and attitudes. In fact, this serious phenomenon can only be addressed by concentrating on religious education based on sound understanding of religious texts quoted from the views and deductions of jurists  as they are more aware of the intentions of  the Wise Law-Giver(Allah). We ask  Almighty Allah to grant us success in all that which pleases Him. And He knows best.

 

 

 

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