The Keep-it-Simple Rule and Islam
Are God’s expectations from humans easy to fulfil? If they are, should we not let others do what they are doing and not get involved in unnecessarily disturbing them by declaring what they are doing as un-Islamic? Also, should we not let non-Muslims remain what they are? Isn’t it an unnatural expectation from them to convert to a completely new religion? If we are expecting non-Muslims to convert, why shouldn’t Muslims be expected to conform to the truth within their own faith? Is changing from one religious view to another not difficult? If it is, how then is Islam easy to follow? Why can’t we follow the Keep-It-Simple rule in Islam?
God Almighty wants us to make things easy for us. This is what He has to say: “Allah desires ease for you; He does not desire hardship for you.” (2:185) The Prophet (sws) strongly urged his followers to “make things easy and don’t make them difficult. Give them good news and don’t scare them away.”1 However, easiness in religion has to be done in the way the Almighty wants us to do it. It should not be mistaken for casualness. Here are the outlines of the easy way, as I understand, the Almighty wants us to follow:
i) One has always got to remain open to truth. It is only in that way that one acquires true faith. Laziness in matters of truth is an offence, though hopefully a minor one, but unjustifiable stubbornness in the matter of truth is an inexcusable crime. By the latter what I mean is that you refuse to take interest in the truth simply because you are already attached to some other ideology and you don’t want a new one to disturb you. In the process of comparing the contestants for truth, if I am confused, the Almighty would accept it as a valid excuse, inshā Allah. Ignoring the truth, however, can never be a part of the otherwise desirable keep-It-simple formula.
ii) There is no Muslim vs non-Muslim divide in the eyes of God. No one is at a disadvantage in this trial of life. Muslims are expected to be open to truth quite as much as the non-Muslims are. Those non-Muslims who know that the message of Islam is from God and are still spurning it out of arrogance are criminal kāfir (the condemned disbelievers) in the eyes of their Creator. Likewise is the case of Muslims who are guilty of a similar crime in any aspect of the truth that comes from God. So long as a person is confused about whether a certain message is from God or not, he is not guilty. The ultimate decision on all such matters will be taken, thankfully, by the All-Knowing God Himself.
iii) In matters of practice, the rule is that you are expected to follow the truth as much as is possible. God has promised that His expectations are simple. However, we need to understand them in order to follow them. That strategy would ensure that things are kept simple.
iv) In matters of new findings on religion, science, or any other discipline, we again need to remain open. Of course, not everyone is interested in everything, but if someone tells me that what I am doing right now is not acceptable to my God, then I cannot take it lightly. Even in non-religious matters, once we jump into a discussion, we have to behave like truth-seeking believers and not like truth-spurning kāfirs.
v) God Almighty has promised that He is not going to make any soul accountable for anything more than what his potential is. He has also promised that He will forgive people who repent after realizing that what they were doing was wrong and that He will only punish those who were insisting on a wrong, criminal attitude knowingly. What better keep-it-simple approach could there be than this?
vi) One of the things I am expected to do as a good believer is to get involved in the process of correcting those who are closely linked with me. Likewise, I should allow others to influence me positively whenever I am going wrong. Such an attitude of mutual correction is a demonstration of the believers’ concern for the welfare of each other. In no way does it demonstrate an unnecessary interference in the affairs of others. In fact, not doing so would be indicative of a lack of interest in the spiritual and moral welfare of the other person.
1. Bukhārī, No: 5773.
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