Is Islam difficult so that people cannot comply with it?
This is a false claim that has no basis in truth at all. Anyone who says so is ignorant and knows nothing about Islam. Or, he is biased intending to alienate people from their religion to give up its laws and rulings. Or, he is an excessive puritan who has no regard except for the opinions of the puritan clergymen who forbid people to worship Allah in any way other than their own way and make themselves the guardians of Allah’s religion. Therefore, they regard things lawful or unlawful according to their own reasons or the only traditions that have reached them.
The first thing that comes to mind in this concern is this saying of the Messenger of Allah (S):
Make it (the affairs of religion) easy and do not make it difficult! Bring good tidings and do not constrict (make people alienated) against yourselves, lest Allah constrict against you as He had done to the Children of Israel.
The Prophet (S) often said before his companions:
Allah has not sent me as a constrainer or obstinate, but He has sent me as a facilitating teacher.
It is well known that the Prophet (S) was not made to choose between two things, except that he chose the easier one.
The Prophet (S) was not a legislator as some people think incorrectly when they read this verse of Qur’an:
…and whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, abstain (from it). Qur'an, 59:7
The commanding and forbidding of the Prophet (S) does not come from him. He only conveys what was revealed to him by his Lord. He did not do anything except what Allah ordered him to do with not a bit more and not a bit less. Therefore, all the commands and prohibitions are from Allah the Almighty, though they are not recorded in the Holy Qur'an.
Allah says about the Prophet (S):
Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed. Qur'an, 53:3-4
Since it is so, let us come to the Qur'an to see if Islam is so difficult that people cannot comply with it - in order to see whether this claim is true or false, so that we can be on a clear proof as to our affairs.
Allah says in the Qur'an:
He has chosen you and has not laid upon you a hardship in religion. Qur'an, 22:78
Allah does not want to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful. Qur'an, 5:6
Allah wants ease for you and He does not want for you difficulty… Qur'an, 2:185
This concerns the Muslim nation that has embraced Islam and abides by its laws and rules in matters of worship and behaviors. Of course, the mercy of Allah has also included all His people with their different religions. Allah has been merciful to all of them imposing no any hardship on anyone.
Of a small seed; He created him, then He made him according to a measure. Then (as for) the way, He has made it easy (for him). Qur'an, 80:19-20
So, the way of Allah that man follows to return to his Lord is an easy way with no difficulties or hardships. Allah the Almighty has repeated this meaning five times in the Qur'an. He says:
Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability. Qur'an, 2:286
We do not impose on any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability. Qur'an, 6:152
And (as for) those who believe and do good We do not impose on any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability. Qur'an, 7:42
And We do not lay on any soul a burden except to the extent of its ability, and with Us is a book which speaks the truth and they shall not be dealt with unjustly. Qur'an, 23:62
From all this, we understand that Allah the Almighty has not imposed anything on any man except that which is within his capacity since the time of our father Adam (a.s.). If there has been any difficulty or hardship in any one of the divine religions, it would be a result of those who interpreted the purpose of religion according to their personal opinions, or that there might be some people torturing themselves hard because of their many sins, looking forward to the forgiveness of Allah or in order to be nearer to Him. Therefore, they invented some things that were not from the religion and bound themselves to them, but they failed in bearing them.1
Allah the Almighty says:
…and monasticism they innovated - We did not prescribe it to them - only to seek Allah's pleasure, but they did not observe it with its due observance… Qur'an, 57:27
On this basis, we interpret this tradition of the Messenger of Allah (S):
Do not be strict (in religious affairs) to yourselves, lest Allah be strict to you as He was to the children of Israel.
And in the same way, we interpret this Qur’anic Verse concerning the Prophet Muhammad (S):
…he enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them. Qur'an, 7:157
The burden and shackles, which were on them - were made and imposed by them, and they themselves had bound themselves.
We conclude from this analysis that Islam is a religion that has no difficulty, hardship, overburden or shackles. It is a religion of ease, mercy, and leniency where the weaknesses of man in all his psychological and bodily aspects are fully cared for. Allah says:
Allah wants that He should make light your burdens and man is created weak. Qur'an, 4:28
…this is alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. Qur'an, 2:178
We shall see inshallah, in the coming chapters that Islam, as known by the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), is the religion that is without the opinions of opinion mongers, the excessiveness of the excessive, or the falsehood of fabricators. Then, we shall know that the Muslims of the present age can abide to the Sharia without any difficulty or hardship.
- 1. Monasticism comes true in two ways: First is a serious monasticism that runs by itself in order not to be touched by any harm and be saved by itself (Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, The Historical Traditions in the Holy Qur'an, p. 103) And this is from the view that “Stopping on the hill is more safe”. Consequently, the way is cleared before different claims and excuses that a ruler gives or the fabricated traditions that assist his creed and rule.
Second is a false monasticism where one pretends he is from the ulema to warn people against the injustice of a tyrant. And soon the falseness of these untrue claims and pretenses is uncovered for example, the justification that “it is not permissible to disobey the ruler or turn away from congregation”, as they did to Imam Husayn (a.s.) when he offered himself and family to save the true religion and in the same way to the Alawid and Talibid revolutions that followed him.
Similar to that in our present time is the falseness of the monks of churches who serve the rulers and noblemen. They become a cause for ordinary people to disbelieve and turn away from religion where it is hardly tried to separate it from politics. And we still see many rulers and their mercenary (clergymen) preachers encourage the state of ignorance and underdevelopment among Muslims with their fatwas. These keep the Muslims away from modernity and from meeting and uniting with other Muslims.