We often hear that “the deen is easy,” and although that’s very true in its essence, it’s not always the case. Islam can be challenging for many reasons. And the more we only focus on “Allah has made the deen easy” part of Islam, the more young Muslims may get lost, confused or even go completely astray. Allow me to elaborate on that and on my saying that Islam is hard today and it proves its truthfulness.
Islam in its essence
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity …” Surah Al Baqarah (2:286)
The religion of Islam in of itself was meant to be easy and not a burden on those practicing it. Allah is Merciful and extends His Mercy to His creation in various forms.
“Religion is easy, and no one overburdens himself in his religion but he will be unable to continue in that way. So do not be extremists, but try to be near perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded. Gain strength by worshipping in the mornings and afternoons and during the last hours of the night.” Al Bukhari and Muslim
The above quote is clear and true, but we have to realize that this world is a test. So we must be realistic and not always expect ease. Having such an expectation can create doubts further down the line. We shouldn’t overburden ourselves as that can lead to burnout, but we should also be realistic about the problems surrounding us.
Since the first messenger was sent on earth to guide the people who had gone astray, the believers have been struggling in one way or another. Even though belief in its core wasn’t meant to be a burden, circumstances surrounding it made it seem so. Besides, the ‘truth’ (sent by all prophets) was always seen as strange to the mass.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Islam began as something strange and will revert to being something strange, so glad tidings to the strangers.” Sahih Muslim
We know of the challenges that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) faced when all they wanted was to believe in Allah and pray. They were tested with their belief, lives, family, etc. It wasn’t easy. They were persecuted, humiliated, boycotted, you name it.
One of the calmest and most peaceful times for Muslims was when Muslims were in power and had influence in the world. No one could persecute them for their belief, they could easily make their own choices and it wasn’t awkward to be a Muslim or be recognized as one.
I’m pretty sure that this had a huge impact on how they saw themselves in society. They also probably didn’t feel the need to compromise on a lot of things that the youths today feel the need to.
Good vs evil
We all know that shaytaan is busy trying to lead humankind astray, so the battle of good vs evil is something that will continue till the end of time.
Even when it comes to halal or haram, everything is halal until proven haram. So we could easily say that most things in life should be halal, right? But it doesn’t seem to be the case anymore to many people. The obvious reason is that people are usually more inclined towards things that they are not allowed to do.
The prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Ahead of you there lie days of patience, during which being patient will be like grasping a hot coal. The one who does good deeds then will have a reward like that of fifty men who do such deeds.” At-Tirmidhi
Look in society, haven’t you noticed that many of the things that are considered ‘haram’ or ‘wrong’ (irrespective of religion) are usually the ones that are most spread? A good example is alcohol. Alcohol is haraam while fruit juices, water, vegetable juices, and many other types of drinks are completely fine to drink; and they are healthier. Yet, we find that alcohol is found in various types of drinks, making them haram as well. Although the initial haram was only alcohol, humans found a way to incorporate that into many other drinks. So it ends up seeming as if there are too many ‘haram’ drinks.
As time went on, more things started to be ‘haram’ for the reasons mentioned above. Let’s take the example of riba (usury/interest); it is extremely widespread in almost every aspect of life today. Imagine buying a house a few hundred years ago, we could almost be certain that riba wasn’t as common as it is today. So it was much easier to do so without worrying about mortgage (which comes with riba most of the time). Muslims wanting to buy a house today and abide by their deen may feel like Islam has too many rules that prevent them from buying a house.
Another example is student loans. We can all agree that there’s nothing wrong with going to school. In fact, it is very much encouraged. But, when we think about many of the circumstances surrounding it, it may seem a bit challenging for Muslims wanting to abide by their religion. If one lives in a country where education is extremely expensive but isn’t able to pay for it, getting student loans may be the alternative. But here’s the catch …. it’s expensive, increases as the months go by and leaves many people in debt for years or for life.
One doesn’t have to be a Muslim to realize that it’s an inconvenience for many students, especially when today most are left unemployed after graduating. As a result, we see students dropping out of college/university after realizing this to pursue entrepreneurship. Of course, for Muslims, the issue of riba waits around the corner.
Yes, Islam is easy in its essence, but because of the battle between good and evil, it becomes challenging. We will continue to find ourselves more and more restricted as evil continues to spread. If it wasn’t challenging to adhere to Islam during times when evil is widespread, it would have been a good reason to doubt Islam because good and evil can’t possibly mix. Since it is the most difficult deen to follow today, that should tell us something. Those who insist on following the right path can expect hardship, limitations, and ridicules. The only way to break from that is to compromise our faith … but at what cost?