One of the most common questions that I am asked, quite regularly, is: “How you can keep up with the burden of being a Muslim?”
You see, to non-believers, Islam is perceived to be a very difficult religion that is cumbersome to its adherents. This could not be further from the truth! Islam is a religion of ease and a mercy to mankind gifted by our Creator.
As a new Muslim, I did have a sense of being overwhelmed at the beginning. However, this was because I panicked and erroneously believed that I had to learn everything and all at once. Eventually, I realized that I could go at my own pace and learn the basics of Islam which gave me a solid foundation on which to build up my faith.
The religion of Islam is universal. It wasn’t sent to Muslims only. Rather, it was sent to all of mankind. For this reason, Allah Almighty has made it easy for all of humanity to follow Islam. And despite our shortcomings, our Creator provides countless ways for humans to achieve salvation.
There are many ways that Allah made Islam the easiest religion to follow.
The Five Pillars of Islam
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) revealed that the religion of Islam is built on five pillars which are:
- Declaration of Faith or Shahadah
- Obligatory Prayers
- Alms Giving or Zakah
- Fasting in Ramadan
- Pilgrimage to Makkah or Hajj
The five pillars of Islam lay the groundwork for new Muslims and born-Muslims to follow. The first is the declaration of faith that “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His final Messenger.”
The second is in regards to the five daily obligatory prayers which take only about 5 minutes each to perform and are easy to learn even for non-Arabic speakers.
The third pillar is alms-giving which is mandatory for able Muslims to pay during the month of Ramadan.
And the fourth pillar is the month of fasting, or Ramadan, in which a Muslim refrains from eating or drinking from dawn until dusk in addition to abstaining from other worldly pleasures such as intimacy with one’s spouse.
And then there is the fifth pillar of Islam, which is the pilgrimage to Makkah.
Now if you look closely at the 5 pillars of Islam, you will realize that only the obligatory prayers are required on a daily basis, while the other pillars are for specific times of the year or during one’s lifetime. Allah Almighty has not given us anything that is impossible to do; even the 5 pillars of Islam are possible for all Muslims!
Natural State of Islam
Did you know that you were born in a natural state of Islam? That’s right! You’ve got your own GPS called fitrah, best translated into English as ‘instinct’, that guides you back to your Lord and Cherisher. Every human is born in a natural state of Islam and it is the parents that decide whether the child will grow up as a Muslim or belong to another faith.
Regardless, the fitrah is that nagging voice in the back of your head that helps you differentiate between right and wrong.
Since humans have limited free will, we either listen to our fitrah or ignore it entirely. Just the fact that Allah Almighty has given us such a powerful tool proves that Islam is a religion of ease. Our fitrah makes it easy to enjoin good, forbid evil and walk a path of righteousness. But only if we listen to it.
Everything in Moderation
Whether in worship or even matters of fiqh, Muslims must strike a balance to avoid any extreme and follow a middle path. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but aim to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshiping in the mornings and the nights. (Al-Bukhari)
We’re only human and should be moderate in everything. Some misguided Muslims might think that praying around the clock or fasting daily will help them achieve salvation. However, by going to the extreme, they’re neglecting other duties that Allah Almighty has enjoined upon us such as taking care of our families or even visiting the sick.
Moderation is key to optimizing your worship while also fulfilling all the rights that your family and community have upon you.
Reaching Out When Needed
There may be times when you do feel overwhelmed by an aspect of the Islamic faith simply because you do not understand it or because you’re too afraid to ask for help.
The best part about being a Muslim is that there is an Ummah, or community, made up of Muslims from around the globe. You might even be blessed enough to have a large community of Muslims residing in your city. If not, you can find an endless number of Muslims online and active in social networking groups geared towards Muslims. Take the first step and reach out when needed.
Allah has made our affairs easy for us and even given us a system of support in our Ummah which further makes Islam a religion of ease.
Allah Almighty has given us all the tools needed to succeed in this life and the next. There is no other religion, on the face of the Earth, that can claim that. Whether you live in the middle of America or travel to a faraway land such as the Gambia, chances are high you’ll run into a Muslim who greets you with the shared sentiment of peace and brotherhood:
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)