I have noticed a disheartening trend among our teachers of Islam. Too many are trying to "make the deen easier" by watering it down. This can range from the "sheikh" who, when I became Muslim, told me it was halal to take a loan with interest because my education was a necessity to the "teacher" who uses the weak narration: "We have returned from the lesser jihad to embark on the greater jihad." They said: "What is the greater jihad?" He said: "The jihad of the heart, or the jihad against one's ego." to the "Imams" who stood by silently while mujahideen in Afghanistan were making tawaf at the graves.
In all these cases, if they have done even the most rudimentary research in these areas, they would have to know that they were stating incorrect information about Islam, which amounts to lying against Allah and His messenger. Yet, they felt, for whatever reason, that by minimizing the importance of the concepts, the questioner would not hate Islam and would be a better Muslim. This puzzles me. How can one be a better Muslim when one is committing haram acts and considering them halal?
For the first, we know that necessity in Islam is defined as life and death - and only as much as is necessary to sustain life. For instance. I am in jail. I am given pork to eat and alcohol to drink. I am starving and if I do not eat or drink I will die. In this case, it becomes halal for me to eat and drink what will sustain me -- keep me from death. This becomes not only halal but fard upon me. Now, let's analyze: I would not have died if I had not gone to school that semester. It would not have been life-threatening for me to wait until I had saved enough money. Yet, the "sheikh", probably under the fear that telling me it was haram would have taken away from Islam, tried to "ease" me into Islam by telling me it was O.K. The danger here was greater. He did not realize that what he did was indeed more dangerous. He taught me that the rules in Islam are very flexible, like the Christianity I had just left. I now believed that I could interpret them to suit my needs. Under this understanding, anyone can use interest for anything he/she "thinks" is necessary. So, when I thought it was necessary to own a car - or I could not get to work, I took a loan. It also made me understand that all the credit cards I had were O.K. cause I needed them. The reality was that I did not need the car, I could have taken a bus; I did not need the cards, I could have been patient, I did not need anything because my life was never in danger, but I had been taught that necessity in Islam was defined by what I considered necessary. This led me to inadvertently commit many sins that put me "at war" with Allah.
O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and relinquish what remains (due) from usury, if you are believers. But if you do (it) not, then be apprised of war from Allah and His Messenger; and if you repent, then you shall have your capital; neither shall you make (the debtor) suffer loss, nor shall you be made to suffer loss. 2:278-79
How did this help me be a better Muslim?
The second issue, is an apology for the Islamic concept of Jihad. This has successfully served to "keep us in place." The Muslim who is only concerned about Jihad of the self, sits idly by while Muslims are being exterminated, calling his congressman or holding protests, thinking he is accomplishing something instead of getting his lazy rear off his chair, going out to the lands of jihad, and risking his life and property for the sake of Allah. Allah says,
Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,- 4:95
Also, the Prophet said
"When you deal with interest, and hold fast to the tail of the cow, and become contented with agriculture, and you leave Jihad in the Way of Allaah, Allaah will permit your humiliation and will not lift it from you until you return to your deen." (Sahih: Taken from a speech by Al AlBaani: www.ucl.ac.uk/~uczxisl/jihad.htm)
This so-called hadith about jihad of the self being the greater jihad can be easily exposed. Sheikh Al Albaani declared it weak as did Al Hafiz ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in the Tasdid al-Qaws. Al Hafiz Al Iraqi said in the Takhrij Ahadith al-Ahya': 'Al Bayhaqi transmitted it with a weak chain of narrators on the authority of Jabir, and Al Khatib transmitted it in his history on the authority of Jabir.'"
Anyone who is even an elementary student of Islam, must know this or can find it. No one who seriously cares about his deen will narrate something unless he knows it is sahih. Because even the ordinary Muslim on the street knows that narrating against the Prophet what he did not say will gain him a seat in the hellfire. The Prophet said: "...And whoever tells a lie on me intentionally, will surely take his place in the (Hell) Fire." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 56, Number 667.
So why would someone teach such a concept? It waters down our deen and makes us like the Prophet warned that we would be as the Prophet warned:
"The nations summon each other upon you as you call guests to eat from a plate of food", they said , "will we be few in number on that day O Messenger of Allaah?" He said, "no rather you will be many on that day, but you will be like the foam on the ocean. And Allaah will remove the fear in the hearts of your enemies and place in your hearts al-wahn". They said, "what is al-wahn O Messenger of Allaah?" He said, "love of this world and hatred of death."' (Sahih: Taken from a speech by Al AlBaani: www.ucl.ac.uk/~uczxisl/jihad.htm).
So, how does lessening the importance of Jihad make us better Muslims? It seems to me, it makes us weak and vulnerable.
The last example are the "Imams" who stood by silently while the mujahideen were making tawaf at the graves. When questioned about this, they said that they did say anything because the people were ignorant, and teching them this would cause fitnah and remove them from Islam. This floored me. I mean -- HELLO-- IS ANYONE HOME UP THERE???? Isn't this shirk??? Does not this act take them from Islam??? Where are our priorities? Here are our mujahids, the fighters for the sake of Allah, making tawaf to graves. What is left?
On a lesser level, our "scholars" are constantly trying to make things easier on us, telling us its ok to wear a headpiece with pants and call it hijab, saying it is O.K. to shave or trim the beard, saying it is acceptable to go to that social gathering at work even though alcohol is being served because we will lose our jobs if we don't, saying it is O.K. to sell alcohol or pork as long as we do not touch it or consume it, saying it is O.K. to take a house loan because we need to establish a base in this country, saying it is O.K to have a credit card cause we need it in case we want to rent a car or in the case of an emergency...the list is endless.
As Muslims we have to stop expecting out teachers, scholars, Imams etc... to spoon feed us what we want to hear. We have to make them tell us the truth. There are so many true scholars available to us. We still have the Quraan, the authentic hadiths, the understandings of the companions and our greatest scholars. Why do we ignore this great body of evidence and insist on following the unsupported opinions of those who would have Islam be little more than a poor imitation of Christianity -- a religion of amilu without amilu. A religion of belief without action. Pick up the Quraan. How often do you see the word aminu - belief, without amilu beside it? Why is it that anytime someone calls to the truth -- showing the evidences, we call him a wahabi, a salafi, an extremist??? They are quoting the words of Allah and the words of His beloved prophet, and we are saying, "I think..."," I feel...", "But our deen is not hard...." What would we say to the Prophet himself? What horrible names would we call him because his words do not match our desires or our warped perceptions of right and wrong?
Lets WAKE UP!
Brothers and sisters, it is time to wake up. Allah did not put us here to get that illusive degree, that classy car, that great house, that beautiful wife, that perfect husband, those great kids. These are all distraction from the true goal. "O ye who believe! Let not your wealth nor your children distract you from remembrance of Allah. Those who do so, they are the losers." (63:9) We are here to worship Allah. This life is not supposed to be easy or perfect. This life is our prison, if we are true believers.
We are supposed to be building an escape tunnel with our deeds and our faith. Instead we are asleep in front of the TV, smelling of nachos and fear while scenes of our brothers' and sisters' extermination flash across the screen.
Islam is not easy. It is not hard. It is a religion that takes effort, commitment and belief. We have a great reward but also we have a great responsibility. What will we say to Allah when He questions us about our life in this world? What will we say to Allah when He questions us about our brothers and sisters in Kosovo, Somalia, Sudan, Kashmir, Palestine, Bosnia, Algeria, Ethiopia, Lebanon, India etc..... What will we say when He questions us about our credit cards, our school loans our houses and even masjids built from riba? What will we say when He questions us about the ignorant among us that we failed to teach because we thought it would make him/her hate Islam or think it was too hard? What will we say when Allah asks us about the deeds that supported our beliefs? What will we say????
I leave you with the following hadith which emphasizes the obstacles Allah placed in our way:
Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: When Allah created Paradise, He said to Gabriel: Go and look at it. He went and looked at it, then came and said: O my Lord! By Thy might, no one who hears of it will fail to enter it. He then surrounded it with disagreeable things, and said: Go and look at it, Gabriel. He went and looked at it, then came and said: O my Lord! By Thy might, I am afraid that no one will enter it. When Allah created Hell, He said: Go and look at it, Gabriel. He went and looked at it, then came and said: O my Lord! By Thy might, no one who hears of it will enter it. He then surrounded it with desirable things and said: Go and look at it, Gabriel. He went, looked at it, then came and said: O my Lord! By Thy might and power, I am afraid that no one will remain who does not enter it. Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 40, Number 4726.
Ya Allah! Wake up the Muslims! Ya Allah! Wake up the Muslims! Ya Allah! Wake up the Muslims! Ameen.