Some people think that to live an Islamic life is "restrictive". Islam
however, was revealed as a balanced way of living.
Allah (The Most High) created all the humans with what is called 'A
Fitrah' (a natural state/desire) .
Islam recognises that within this Fitrah there are motivations that
influence a man's role on earth e.g. a desire for good food and drink,
to have a home, a desire for love and sex, to protect and be protected
and to be successful and strong. Without some form of control and limit,
all of these legitimate motives could prove very dangerous.
So what constitutes the perfect control for the Fitrah? It must be a
method that provides an organised yet practical demonstration of how to
balance all these natural human desires. It cannot be something that
goes against the Fitrah, by placing on it extra burdens. Likewise, it
cannot be something that allows the human desires to run wild without
any form of control.
Islam is the perfect control for the Fitrah. It provides a divine method
that elevates man above animals and the rest of creation.
Humans lack perfect knowledge as well as perfect wisdom. No matter how
hard we try, we will never attain the perfect way of life by our own
thinking and interpretation. This is the reason why Allah being the Most
Wise, sent us the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), to show us
this practical and organised way of life.
Allah, being Perfect, in His Wisdom and Knowledge, perfected a complete
way of life for us. He has set His limitations and rules, all of which
are beneficial to mankind, and therefore, do not need changing:
"These are the limits (set) by Allah, so
do not approach them"(Surah al-Baqarah 2:1871)
"These are the limits set by Allah, so do
not transgress them"(Surah al-Baqarah 2:229)
This is why Islam does not allow celibacy, because it is against the
Fitrah, i.e., the desire for sex. Celibacy goes beyond the limits
required by humans, and is something that cannot be fulfilled because
humans are designed to procreate. As humans we are not expected to fast
every single day for the rest of our lives (for most 30 days of the year
provides an up-hill struggle). It is also from ignorance to say that 'I
shall not sleep during the night, but rather I shall pray!'  Humans
have not been created by Allah to live life in such a manner. There is a
balance which must be observed.
The following incident describes the Islamic stance towards such
behaviour, Anas reported that some of the Companions of Allah's
Messenger (SAW) used to say: "I will not marry women"; someone else
said: "I will not eat meat"; and someone else said: "I will not lie down
in bed". (On hearing this): The Prophet (SAW) praised Allah, and
glorified Him and said: "what has happened to these people that they say
so and so, whereas I observe prayer and I sleep too. I observe fast and
I break my fast; I marry women also. And he who turns away from my
Sunnah (i.e., my example or lifestyle), he has no relation with me"
[Narrated in Saheeh Muslim vol. 2. p703. no. 32361].
Islam on the other hand, does not allow the person to surrender
themselves to lust and desire, as in contemporary 'civilisation'. Islam
recognises the love a man has for women, children, gold, silver, and
other possessions. But it provides a limit for the amount of this
worldly pleasure which we require, and reminds us of the life in the
"Beautified for men is the love of things
they desire: Women, Children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded
beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of
the present world's life, but Allah has the excellent return (Paradise)"
(Surah Aali-Imraan 3:141)
The inclinations and desires of the Fitrah are not to become the
objective in life. Rather they are to be taken in a stabilised manner.
The way to deal with them is real and Allah (The Most High) has given us
the detailed descriptions of a levelled approach. This levelled approach
gives mankind the perfectly balanced pleasure in this worldly life. The
method of maintaining a well-balanced life is not an endurance test to
see who lasts the longest. Allah has revealed Islam, to show us how to
attain this balance in a real manner. Life is not a torturous spiritual
test, where you are ordered to Iive in mountains and trees. Fasting all
year round is not obligatory. Marriage is permissible and you do not
have to beat yourself senseless to purify your soul! Rather as Muslims,
we must try to follow the Prophet and his balanced teachings of life and
living. As Allah says in the Qur'an:
"Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (saw),
you have a good example to follow.."(Surah Al-Ahzab 33:21)
The use of the word "restrictive" often comes from those who think they
live a "free- life". But the fact of the matter is that, wherever you go
you will find rules and regulations. For example, in the workplace, in
colleges and universities and more obviously on the roads, i.e. the
highway and green cross codes. Wherever you are, there are rules and
Islam forbids us to follow many of the rules which are held by western
culture and subcultures. Yet people in the west are more than willing to
obey them, because they believe that these rules will protect them. How
wrong they are! Rave subculture is a classical example of this. Informal
dance floor rules dictate to us ". . . . to drink lots of water, have
frequent breaks and don't take too many pills in one go!" Despite these
"recommendations", young people are still dying .
Western society is obsessed with 'safe sex', in order to 'prevent the
risk of catching AIDS'. Despite the wide availability of contraceptives,
AIDS is still on the increase, and people are dropping like flies from
this killer epidemic.
Do we think of these rules as being restrictive? If anything you would
expect them to bring about a sense of control and order, as well as
increasing the pleasure. Without realising, people are ready and willing
to accept many man-made rules. Rules that are invented by one group of
people and to be obeyed by the rest of society. These rules are not
perfect because man is imperfect, yet people accept them and hope and
believe that they will benefit from them.
A Better Offer!
So when the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth is offering a reward which is
high, and the Benefit is eternal, shouldn't we at least see what's on offer?
"You desire the good of this world, but Allah
desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is Almighty, All Wise" (Surah
". . . in a lofty Paradise. Therein will be a running spring. Therein
will be thrones raised high. And cups set at hand. And cushions set in rows. And
rich carpets (all) spread out" (Surah Al-Ghaashiyah 88:10-16)
This worldly life has many good things in it. Things that Allah has
created for us to utilise. But the reality is all of these luxuries and benefits
of the world will come to an end. For example, a person's good looks may do them
many favours during their youth, but will it hold them on good ground when they
are 60. Such is the reality of old age.
Likewise with wealth. Islam allows you to gain wealth as long as you do not
oppress other people, and transgress the limits set by Allah (The Most High). An
example of this is making people pay back more money than they actually borrow,
through usury or interest payments.
However wealth can not benefit you when you die, as it only passes on to your
family as inheritance. Such is the civility of modem society, that many people
are even killed, just so that inheritance can be gained sooner rather then
Thus, we should see ourselves as travellers on a journey. A traveller is one who
is constantly on the move. He will only take essential provisions, and not all
his life's possessions. Likewise, a person must realise that Allah did not
design the luxuries of this world to last forever. They only exist to aid our
worship of Allah, which will take us to the journey's end, the hereafter. Being
human, we must one-day die, and our worldly benefits and luxuries will also
perish. The true wealth is indeed with Allah in the next-life. As Allah says:
"Seeking the perishable goods of the worldly
life. There are much more profits and booties with Allah" (Surah An-Nisa 4:94)
Man-made restrictions exist in all aspects of western society. Industry, travel
and leisure, are just a few of the sectors which are dominated by human
restrictions. Humans automatically assume that these restrictions are there to
protect them. In part this may be true, but what about the restrictions set by
Allah which can save the whole of man-kind? Such restrictions come from the One
Who is Perfect, and not man, who is imperfect! The so-called 'freedom' of
'modern civilisation', is one which is defined for you, by another human. We are
often told what is 'politically correct' and what is not. We are told that this
is what everybody will be wearing this Summer, and that this is the film to
watch. Those are the new Hollywood stars to emerge. You shouldn't be seen 'dead'
in this dress and you should paint your finger-nails this colour. The list is
endless. All of this is then redefined to fit in with the next wave of fashion
Those who do not conform are labelled, bigamist, narrow-minded, backward,
out-dated and so on.
Modem civilisation allows you so much freedom, that you can even waiver the law
if you are 'well connected'. Laws are often defined by a small group of people,
with everyone else conforming to what they consider right and wrong. What kind
of justice is this? This would be more acceptable to those who accept the
concept of man being divine. A concept where men decide what is moral and
immoral even if it contradicts what God has already laid out for us. God has no
part to play in such a civilisation, because man has adopted the role of god for
himself. History bears witness to this as it was the way of the civilisations
before the advent of the prophet Muhammad (SAW), as Allah says:
"They (Jews & Christians) took their rabbis
and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which
they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being
ordered by Allah)" (Surah 9:31)
The true freedom of man is found in a civilisation that has a divine value
system. A civilisation in which man submits to his Creator alone. A civilisation
that reacts with the life of this world and links it to the Day of Judgement. On
that Day, everyone will be held accountable in front of ALLAH, the Creator and
The True Master of the universe.
Allah created man and man belongs to Him. Allah decreed that one
day man shall die and return to Him. The world is just a
temporary period. We are born, we live in this world and then we
So while we are on this earth Allah has given us the instruction
manual to shape our lives according to what He has decreed. This
is the meaning of worship. It requires absolute obedience,
humility and love for Allah, the way He has prescribed it.
We cannot love Allah the way we want to, especially if we do not
know what Allah loves or hates in the first place.
So through Allah's Perfect Wisdom and Infinite Knowledge, He
sent us the Qur'aan and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and told us
how this love is to be expressed:
"Say (O Muhammad (SAW) to
mankind): If you really love Allah then follow me (i.e. the
Prophet (saw), and accept that Allah is the one truly deserving
of worship, follow the Qur'an and the Sunnah). Allah will love
you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Most
Merciful" (Surah Aali-Imraan 3:31)
The Problem with Human Law
Humans by themselves cannot determine what is good and bad
for each other for all of the time.
Man-made laws are often defined by a person's personal motives,
emotions, limited intellect, beliefs and prejudices. Thus, they
are designed with these built-in flaws. This is why human law
has so many loop-holes and deficiencies. It is always requiring
change, modification and re-modification, time after time!
So when Allah (The Most High) revealed the Qur'an and the
example of the Prophet (SAW), all the details about good and
bad, or right and wrong, were not left for the limited nature of
mankind to define for themselves. Allah (The Most High) says:
"And We have sent down to you the
Book (Qur'an) as an EXPLANATION of EVERYTHING and a GUIDANCE, a
Mercy and glad tidings for those who have surrendered (to Allah
as Muslims)" (Surah An-Nahl 16:89)
So What is Islam saying?
The message of Islam fits the Fitrah of man. Allah (The Most Wise) created man
in the best form. He gave his Fitrah the ability to believe in the unseen. Thus,
man's soul and its horizons are broader and more open than that of the rest of
creation - like the animals, bird's and insects. In nature we can see the signs
"Do they not look at the camels, and how they
were created? And at the heavens, how it is raised? And at the mountains, how
they are rooted and fixed firm? And at the earth, how it is spread out?" (Surah
In ourselves we can see Allah's signs through the diversity of our languages,
colours and nationalities.
"O mankind! We have created you from a male
and female, and have made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one
another" (Surah Al-Hujuraat 49:13)
Having been told this, we must now recognise the Perfect way our Creator has
chosen for us to follow, which is:
"Indeed, in the Messenger (Muhammad [saw]),
you have a good example to follow" (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:21)
We have been commanded to worship Allah alone without partners. We must
recognise and understand that He is the Only True God who deserves to be
"So know (Muhammad [saw]), that none has the
right to be worshipped except Allah" (Surah Muhammad 47:19)
To help us do this, Allah (The Most High) sent the Prophet Muhammed (SAW), to
deliver and explain the Final Message of Islam, and to help us recognise and
worship our Lord in the best manner. We have been told to form our lives'
according to this Message, by following and imitating the Final Messenger who is
our only guide to worshipping our Lord: Allah.
This is what is meant when we say: Laa-illaa-ha il-Allah, wa Muhammadur
Rasool-Allah. "There is no true God worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad
is the Final Messenger of Allah"
1 This can be explained as, the inborn or innate nature of mankind to recognise
the Truth about the Creator [Allah]; that he is the only one who truly and
sincerely deserves to be worshipped.
2 Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam, i.e. The peace and Blessings Of Allah Be upon him
(the Prophet). We as Muslims have been commanded to say this every time the
Prophet's name is mentioned. This is done as a mark of respect and the honour
which he deserves.
3 This is not to say that prayer at night is not important, but if you don't get
enough sleep how are you going to fulfil your other obligations, e.g. going to
work in order to provide for your family. The times of praying at night have
been explained by the Prophet (SAW) as being in the last 3rd of the night before
the Fajr prayer.
4 The death of the teenager Leah Betts a few years ago [in England], has shown
how such rules work to destroy the very society which forms them.