So, yesterday we reflected on what is known in Arabic as “Tashadud” (strict/hard-handed/harsh/and uptight Muslim) and today I thought we would continue the conversation. . .
I want to reflect on some of the signs and symptoms for us to look out for so we are able to nip them in the bud instead of allowing them to escalate. Again these are just my contemplations, so feel free to add to them or even disagree with me. So, here goes:
If we have a strong aversion to those who differ in opinions with us in religious matters, not because they are wrong but because we can’t deal with the fact that others know more than us. This results in us being sarcastic of them and their worship. Let’s look at example:
Al-Azraq ibn Qais relates: “Abu Barzah Al-Aslami was at al-Ahwas, at the bank of a river, and he prayed while holding the reins of his horse. The horse started going back, and he (i.e.Abu Barzah) followed the horse. A man from the Khawarij said: ‘O Allah, be rough on this man, see how he is doing his prayer.’ When Abu Barzah finished his prayer, he said: ‘I heard your statement.Certainly, I participated in six or seven or eight battles with the Prophet,and I am certainly aware of his leniency. Certainly, I would rather restrain my animal than let him run off loose as that would have caused me a great deal of trouble.’ It was ‘Asr prayer that Abu Barzah offered, and he prayed two rak’at.” This is related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, and Al-Baihaqi.
As you can see from this incident, the onlooker was angry because Abu Barzah contradicted what he knew, and so he was quick to conclude that he wasn’t taking his Salaah seriously. He went as far as to make dua against him. So, pay attention to this. Does it bother us to see others follow another opinions or another Madhhab? If so, we’ve got a lot of reckoning to do with ourselves.
2. If we assume that taking the concessions offered by Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), those “rukhas” and “tayseer” in our deen (such as combining/shortening Salaah during travel, or breaking fast while traveling), means we are not serious about our religion. That we are misguided. There is no problem with this if we want to be hard on ourselves, or reject this gift from Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’la). But when this goes beyond ourselves, and we expect every Muslim to take on the same feat or else they are considered “less Muslim” that is where the problem lies. Consider this instance from the Sunnah:
Once the Prophet was giving a sermon, he saw a person standing out in the sun. He asked who the person was; he was told it was Abu Israel. He asked why he was standing in the sun. They said, “He made a promise to himself that he would stand and not sit, abstain from speaking, not sit in the shade, fast and not eat.” The Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) said, “Tell him to seek shade, sit and speak, and to continue his fast.” Sunan Ahmad
He, Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam, chose for the man the best of all his practices, such as fasting, and disallowed those that are harmful and torturous to the body such as lengthy standing under the sun. Some might say, what’s wrong with him making things hard on himself. Fasting is meant to be hard. To those I say, Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) likes for there to be sense of tranquility and comfort in connecting with Him (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). This person is taking the medicine for the soul and body, fasting, but he is not following the correct dosage or instructions and so it will affect his health and spirit negatively and make him sick instead of heal and give him comfort. This person is overthinking, looking for misery with a magnifying glass, in hope that it will bring him closer to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’la). Listen to what the Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) says:
Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) said “This religion is easy. No one becomes harsh and strict in the religion without it overwhelming him. So fulfill your duties as best you can and rejoice. Rely upon the efforts of the morning and the evening and a little at night and you will reach your goal.” [Sahîh al-Bukharî]
And the Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) points out that overburdening one’s self is counter-productive, more often than not: “Those who go to extremes are ruined.” Muslim (By Ibn Masu’d)
Another poignant and related hadith:
Some men asked about the acts of worship of the Prophet, and it was as if they thought them little. They said: “And which of us is like the Prophet of Allah?” Then one of them said: “As for me, I fast every day, and never break it.”And another one said: “As for me, I stand in prayer in the night, and do not sleep. “Then a third one said: “As for me, I do not eat meat.” And a fourth one said: “As for me, I do not marry women.” The Prophet said: “What is with people who say such things? As for me, I fast and I break fast, I stand in prayer and I sleep, I eat meat, and I marry women. Whoever turns away from my way (sunnah) is not of me.”
Those who overburden themselves lose steam. Their gas tanks are empty mid-journey:
“This religion is very profound so approach it in a gentle manner and do not make yourself hate the worship of Allaah because the traveller who does not let his mount rest will not reach his destination and his mount will not be able to keep going.” (Al Bayhaqi)
This in no way means that we should not seek to perfect our worship. That is praiseworthy. Rather what is forbidden is the kind of extremism that can lead us to get tired and bored with practicing Islam. Furthermore, going to such extremes in doing voluntary acts could cause us to forsake that which is better such as delaying obligatory acts of worship. For instance, he who stays up and prays all night until sleep overcomes may misses Fajr prayer that is obligatory.
Tomorrow, In Sha’ Allah, we will contemplate on some solutions to consider…