Islam Is Easy, We Made It Hard
Invite to the Way of thy Lord
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.
This verse is the concluding verse of Sura Nahl, chapter 16 of the Quran. This verse shows the way of inviting people towards the message of Islam. The act of inviting itself is an act of warmth, an act which stems from the feeling of friendship and connection with the person who is being invited. We don't invite anyone without the feeling of warmth and affection.
Allah has given us a profound gift in the form of Dawah. The idea of spreading the message of Islam is itself an act of respect, courtesy and genuine interest in the welfare of the person being invited. When we invite someone, whether at home, in a conference, restaurant, etc. it's a particular destination where we are inviting. But the invitation to Islam is not for the destination; it is not in the hands of human beings; rather this invitation is to the way or the road to Islam. Reaching the ultimate destination is in the hands of Allah.
The Road is the Destination
The entire life we spend is the road we are traveling on. In the verse above also states that "call unto mankind to the WAY of thy Lord...." You are not asking people to expect people to reach the level of perfection. The duty as us Muslims is to invite people to the WAY of the teachings and principles of Islam; because let's face it - we as Muslims too fail to live up to to the teachings of Islam. No Muslim can ever claim to follow Islam to the T; none of the prophets and messengers also claim that.
It is fallacy on our part to expect people to change as soon as we start to give Dawah or convey the message of faith. Indeed we need to keep on giving message of Islam, through words and deeds, but doing so by keeping in mind that the 'yet-to-be-Muslims' and you are both on the path to the destination - Paradise in afterlife. We should never be disheartened if our words fall on deaf ears; guidance is always, always in the hands of Allah.
A beautiful example with which I can explain this point further is the revelation of the verse where alcohol became prohibited in Islam. Before the Quran was revealed in its entirety, alcohol was permitted; or rather you can say there was no ban on alcoholism. Allah, in His infinite wisdom, revealed the prohibition in stages. In chapter 2 verse 219 Allah says that intoxicants have less benefit and greater harm. In chapter 4 verse 43 Allah reveled that do not pray when you are in the state of intoxicants. Since a Muslim is obliged to pray 5 times a day, intoxicants were indirectly prohibited. Then came the verse of Sura Maida verse 90 which clearly shunned all forms of intoxicants as Haraam. Allah states: "O ye who believe! Intoxicants and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed."
The road to Allah itself is the destination - whether you travel 10 feet or 10,000 miles does not matter. This is because the road to seek enlightenment is in itself the destination.
Good words are seeds that grows into a beautiful tree
By taking such various examples in the Quran, we should remember that our actions and our words are like a seed sown in the ground. You may never know when and what kind of word or deed might inspire any person to follow your path of life. Any word, any kind deed might click to them anytime.
If you try to show that hell is easy and heaven is difficult, people will not be able to maintain balance in their deeds. They might even stop trying for heaven altogether and lose all hope. All we need to make them understand is that Allah loves a sincere heart. There is this famous hadith which proves this point. A traveler on his way became thirsty and found a well. Just as he was about to drink water, a thirsty dog came in front of him. Pitying the dog , he chose to make the dog drink before he could quench his thirst. This act of mercy was liked by Allah so much that he was granted heaven, as quoted by the Prophet (saws). Did that person had the intention to please Allah before showing mercy to the dog? Probably not! But that same act granted him eternal paradise. What matters here is the sincerity in your heart; the emotions in his heart was pure at that moment. He did not do it to show off his generosity.
Always be sincere. In Islam, even a genuine smile given to the other person is an act of charity. These kinds of small but sincere acts gives us the hope that our simple acts can earn paradise. You don't need to be a scholar of Islam, or have the best pronunciation of the Quran, or the most famous Da'ee to earn paradise. It's the sincere heart with pure emotions to feel good for other living beings that can earn the ticket to paradise. In this way, even earning money for your family by doing a job will earn you rewards.
Even the smallest of acts can have multitude of rewards.
There is no compulsion in Religion
Restore the beauty of Islam and stop making it into something that is difficult to follow; something that people tend to run away from. We as Muslims don't have any right to take Allah's anger and convert it into our annger and turn it towards people. Avoid judging people and reprimanding them, even in your heart. Convey the message of Islam with the sincerity of conveying the message. Grudging people if they don't follow your opinion cannot be a part of the personality of the person with a sincere heart.
The sincere heart cannot be shallow in terms of Quranic verses.
We have to restore sincerity in
- the way we think about Allah
- teachings of the Prophet (saws)
- In conveying the message of Islam both in word and deed and
- how other people think of Allah.
Let me end my article by quoting few of the many verses of the Quran that emphasize complete freedom of religion and/or way of life.
“If they accept Islam, then indeed they follow the right way; and if they turn back, your duty (O Prophet) is only to deliver the message.” — (3:20)
“And if your Lord had pleased, all those who are in the earth would have believed, all of them. Will you then force people till they are believers?” — (10:99)
Assalamoalaikum - Peace!