Monday, March 30, 2009

Why Is Islam seen as Difficult?

Islam is a beautiful, simple religion. But unfortunately many muslims do not practice true Islam. This creates a negative image about Islam until Islam is seen as a religion that is difficult, illogical, barbaric, oppressive of women, unjust and so on.

That is why we cannot learn about and judge Islam based on the doings of an individual Muslim. This is because not everything that Muslims do reflects what is contained in the teachings of Islam. To know the true teachings of Islam, we have to learn it from the original source, namely the Qur’an and as-Sunnah. We can accept or reject the words and deeds of any person, except for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who is protected by God from any wrongdoing.

Why is Islam seen as difficult? The following are some of the reasons why Islam is perceived as difficult.

Islam that has become impure

Islam is naturally simple. But when the teachings or practices of Islam are polluted by things that do not come from Islam, the simplicity of Islam is lost, and the religion is seen as difficult.

When a person embraces Islam, he only needs to change his beliefs (akidah) and only has to perform a few particular practices. He can still practice his culture, as long as it does not conflict with the Qur’an and As-Sunnah. He does not need to become an Arab or a Malay, or change his racial identity in any way. But when Islam becomes mixed up with the traditions of a culture, or any made-up practices, it becomes difficult, especially for those who have recently embraced Islam. They are not only told to change their beliefs, but also to change their culture and the habits that they have followed for years.

Hai manusia, sesungguhnya Kami menciptakan kamu dari seorang laki-laki dan seorang perempuan dan menjadikan kamu berbangsa-bangsa dan bersuku-suku supaya kamu saling kenal mengenal. Sesungguhnya orang yang paling mulia di antara kamu di sisi Allah ialah orang yang paling bertakwa di antara kamu. Sesungguhnya Allah Maha Mengetahui lagi Maha Mengenal. (49:13)

Islam that is practiced without knowledge

Many Muslims do not practice Islam with knowledge based on Qur’an and as-Sunnah. As a result, they do not understand the rukhsah (conveniences) that are in Islam.

In addition, they cannot differentiate between cultural traditions and the teachings of Islam.

There are also those who instruct muallaf to do things that do not actually come from the teachings of Islam, such as forbidding them from going back to their families, telling them to break off their relationships with their non-Muslim friends, and so on. In truth, when embracing Islam, a person should become a better son or daughter, a better family member and a better friend.

“Dan Kami perintahkan kepada manusia (berbuat baik) kepada dua orang ibu-bapaknya; ibunya telah mengandungnya dalam keadaan lemah yang bertambah-tambah, dan menyapihnya dalam dua tahun. Bersyukurlah kepada-Ku dan kepada dua orang ibu bapakmu, hanya kepada-Kulah kembalimu. Dan jika keduanya memaksamu untuk mempersekutukan dengan Aku sesuatu yang tidak ada pengetahuanmu tentang itu, maka janganlah kamu mengikuti keduanya, dan pergaulilah keduanya di dunia dengan baik, dan ikutilah jalan orang yang kembali kepada-Ku, kemudian hanya kepada-Kulah kembalimu, maka Ku-beritakan kepadamu apa yang telah kamu kerjakan.” (31:14-15)

Other than that, in many places, people who embrace Islam are told to change their names. This is a very sensitive issue in many cultures. A lot of non-Muslims delay embracing Islam because they are reluctant to change their names. While in truth, Islam does not force a person who has embraced Islam to change their name, as long their name does not have a bad meaning. Good names are Islamic names, regardless of what language they are in. In fact, many of the companions had non-Arabic names such as Salman and Bilal. They were never instructed by the Prophet (PBUH) to change their names to Arabic.

Islam that does not follow priority

Islam is a religion that emphasizes priority. The companions often asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), “What (deed) comes first?” or “What (deed in) Islam comes first?” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave different answers to different people based on their different levels and situations.

A person must practice Islam based on priority. That person must not be burdened with drastically practicing all the teachings of Islam. But he or she must first learn the basic knowledge of Islam, including recognizing God and the core issues of Islam, before other matters. If this is not followed, Islam becomes difficult to practice because the foundation for building one’s faith is too weak.

This happens in society when they emphasize matters of fiqh (aspects of law) compared to akidah (belief), emphasize matters of furu’ (branches, i.e. finer points) compared to core issues, emphasize tilawah (recitation of) al-Quran compared to understanding the tafsir (interpretation) or contents of the Qur’an and so on.

Article by zahir & firdaus