Understanding The Prophet's Life
From Issue: 509 [Read full issue]
There is an ethical basis which all human beings share, and which Islam came to perfect. Islam did not come to strip people of their innate ethical awareness or overturn it. Rather, it came to confirm and strengthen it.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) once mentioned to his followers a covenant that the Arabs had concluded which had brought peace to their clans. He said that if he were ever invited to enter into such a treaty, he would do so. The treaty he spoke about had taken place before the advent of Islam. It was a treaty which brought the people together at the same table to affirm their rights and their human dignity, and which put an end to the endemic warfare that they had been suffering from and that was consuming their lives and wealth. Though the treaty took place before Islam, it was nevertheless in accordance with the innate moral sentiments that all human beings acknowledge. We all know that it is better to learn from one another and prosper. We all agree that hatred, conflict, and rancour are hated by God and condemned by mankind.
Clemency and flexibility in religious matters restore to people a healthy outlook, allowing them to live their faith in a way that is genuine and that accords with the nature that God has placed within them. It makes religion easy on the people, the way God intended it to be.
Once, a desert-dweller came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) complaining that Muadh prolonged the prayer too much. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked the desert-dweller: "What do you say in prayer?"
He answered: "When I offer my tashahhud, I say: 'O Allah! I ask You for Paradise and seek refuge with You from the Fire.' As for me, I am not good at droning on the way you and Muadh do."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him: "It is basically these things that we drone on about." [Sunan Abu Dawud (22), and Musnad Ahmad (15333)]
We can see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not impose upon the man to memorize what was too difficult for him. He took into account the man's abilities. Maybe he was an old man, or had a weak memory, or was poorly brought up.
It is significant that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not interrogate the desert-dweller about his intentions. No doubt, the word the desert-dweller used to describe the prayer of Muadh – and of the Prophet himself – was quite unflattering and could easily have been construed as an insult. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not take offence. Instead, with his answer, he comforted the desert-dweller and reassured him that the simple words he was using in his prayers were essentially what Muadh was saying.
Clemency and an easygoing nature should be the spirit of our personal conduct and our social interactions. This attests to the truth that our innate, easygoing religious awareness is better than imposing difficulties in religion. It is also farther away from the dangers of pretentiousness, conceitedness, and showing-off.
"An Easygoing Approach to Faith" - Salman al-Oadah