collections khutbah The Characteristic of Ease: The Central Feature of the Shari'ah
The Characteristic of Ease: The Central Feature of the Shari'ah

Islamic Religious Council of Singapore

Friday Sermon

24 February 2023 / 3 Syaaban 1444H

The Characteristic of Ease: The Central Feature of the Shari'ah

My beloved fellow Muslims,

Let us continue in our efforts to elevate our taqwa towards Allah (s.w.t) by obeying all of His orders, and by abstaining from all of His prohibitions.

Brothers and sisters,

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was sent as a Messenger to his people as uswah, which means as an example for the world to follow. The message of our Prophet (s.a.w) is a manual for living for us all, and is an immense blessing and mercy for humankind. The message of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) comprises a guide to all the practices of worship, and the laws prescribed in Islam. Allah (s.w.t) says in Surah Al-Anbiya' verse 107:

Which means: “And We have not sent you, (O Muhammad), except as a mercy to all the world.”

At this point of the sermon, I would like to invite all of us gathered here today to take note of the word "alamin", as mentioned in the verse that was recited just now. The word "alamin" carries with it the meaning, “all of nature”. This verse shows that the message of our Prophet (s.a.w) is for all humankind. It takes into account the various backgrounds and the different aspects of individuals from every level of society, including those who are less able, those who are weak, and those who are in need.

This means our Prophet’s (s.a.w) Shari’ah  and risalah are easy for every individual in any situation to practice. On that basis, the message brought by the Prophet (s.a.w) teaches us to make things easy for the people, as mentioned in a hadith when the Prophet (s.a.w) said, "Make it easy, do not make it difficult, spread happiness and not fear."

Brothers and sisters,

Extremism and rigidity in the practice of religion is not from the religion of Islam. The way to achieve Allah's (s.w.t) pleasure is not through being rigid in our religious practices. Unfortunately, there are some who still think so. On the contrary, the Prophet (s.a.w) actually emphasised that the practice of worship should be made easy so that each individual can also practise the teachings of Islam.

As narrated in a hadith, a Companion named Mu'az bin Jabal (r.a) led his people in prayer, and during that prayer, he recited Surah al-Baqarah. The reading of Surah al-Baqarah, which is almost 300 verses long, made some companions complain to the Prophet (s.a.w).

After listening to the complaints, what was our Prophet’s (s.a.w) advice to Sayyiduna Mu'az (r.a)? Did the Prophet (s.a.w) support his actions?

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said:

يَا مُعَاذُ أَفَتَّانٌ أَنْتَ فَلَوْلاَ صَلَّيْتَ بِسَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ، وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا، وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَى، فَإِنَّهُ يُصَلِّي وَرَاءَكَ الْكَبِيرُ وَالضَّعِيفُ وَذُو الْحَاجَةِ

Which means: "Do you wish to be the cause of slander, O Mu'az? Why did you not just read (surah) al-A'la, and surah al-Shams or surah (al-Lail)? Indeed, those who follow you in prayer may be old people, weak people, or people who have needs."

Brothers and sisters,

Now let us pay attention to the hadith that was read just now. Even when it comes to the practice of prayer, the Prophet (s.a.w) taught us to make it as easy as possible. This principle can also be applied in the implementation of Friday prayers, such as by shortening the Friday sermon.

This is because the Shari’ah takes into account the condition of all individuals, including the weak and the elderly, as well as those who are in need.

Therefore, we find that the Shari’ah provides flexibility for those who are in need of that flexibility. This flexibility is not something peculiar, nor something that lies outside of the Shari’ah. In fact, it is part of the Shari’ah, as taught by Rasulullah (s.a.w) to Mu'az ibn Jabal (r.a).

Brothers and sisters,

The purpose of the laws in the Shari’ah is none other than to preserve human welfare in this world and the Hereafter. Every religious practice that runs contrary to this, and which does not achieve human benefit, know that it is not from the Shari’ah of Islam.

For example, in the context of the Hajj, the Fatwa Committee of Singapore made the decision not to send any Singaporean pilgrims to perform the Hajj in 2020.

This is because a large number of Singaporean pilgrims who had registered to perform the Hajj that year consisted of those aged 50 and above. They were thus the elderly who were at higher risk of contracting Covid-19, and also would likely experience more critical levels of illness if infected with the Covid-19 virus. This decision was taken in order to safeguard their welfare and to prevent any harm to them, and also to enable the facilitation of the implementation of the Hajj. It is a manifestation of the aspect of compassion in the practise of religion.

Another example that I can highlight is the importance of compassion in religion. This is because right now, there are some individuals who are affected and taken in by extremists' call to violence in the name of religion. Be aware that this is not from our Islamic teachings, even though these extremists make their case by cherry-picking and misinterpreting verses from religious texts. To add insult to injury, some of these individuals use religious texts as a reason to permit violence. This deviation stems from ignorance in understanding religious texts.

May Allah (s.w.t) grant us the true understanding of the Islamic religion, and make easy for us all our religious matters. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.