Saturday, August 1, 2015

Islam is a restrictive religion?

They asked me about freedom.

We're meant to be free they say
but they forget the limitations
they forget that evil exists
within these temptations.

Little value do they place
upon the virtue of devotion
simply run by their own whims
and the drive of their emotions.

If freedom is what you desire
then you won't be deprived
but know the day will come
when you cease to feel alive.

If they never told you
what life was meant to be
how would we judge
who is oppressed and who is free?

If they never told you
what to wear and how to look,
wouldn't you spend more time
bettering your mind by reading books?

If they never told you
"You only live once,"
would you waste this life away
in the pursuit of having fun?

If they never told you
there’s no such thing as sin
would you take the risk
to corrupt your soul within?

And what if I told you
there is a different way to be.
Unchain yourself from your desires
And you will know what freedom means.

They asked me about freedom
within the confines of their cage.
What a skewed view of freedom
we hold in this day and age.

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّهِ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

"Have you seen someone who has taken his passion as his god? God knowingly lets him go astray and seals off his hearing and his heart, and places a covering over his eyesight. Who will guide him instead of God? Will you not reflect [on this]? "(45:23)

If you claim that Islam is a restrictive religion then I would have to say: you're right! But let's ask this question: is restriction always a bad thing? Modern thinkers tend to insinuate that it is, but I would claim differently. When health, happiness, peace, and contentment (and most importantly-the love of Allah سبحانه وتعالى ) are the results from such restrictions, then they can bring us nothing but good.
Nuns and monks restrict themselves from marriage, certain types of fresh fruit, and various other worldly luxuries, in order to devote themselves to the worship of God. On the contrary, in Islam, we know that Allah doesn't ask us to restrict ourselves from such things, it is possible to live a balanced and enjoyable life, while still devoting yourself to Allah. We only restrict ourselves from that which will corrupt our heart. In doing so, we raise ourselves to fulfilling our purpose, to returning ourselves to the fitra (nature) intended by Allah, and fighting the outside sources which may harm this fitra.
When you ignore the warning signs, you only
end up hurting yourself

What you need to understand is that the rules and regulations set forth in Islam are not for Allah's benefit:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
"O men! It is you, who stand in need of God, whereas He alone is self-sufficient, the One to whom all praise is due." (Quran 35:15)
These "restrictions" are for our own benefit, and whether or not we follow them, it doesn't affect Allah سبحانه وتعالى in any way. 
"O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything. " (Hadith Muslim) Read full hadith here

Why is it that many of us are willing to follow the rules and restrictions society puts on us? As is the case in any civilized society, there are certain norms we all unquestioningly conform to. Yet we question and refute the restrictions religion places on us in order to claim ourselves as intellectuals.
Someone who does not have control of his physical actions, does not restrict himself from anything, how can that person attain control over his spiritual soul?
These rules are rather given to us in order to raise us to a higher level of being, a higher state of consciousness. In order to become the master of our own nafs, and not let our nafs become our master.
"When a person can't find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure." -Viktor Frankl
Doesn't anyone preparing for an intense exam need to restrict his leisure time and relaxation time?
Doesn't a training athlete need to restrict certain foods and certain activities, sticking to a strict regimen?
Don't we every day, put on sunscreen when we go outside, to restrict our exposure to harmful UV rays on our skin? Aren't we always warned 'Don't stand next to the microwave' in order to minimize our exposure to radiation?
Similarly, if we seek to attain spiritual growth and closeness to Allah, isn't it logical to assume, certain restrictions must be observed?
Anyone who has a goal, aim or purpose in life must inevitable restrict themselves in some things. And the one who has no purpose, will see no value in restricting anything.
Restriction: if done for the purpose of preventing harmful things from assaulting your soul is always a good thing. Would anyone argue that preventing someone from ingesting poison is a bad thing? This is another problem of our over emphasis on the physical world. Of course we agree with restricting physical poison because we can see the results in front of us.. But just because we can't see the corruption, disintegration, and the rotting heart as we would see a human carcass, just because we can't see the effects of spiritual poison doesn't make it any less real. it manifests its effects in other ways. Through our emotions, feelings, and actions, and they will manifest themselves on the Day of Judgement.
"Blessed are those who believe in their Lord, although they cannot see him."
Allah سبحانه وتعالى even mentions it: we cannot see Him. And we also can't see the effects of the many spiritual poisons which exist. Yet we know they exist because Allah has warned us about them, and through our own spiritual growth and reflection, we become internally aware of their effects as well.
Non-believers claim that these religious people who "restrict everything" are closed minded. Let me ask you something: What is more closed minded, to believe in the unseen, or to have a rigid narrow view of what is real and true? It seems to me that the one who believes in what he cannot see is more open-minded than the one who needs rigid data and evidence for everything he believes. And for those to whom evidence convinces him, Islam is not devoid of that. How else can you explain the many scientists and researchers who have converted to Islam?
If someone came up to us, and told us the building was on fire, we would all most likely rush out without any question, we don't need to wait to see the evidence for ourselves, because the threat of physical danger is at stake. We unquestioningly have faith in the word of a person, yet when our Creator has told us something is harmful for us, be it alcohol, intermixing, being shameless or listening to music, we never cease our questioning. We take the risk of spiritual (and eternal) danger because for some reason, our human minds don't agree with our Lord's decision to prohibit something. Do I have any right to question the commandment of Allah? And, even when we approach these restrictions, not from the direction of blind faith, but from practical and logical views, we will almost always see their truth and see that such things are for our benefit.  But in order see such things, one must approach the subject with an open mind, and a heart ready to accept Allah's decree. There is a big difference between questioning something in order to understand Allah's decree (this makes us better believers) and questioning whether or not something is right or wrong.
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ وَنَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِ نَفْسُهُ ۖ وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ
"Now verily, it is We who have created man, and We know what his innermost self whispers within him: for We are closer to him than his jugular vein." (50:16)
Allah knows what temptations will trigger evil within us, and what restrictions will aid us in achieving good. ANd it is for this reason such restrictions were put in place.
God created us, and He created us with the potential for great good or great evil.
وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَنْ يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
And when thy Lord said unto the angels:"Behold, I am about to establish upon earth one who shall inherit it." They said: "Wilt Thou place on it such as will spread corruption thereon and shed blood - whereas it is we who extol Thy limitless glory, and praise Thee, and hallow Thy name?" [God] answered: "Verily, I know that which you do not know." (2:30)

We are different from the angels in that we have intellect, we have understanding and we have our own free will. But unlike the angels, we are also created with distinct weaknesses, If we are to fulfill our purpose, if we are to return to the fitra created by Allah, then we need to view restrictions, not in a negative connotation, but view them for what they are: tools given to us by Allah in order to help us on our journey. One enters upon an examination, not knowing what exactly he will be tested on or what techniques the teacher wants him to use exactly. Yet in the Dunya, the test is really simple- Allah provides us with an "open-book" test in which we have all the resources, aid, and help available to us at all times! We know what we will be tested on and we know exactly how to succeed, the only difficulty lies in putting what we know into action. We can even ask the "teacher" (Allah سبحانه وتعالى) to help us to find the answers. Allahu Akbar.

When discussing some Islamic matters, a person brought up this point: "Why does Allah need us to sacrifice things which are so petty and insignificant? Why do I have to do something as petty as cover my hair? Why can't I be friends with those of the opposite gender or drink alcohol? As long as I believe in Islam and Allah, why does it matter?"
My response to this is: If you deem things such as this to be petty (I don't think they are), then why can you not sacrifice something so small and insignificant? If the result is gaining reward from Allah and being granted Jannah, shouldn't you be able to sacrifice something so small for a reward which is so great? Prophet Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son. Shouldn't we be thankful that Allah tests us in ways which are really so small? And someone who takes the care and control to stay away from haram things will see that as time goes on, Allah will make it easier for him and he will eventually have no desire to partake in haram. It will become ugly in his eyes. So instead of questioning what Allah has ordered from us, shouldn't we question our own selves and why we are not willing to sacrifice such things?

As we know from the ayah mentioned above, even the angels asked: "Will you create something which will spread corruption and bloodshed in the land?" And we can see that this is the state of mankind currently, spreading corruption. Because we have not upheld the restrictions that are intended for us.
Atheists claim that morality is something which has evolved in human nature: that we don't need religious instruction and restrictions in order to be moral and altruistic. The problem with claiming humans don't need religion to be moral is that each human may define morality by their own skewed standard-or loosen the boundaries as fits their personal vendetta. If everyone were left to define morality for themselves, we would be left with many conflicting ideas, and some would only define it in a way that suits themselves.
Even with the presence of religion, some people view morality in a skewed way. Is it "moral" to say that no one is without sin because we carry the sins of our parents Adam and Hawa (Adam and "Eve")? Is it moral that Hindu women according to their religion are not allowed to eat dinner until after their husband has finished and decides to give her some scraps from his plate? Or that in the case of her husband's death, many widows are forced by her in-laws to burn herself on her husband's funeral pyre?
Even in Islam, we see many of the corrupt people blurring lines and misinterpreting parts of our religion to meet their own means. (Examples such as these are the reasons they give for the argument that we don't need religion, that it isn't successful in bringing about a moral society; but what they fail to realize, that this is NOT an example of religion failing to bring about a moral society, this is an example of religion not being followed in the correct way. Evil exists despite the presence of religion, not because religion is not perfect but because we as humans are imperfect and flawed.) Humans are not inherently moral and we need adherence to religion in order to bring this about. Without true adherence to religion, corruption and injustice will continue to live on.

People claim human morality is enough, well it's not. We need certain guidelines and restrictions. Islam was not brought under the guise of Utopia, it deals with real issues which we see people facing all around us, issues which, since many have relinquished religions guidance, we are struggling to deal with. Such as, the growing rate of poverty, homelessness, teenage pregnancies, children being abandoned, the growing divorce rate, the growing harm done by drunk driving and the emotional and physical abuse alcoholics commit against their families, the crisis of psychological disorders becoming more and more common, and many more issues that are not being addressed correctly.
Morality does not develop independently, devoid of any other factors. A person is only as moral as the environment he develops in.
Anyone who understands the psychology behind either Freud's theory of Id, Ego, and SuperEgo, or the Islamic psychology of the Fitra, Rooh, and the Nafs will know that humans with no control, no regulations, will follow only primitive and instinctive desires. Though the two theories differ (the Islamic theory being the correct one) they both have the same ultimate conclusion.

When we put our own whims and desires, convenience and comfort above the rules of Allah, we become akin to animals, who know of nothing else but their desires. Allah describes the people who follow their desires to be worse than cattle. Why even worse than cattle? Because cattle will sense and flee when they sense approaching danger, yet as humans, we indulge in the very things we know may be dangerous to our souls! And cattle, have no choice but to live their life as they were created, grazing, etc. Yet humans often will deny their purpose and live their lives in ways Allah has not intended.

So, back to our original question: Is restriction a bad thing? Just as we would restrict things which are poison and harmful to our physical bodies, just as a person with allergies must restrict those ingredients from his diet, we must also restrict that which is poisonous to our spiritual self.
Islam restricts certain things and demands morality not because it's a religion full of rules, but because these rules will help return us to our natural fitra, which is inclined to good. And we restrict ourselves from all that will contaminate and harm it.
It is our own self-destructive actions, and not the guidance
of Allah, which chains and cages us.
Drawing by Ashish Kumar Rudra

If you think that following these restrictions will hold you back from fulfilling and enjoying your life to its full potential then know that the opposite is true, if we were to abide by Allah's laws, we would be able to enjoy all that is good and halal, without carrying the guilt, unhappiness, and doubt that comes along with following the haram, we would achieve a greater harmony in our lives because our actions would be in accordance to the pure fitra that Allah has intended. 
You'll feel more freedom serving Allah than you will ever feel from simply obeying yourself. Don't confine yourself to the cage of your desires, realize where the source of true freedom lies.
The mistake they make when defining freedom, they define it simply as being free from religious rules. But they are still oppressed by following society, the pain and turmoil that comes from involving yourself in sin. When I free myself from these things, when I free myself from anything that harms my soul, this is when I feel true freedom.

مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا نُوَفِّ إِلَيْهِمْ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فِيهَا وَهُمْ فِيهَا لَا يُبْخَسُونَ
أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا النَّارُ ۖ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُوا فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

"Those that desire this life...nothing shall be denied them, but in the life to come they shall have nothing but hellfire. There they shall come to know that their deeds were fruitless and their actions were worthless. " (11:15)

All correct and beneficial knowledge is from the mercy and guidance of Allah, and I apologize for all incorrect information which is an unintentional error only from myself. And Allah knows best. والله أعلمُ بالـصـواب


  1. Wow sister , this needs a sahra too long for me wallah , hahha

    1. Hahaha, go ahead and grab that cup of coffee sis, it's going to be a long night :P