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Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)




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Copyright © 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 21st April 2012


The Muslim clergy often paint a very gloomy, rigid, ritualistic and unduly dogmatic picture of religion curtailing any flexibility or balance that the Quran provides.


The purpose of the Quran and its guidance is not to burden believers or to make their daily obligations cumbersome to a point that leads one to apathy. Rather, the purpose is to appreciate the guidance, acknowledge it as truth and practice it as best as one is able.


“So keep your duty to God as best you can / what you are able (Arabic: ma is’tata’tum), and listen, and obey, and spend; that is better for your souls. And whoso is saved from his own greed, such are the successful” 


The Arabic word 'istata'a' means to be able, can or to be capable of. Therefore, given the above verse, one is only expected to do the best they can whilst striving in the way of God.


Unwarranted expectations, pedantic ritual focus on ever complex rules and rituals which find no warrant from the Quran only serve to strangulate the spiritual and practical balance the Quran intends to provide. It serves little purpose but to impose difficulties in a religion when this was never intended.



"And strive for God with the endeavour which is His right (Arabic: haqq). He has chosen you and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship / difficulty / impediment (Arabic: Haraj)..."


The purpose of religion is not to provide alien concepts or over complicated practices which are not innate to the human soul. Rather the Quran's guidance checks one from moving away from the balance which has already been instilled into the proper creation of one's soul.


"And the Soul, and (He) who proportioned it (gave it proportion, balance and order - Arabic: sawwaha)" 

And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it. 

Human souls are inherently cognizant of right and wrong, an internal barometer which understands balance. Yet by volition it can be corrupted and often to an extent where the ability to distinguish between the two becomes severely compromised.



"Indeed, he succeeds who purifies it and indeed, he fails who buries / corrupts it"


However, every human given their faculties, experiences, age, wisdom, and understanding is at a different stage of their life. This is as true of an individual's temporal existence as it is of one's spiritual journey. Some have accepted their spiritual existence and ardently endeavour to make it flourish, others are nonchalant whilst there are those that deny the existence of such a spiritual capacity.


Ultimately, God remains the final judge of one's soul as He knows best the remit of its faculties and the wider scope under which He has tested it. True believers listen to the word the best they can and extract the best meaning from it.



"Those who listen to the Word (the Quran) and follow the best meaning in it / best of it (Arabic: fayattabi'una ahsanahu) those are the ones whom God has guided and those are the one's endowed with understanding (Arabic: Albabi)


"And follow the best of what is revealed to you from your Lord, before the penalty comes to you suddenly while you do not perceive!”


In the end, there is no compulsion in religion, but there will always remain answerability for one's choices.



"Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects false deities and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things"






There is no expectation by the Quran beyond what one is able to achieve with sincere endeavour. One must always remain vigilant of those beliefs and practices which have crept into Muslim thought in the name of religion and challenge them.


However, one must also not take the approach to challenge obligations decreed by scripture which one does not desire to fulfil when there is no scriptural support for maintaining such a desire. Such an approach is arguably no less a transgression against one's soul as one which introduces alien concepts.


Both are equally challenged by the balance set by the Quran which remains the 'furqan', the criterion between right and wrong.




(1)    Forced Faith is No Faith




Joseph Islam

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