Sheikh Sa`ûd al-Funaysân, former professor at al-Imâm University
Islam is the religion of ease, leniency, permission, and of making allowances for difficulties. Allah says: “Allah wants ease for you and He does not want hardship for you.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185]
Allah also says: “He has not laid upon you any hardship in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78]
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Truly, this religion is strong, so traverse it with moderation.” [Musnad Ahmad (27318)]
He also said: “By Allah! Whoever is placed in charge of anything of my nation’s affairs and shows gentleness to them, then show gentleness to him. And whoever imposes difficulties upon them them, make it difficult for him.” [Sahîh Muslim (1828)]
He also said: “Allah loves it when His concessions are taken just much as He hates disobedience.” [Musnad Ahmad (5832)]
The juristic principle of preventing the means to what is unlawful is not a principle that should be resorted to all of the time. This has been clearly stated by many scholars.
Ibn al-Qayyim writes: “With respect to the means to unlawful things, as much as it is obligatory to prevent them on certain occasions, it is necessary to leave them open on other occasions. [I`lâm al-Muwaqqi`în]
The application of this principle changes with changing times and circumstances. Indeed some scholars have limited its application to matters of creed to the exclusion of secondary matters of law.
It is absolutely correct for a scholar to present to the people rulings that are easy and that make allowances. To do the opposite would be severity and the imposition of hardship on the faith.
We have in the hadîth where some people went to the home of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and inquired about his manner of worship. When he informed them of his worship, it seems that they regarded it as a small thing.
One of them said: “I will fast and not break my fast.”
Another said: “I will pray throughout the night and not lay down.”
A third said: “I will abstain from eating meat and from marriage.”
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard this, he assembled the public together and addressed them, saying: “What is the problem with some people who are saying this and that? As for myself, I am the most God-fearing among you and the most knowledgeable, yet I pray as well as sleep, I fast as well as break my fast, I eat meat, and I marry women. Whoever disdains my Sunnah is not from me.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5063) and Sahîh Muslim (1401)]
We must also consider that people are at different levels of faith and religious commitment. Some have much stronger and greater faith than others. The scholar who issues Islamic legal rulings must consider what is appropriate for each person. This is how the Prophet (peace be upon him) conducted himself with his Companions when he burdened some of them with positions of responsibility and leadership but prevented others from the same. We see this in the case of Abû Dharr al-Ghifârî.
Issuing Islamic rulings that take into account concessions and the facilitation of matters – this is the understanding of Islamic Law that Allah has enjoined upon us. The great jurist Sufyân al-Thawrî said: “Knowledge is when you hear a concession being made by a person of trustworthy character. As for severity, anyone is capable of that.”
The call to employ Islamic legal rulings that are easy and lenient and to consider what is appropriate for our day and age while at the same time adhering firmly to those teachings of our religion that are unchanging and unquestionable, this is precisely what is needed. This is the Islamic Law that is practical and that is accepted by the heart without any reservations. As Ibn al-Qayyim says: “Indeed, this is the ease and moderation in all affairs that lies between the extravagance of those who are too permissive and the excesses of those who are too severe.”
As for the famous statement about the opinions of the scholars: “They are men and we are men”, it is true as long as the one who says it has correct evidence and a proper understanding to go with it. People are recognized on account of the truth that they espouse and not the other way around. Everyone’s statements are open to be accepted or rejected except for those of the Prophet (peace be upon him), for he has been divinely protected from error in what he conveyed to us from his Lord.
Blindly following others is not permitted except for those who do not have the knowledge of the evidence.
Source: Islam Today