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Last Updated: 2013/10/26
Summary of question
Is the religion of Islam a strict and difficult religion? ou. (Sura al-Baqara).
question
many people claim that islam is a difficult religion explain how islam is an easy religion to practice .compared to other religion as ALLAH STATED IN THE VERSE ALLAH INTENDS EASEFOR YOU AND HE DOES NOT INTEND DIFFICULT FOR YOU SURAH BAKARA
Concise answer
Being the most perfect religion, Islam is based on ease and simplicity. Its rulings and regulations are intertwined with ease and simplicity. Clear foundations and simple concepts that can be understood by any wise and civilized man have made Islam a simple, comprehensible, logical and reasonable shari'a whose call is answered by any pure and healthy natured human. There are clear examples for this fact in Islam; such as fasting which has been commanded by Allah to be performed by Muslims only one month in a whole year which rotates in four seasons. In addition, in case of illness or journey, one is allowed to stop fasting and he has the whole year up to next Ramadhan to perform it for compensation. There are also many rewards for good deeds.
However, there are some limits to this ease and it is not accepted in every case unconditionally.  Not only Islam but also other religions reject negligence in abiding by divine commandments.
 
Detailed Answer
Ease and simplicity are inherent to all divine religions. As the Holy Quran says, divine religion is something related to intrinsic nature; it means religion is like a gemstone that humans look for: "Then set your face upright for religion in the right state the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no altering of Allah's creation; that is the right religion, but most people do not know."[1]
Therefore divine rules and practical programs comply with human nature and it is impossible to have a call in shari’a with no roots in human nature. Similarly it is impossible to have something deeply rooted in human being while shari'a rejects it[2].
Being the most perfect religion, Islam is based on ease and simplicity. Its rulings and regulations are intertwined with ease and simplicity. Clear foundations and simple concepts that can be understood by any wise and civilized man have made Islam a simple, comprehensible, logical and reasonable shari'a whose call is answered by any pure and healthy natured human. This fact has been beautifully stated in the holy Prophet's words, peace and benedictions of Allah be upon him and his descendants. Uthman bin Maz'un, one of holy Prophet's (PBUH) companions, would fast during the day and worship during the night without paying due attention to his family which caused his wife to complain. The Holy Prophet, peace be upon him and his descendants, addressed Uthman: "O Uthman! Allah the Glorified, has not sent me for monasticism (to retreat from the society and abstain from worldly life); rather He has sent me with a religion that is direct and easy[3]."
Quran also chooses this principle as a foundation characteristic of shari'a and introduces easiness as an outstanding trait for Islamic shari'a; because its foundations and principles are like the following:
"Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty"[4]
"He has chosen you and has not laid upon you an hardship in religion"[5]
"Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability"[6]
"He has only forbidden you what dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that over which any other (name) than (that of) Allah has been invoked; but whoever is driven to necessity, not desiring, nor exceeding the limit, no sin shall be upon him; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."[7]
These verses and some other traditions prove that foundations of Islam are not only simple and easy not obliging humans for something beyond their ability and endurance and not keeping them responsible for what is beyond their capabilities, rather these tasks and responsibilities are within human power and capabilities so that humans are unable to offer any justification or reason for their failure to perform commands by shari'a or their action against what Islam has commanded.
Therefore the spirit of Islamic rulings is coupled with ease and this is the secret to massive interest of different nations in Islam. Since its advent, Islam has always faced minor and major battles, heresies and forging different schools of thought. Islam has never been without an enemy. However, simplicity of Islam's principles and beliefs from one hand and intellectual base of its rulings and tasks on the other hand strongly guarantees Islam's self-defense and has been a factor of its expansion in the course of history.
Here are some of Islam's rulings and programs in which ease and tolerance is obvious:
1-Islam has a specific look at people of the book (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and followers of David) and treats them with much tolerance. Their life, belongings and wives are respected and they can have their own synagogues, churches and places of worship in Islamic society, perform their own religious rites and marry and divorce based on their own religion. Islam treats them with so much tolerance that not only they enjoy full citizenship under Islamic rule but also Islam considers it a necessity to defend them in the same way as it defends Muslims.
When a group of Mu'awiyah's troops attacked border city of Anbar and stole its women's anklets, necklaces, bracelets and earrings, Imam Ali (A.S) spoke up and said in defense of these women, some of which were none-Muslims living under the patronage of Islamic society, blaming his troops that: "If a Muslim dies for this bitter event out of sorrow he is not to be blamed and [this death] is desirable[8]."
2-When Islam calls to war, under such difficult conditions of Muslims living in the holy Prophet's era (peace be upon him and his descendants), it exempts those who are unable to participate in a war[9] because they have been exempted from hardship and difficulty; since war was highly troublesome and difficult they are exempted from this divine command[10]. For personal rules also Islam has a similar approach. For example ghusl and wudhu that require water, in all cases where water is harmful or difficult to obtain, the duty-bound has been exempted and relieved of obligation. Fasting is also not wajib [obligatory] for those who are on a journey[11]; this is for the ease of Muslims and to create easy conditions to practice religion.
3-If a Muslim affords hajj [pilgrimage to Mecca] both financially and bodily he is obliged to perform hajj once in a lifetime. If someone can't afford hajj, it is not an obligation for him.
4-Allah, the Glorified, has commanded Muslims to fast for one lunar month in a whole year which rotates in four seasons. If someone is ill or on a journey he is exempted and he has time till next Ramadhan to fast to compensate the days he has not fasted.
5-Allah, the Glorified, accepts one's tawba [repentance] who has sincerely abandoned sins even if he has committed a lot of sins in the course of a long time.
6-A good deed by a Muslim will be awarded in a multiplied fashion as we read in Quran: "Whoever brings a good deed, he shall have ten like it, and whoever brings an evil deed, he shall be recompensed only with the like of it, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly"[12]
We also see in traditions that a lot rewards have been allocated to those who do such deeds as the recitation of Quran[13]; recitation of salawat[14] [saluting holy prophet and his progeny may Allah's peace be upon them all],lending money to others[15] etc. [16]
Despite the ease and simplicity of Islam's practical programs, limits and borders have been defined in this regard. Ease and simplicity are not unconditionally accepted everywhere. Not only Islam but also other religions do not accept negligence when performing religious duties and abiding by divine commands.
In addition, some of Islam's commands involve some hardship and difficulty such as jihad and fasting that should be tolerated by humans. Jihad without any trouble and fasting without patience and resistance is impossible. Therefore the rule of haraj [hardship] relates to normal cases not duties and tasks which are inherently intertwined with difficulty and problems.
To explain this issue we would say that the goal of divine commands is happiness in this world and in the hereafter. Holy Quran considers Allah's (SWT) religion as the human’s lifeblood and introduces the real life dependent on the obedience of Allah's (SWT) and holy Prophet's (PBUH) commands[17] –i.e. divine commands and regulations "O you who believe! answer (the call of) Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life".
About the importance of divine commands and regulations, Imam Ali, peace be upon him, addressed Malik Ashtar: "This is the command of Allah's (SWT) servant, amir al-mo'menin, to Malik Ashtar son of Hareth: … He urges him to fear Allah, the Glorified, and put Allah's (SWT) worship before any other work and to perform all obligatory deeds and mustahhab [non-obligatory but desired deeds] mentioned in Allah's (SWT) book, commands without which true happiness will not be achieved; commands whose disobedience and negligence will make one a criminal. He commands him to assist Allah, the Glorified, by his hands, tongue and heart because Allah, the Glorified, guarantees someone's success who has assisted Him and glorifies someone who has glorified Him[18]"
Now if some individuals or groups defy Allah's (SWT) commands which are the source of human life in all aspects and realms and in this way threaten Islamic culture and ethics, Islam will never accept ease and tolerance in this case and considers it as negligence and laziness in practicing the religion. It also has laid down strict laws for those who violate divine limits.
 

[1]Quran 30:30
[2]Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Nemoone, vol.16 p.418, Darol Kotob al-Eslamyia, Tehran, first print, 1995
[3]Kolayni, Muhammad ibn Ya'qoob, al-Kafi, researcher and corrector: Gaffari, Ali Akbar, Akhondi, Muhammad vol.5 p.494 Darol Kotob al-Eslamyia Tehran, fourth print, 1986
[4]Quran 2:185
[5]Quran 22:78
[6]Quran 2:286
[7] Quran 2:173
[8] Seyyed Razi, Muhammad, Nahj al-Balagha, researcher and corrector: Atarodi, Azizollah, Speech no.27 p.35, Nahj al-Balagha Institute, Qom, first print, 1993
[9]Quran 48:17 “There is no harm in the blind, nor is there any harm in the lame, nor is there any harm in the sick (if they do not go forth”
[10]Tabataba'ee, Seyyed Muhammad Hussein, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol9, p.362, Entesharate Eslami (Isalmic Publications) Office, Qom, fifth print, 1996
[11]“O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, Allah does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful "Quran 5:6
[12]Quran 6:160
[13]See "Rewards for recitation of Quran's chapters" question no.872
[14]See "Desirability of salawat in rokoo' and sajda
[15]See "Qarz al-hassana and its preference over almsgiving, question no.13033, "Conditions and rites of qarz al-hassana" question no.15215
[16]See "Rewards t visit Imam Hussein's holy shrine" question no.7470, "Rewards and advantages of rings with gemstones question no.1797, "Hazrat Zahra's (PBUH) tasbihat and qunout question no.10898
[17]Quran 8:24
[18]Nahj al-Balaghah letter no.53, p.366
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