When God tells us to abide by His rules, many times we forget that it is actually for our own good, both in the Hereafter as well as in this world. However, we tend to see it as a burden and we fail to realise that there is goodness in this world with everything God tells us to do. God simply wants what is best for us, unlike the Devil.
I’m going to share a number of examples that should put this into perspective:
For example, when God tells us not to drink alcohol, it’s because He knows that it’s bad for our health. God realises that it would be making our soul feel worse after having drank it. Alcohol may also make us behave in an embarrassing manner if we drink it. Therefore, it is self explanotary that it is better to avoid it in order to protect our own selves; whether that is protecting our health, as well as the condition of our soul. This is similarly the case with gambling. How many times do we see warnings and disclaimers about the affects of both alcohol and gambling? Gambling can be an addiction which can make you lose everything in a instance, all your wealth and in many cases it can lead you to lose your family too.
“Shaytaan desires only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from Salah. So will you then not abstain (from these evils)?” (Quran 5:91)
Another relevant example is the hijab. Many times the hijab seems like a burden to young females, particularly when it is being forced. You might also be one of the very few in your surroundings that wear it, which makes you feel like the odd one out, making it feel even more of a burden. This is because we often forget, or have not been informed about the wisdom and rationale behind this covering. Sometimes, hijab may be worn as a trend or to make others think we’re not a bad person. How often are we actually explained the wisdom behind the hijab?
Hijab should be an individual choice. It is an action that displays a women’s obedience to God, not men. How do you see Mary (Mother of Jesus PBUH) portrayed? Is it any wonder that she is one of the most important women in Islam?
Another blessing that is visible through the wearing of hijab, can be seen with this example. When an item is mass produced in society, they use cheaper materials to make the product which results in lowering it’s value. Thus, the product becomes inevitably easily accessible. Females can be recognised in a similar way; the more accessible they are, the more their value decreases. God has wanted the females to cover for their own good so they are not “cheap” and “easily accessible.” God wants women to be recognised as a precious gem who is noticed for her mind and not assets. Especially, in this secular, hyper-sexualised society, hijab can protect girls from the insecurities that can arise from being in this “Barbie doll” image based culture; a culture that makes it seem as though a woman’s worth is only judged by the males they attract (for the wrong reasons).
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)
We can see a similar pattern when it comes to interest. It would be seen as a hardship by many to avoid transactions based on “Riba” (interest.) Especially because of the huge influence it has in this society now, whether it is in the form of mortgages or loans with excessive interest charges. Many times we partake in this knowing full well the stress interest-based debt has on us simply to “keep up with the Joneses“. It’s hanging over your head and eating into your soul bit by bit, day by day. But if you had listened to what God wanted for you, you wouldn’t be in that situation.
If you look at usury on a broader perspective, you can see how this interest based system can be so sinister. For example, the large banks (IMF, World Bank etc) are the ones that lend money at extortionate interest rates to the third world countries, fully aware that the countries have no chance of paying it back. So, what do these bankers end up doing? They allow a perpetual cycle of poverty to continue and steal the natural resources of these countries. However, if God’s message was adhered to, this wouldn’t be the case.
“O you who believe! Do not devour usury, making it double and redouble and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful.”(Quran 3:130)
And the Bible also states:
“Does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man.”(Ezekiel 18:8)
Also, with prayer, many times people can see this as a burden too. It can often become a habitual act where, at times you have to drag yourself to pray. But how many times do we think that prayer, when we put our whole focus on it actually makes us feel enlightened after it? It places our soul in a better condition and makes us feel better about ourselves. For myself, there have been a number of instances where I avoided a calamity just after prayer. For all we know, God may constantly be protecting us from calamities in this world because of a prayer we made. So even in prayer, it is something that is beneficial for ourselves.
“Seek help through patience and Salah; truly it is extremely difficult except for the humble true believers.” (Quran 2:45)
“Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book, and perform Salah. Verily, Salah prevents from lewdness and evils. And indeed, the remembrance of Allah (by you) is greatest. And Allah knows that which you do.” (Quran 29:45)
Forgiveness is another example. It is so easy to hold grudges towards others, even those close to you. We can build up every single scenario and instances where an individual may have wronged us. This can sometimes make it extremely difficult to continue in our everyday life because of all this negative energy clouding our mind. But in reality, when you really think about it, who is all this negativity affecting the most?
It doesn’t affect the person that you feel has wronged you, it affects yourself! It stops you from doing what you want. You can live your life in regret and self pity with a heavy load in your heart. So when God tells you to forgive, it will be of benefit to you more than anyone else. Your attitude will change. Even if you do good to the person who wrongs you, then the intention should be you are doing it to please God, not them. This can allow us to experience patience on a whole new level. Adopting this can help us experience more fruits of the bliss that comes from loving God.
“But if someone is steadfast and forgives, that is the most resolute course to follow.” (Qur’an, 42:43)
There are many more examples, but I think with this, we can begin recognising that instead of seeing worshipping God as a burden, we should actually view it as nothing other than a blessing.
“Our Lord, and make us Muslims [in submission] to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation [in submission] to You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.” (Qur’an, 2:128)