GOD HAS ORDERED WHAT IS EASY
The religious knowledge most people possess is based on what they have heard since their childhood. Because they haven't learned about religion from its real source, that is the Qur'an, they are a prey to many superstitions and foolish thoughts about religion. One of the most harmful of these beliefs is that it is hard to be religious: this is completely fallacious.
Those who have aimed at causing religion to deviate from its essence and tried to prevent religion from being practiced, have throughout history, attempted to add on many difficult practices and superstitions to it. With the practices they have invented, they have caused people to move away from religion, intentionally or unintentionally. However, the information set forth by God in the Qur'an and the traditions of our Prophet (saas) teach us that it is very easy for sincere people to practice religion.
First of all, we must aver that God has created humans from nothingness, as He has with everything else in the universe. God, Who knows human beings better than anyone else and Who is closer to them than their jugular veins, has created a religion appropriate to their characteristics. God states in the following verse that humans are called to the most appropriate religion, which is best suited to their character:
Therefore, stand firm in your devotion to the true Faith, as a pure natural believer, following God's natural pattern on which He made mankind. There is no changing God's creation. That is surely the true Religion—but most people do not know it. (Qur'an, 30:30)
As a result of our God's compassion and kindness, all of the true religions sent down through the ages have possessed commandments which are easy to carry out, because, God has always wished ease for His devotees. The verse “… God desires your well-being” (Qur'an, 2: 185) records this reality. One who obeys the limits specified by God is also one who lives in the most excellent way the life most suited to his characteristics.
Certain people who do not know these truths think that they will be able to lead a more comfortable life when the limits of religion are removed, for example, they think that they will be freer when they need not concern themselves with moral values. Or they presume that religion will engender particular restrictions that will make their lives more difficult. On the contrary, these are great errors into which people fall and are Satan's deceptions, for it is extremely easy to live God's religion and fulfil His commands. The real difficulty is in living in a place where the inhabitants do not acknowledge God's limits. Such an experience brings about extremely dreadful consequences.
First of all, in communities where religion is not practiced or in the lives of unreligious people, there is always chaos, turmoil, anxiety, fear, unhappiness and stress. One who doesn't fear God can commit any sort of immoral acts, does not acknowledge any limit on any topic, and leads a degenerate life. In such a life, people don't show each other any spirit of sacrifice, any sort of love, or respect, and do not support each other spiritually or financially. For these reasons, such a life never brings anyone any happiness. When the boundaries of religion are taken away, the opposite of a peaceful atmosphere surfaces and a hell-like environment emerges, just as Satan desires.
For example, the events that we have been experiencing very frequently in recent years, such as widespread drug use and dealing, prostitution, corruption, and deception are linked with being far from religion and hence from any spiritual values or beauty. In such circumstances, people assume that they have the licence to act freely and as they wish. However, the spiritual and physical destruction brought about by this way of living without acknowledging any boundaries far outweighs any feelings of freedom they assume. Think about it. What can be the benefits of a person who is sick, has aged prematurely, whose hair and skin has lost its shine and vitality, who leads an exhausted and destitute life, all because of prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse? Really, not recognizing any boundaries, disregarding moral values, leading a life one assumes has no purpose and ends in nothingness, will bring about great physical and emotional damage to all concerned, without exception. Furthermore, these consequences are plain for all to see.
There may be people who think that the examples given here are very extreme. But the truth is that the more a person lives a life far from religion, flouting God's boundaries, the more that person will lead an unhappy and difficult life. And, just because a person doesn't live a life as extreme as in the given examples, it doesn't mean that he has an easy and happy life. Maybe he lives a more comfortable life than the ones we mentioned. But he can never find real happiness and peace. Moreover, as a result of distancing himself from God's commands, this person will face a Hereafter in which he will feel great remorse and where he will experience the greatest difficulties and pain.
Those who fear God and who fulfil God's commands without any shortcomings are in a position of great advantage in this world and the next. Above all, they experience spiritual pleasure and have the clear conscience of obeying God. There are always glad tidings and beauty for them. God gives good news to those who seek His approval and who protect His boundaries:
Those who repent, those who worship, those who praise, those who fast, those who bow, those who prostrate themselves, those who enjoin the right, and forbid evil and, those who observe the commandments of God shall be richly rewarded. (Qur'an, 9:112)
Those, who are remiss in upholding God's constraints, contrary to their conscience, or who see faith as horrid and infidelity as good, will face hardships and difficulties in this life and in the Hereafter. God tells us in one of His verses:
… Those are God's limits, and anyone who oversteps God's limits has wronged himself… (Qur'an, 65:1)
Along with those who presume it is hard to be religious, there are those who represent being religious as a hardship, as we mentioned above. True are some, who have not grasped the essence of religion, who are prone to take religion to extremes. Just as some ignore the boundaries of religion in the name of freedom, others have the temerity to change the boundaries God has set and make religion harder, all in the name of piety. This is actually a trap of Satan. By showing things that are not forbidden as being prohibited, such people think that it is their privilege to make up other prohibitions. What's more, they do not comply as they should with the rules they lay down and so suffer because of their conscience. On this topic God gives the example of Christians, who altered Christianity after Jesus (peace be upon him):
Then We sent Our Messengers following in their footsteps and sent Jesus the son of Maryam after them, giving him the Gospel. We put compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him. As for monasticism, they instituted it themselves—We did not prescribe it for them. (Qur'an, 57:27)
God, therefore, warns believers against this danger and declares in the Qur'an that those who go extremes in religion have strayed from the true religion:
Say: “People of the Book! Do not go to extremes in your religion, asserting other than the truth, and do not yield to the whims and desires of people who were misguided previously and have misguided many others, and have themselves strayed far from the right path.” (Qur'an, 5:77)
The only rule that the individual has to follow is to carry out the commands set forth by God in the Qur'an and to abstain from whatever is prohibited. When God decrees everything to be easy to believers, those who try to make religion harder will have to account for their behaviour on Judgment Day. As is true of all else, our Prophet 's (saas) life and practices are a good example for us. In one of his traditions, the Prophet (saas) reminds believers not to abandon and at the same time not to exceed God's boundaries and states that religion is easy.
"Religion is simple. No one can be severe against religion. For he will be defeated. (That is to say, that one should conform to religion's ease. Whoever tries to be firm will be helpless). Straighten your line of conduct, be close to the boundary/end." (Ramuz al-Ahadith, Vol 1, p 98)
People should evaluate religion in the manner of the tradition of the Prophet (saas), as mentioned above. That is to say, it is a mistake to show what God has conveyed as easy and straightforward and that can be easily implemented as difficult and incomprehensible. In fact, God has made the commands He sets forth in the Qur'an, so easy that everyone in every situation and environment can easily comply with them. In the coming sections, the simplicity God gives people in His boundaries of permissible and forbidden things will be dealt with.
Leniency acknowledged in terms of food
God has given people many blessings as a means of sustenance. Colourful fruits, a variety of food, vegetables, meats, drinks, dried fruits and nuts… Each one has been presented as a service to human beings: “They will ask you what is lawful for them. Say: ‘All good things are lawful for you…'” (Qur'an, 5:4) God informs us that all the food that has been declared as clean is permissible for people to eat.
The food God forbids people to eat are such as are harmful to people, namely, carcasses, blood, and pork. God states in one of His verses:
Say: “I do not find, in what has been revealed to me, any food it is forbidden to eat except for carrion, flowing blood, and pork—for these are unclean—and any flesh that has been profanely consecrated to gods other than God. But if anyone is forced to eat it, intending neither to sin nor to transgress, your Lord is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur'an 6:145)
There is great wisdom in the word “unclean” that is used for these forbidden foods, for pork really does have qualities that are pernicious to people's health.
For example, pork is very fatty and, when eaten, this fat passes into the blood stream. This excessive fat in the blood causes the veins to harden, the blood pressure to go up, and finally a heart attack. Furthermore, in the case of the poisonous chemicals found in pork fat,—“toxins”—the lymph nodes have to work harder than usual to get rid of them. This condition especially occurs in children as lymph node infections and swelling. In addition to this, pork contains sulphur in great quantities. The excess sulphur taken in by the body accumulates in cartilages, muscles, and nerves, and causes illnesses such as infections, calcification, and lumbar hernia. Along with all of these, it brings about various types of serious skin diseases and trichina (trichina is only transmitted by pigs and is life-threatening for humans). (Only a few of the known harmful qualities of pork are mentioned here).
As can be seen, it is beneficial to and protective of health for certain foods which are harmful to humans to be forbidden.
However, another point is worth mentioning here. Of course, it is by God's command that things are either permissible or forbidden. And people are only held accountable for their actions according to God's law. It is a matter of God's will whether to show us the reasons behind forbidding a certain food or not. But, to make things easier for people and to make people's hearts rest content, as the example we gave previously demonstrated, God reveals the reasons behind things at many points.
When God mentions the forbidden foods in the Qur'an, He also clarifies how people should react to all sorts of situations they may be faced with. Any confusion people experience when they face an unexpected situation is thereby prevented. Some of the verses on this subject are as follows:
So eat from what God has provided for you, lawful and good, and be thankful for the blessing of God, if it is Him you worship. He has forbidden you carrion, blood and pork and anything consecrated to gods other than God. But whoever is forced through necessity, intending neither to sin nor to transgress, will find that his Lord is Ever-Forgiving, and Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 16:114-115
The reminder at the end of these verses of God's forgiveness and protectiveness brings good news and comfort to believers, human beings, having been created weak creatures, they can make mistakes, forget, be absorbed, or act without volition. But, when they repent sincerely, God will forgive and protect them.
The ease granted to those who pray
Prayer is a duty Muslims are obliged to perform at certain times, which God has determined, throughout their lives without neglecting it. Those who do not carry out their religious duties, usually defer prayer till their old age. Yet, prayer is extremely easy to perform, as with all the other acts of worship.
It should be noted that whatever God has decreed as obligatory it is the responsibility of each individual to carry it out as his obligation to God. In return for this, he may hope for God's approval, mercy, and Heaven. God's making the obligatory forms of worship simple is an indicator of His mercy and compassion. Those who do not, in spite of this, abide by God's commands will not be able to say they didn't have enough strength, or that it was hard for them to pray, as an excuse. (Except those mentioned by God in the Qur'an as not having any responsibilities).
For example, to perform ablutions has been made very straightforward. In fact, in case a person cannot find any water to wash himself with, God has given tayammum — the substitution of sand, stone, or snow for water—as an alternative, and tayammum can be easily done in any type of situation. For those who cannot find water, God informs us in one of His verses how to perform tayammum:
... If you are in a state of major impurity, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey, or have come from the lavatory, or have touched women, and cannot find any water, then do tayammum with pure sand, and wipe your faces and your hands with it. God does not want to make things difficult for you, but He does want to purify you and to perfect His blessing upon you so that hopefully you will be thankful. (Qur'an, 5:6)
As God tells us in His verse, He does not want to make things demanding for people. God has simplified all the things mentioned in the Qur'an. The acts of worship God has commanded are extremely easy for those who have faith. God, in His mercy and compassion, has commanded the easiest and most wonderful forms of worship and lifestyle and has given the good news of His approval, mercy and Heaven to those who abide by these.
Shortening prayer in times of war
In the Qur'an, forms of respite have been laid down for certain periods. For example, at the time of Prophet Mohammad (saas), when believers were in dire conflict with the deniers, God was lenient towards the believers in the carrying out of their worship at that time. It has been laid down that, in times of war believers may shorten their prayers when it is imperative:
When you are travelling in the land, there is nothing wrong in your shortening your prayer if you fear that those who do not believe may harass you. The unbelievers are your inveterate cut enemies. (Qur'an, 4:101)
As can be understood from this verse, every one of God's decrees and commands is full of benefits and wisdom for each and every one of the believers. God does not want hardship for His subjects. God is the believers' real friend and sole protector.
The leniency granted in fasting
God has commanded Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan. However, God also mentions the exceptional cases, such as illnesses and travelling, and with this He once again declares that He wishes us ease rather than hardship:
The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur'an was sent down as guidance for mankind, with Clear Signs containing guidance on distinguishing between right and wrong. Therefore, any of you who are present in that month let him fast. But any of you who are ill or on a journey should fast a similar number of days later on. God desires your well-being, not your discomfort. He desires you to fast the whole month so that you may proclaim God's greatness for the guidance He has given you and so that hopefully you will be thankful. (Qur'an, 2:185)
That God wishes us ease in the verses concerning His commands shows us that we should think of and comprehend the simplicity of religion too. Those who run away from carrying out their religious obligations because they think that they will experience difficulties have no proper knowledge of religion and are thus in a state of error.
Those not held responsible by God
As another manifestation of God's compassion, people who are incapacitated are not burdened with the same responsibilities as others. God tells us this in one of His verses:
There is no constraint on the blind, nor on the lame, nor on the sick. We will admit all who obey God and His Messenger into Gardens with rivers flowing under them. But We will punish with a painful punishment anyone who turns his back. (Qur'an, 48:17)
By relieving disabled people of the responsibilities of worship, God displays another proof of His mercy and infinite compassion. In the following verse, it is stated that God does not bring about difficulties for people and this is a manifestation of His compassion and kindness:
... If God had wanted, He could have been hard on you. God is Almighty, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 2:220)
Leniency shown for the breaking of oaths inadvertently made
Making oaths is a common occurrence, often entered into out of sheer habit, especially when promises are being made. Allegiance to oaths, and the fulfilling of promises are attributes of a believer, as God commands in the Qur'an. However, human beings are forgetful creatures; in some situations they can absent-mindedly forget what they were supposed to do what their promise was. This is a very natural mistake, resulting from human weakness. So, in these circumstances, God does not hold people accountable for the oaths they make haphazardly, absent-mindedly or out of habit; He removes this accountability from the believers. The due fulfillments of oaths made will be asked about on Judgment Day, but with the exception of oaths made randomly or aimlessly. God informs us of this in one of His verses:
God will not call you to account task for inadvertent statements in your oaths, but He will take you to task for that which is intended in your hearts. God is Ever-Forgiving and All-Forbearing. (Qur'an, 2:225)
There is another concession God has bestowed concerning the issue of oaths. He shows leniency towards those who make an oath in His name with a purpose, but who later wish to break it, by adjuring penitence:
God has given you absolution from such oaths. (Qur'an, 66:2)
… But He will take you to task for the oaths you make intentionally. The expiation in that case is to feed ten poor people with the average amount you feed your family, or clothe them, or free a slave. Anyone without the means to do so should fast for three days. That is the expiation for breaking the oaths which you have sworn. Keep your oaths. In this way God makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be thankful. (Qur'an, 5:89)
As can be understood from the verses, God provides an easy way for people to act according to religion in both situations. What is best and right is, of course, to honour oaths. However, a person can forget his promise or situations can change from the time he gave his word and he may be unable to keep it. In desiring everyone's well-being, God informs us of the conditions that will compensate for not fulfilling promises and has shown a way out for everyone.
Also, the rule for compensating for breaking an oath is designed to ease the oath-taker's conscience. Because the person breaking the oath will be faced with compensating for his action, he will think twice about whether he really has to break his oath or if he can still fulfill it. And, at the end, he will arrive at the most conscientious and best decision.
What can be understood from the points mentioned so far is that God has decreed that His religion be very simple. The religion of Islam is a religion of ease at all times and, in every respect. When a person intends to be a sincere believer and to be thankful in return for the blessings God has given us, he will not experience any difficulties whatsoever in practising his religion.
The test God has created is very easy
People who live far from religion determine certain goals for themselves throughout their lives. The common point between these goals is generally that they are geared towards worldly life. For example, most people's ideals are to be an expert doctor, a successful engineer, a good father, a wealthy businessman, an artist known worldwide, and things of this nature. People strive, work hard, and at times sacrifice various things in order to attain success, happiness, and a comfortable life in many areas other than thus previously mentioned and they try to reach a certain status by themselves. However, when they become absorbed in all these, they forget or ignore the real reason for their being in this world.
To rectify such a lapse everyone should ask himself certain questions by reflecting on his life and thinking that he will one day pass away. “Why am I in this world?” “What is the purpose in my being alive?” “Maybe I was a really successful architect, designed many buildings, became rich and wealthy, earned a title, became well-known, but what did all these achievements bring me? Which one of them will still have any value after death? What kind of benefits will any of the things I left behind in the world bring me in the Hereafter? Does my existence consist only of life in this world?” These are the principal questions people should ask themselves before they die.
At this point we should mention that obviously people will have a career, even desire to be extremely successful in their career and work hard at this. But, it is very important not to forget that all forms of employment are devices that should bring people closer to their ultimate aim. A great number of people however, forget or ignore their real purpose in life and devote their entire lives to such things, which are transient and, in fact, mere instruments.
There is a great reality that everyone can comprehend without giving it any way deep thought: God has created humans and the world with a purpose. As told to us in the Qur'an, the purpose of humans is solely to serve God. The purpose in the creation of the universe is for it to serve as a testing ground, where the status of human beings in the Hereafter is determined. God informs us of this reality in the Qur'an:
He created death and life to test which of you is best in action. He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving. (Qur'an, 67:2)
God has given numerous proofs for people to understand the ephemeral quality of this world and that their real abode where they will live forever is the Hereafter.
For example, there are hundreds of different types of illnesses; there is the microscopic virus's ability to threaten the life of a human being who is millions of times bigger than itself; there is the need for a person to constantly keep clean, eat, rest and sleep; the life of an individual is very short, on an average 60-70 years, time has a very wearying effect on a person, and every human being's end is death without exception; one has to leave behind all loved ones and all the wealth, property, and esteem one has acquired throughout one's life; last but not least, the human body enters a stage of decay when dead and buried. These and many other similar reasons are all enough for people to comprehend that their lives are short-lived, and full of imperfections, and as such, can never satisfy the human soul. All these are very important realities that will deter people from being attached to this world. In the Qur'an, God tells us that the world was not created aimlessly; it was made for a specific reason:
We did not create heaven and earth and everything in between them as a game. If We had desired to have some amusement, We could have found it near at hand. (Qur'an, 21:16-17)
As a matter of fact, with just a little thought, one will easily understand that the world is not a place where one will stay forever; it is merely a testing ground. This life is not the last stop but actually a short stopover, and one will be held accountable for every moment one lives in this transient place. Most importantly, one has a responsibility towards God, Who has created everything from nothingness.
One who is capable of such thought should proceed a step further and think: God tests people with different types of events, both good and bad. All the incidents a person faces throughout the day are, in fact, composed of tests that determine what his eternal abode will be, after death. And God has made these tests easy for everyone and has informed him of the path he should take, that is, of what he should do:
We created man from a mingled drop to test him, and We made him with hearing and sight. We guided him on to the right path, whether he be thankful or oblivious of Our favours. (Qur'an, 76:2-3)
As recorded in the verses, God has definitely shown people the right path for them in their lives and has enabled them to acquire knowledge about religion and good morals. It is inevitable that everyone will be called to religion before he dies and will have the opportunity to learn what is right. Everyone knows that the world is a transient place and, for the sake of his life in the Hereafter, he has to live in a way that will please God. Briefly, it is not a test that people are unaware of or don't know how to succeed at. By the messengers God sends in every era, the books He has sent in the past, and the conscience He has created in everyone, God shows people the right path and protects them from what is wrongful. For those who believe in God, who submit to Him totally, who see only God as their real friend and sole protector, and who turn to God in every situation and surrender to Him, every test God has created is very easy and pleasurable. There will be no hardships, difficulties, sadness, suffering, or complications in this world for those who know the secret of faith and who sincerely believe in God. Every situation turns into a blessing whereby one may come closer to God and may hope for Heaven even more.
A prerequisite to sincere faith is to recognize God and be well acquainted with Him. The more clearly a person recognizes God and knows His power, the more pious and close to God he will be. For example, one who knows God's forgiveness will never become hopeless or pessimistic because of his faults or mistakes. One who believes that God is the provider doesn't become greedy about money. He knows that God provides sustenance: he works, makes an effort but knows that God determines the amount of blessings he will receive and that he himself cannot change that. As a result, for one who knows and recognizes God, the world is full of ease and blessings; that person lives his every moment by seeing God's revelations and the beauty in His creation. In brief, for pious Muslims who have submitted to God, the test God has created for them is extremely easy and pleasurable.
God is Forgiving
God's infinite mercy and compassion are a great blessing for people. Because, humans are creatures who can be negligent, who can forget, and make mistakes. God, in His infinite compassion, has always given people the chance to ask for forgiveness and repent. Anyone who, going in fear of God, sincerely wishes his or her sins to be forgiven can hope for God's forgiveness. As is stated in the Qur'an: “God desires to turn towards you…” (Qur'an, 4: 27) God informs us of this ever-forgiving attribute of His:
Anyone who does evil or wrongs himself and then asks God's forgiveness will find God Ever-Forgiving and Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 4:110)
God, in His forgiveness, continuously gives new opportunities to people throughout their lives. The only thing a person has to do is to admit his mistake in the hope of not repeating it and to repent by listening to his conscience before the time of death comes. God tells us in one of His verses that only insincere people's repentance will not be forgiven:
There is no forgiveness for people who persist in doing evil until death comes to them and who only then say, “Now I repent,” nor for people who die while they are disbelievers. We have prepared for them a painful punishment. (Qur'an, 4:18)
God's forgiveness of people's mistakes, delaying of their punishment, and giving them another chance at every turn throughout their lives is a manifestation of His great kindness, mercy, and compassion. As God tells us, if people were to be punished for their sins immediately, there would be no living creature left on this earth:
If God were to punish people for their wrong actions, not a single creature would be left upon the earth, but He reprieves them till a predetermined time. When their appointed time arrives, they cannot delay it for a single hour nor can they bring it forward. (Qur'an, 16:61)
Consequently, whatever people's mistakes or sins, they are never too late to change themselves into the type of subjects God approves of. No matter how many mistakes a person has committed nor how far from religion he has lived in the past, he doesn't have to think about this as long as he repents sincerely and becomes a pious subject of God. His sins are merely memories, which provide an opportunity to learn a lesson so that he should neither repeat the same mistakes, nor commit similar ones in the future. God declares that He will not hold accountable for their past those pious Muslims, who have found the right way after they were warned:
God has pardoned all that took place in the past; but if anyone relapses into wrong doing God will take revenge on him. God is Almighty, Exactor of Revenge. (Qur'an, 5:95)
Say to those who do not believe that if they mend their ways, their past will be forgiven, but if they persist in sin, let them reflect upon the fate of previous peoples in the past. (Qur'an, 8:38)
Without a doubt, this is a great concession made by God in His religion.
God answers all prayers and is very close to everyone
In circles far from religion, prayer to God has been complicated by superstitions and false beliefs. People have determined set times when they can pray to God, even though they can do so at any time they wish, or they have put intermediaries between themselves and God. God warns people against these false notions:
To God alone is true worship due. As for those who take protectors besides Him, saying, "We only worship them so that they may bring us nearer to God"—God will judge between them regarding the things about which they differed. God does not guide the untruthful disbelievers. (Qur'an, 39:3)
Those who assert that one needs certain intermediaries to pray to God, are actually people who try to fool others by showing religion as a hardship. Because as verse, 50:16 of the Qur'an tells us: “We created man and We know what his own self whispers to him. We are nearer to him than his jugular vein” , God is closer to people than anyone else. That is to say, the suppliant can turn toward God, can make his voice heard to God, and ask for help by prayer whenever he wants.
The individual does not need to look out for special times. He can pray to God any time, any minute. Otherwise, he would be fabricating new rules by himself. He can pray to God and tell Him what he wants, when he is going from place to place, when going down the stairs, when shopping, when preparing dinner, when watching television, in the elevator, when he is waiting somewhere, when he goes to bed at night, when he wakes up, when he is having breakfast, when he is driving, in short, anywhere and any time. To do this it is enough for him even to think about it briefly, because God knows everything, even what someone is hiding in his bosom.
Hence, whoever prays to God should know that God definitely answers all prayers. God tells us that He will simplify things for those who are in need and who turn towards Him:
Surely worthier is He Who responds to the oppressed when they cry out to Him and removes their distress. It is He Who has appointed you inheritors of the earth. Is there another god besides God? How little you pay heed! (Qur'an, 27:62)
This unlimited opportunity God gives people is without a doubt a manifestation of God's infinite mercy. In numerous verses in the Quran, God mentions His closeness to human beings, that He will be a guardian for those who turn towards Him, and that He will definitely answer those that pray to Him. One of these verses is:
If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. They should therefore respond to Me and believe in Me so that hopefully they will be rightly guided. (Qur'an, 2:186)
Believers should think about this mercy and blessing of God once more and live in accordance with God's approval. Because, this clemency that God has shown us gives us a great and unlimited opportunity; God, Who is the Possessor and Owner of everything, promises to respond to everything that people desire. And God never fails to keep His promise.
God never burdens anyone with more than he can bear
The situations one faces in life, no matter how tough it seems at the moment, are all actually at an intensity that one can bear. God, the Creator of human beings, gives them their souls. He knows best how much they can tolerate and how much of a burden and difficulty they can bear.
God states in many verses that He would not afflict anyone with more than he could handle and that no one would face injustice:
God does not impose on any soul more than it can bear. It shall be requited for whatever good and whatever evil it has done. (Qur'an, 2:286)
As for those who believe and do right actions—We impose on no soul any more than it can bear—they are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. (Qur'an, 7:42)
Without a doubt, the events people will have to deal with and be patient with will be different. Most people are tried with many different contingencies. But, in the end, God tests people in relation to their strength. For example, some people lead a destitute life on this earth and hence their patience in a state of impoverishment is tested. Some people live in wealth and abundance and so it is their thankfulness to God, their morals and whether they cling on to the world with greed or not that are tested. But eventually, the rich and the poor live the life that is best for them. No matter how needy the poor person becomes, it is not a difficulty that he cannot handle. Likewise, no matter to what degree the rich person lives in abundance, this would not force him to be a spoiled and ungrateful person. In the end, these people's faithfulness to God and their fears regarding the Day of Judgment enable them to live by the morals of the Qur'an and become people who abide by the commandments of religion. Such people submit to God in every event they encounter. They seek only His help and His approval. They never show disappointment in the face of difficulties and never stray from religion, even if their trial is extremely hard. For people who resign themselves to God and trust in Him, God makes things, even the hardest seeming things, easy for them as a sign of His mercy and compassion. In Surat al-Kahf, verse 88 clarifies this point: “ But as for him who believes and acts rightly, he will receive the best of rewards and We will issue a command, making things easy for him.” God draws attention to this truth in other verses as well:
As for him who gives in charity and guards against evil and confirms the Good, We will pave his way to ease. (Qur'an, 92:5-7)
Those who do not submit to or trust in God will regard even easy things as hard. As a result of their ungratefulness, their denial of religion, and their distance from the morals of the Qur'an, God causes them hardship in this world:
But as for him who is miserly and self-satisfied, and denies the Good, We will pave his way to difficulty. His wealth will not help him when he plummets to the depths. Assuredly, it is for Us to give guidance. (Qur'an, 92:8-12)
God grants ease with every hardship
God has given us the good news that, by His grace, He will create ease with every hardship when testing people in this world. God tells us this good news in the following verses:
For truly, with hardship comes ease; truly, with hardship comes ease. (Qur'an, 94:5-6)
When we look at the Prophet's (saas) and pious people's lives in the Qur'an, we find it striking that, in every seemingly hard situation they encounter, God creates simplicity. God, with his attribute “The Conquerer,” opens up and simplifies all paths.
The Qur'an gives examples of believers who had to leave their homes, that is, they had to emigrate, because of the reactions and abuse they experienced when they were struggling in the name of God. These people had to leave their jobs, houses, gardens, and belongings and emigrate to strange lands where they knew no one. When looked at from the outside, this seems like a hard situation. But, in Surat an-Nisa' God informs us that He made the situations of the believers who had to emigrate easier and that He blessed them:
Those who migrate for the cause of God will find many places of refuge in the land and ample sustenance. If anyone leaves his home, as a refugee for God's and His Messenger's sake, and he is overtaken by death, it is God Who will reward him. God is Ever-Forgiving and Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 4:100)
Consequently, God proved His promise to the believers living in our Prophet's time. The Companions of the Prophet (saas), who didn't give importance to worldly goods and who selflessly undertook any hardships in the name of God, were given means of sustenance and sheltered in the best possible way by God. God made their work much easier compared to other people's work. The ease and mercy the companions received are mentioned in the Qur'an:
When you were few and oppressed in the land, and afraid of your enemies' onslaught, He gave you refuge and supported you with His help and bestowed great benefits upon you, so that hopefully you would be thankful. (Qur'an, 8:26)
Other experiences in the lives of the other prophets are clear example of making life easy for the believers.
For example, this alleviation of hardship is obvious in many incidents in the life of Prophet Joseph (as). After being thrown into a well by his brothers, the Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him) was found by a caravan. The people who found Joseph (peace be upon him) sold him to a vizier, (minister), as a slave. Shortly afterwards, Joseph (as) was accused of wrongdoing and thrown into jail, even though he hadn't done anything wrong. The turn of events in Joseph (as)'s life may at first sight seem very difficult. But, God rewarded him for his demonstration of good morals and gratefulness, and showed that He willed ease along with hardship. The Prophet Joseph (as), through seemingly negative events, was placed at the head of the treasury and became an important minister.
God supports the believers by alleviating the hardship the Prophet Moses (as) experienced. The Prophet Moses (as), in his struggle against one of the most ferocious people who ever lived, Pharaoh, gains superiority with God's help and support. When Moses (as) prays to God to give him his brother Aaron (as) as a helper, God answers his prayers. Besides this, by equipping Moses (as) with miraculous powers, God enables him to defeat Pharaoh's sorcerers. And the Prophet Moses (as), even in the most trying times, doesn't forget that God's help is with the believers. When being followed by Pharaoh's army and the Red Sea blocking their way ahead, Moses (as) reminds his companions that God's help is always with them and that God will show them a way out:
He said, “Never! My Lord is with me and He will guide me.” So We bade Moses: “Strike the sea with your staff.” And it split in two, each part like a towering cliff. And We brought the others right up to it. We rescued Moses and all those who were with him. Then We drowned the rest. (Qur'an, 26:62-66)
Another illustration from the life of the Prophet (saas) is the occasion when the Prophet Mohammad (saas) is being pursued by the unbelievers and he hides in a cave along with a believer. There being a believer who supports Prophet Mohammad (saas) when he is under the threat of unbelievers, is one of the examples of the easing of hardship that God provided.
If you do not help him, God will help him as He did when the unbelievers drove him out and there were two of them in the Cave. He said to his companion, “Do not be despondent, God is with us.” Then God sent down His serenity upon him and sent to his aid invisible warriors, so that he routed the unbelievers and exalted the word of God. God is Almighty, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 9:40)
Actually, when a person looks at the inner meaning of things, he can see how God facilitates everything at every moment of his life. But, people who can see this reality are those who fear God, who put themselves in God's hands, who know that whenever they face a difficulty it is in their fate, and who have faith in God as their only real friend and guardian. In His verses, God informs us that He will bless these kinds of people when they least expect it and make their tasks easier:
… This is admonishment for all who believe God and the Last Day. Whoever has fear of God—He will give him a means of salvation out and provide for him from where he does not expect. Whoever puts his trust in God—He will be all-sufficient for him. God will surely bring about what He decrees. God has appointed a measure for all things. (Qur'an, 65:2-3)
He who has plenty should spend according to his wealth, and the poor man should spend from what God has given him. God does not demand from any man more than He has given him. God, after difficulty, will bring ease. (Qur'an, 65:7)
As God tells us in His verses, He simplifies things for those who sincerely abide by His commands. Those who believe in this, never show any weakness in the face of hardships.
In Surat al-Inshirah, God gives us the good news that there is ease with every suffering again, and that it is He Who lifts the burdens from people:
Did We not lift up your heart and relieve you of the burden which weighed down your back? Did We not give you high renown? For truly, with hardship comes ease; truly, with hardship comes ease. (Qur'an, 94:1-6)
God grants believers ease and support by means which cannot be seen or sensed
As we mentioned in the beginning, the world is created as a place of trial where everyone's belief in God and the Hereafter is tested. As one of the necessities of this testing ground, when looked at from the outside, those who do good deeds and those who do bad deeds seem to be living by the same standards. However, the life believers lead is very different from the life led by people who deny God. As we mentioned in the previous pages, God always makes things easier for those who believe in Him; even in really difficult situations He always gives them a way out. This is clearly God's help.
The news that God will help his subjects in ways that are imperceptible and that He will help them and bring them ease in unexpected ways is given. We list here some of the forms of assistance mentioned in the Qur'an under a few sub-headings.
God sends believers help through His angels
God's help to believers is manifested in certain different ways. One form of God's help is to send angels to believers at their time of need. God informs us of this help in the Qur'an by giving an example of an incident experienced in the time of our Prophet (saas):
You said to the believers, “Is it not enough that your Lord reinforced you with three thousand angels specially sent down?” Yes indeed! But if you are steadfast and guard against evil and they suddenly, attack you your Lord will help you with five thousand angels, making a terrific onslaught. God designed this as good news for you and so that your hearts might be set at rest. (Victory comes from no one but God, the Almighty, the All-Wise) (Qur'an, 3:124-126)
In another one of His verses, God clarifies that He helps believers with armies they cannot see:
You who believe! Remember God's blessing to you when forces came against you and We sent a wind against them and other forces you could not see. God sees what you do. (Qur'an, 33:9)
God letting us know that believers will always be victorious is a very comforting and encouraging promise for believers. But there is another point that needs to be drawn attention to here: all support is from God and He is without a doubt the Possessor of all power. Believers know that real victory and help are actually in God's hands. They never forget that the angels supporting them is God's good news for them, and that the help and support of God are manifested through His angels. Our Creator mentions this reality in His verses:
Remember when you called on your Lord for help and He responded to you: “I will reinforce you with a thousand angels riding rank after rank.” God only did this to give you good news and to set your hearts at rest. Victory comes from no one but God. God is Almighty, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 8:9-10)
Believers who know that God helps whomever He wills and in whichever way He wills, never lose their trust and keep their serenity even in really difficult situations. In this state of mind they lead the most beautiful life in spiritual terms.
God portrays believers to their enemies in greater numbers than they actually are
By God's will, believers have been lesser in number in every period than unbelievers. However, the winning side has always been the believers, not the ones in greater numbers. Believers, with their God-given qualities of wisdom, sagacity, discernment, and good morals have always been successful against unbelievers. Moreover, God has chosen to present believers in greater numbers than they actually are, and consequently this has led the unbelievers to feel intimidated and fearful. In His verses God relates this with an example from the Prophet's (saas) era:
Remember when God made you see them as few when you met them, and also made you seem few in their eyes. This was so that God could settle a matter whose result was preordained. All matters return to God. You who believe! When you meet their army, stand firm and remember God repeatedly so that hopefully you will be successful. (Qur'an, 8: 44-45)
It is definitely a miracle of God for the unbelievers to perceive the small army of believers as a mighty through, and at the same time greatly eased the minds of the believers. With this, God has enabled the believers to succeed.
Also in His other verses, God informs the Prophet Mohammed (saas) that He will increase the power of the believers many times over whenever He wills. He promises believers that He will bestow upon them greater powers and make them victorious in return for their patience:
O Prophet! Spur on the believers to fight. If there are twenty of you who are steadfast, they will overcome two hundred; and if there are a hundred of you, they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are people who do not understand. Now God has lightened your burden, knowing that you are weak. If there are a hundred of you who are steadfast, they will overcome two hundred; and if there are a thousand of you, they will overcome two thousand with God's permission. God is with the steadfast. (Qur'an, 8:65-66)
As presented in the verses above, God has supported believers when they were at war in the time of the Prophet (saas) by portraying them as being stronger in number and strength in the eyes of the unbelievers. This is because God is always believers' friend and helper. No matter how vast the unbelievers are in number and strength, in the end God is the Possessor of all strength. God can do whatever He wills by just ordaining, “Be.” Those who lean toward God and trust Him, and who appreciate His infinite strength are always solaced by this.
God imbues the hearts of believers with feelings of trust and solace
In Surat al-Anfal , God informs us of the spiritual support He provided the believers when they were experiencing a difficult situation, again in the Prophet's (saas) era:
He overcame you with sleep, making you feel secure, and sent you down water from heaven to purify you and remove the taint of Satan from you, and to fortify your hearts and make your feet firm. (Qur'an, 8:11)
The phrase “overcome with sleep” in the verse points to a spiritual sleep, without a doubt. God engendered such a state in those who were sincere in their time of need and as a result of this spiritual support, the believers experienced feelings of peace, trust, and determination.
Actually, this feeling of peace and trust is apparent in all aspects of a believer's life. People who have faith in God and the Hereafter, do not panic and become sad or worried about anything because they know that God is the sole possessor of everything. They know that God creates everything in the most beneficial way for them and in the most advantageous way for their life in the Hereafter. “If God helps you, no one can vanquish you. If He forsakes you, who then can help you? So the believers should put their trust in God.” (Qur'an, 3:160) According to this verse, the believers clearly have faith and lead their lives in the comfort of resigning themselves to God. No matter the magnitude of the hardship they encounter, they know that it is transient. They bear in mind that compared to the infinite Hereafter, this worldly life has indeed a very short time frame. A difficulty experienced in this world, even if it lasts a lifetime, ends in 50-60 years. A life of 50-60 years lived in resignation to God and with good morals being rewarded with infinite life in the Hereafter will surely be unparalleled. Believers will never experience worries, sadness, destitution, boredom, or hardships; on the contrary, they will attain what their hearts desire in the midst of infinite beauty.
So, being aware of this reality enables a believer to resign himself to God in a determined and steady way in the face of any situation. The spiritual comfort and joy of knowing this is one of the greatest kinds of ease in the world.
It should be borne in mind, that all hearts and all strength are in God's hands. God can create any situation He wills, in whatever way He wills it, and whenever He wills it. One looking for repose and trust cannot succeed without God's will. The ease religion brings to people, is knowing that everything is under God's control. Turning to God in everything one does and expecting the rewards for one's toils only from God will enable one to find God's help and support in a variety of ways.
God is your Protector. And He i s the best of helpers. (Qur'an, 3:150)