By: Nouman Ali Khan
For many Muslims, Islam is about laws and regulations and they are very exact. There’s a profound emphasis on exactly how you must perform your prayer, exactly when you must begin your fast, exactly how the animal must be slaughtered, exactly how to purify yourself and the list goes on.
This emphasis is so overwhelming that for many, the entire religion begins to be viewed from the lens of obligations and prohibitions. So many young people around the world were introduced to their religion this way from an early age. It doesn’t help that the fear of God was unjustifiably instilled in them at an innocent, sinless age. “Don’t do that, Allah will be very angry!” a mother will say to her child. “That’s Haram! Allah hates it when you do Haram!”
Relegating Islam to only its legal dimension has had many serious consequences. A massive generation of young people were raised knowing what’s disliked but never knowing why. They came to know a God, Allah, who is easily angered, eager to punish, and very strict about the rules.
Before anyone jumps the gun, let me just say that I’m not undermining the value and importance of the sacred law of Islam. All of it is a revealed gift and part of my faith, and yours, is to cherish and honor it as such. Abiding by it is a noble obligation and defying it is a grievous sin.
Having said that, our religion is far more than just a set of rules. Had that been the case, the Qur’an would have been overflowing with laws and regulations. Yet laws take up the least amount of space in the Book.
We all know how difficult it can be to get others to take action if you use the wrong tone or if you approach them in a way that alienates them, even if it’s in their best interest. No one knows this better than our Master, Allah.
So even when Allah speaks about His laws, He speaks of them in a way that is full of wisdom, love, and mercy. He often tells us the moral underpinnings of the specific regulations He’s giving us. The Qur’an places its primary emphasis on transforming people from within. The laws are simply an outer manifestation of inner purification.
It’s also critical to note that Allah wants good for all people, believing and disbelieving. إن الله لذو فضل على الناس. Allah is the possessor of great favor upon mankind. The fundamental call of the Qur’an is actually to recognize Allah’s favor and come before Him in loving appreciation and gratitude, not resentful fear.
I felt the need to say this because as I reflect upon my own religious experience growing up, I got that same negative perception. Perhaps I wasn’t exposed to Allah’s words properly. I hope this generation is different. I hope that it has a far better relationship with the Qur’an than my generation did. And through it, they deepen their conviction in a Loving God who gave them a path to self transformation and Who only gave them laws to lighten their burdens in life, not to add to them!
By Allah’s grace, I started an organization called Bayyinah Institute in 2005. Its goal is to help millions of people around the world find inspiration and beauty in the Quran. That’s why I’ve put together a free webinar with you in mind. Whether you consider yourself practicing or not, knowledgeable or not, or qualified or not, I know you will find this webinar interesting and truly beneficial.
In just one word, this webinar is about change. How did Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) inspire change in a society that was seriously skeptical at best and adamantly opposed at worst to his message? And how were those who believed in him able to change themselves completely, inside and out? To give you a hint, it wasn’t through fear and shaming. That isn’t the Sunnah of Allah and it definitely was not the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The Quran highlights a 4-step process for the Messenger (PBUH) to follow in order to cultivate this incredible change in others. That’s exactly what I’m going to illustrate for you in this webinar. It’s a fascinating exploration and I hope you’ll join me for “4 Steps in the Quran for Self Transformation”.
Click on the link below and register.