Kifah MustaphaSharia and Lifting Strain

Allah (SW) brought down revelation and initiated rulings to protect the human race and to match their needs in harmony with their natural inclination (Fitra) by lifting any strain and bringing ease into Sharia. Allah (SW) said: {God does not wish to place any strain upon you. Rather, He intends to purify you and to perfect His blessings upon you}[1] 5:6. In another verse, Allah (SW) also said: {For it is He [alone] who has chosen you [for the faith] – nor has He placed on you any [undue] strain in [your] religion} 22:78.

The life of the Prophet (SAAW) was a true demonstration of this theme. Aiesha (RAA) described the Prophet (SAAW) by saying: “When the Prophet (SAAW) was to make a choice between two matters he chose the one of ease as long as it was not that of a sin.”[2] And when the Prophet (SAAW) sent Abu Musa and Muaz to Yemen he told both of them: “[Bring] glad tidings and not that of aversion and [bring] ease and do not [bring] hardship.”[3]

The scope that Sharia brought ease and lifted strain on Muslims is summarized in these six areas: (Illness; travel; being forgetful; being forced; ignorance; and general non-preventable problems.)

The term used in Sharia when someone acts on the ease is called: (Rukhsa) translated as exemption, license, permit or unconstraint. The opposite of (Rukhsa) is called (Azeemah) translated as assertiveness or decidedness or acting on the original ruling. The exemption comes in levels, for not all exemptions are the same:

  1. Choice is neutral; it is up to you to choose for the preference is the same: An example would be like breaking fast while traveling.
  2. Choice is preferred; it is better to use the exemption: An example would be shortening prayer during travel for it was always narrated that the prophet (SAAW) did shorten prayers during traveling.
  3. Choice is preferred not; it is better not to use the exemption but if used you are not liable: An example would be like if forced to curse or use foul words against God or the Prophet (SAAW).
  4. Choice is a must; it is an obligation to use the exemption for the preservation of a matter that is honored in Islam: An example would be to drink wine if death is feared from thirst if no other liquid is available to save your life.

Here are some examples of the areas that Islam lifted strain and brought ease:

Illness (Al-Maradd)

Muslims trust God’s wisdom in the hardships that people go through in life including sickness. The Prophet (SAAW) spoke of the rewards that a person can gain by practicing patience when tested in hardships like illness. He (SAAW) said: “Nothing touches the Muslim whether fatigue, illness, stress, sadness, harm or depression even the (pain of a) thorn that touches him, but Allah would erase (because of that) his sins."[4] Also the Prophet (SAAW) said: “If a Muslim was ill for three days, he will be cleared from all his sins like the day his mother gave birth to him.”[5]

Because of such weakness that prevents the person to hold on to Sharia rulings, Islam exempted people from the liability of such commitments during illness.

  1.  Imran Ibn Husain (RAA) said: I had hemorrhoids, so I asked the Prophet (SAAW) and he said: “Pray standing, or if you cannot, then sitting, and if you cannot, then lying on your side.”[6] We learn from this Hadith that although standing during prayer is a must yet because of illness it was exempted.
  2. Although we know that the Prophet (SAAW) did not permit males to wear gold and silk[7], he (SAAW) permitted Alzubair and Abdurrahman Ibn Aowf to wear silk for a rash on their skin.[8]

Travel (Al-Safar)

Traveling is part of people’s normal life. People travel for Hajj, Umrah, business, family etc. The Prophet (SAAW) spoke of the hardship of travel and said: “Traveling is a piece of pain; it prevents a person his sleep and food, so if someone is done of his matters let him rush back to his family.”[9]

  1.  Travelers are exempted from Friday Khutbah. Jaber (RAA) narrated that (during travel of Hajj on Arafah) Azan and Iqamah were called and (the Prophet SAAW) prayed Zuhur and Asr and did not pray anything in between.”[10]
  2.  Al-Mugheera Ibn Shu’bah (RAA) narrated that: “I was with the Prophet (SAAW) during a travel so I went down to remove his leather socks (Khuff) but he (SAAW) said: “Leave them for I entered them clean.”[11] The duration of wiping while traveling is three days while if residing it is only one day.

Being forgetful (Al-Nisyaan)

Humans are not perfect and the term human in Arabic (Insan) has the meaning of (being forgetful). With this in mind, Islam lifted strain and brought ease on matters if people did not remember things they must do. The Prophet (SAAW) said: “Lifted (as a burden) off my Ummah; mistakes, forgetful matters and that which they were forced into it.”[12]

  1.  The Prophet (SAAW) said: “Whoever forgot a prayer let him pray when he remembers for no (Kaffarah) make up for it but such.”[13]
  2. The Prophet (SAAW) said: “If someone forgot and ate or drank, let him finish his fasting for Allah (SW) has fed him and quenched his thirst.

Being forced (Al-Ikrah)

People practice aggression toward others and use power to implement what they want even if victims do not wish that. Because of such circumstances where power is used to force people into things they wish not to do, Islam lifted such strain and brought ease in rulings of this matter. Allah (SW) set a major theme about freedom of choice in the most important matter of all; religion: Allah (SW) said: {There shall be no compulsion in religion} 2:256.

  1.  The story of Ammar Ibn Yasser (RAA) is well known in the Seerah where the people of Quraish killed his parents and tortured him to speak bad words against God and His messenger (SAAW). When he complained to the Prophet (SAAW) about what had happened to him, the Prophet (SAAW) said: “How do you feel in your heart?” Ammar (RAA) said: “Settled in faith.” The Prophet (SAAW) said: “If they come back (to torture) go back (to such words).”[14]
  2.  There is a story about two Muslims captured by Musailamah the liar. He asked the first if he admits that he (Musailamah) is a messenger, and he said yes, but the other said ‘I can’t hear you.’  Musailamah killed the second and kept the first alive. When this matter came to the Prophet (SAAW) he said: “As for the first, he took the (Rukhsa), and the second spoke clearly of the truth; glad tidings to him.”[15]

Ignorance (Al-Jahl)

Life in Islam is a journey of learning and if someone is not aware yet of an Islamic matter he should not be held liable if he did not act in accordance to the teaching of Islam. Yes, there are things all Muslims should know as basics, but factors such as age, or Muslims new to the faith, or people living in areas where not much teaching has been introduced should be included under the term of ignorance in which Islam lifted strain on Muslims and brought ease in the rulings.

  1.  It is Haram in Islam to marry a female who is your sister or (milk sister) because of nursing from the same mother. But if someone did not know that, and he married someone who did nurse from the same woman as he did, he will not be liable for that Haram. (Of course such a matter must be confirmed and if so, separation is a must.)
  2.  If someone was a new Muslim and did not know that he is not supposed to eat pork or drink wine, he will not be liable until he is educated of such rulings.

General non-preventable problems (U’moom Al-Balwa)

There are matters which are not practical to prevent in real life. It could be because it is a small matter, not major in Islam, or because sometimes the environment or circumstances around you do not allow you to avoid it.

  1.  Um Salamah (RAA) said to the Prophet (SAAW) that her dress rolls behind her over filthy dirt! He (SAAW) said: “That which is after it (of clean dirt) will clear (clean) it.”[16]
  2.  Dogs used to pass through the Masjid Al-Nabawi leaving the filth of their saliva or urine, and Sahabah did not clean after them.[17] (keep in mind it was an open floor of dirt and sand).

These areas of lifting strain in Islam show the beauty of this religion and its practicality and its ability to be in harmony with all people’s needs in all times at all places. Al-Hamdulillah that Allah (SW) chose us as Muslims to belong to such truth, ameen.

By Sh. Kifah Mustapha



[1] This part of the verse came after introducing the concept of Tayammum for those who could not find water for cleansing.

[2] Hadith narrated by Bukhari.

[3] Hadith narrated by Bukhari.

[4] Hadith narrated by Bukhari.

[5] Hadith narrated by Tabarani.

[6] Hadith narrated by Bukhari.

[7] Refer to Hadith when the Prophet (SAAW) held both and said: “These are Haram on the males of my Ummah.” Hadith narrated by Ibn Majah.

[8] Hadith narrated by Bukhari.

[9] Hadith narrated by Bukhari.

[10] Hadith narrated by Muslim.

[11] Hadith narrated by Bukhari.

[12] Hadith narrated by Ibn Hazm in the Book of Al-Muhalla.

[13] Hadith narrated by Bukhari.

[14] Hadith narrated by Ibn Hajar.

[15] Look at Islamic Fiqh, Ibadat by Dr Nabulsi class # 9.

[16] Hadith narrated by Abu Daoud.

[17] Hadith narrated by Bukhari.