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Published On:03 May 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

ISLAM: Simple Or Complicated?

By Wasim Ahmad


Islam is as simple as philosophy and as complicated as commonsense.


They say in Persian: Shud pareeshaa(n) khwaab-e man az kasrat-e ta‘beerhaa (my dream got spoilt by so many interpretations), and it sums up the case of Islam very well. Maybe our ta‘beer of Islam is complicated while Islam is in fact quite philosophical i.e. very simple. Islam will be complicated when we will consider “interpretation of Sharee‘ah laws or Hadeeth or Fatwas or Personal laws or matters dealing with madrasas” as “religious” and matters like “Muslim educational institutions, or reservation for Muslims in educational institutions and jobs, or the need to address the community’s socioeconomic and educational uplift, or the political situation of the community, or the civil liberties, or the situation of Muslim women” as “non-religious”. And we will do so with utmost self-confidence and with no room for second-thoughts.


Islam is a ‘way of life’ – very simple. It sounds complicated because it is divorced from life. It gives a direction and greater sense to all that we do. Without it we will not be able to satisfactorily reason any higher purposes of our actions. It gives the complete answer. If I were to meet Charles Darwin I would ask him, “Thanks a lot for taking the pain of explaining to us where we have come from. Kindly tell us more about the origin of species and how the fittest survive. After having done the above, please do one more favour and tell us what are we supposed to do on this earth and what is our ultimate objective and destination – after having successfully evolved from all the named and unnamed species”. If, however, we settle down for an incomplete answer then the simplicity of Islam will elude us.


Islam guides the human beings in every aspect of life with its beautiful principles – without dividing it into the categories of “religious” and “non-religious” or Deeni and Dunyaawi. You divorce it from life and it will become extremely complicated. It will become difficult to understand and explain. Because it will not have a frame reference. It will lose the ground which is where it was supposed to be standing. When you keep it in suspended animation it will not be itself. It will certainly complicate the situation. When we hear a lecture dealing only with what is beneath the earth or above the heavens we are certainly going to say, “Islam is really complicated, my friend”.


Islam does not make the lawful unlawful and the unlawful lawful. It is between fisq (transgression) and rahbaaniyyah (monasticism). Islam is not about speeding when the signal is red. It is not about remaining stationary even when the signal is green. (For an assessment of the current situation we only need to ask a few people about the percentage of Halaal and Haraam in Islam and then analyze the answers.) This is what is meant by the ‘middlemostness’ (wasatiyyah), which is inherent to Islam. As soon as we utter ‘Islam’ it immediately implies wasatiyyah. This is the ‘bi-polarity’ of Islam which combines the East and the West (soul and body) – seamlessly. If, however, we do not combine the two despite believing in Oneness then Islam will certainly be complicated.


Islam and truth are one and the same thing. If instead of walking all the way to the truth we start urging the truth to follow our path it will not remain simple anymore. Because it will not remain truth anymore. An incomplete truth is anything but truth. Ek bhi harf ahtaanay ki nahee(n) gunjaa’ish! Truth has never been complicated. Our perception of Islam has, in fact, been partial and distorted. Truth is not easily recognized due to the conditioning effects of generations after generations. Hence, truth has become extremely “complicated” and highly “philosophical”.


Islam is a religion of common humanity. It is as simple for that humanity as air, light and water within everyone’s reach and satisfying everyone’s need in all walks of life (whether public or private). If it remained like that it was simple. But it has become a private affair. Becoming a private affair and a matter of personal preference, it has immediately become complicated. Now it is so complicated that we don’t know in which aspects of our life we can refer to this manual and in which situations there isn’t any need, in fact! In many a matters of life it is obviously non-applicable!! Being applicable at one time and non-applicable at another and a constant switching between the two is a sure recipe for making it complicated.


For commonsense to become common and for philosophy to become simple we will have to change our discourse. We will have to redefine the terminologies which we frequently use in a borrowed sense. We are not going to use new words for a change in the discourse. We are only going to assign new meanings to the already existing words. Or more correctly, to regain the lost meanings. If we do not do so, Islam will not become as simple as philosophy and as complicated as commonsense.


[Wasim Ahmad is Department Head of Islamic Studies, Preston University, Ajman, UAE. He can be contacted at malikwasimahmad@gmail.com or +971505363235]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on May 03, 2011. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on May 03, 2011. Filed under , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

1 comments for "ISLAM: Simple Or Complicated?"

  1. i don't know much about Islam.

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