Is Islam a Harsh Religion?
QIs Islam a harsh religion?
Islam is a religion of peace and mercy. Harshness comes from a lack of deep, comprehensive knowledge and that is what drives hastiness in judgment or harshness in practice.
Peace be upon you,
I greet you with the greeting of Islam, the greeting of “peace”, as taught by The Most Merciful Lord who said:
“[…] greet one another with the greeting of peace prescribed by Allah blessed and pure. Thus Allah makes His revelations clear to you, so that you may grow in understanding.” (Quran 24: 61)
Is Islam a Harsh Religion?
You’re asking whether Islam is “a harsh religion”. Islam is the religion where the Lord & Creator, Allah Almighty says:
“When the believers in Our revelations come to you, say, “Peace be upon you! Your Lord has decreed upon Himself mercy. Whoever among you commits evil ignorantly ˹or recklessly˺ then repents afterward and mends their ways, then Allah is truly All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”(Quran 6:54)
Islam is the religion where the Creator Allah Almighty starts His Book by introducing Himself saying:
“In the Name of Allah—the Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. All praise is for Allah—Lord of all the worlds, the Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,” (Quran 1: 1-3)
So the Truth is: Allah is the Source & Creator of Mercy who sent His Final Prophet, Muhammad, as a mercy to the worlds with a revelation that teaches people purification and mercy.
And here is a brief analysis of that.
Allah: The Lord & Creator of Mercy
Allah Almighty created the universe out of nothing. He is the Creator of the physical world and the Creator of the souls and noble meanings in the universe. The meanings of Mercy, Compassion, Gentleness, Affection did not exist before or beyond Allah.
These are His Names & Attributes, and He instilled them into the world in the hearts of His creations and instructed people to grow in those meanings.
See the below hadiths (Prophetic sayings) for example:
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said:
“Allah is Gentle and loves gentleness, and He grants reward for it that He does not grant for harshness.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Ibn Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
“Shall I not tell you whom the Hellfire is forbidden to touch? It is forbidden to touch a man who is always accessible, having polite and tender nature.” [At- Tirmidhii].
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As: The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, He Who is in heaven will show mercy to you.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
What types of hearts does Allah love? The most compassionate and tender ones.
Abu ‘Inabah reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), said,
“Verily, Allah has vessels among the people of the earth, and the vessels of your Lord are the hearts of his righteous servants. The most beloved of them to him are the softest and most tender of them.” [Al Albani. Strong chain of narration]
The Mercy of the Final Messenger of Allah: Muhammad
So, Allah is The Incomparably Merciful, and He sent His Messenger out of mercy. Allah Almighty who created Prophet Muhammad said about Him:
“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” (Quran 21: 107)
We have sound narrations that Prophet Muhammad was most gentle and most merciful towards all those around him. His wives reported that in his life and after his death, his servants reported that, his companions reported that and even his honest enemies reported that he was gentle, merciful, and noble.
He taught men in detail to take care of the women in their lives, taught parents to take care of their children, taught leaders to take care of their people, and taught every member of the community their full rights and obligations as revealed by the Creator.
Anyone who studies adequately, comprehensively, and objectively the biography of the Prophet from credible non-orientalist and non-Islamophobic sources will see this clearer than daylight.
The Ease & Mercy of Islam
Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“Make things easy and do not make them difficult, cheer the people up by conveying glad tidings to them and do not repulse (them).” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
And Allah Almighty says:
“[…] Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship” (Quran: 2: 185)
And He said:
“Allah wants to make clear to you [the lawful from the unlawful] and guide you to the [good] practices of those before you and to accept your repentance. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.
Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation.
And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties], and mankind was created weak.” (Quran 4: 26-28)
The Essence of Teaching, Law & Order
Allah sent His Messenger to teach and purify people and societies. The standpoint of this is mercy and gentleness, but what if there are criminals, wrongdoers, and unjust people, how do we deal with that?
Mercy is still there, but there must be disciplinary actions, and the purpose of that is to protect the societies and deter people from further indulging in self and societal destruction. In any country or community, leaders enact laws to deter criminals from indulging in corruption and injustice.
Bear that in mind as you think of Islam as the last and final revelation sent to all mankind until the end of time. It is sent to people, not sent to angels. So, Allah Almighty revealed to His Messenger the teachings that help spread mercy and halt corruption and injustice by the right measures to each case.
If one has insufficient knowledge, he/she might look at a specific law, order, saying, or incident, glue them together while taking them out of their holistic context, and then come to a hasty flawed conclusion about Islam being “harsh”. This is a flaw in people’s process of learning, not a flaw in Islam. Islam is perfect and impeccable.
If Islam is not a Harsh Religion – Where Does The Claim of Harshness Come From?
It comes from people’s ignorance; whether those who question with ignorance or those who practice with ignorance. Lack of deep, comprehensive knowledge is what drives hastiness in judgment or harshness in practice.
But Islam is not a religion of ignorance, it is a religion of knowledge and sound judgment and reason. Only those who are objective, patient, and sincere will study adequately and find the truth and practice it as revealed and intended.
But those who don’t want to put the effort into finding the truth or those who want to practice the revelation according to their desires and inadequacies will end up falling into multiple forms of ugliness, not just harshness.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)