How would you answer the claim that Islam is complicated but that Christianity is very easy?

The Details of the Question

- There are some missionaries trying to tempt some of our Muslim brothers. They affect the people with weak belief. I have met them a few times. Some of the missionaries, who are generally Christians, address young Muslims as follows:
"Islam is a very complicated religion with unspecified decrees even related to a minor issue. There are many deeds of worship and they all have rules; you can exit the religion if you do not follow these rules. What I mention are not the basic rules. For example, if you do not grow your beard as long as a fist can grasp and if you grow it longer or shorter, it does not comply with the sunnah; if you do not pay attention to it or if it is less than a fistful and if you say it is sunnah, you will exit the religion. If you do not do this or that in prayer, your prayer will not be accepted; if you do not perform fasting like this or that, your fasting will not be accepted. If you do not give zakah like this or that, your zakah will not be accepted. That is, there are rules about everything and those rules are open-ended; there are so many rules.  People have difficulty in implementing them; they cannot do them and they undergo problems. Besides, everybody says something different related to the same issue. It is not clear what is true. Christianity is not so; yes, it does not have deeds of worship like zakah and prayer but you can read the Bible if you want to worship; there is no zakah, but if you want to help some people, you can help. There is nothing like ‘you must have this or that length bread, you must follow these or those rules when you worship; otherwise, you will exit the religion’. There are so many details about a fiqh subject in Islam and there are even different views. People have difficulty in following them; they get confused; they cannot be sure they are doing things correctly. Christianity is not like that; it is a religion that everyone can follow and be peaceful. There are certain rules and it is enough to follow them. There are not too many details, i.e. rules to follow in a deed of worship."

I met them myself. Since our knowledge was not enough, we could not give an appropriate answer. What would you say about this issue?
- I need to help Muslim brothers in this regard.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- First of all, we should say that this missionary should first solve the nonsensical issue of the creed of trinity (son-father-holy spirit), which is the basis of the religion of Christianity and convince us of it. After that, he can speak about the religion of Islam.

- It is accepted that “there are many deeds of worship and they all have rules” but is said that it is complicated since there are rules. However, any sane person knows that there is a system and order in a place where there are rules and principles. Where there is a system and order, there is no confusion but a regular mechanism, transparency and clear information.

Complication is in question only related to the issues that remain ambiguous and whose details are not explained. A sane person will never use the word “complicated” to express the fact that deeds of worship such as prayer, fasting, zakah and hajj are explained in details.  

- The claim “there are so many details about a fiqh subject in Islam and there are even different views. People have difficulty in following them; they get confused; they cannot be sure they are doing things correctly” in the question is not true. People’s different interpretation exist in all religions. The fiqh differences in the four madhhabs of Ahl as-Sunnah in Islam do not confuse the followers of that madhhab; they do not have difficulty in worshipping according to that madhhab either.  

To speak about this issue “is not like playing the flute from a distance”. The witnessing of those who do it is essential. Christians shed so much blood for centuries due to the deep conflicts about the Bibles, which are the religious resources of Christians, in religious wars. It is not possible to compare this religion, whose origin was changed, with Islam.

As Badiuzzaman Said Nursi expresses, apart from one occasion (the Incident of Jamal, Siffin), no religious/internal war took place in Islam. We will quote his statement here so that the missionary will learn his lesson:

“Thirdly: To compare Islam with Christianity is a false comparison and wrong. For when it was bigoted in its religion, Europe was not civilized; it became civilized on giving up its bigotry. Furthermore, religion caused three hundred years of war between them. And since it was the means of despotic tyrants crushing the common people, the poor, and thinkers who were in their power, they all felt a temporary disgust at religion.”

“However, in Islam, history testifies that apart from one occasion, religion has not been the cause of internal war. Also, whenever the people of Islam have adhered in earnest to their religion, they have advanced proportionately, achieving significant progress. Witness to this is the greatest master of Europe, the Islamic state of Andalusia. But whenever the Islamic community has been slack in religion, it has sunk into wretchedness, and declined.” (Mektubat, p. 325)

- It should not be forgotten that nobody – even that missionary – can show that a Muslim cleric or scholar exited the religion of Islam and became a Jew or Christian based on reasoning and definite evidence throughout history. However, the number of people – including their clerics and scholars – in history and today is quite high. The following determination of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi regarding the issue is remarkable:

“History presents no evidence from the Era of Bliss up to the present day for any Muslims having preferred another religion to Islam and embraced another religion on the strength of reason. There are some Muslims who exit the religion of Islam but it is a different issue. Imitating them is unimportant.”   

“However, as a result of reasoned argument and definite proofs, the followers of other religions have embraced Islam in groups. If we were to display through our actions the perfections of the moral qualities of Islam and the truths of belief, the followers of other religions would enter Islam in groups.” (Münazarat, p. 45- 46)

- The claim “those rules are open-ended” expressed for the rules of Islamic deeds of worship in the question is a lie consisting of slyness and misty ignorance.

- The claim “you can exit the religion if you do not follow these rules” is a big lie like the previous one.  

Anybody who knows the religion of Islam knows very well that the most distinguished principle of Ahl as-Sunnah creed is as follows: “A believer does not exit the religion of Islam due to any sin no matter how big it is unless he denies (the principles of belief).” (see al-Fiqhul-Akbar, 1/43)

- In the question, the deeds of worship left to people’s will and deeds like doing favors are compared to the deeds of worship ordered by Allah in Islam and the following statement is included: “...it does not have deeds of worship like zakah and prayer but you can read the Bible if you want to worship; there is no zakah, but if you want to help some people, you can help.”

That statement of the missionary is like confessing the truth; he expresses the truth unwillingly:

In the question, zakah, which is a compulsory duty Islam assigns to the rich as a humanitarian duty is compared to “optional” charities in Christianity. In fact, helping the poor in the human community, where there are always rich and poor people, is a very important thing and it cannot be optional. It is necessary to render a certain amount of financial help obligatory. It is a necessity of being a human.  

The following is stated: “There is no deed of worship similar to prayer but a person can read the Bible if he wants...”

However, the greatest purpose of religions is to worship Allah after belief. This duty of worshipping is determined by divine revelation and it cannot be left to the conscience of people.

Besides, the writers of the Bible are certain people. How can one worship by reading a book that is not divine revelation. In fact, as it is stated in the Quran, the worship of prayer with ruku’ and sajdah exists in the original religion of Hz. Isa (Jesus.

- The claim “grow a beard of this or that length; follow such and such rules when you worship; otherwise you will exit the religion...” is a baseless slander that is a product of ignorance.

As we have stated above, according to the creed of Ahl as-Sunnah in Islam, nobody exits the religion of Islam because he does not worship or because he commits a sin.

Besides, according to an important part of the Islamic scholars, it is sunnah to grow a beard. Abandoning a sunnah is not regarded as unbelief; it is not even regarded as a sin.

What is more, none of those who regard growing a beard wajib has claimed that “a person who does not grow a beard exits the religion.”

May Allah include us among those who know the last religion and the last prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) truly and who attain the honor of following the religion of Islam! Amin!

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