What is the reason why the hadith "Make things easy and do not make things difficult" was uttered by the Prophet? Can we use it regarding any issue?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The reason why the hadith was uttered:

The Prophet (pbuh) gave the following advice to Muadh when he appointed him as the governor of Janad in Yemen:

"Verily, you are going to a people among the People of the Book. Call them to testify there is no God but Allah and I am the Messenger of Allah.

If they accept that, tell them that Allah has rendered five prayers fard in every day and night.

And if they accept that, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them charity to be taken from the rich and given to the poor. If they accept that, beware not to take from the best of their wealth.

Be on guard from the supplication of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and Allah." 1

Meanwhile, Muadh bin Jabal asked the Prophet to give him some advice: "O Messenger of Allah! Give me some advice."

The Messenger of Allah said, "Fear Allah no matter where you are."

Muadh said, "O Messenger of Allah! Give me some more advice."

This time, the Messenger of Allah said, "Do a good deed immediately after a sin so that the sin will be eliminated."

Muadh said, "O Messenger of Allah! Give me some more advice."

The Prophet said, "Treat people with high ethics." 2

The last piece of advice of the Messenger of Allah to Muadh and Abu Musa al-Ashari, who went with Muadh to Yemen, when he saw them of was as follows:

"Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not repel people. Cooperate with each other and do not become divided." 3

References:

1. Musnad, 1:233; Bukhari, 3:73; Muslim, 1:150; Tirmidhi, 3:21.
2. Ibn Kathir, Sirah, 4:194-195.
3. Bukhari, 3:72.

You can use hadiths in different issues by analogy in a way that will not be contrary to the purpose of their utterance. There is no limitation stating that hadiths cannot be used apart from the occasions in which they were uttered.

6. (75)- Anas (radiyallahu anh) narrates: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

"Make things easy and do not make things difficult." The following is stated in another narration: "...make people’s hearts warm; do not repel people..." [Bukhari, Ilm 12, Adab 80; Muslim, Jihad 6, 7, (1732-1733)]

3. (1047)- Abu Musa (radiyallahu anh) narrates: When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sent a Companion somewhere to do something, he would warn him as follows:

"Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not repel people." [Muslim, Jihad, (1732)]

This hadith was narrated through different ways in Bukhari and Muslim. There are various additions in some parts of the other narrations like "Be well-adjusted; do not fall into disagreement; soothe people; do not repel them..."

EXPLANATION:

This narration clearly expresses that the Messenger of Allah warned anybody whom he sent with a duty to treat people leniently. According to a narration by Muslim, he warned Abu Musa and Muadh in the same way when he sent them to Yemen with Abu Burdah and added the following: "Get on well with people; do not conflict with them."

Nawawi states the following: "The Messenger of Allah combined things with their opposites in those phrases. Those two opposite things are made at different times. If he had said only one of them, for instance, "make things easy", a person who made things easy a few times but who generally made things difficult could have said that he obeyed the advice of the Prophet. Since he added "do not make things difficult", he prohibited us from making things difficult in all aspects. That is the purpose of the hadith."

The following decrees are also seen in the hadith:

1. One should always give good news by mentioning the grace of Allah, the greatness of His thawabs, the abundance of His bestowal, and the vastness of His mercy. He should not frighten and repel people by mentioning only scary and threatening things without mentioning glad tidings.

2. One should try to win the hearts of new Muslims and avoid treating them harshly.

3. Likewise, one should act softly and leniently toward children approaching the age of puberty, those who have just reached the age of puberty and those who repented of any sin and gave up that sin; one should accustom them to worshipping and religious responsibilities gradually and slowly. As a matter of fact, all Islamic obligations were sent down gradually. If things are offered gradually to a young person or a non-Muslim who wants to become a Muslim, things will be easy for him and he will gradually increase his deeds by himself. On the contrary, if things are made difficult at the beginning and hesitation occurs in the person, he might start but he might quit completely.

4. Governors and civil servants should be ordered to treat people leniently and mercifully.

5. The people who work together in a task, administration, service, etc. should get along well and avoid conflict because all tasks whether important or unimportant are fulfilled and completed successfully if there is unity. When there is conflict, the purpose is lost.

6. The imam (head of the state) should give advice to the officials he appoints even if they are extraordinary and righteous people like Muadh and Abu Musa (radiyallahu anhuma) because "teaching (advice) benefits the believers." (adh-Dhariyat, 51/55).

This hadith is one of the concise words of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). With the command “rejoice”, we are ordered to remember the grace of Allah, the greatness of His thawabs, the abundance of His bestowal, and the vastness of His mercy and the scope of His pardoning and forgiveness.

In Arabic, tabshir (glad tidings) means giving some news that rejoices people. In that case, with the command “rejoice”, we are ordered to declare that Allah will accept worship, will give thawabs in return for worship, and will help us to repent of sins; we are also ordered to rejoice people by mentioning His pardoning and forgiveness a lot. Similarly, the command "do not repel people" tells us to do the following:

"When you warn people, do not frighten them by exaggerating so much as to cause them to despair of the mercy of Allah thinking that their sins will not be forgiven."

The command "do not make things difficult" prohibits us from causing difficulties by demanding from people more than what they have to do or by seeking their faults.

Considering that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) reminded the officials he sent somewhere with a duty of those issues, it is necessary for all the people who serve the public and who are in contact with people to regard those principles of rejoicing people, not repelling them, making things easy and not making things difficult as the orders of the Prophet (pbuh) given to them.

These warnings should also be a guide to those who preach people. They should not inform people about all orders and prohibitions of the religion in detail all in one breath so as not to show Islam as a religion that cannot be practiced and so as not to make people hate; instead, they should start with the most important and necessary orders and prohibitions and remind people of them gradually along with reminding them of Allah’s forgiveness, the beauties of Paradise and the blessings of Allah to make them love the religion of Islam. This method should be used to introduce Islam to the new converts and children; it is necessary to teach them about the deeds of worship gradually in order to accustom them, to treat them leniently with soft words and to avoid harsh words.

Munawi states the following regarding the issue: "Make things easy for people by telling them the things that will warm their hearts because people accept such preaching.

Otherwise, they hate the things that are difficult for their souls; it should be known that making things easy in teaching causes a person to accept and want worship; consequently, learning and practicing become easier."

Kirmani attracts attention to the following subtlety in the hadith in which the order  "make things easy" is followed by the prohibition "do not make things difficult": "In fact, when something is ordered, its opposite is implicitly prohibited. In the hadith, the order ‘do not make things difficult’, which exists implicitly, is expressed clearly in order to confirm the order make things easy."

Some scholars state the following: "The aim is here is to prohibit making things difficult separately because if the order to make things easy had been used alone, those who made things easy only once and made things difficult several times would have obeyed the order of the hadith. Both of them were mentioned separately in the hadith to prevent it."

Munawi also states the following: "In this hadith, the Prophet Mustafa (pbuh) states that it is necessary to make things easy related to the worldly affairs and to give glad tidings to people related to the issues that interest the hereafter in the best way that will rejoice them. Thus, it will be understood that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was sent as mercy for both worlds. The hadith prohibits repelling people by mentioning frightening things while making things easy by mentioning the mercy of Allah, that is, adding things that will repel things while giving glad tidings."

"It is also ordered in the hadith to win the hearts of new Muslims by abandoning treating them harshly, to start from the easy orders and to make them have good thoughts about Allah. However, the advice and preaching should not consist of hope only. Fear should also be added; fear and hope should be mentioned together like the right hand and the left hand; knowledge and deeds should be mentioned like the two wings of a bird."

We see that this hadith is interpreted in a way that is not in compliance with the spirit of Islam today by some gullible people due to the suggestions of some people with bad intentions who are against Islam. They say things like, "Allah is not a being that we should fear; I love Allah; I do not fear Him. Did the Prophet not say 'give glad tidings; do not frighten?" Such statements are nothing but demagogy and fallacy.

The interpretations of the Islamic scholars are essential in order to prevent the hadith from being diverted. The statements whose utterers and resources are not certain should not be heeded. The sentence mentioned above is essential regarding the issue: Fear and hope should be mentioned together like the right hand and the left hand; knowledge and deeds should be regarded like the two wings of a bird. Our Lord states the following regarding the issue:  يَا اَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وََ تَمُوتُنَّ إَّ وَاَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ 

"O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam." (Aal-i Imran, 3/102).

(Prof. Dr. İbrahim Canan, Kütüb-ü Sitte Translation and Explanation)

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