Have your kids ever asked you:
Why is everything haram?
Why is Islam so strict?
Is this something that you have heard?
Let’s explore why Muslim youth can view Islam as a burden. Where are these ideas coming from? We need to understand the source, then we can address them and provide a convincing answer and help our teenagers who are feeling disgruntled.
How to answer the question: Why does Islam have so many rules?
So, here is the way I would answer this question. Inshallah, please read it carefully, once you have understood it, adapt it to your child, then have a calm discussion with them. You’ll probably have several discussions and that’s a good thing. Begin with some questions:
- Do you go to school?
- Do you line up in the canteen for lunch?
- Do you dress in a certain way? i.e. school uniform or socially accepted clothes
- Do you stop at a crossing when the traffic lights turn green?
- Do you follow social codes when you interact with people?
- Do you pay for items you buy at the shops?
These are all actions you carry out. Rules that you follow routinely without thinking about it every day. Do you think they are restrictive? Do’s and don’ts that are preventing you from having fun? Maybe you do think they are a pain, but you do follow the rules because deep down you know if you want to get ahead in life and function in society you have to abide by these rules.
- Imagine a school without rules: learning would not happen.
- Imagine a country without laws: chaos would ensue, criminals would go unpunished.
- Imagine a family without rules: individualism and disrespect would prevail.
If you think about it, your whole life is governed by rules and laws for example:
- school rules, exam rules, coursework deadlines, specific school holiday dates.
- workplace rules, answering to a boss, work dress code.
Do you have a choice when it comes to obeying rules?
We all have a choice whether we obey the rules or not. If we do not obey the rules in society, there are consequences and punishments. Every society has laws and rules, that they have decided to organise society. If you choose to disobey the rules you will be classed as a criminal.
When we think about these rules placed on us by our local council and government, we think they are necessary, useful, they ensure everything runs smoothly.
So why do you feel that the rules you have to follow in Islam are strict, but the rules you follow socially and at school, they are not authoritarian?
How much freedom do we have?
There is this notion that in western secular liberal societies we have freedom. Freedom to dress how we want, freedom to say what we want, freedom to do what we want. We do not have unregulated freedom. In reality, what we do have is a wide variety of choices when it comes to clothes, food, entertainment, dating, jobs, etc. But we cannot deny that we all have to follow the rules and laws of the land. (You must explain later that, as Muslims, we don’t follow a law that contradicts Islam). These rules and laws are decided by imperfect humans, men, and women just like you and me who are easily influenced, with our biases and prejudices.
Historically, we can see what people think is a good law and what’s a bad law constantly changes. For example:
- In Britain, it was still illegal to be gay until 1967 and people could be sent to prison for it.
- Until 1968 abortion was illegal.
- A smoking ban in England, making it illegal to smoke in all enclosed workplaces in England, came into force on 1 July 2007.
Do you really want to be blindly following rules dictated by people who constantly change their minds?
Is the Shariah strict?
There is a perception that Islamic rules are more difficult and stricter. In fact, the secular liberal societies we live in are becoming more controlling. In 2019 governments control and monitor our actions more than ever before.
“In June 2013 the US whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed that the US and the UK security services are routinely collecting, processing and storing vast quantities of global digital communications, including email messages, posts and private messages on social networks, internet histories, and phone calls.
The UK government hasn’t publicly accepted that these mass-spying programmes exist – they ‘neither confirm nor deny’ the existence of Tempora, the mass-surveillance system allegedly run by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).” Amnesty International
Just think about the amount of CCTV cameras we have in our cities. Think of the numerous parking restrictions we all have to follow. Think of the number of rubbish bins we have, one for recycling, one for food waste, and another for garden waste. (I’m sure you can think of better examples!). Isn’t this the type of control and burden that you are complaining about Islam? It’s just that instead of Allah it’s people that are deciding the rules you are following. We know Allah loves us, cares for us takes care of our needs and knows what is best for us because He created us.
Why does Islam have so many rules?
“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (2:216)
And in the Hadith Nawawi the prophet (saw) said:
“Verily, Allah the Almighty has laid down fara’id (religious obligations), so do not neglect them. He has set boundaries, so do not overstep them. He has prohibited some things, so do not violate them; about some things, He was silent on, out of compassion for you, not forgetfulness, so seek not after them.”
As your parent, I love you and want what’s best for you in this life and the next. Allah has given me certain responsibilities and I can’t ignore them.
The next discussion you should really have with your child is why should we obey the rules Allah has given us. The rules your child is questioning come from the Quran and the Sunnah so firstly you need to speak to them about:
- How we know for sure that Allah is our creator and therefore he knows what is best for us.
- Secondly why the Quran, which has many of the rules we follow, the word of Allah and was not written by a man. I have written an easy to understand book on both of these topics – BELIEF IN ALLAH, THE QURAN AND PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAW)
So that’s how I would answer the question “Why does Islam have so many rules?” inshallah if you have any suggestions then please add them to the comments section, jzk