Hence the Quran says, “There is no compulsion in (acceptance of) the religion (the system and order of Allah; sunnatullah)[1] That is, no individual or organization or government has the right or responsibility to enforce a religious regulation upon another person, as this isn’t something that can be achieved via compulsion. Say you are a believer, but you do not attend the congregational Friday prayer, but you believe in Allah, the authenticity of the Quran and that Muhammad (saw) is the Rasul of Allah… Now, if I were to threaten and force you into attending the Friday prayers, you may end up going, but totally unwillingly. Doing something without really wanting to is a form of hypocrisy! Hence, through compulsion, a believer is reduced to the state of a hypocrite! Nobody has the right to enforce such a reduction upon anyone! None has the jurisdiction to impose a religious law upon anyone! This is what the Quran teaches; the Quran encourages everyone to draw their paths according to their own conscious will and reason.

Hence, it is said Islam is an ‘invitation’!

The practices known as the pillars of Islam are ‘offers’; they give the person the option of either complying with certain recommendations to reach favorable outcomes or refusing to do so at their own expense. It is the choice of the person whether they want to take advantage of this or not.

Islam encourages the person to take up certain practices as a result of their own conscious choice based on their own personal belief and in preparation of their own hereafter. There is no compulsion! Besides, all of us are invited to follow the Rasul of Allah (saw), not a sheikh or a tariqah or any particular school of Islam. Religion addresses the intellect; it encourages contemplation and inquisition. Religion encourages the individual to draw and direct their own path in life. Therefore, each person’s understanding of the Quran and the teachings of Rasulullah (saw) is to themselves. Islam does not stipulate any form of blind following! On the contrary, it encourages man to use his intellect and reason.

This is why I stress the importance of research and inquiry to define the direction of one’s life. This is why I refrain from imposing a religious leadership role upon anyone and do not call anyone to follow my understanding or me! Regardless of how the ignorant ones want to label me, these labels have no validity. Religious labels, ranks and positions are inapplicable in Islam.

We must evaluate the teachings of religion realistically. The practices that are advised by the Rasul of Allah (saw) are not a ‘package deal.’ It’s not like you have to do either all or none. This is an erroneous view. The Quran advises many practices, such as performing salat, fasting, giving alms (zakah), performing the pilgrimage (hajj), abstaining from things like lying, rumors, adultery and gambling, etc… The extent to which we apply these in our lives is how much we will benefit, and the extent to which we neglect them will define the consequences we will face. If one can fast during Ramadan, but not perform the daily salat that is fine; it would be wrong to abandon fasting just because one does not pray. It is an enormous mistake to make such claims and stop people from praying or fasting. The consequences of not fulfilling certain practices binds that person alone; none has the right to make judgments on behalf of Allah!

[1] Quran 2:256

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