Make religious practice easy, embrace diversity


Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Amr bin Al ‘Aas: Allah’s Apostle stopped (for a while near the Jimar) at Mina during his last haj for the people and they were asking him questions. A man came and said, “I forgot and got my head shaved before slaughtering the sacrificial animal).” The Prophet said, “There is no harm, go and do the slaughtering now.” Then another person came and said, “I forgot and slaughtered (the camel) before throwing of the pebbles at the Jamra.” The Prophet said, “Do it now and there is no harm.” The narrator added: So on that day, when the Prophet was asked about anything (as regards the ceremonies of haj) performed before or after its due time, his reply was: “Do it (now) and there is no harm.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Points of Reflection

1. This hadith shows how the Prophet made religious practice easy in view of human diversity. It also informs that diversity and differences in non-principle matters of religion is allowed in Islam.

2. An example in applying the above lesson is to offer different opinion of scholar to different person due to his different context. This, thus, highlights the practical value of scholars’ differences in religious matters; they may come handy as solution to diverse situations which make practicing Islam easy and practical.

3. Dakwah activists must always be aware of human diversity. Thus, they must be careful of a one size fits all solution/ruling when attending to human problem. Instead, dakwah activists must always be open to offering different answers to different people as long as they remain within the boundary of our scholars’ tradition.

4. This lesson from the hadith is supported by many verses in the Quran. See for example The Quran, 2:183-5 on obligatory fasting. It offers different ruling of fasting to different people due to their context. Similar spirit can also be discerned from the verse of obligatory haj in the Quran, 2:196-203.

5. If Islam enjoins us to make ibadah (religious rituals) easy by giving due consideration to the natural diversity of human being, it becomes more important in the area of dakwah. Thus, our dakwah approach must be open to various styles and methods to accommodate to different segments of people.