Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth, best who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. (Qur'an 16:125)
RELIGION OR WAY OF LIFE SHOULD NOT BE RIGID BUT BE FLEXIBLE.
Religion or a way of life, should not be rigid but should be flexible. Islam is very rigid, has several rules, with do’s and don’ts. Why is it so?
The brother has asked a very good question. He asks, “Why is Islam such a rigid religion with do’s and don’ts, although a religion as a way of life should be flexible and not rigid. I agree with the brother, that religion as a way of life should be flexible and not rigid, (every rule and regulation for anything to function properly then should at least be a few sets of fixed rules). Overall I agree with you that a way of life should be flexible, but a few set of rules are necessary for any system to function properly. For example, if the government of India has to function well there should be a few set of rulese.g. no one should rape, no one should rob, no one should cheat.If you do not have these rules, so as to be flexible, then someone could come and rape your sister or rape my sister. Would you like a life, where someone comes and robs you. Do you not agree that if the country has to run properly at least few rules have to be enacted / implemented, viz no one should rob, no one should rape, no one should cheat. Other things are necessary e.g. you become a doctor, you become an engineer, you stay in Bombay, you stay in Delhi are optional. Similarly in Islam, there are a few do’s and don’ts, while every thing else is optional. A few do’s and don’ts for example, you should believe in only One God; you should offer Salaah; you should give charity if you are rich; you should fast during the month of Ramzan; should be there. Remaining you can be a Muslim living in India, whether you are a Muslim living in America or in Saudi Arabia. Whether you are black or white, or yellow or brown or rich or poor, you are a Muslim. Is not Islam flexible? Yes, most of the things are flexible.
For any system to be successful, there has to be basic set of rules which are fixed. For example, if you want to learn English, you should know A,B,C,D. The styles of teaching may differ. St. Peter’s School may have a different style of teaching English language i.e. reading, writing and understanding. St. Mary’s School may have a different style from Rosary School. If you go to America, they have a different type of English from Britain, but the basic rule is same i.e. A,B,C,D. Whether you are in America or India or St. Peter’s School or St. Mary’s School, if you want to read and write and understand English, first you should know A,B,C,D. There is no other option. That rule is fixed. Other things like pronunciation etc. may differ. You may teach with pictures or teach with pencils or with paper - the style will differ. The Basic rules should be the same. If you want to know Maths, you should know 1,2,3, or else you cannot do maths. Thus, the basic set of rules should be there.
The same is in Islam. There are a few do’s and don’ts, whereas the remaining are optional. When it comes to wearing clothes, a few basic rules exist. A man should cover himself from navel to knees whereas a woman’s complete body except face, hands up to the wrists should be covered - clothes should not be tight or transparent, clothes should not be glamorous, clothes should not resemble that of the opposite sex, and should not resemble that of the unbeliever. You can wear cotton or terricotton, or georjetor the latest or old model shirt. You can imitate Amitabh Bachan or Raj Kapoor as long as it fulfills the Islamic criteria, the rest is optional. Whether you wear a blue shirt or green shirt, or a white shirt, or black shirt, so far as you fulfill the Islamic criteria. For every system to be successful, a little rigidity must be there. So I agree with you that life should not be fully rigid. Islam is not fully rigid but it is the media which portrays Islam as very rigid. For the complete life to be successful, the basic fundamentals should be fixed, along with a few options. For example, few rules for eating of food – Pork is haram, alcohol is haram. On the other hand, you can have chicken, or mutton biryani, or veg. pulav or roti.
There are many options but the do’s and don’ts are few. Therefore , for any manner of life to be successful, a few of the rules should be rigid and the remaining should be flexible, and Islam is the best example. Alhamdulillah it shows a complete way of life which caters to the body as well as to the soul. It is a complete way of life along with the Instruction Manual - The Qur’an just as every machine requires a manual, human beings also require a manual with do’s and don’ts are very essential.
Hope that answers the question and hope that summarizes everyone’s answer also.