Many years ago, I spent time teaching my best friend about Islam. She enjoyed the lessons, but never became Muslim. Her reason? She said, “Islam makes sense, but there are too many rules.” Since then, I’ve heard that same statement repeated several times by other people.
The truth is, Islam does have a lot of rules. As Muslims, we don’t think of them as rules, though. We think of them as instructions for how to live an Islamic life. We think of them as steps we must take to make Allah (God) happy so that we can enter Jennah (Heaven). We think of it this way: a manufacturer of a computer creates a user manual, a set of instructions for proper use and operation of the machine. Why wouldn’t Allah, our Creator, give us an instruction manual? We think it only makes sense that our Creator would give us explicit instructions for how we should live, worship, and treat others.
[h]The Ultimate Instruction Manual[/h]
For the first line of instruction, we turn to the Holy Koran. We believe that the words in the Koran come from Allah. More than a collection of parables and religious stories, the Koran gives quite specific instructions about much of life including marriage, treatment of neighbors, and estate planning. Whenever we have a question about whether a thing is allowed or not, we turn to the Koran first.
[h]Next Line of Command[/h]
If we cannot find our issue addressed in the Koran, we turn to the Sunnah, or example of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). We have hadiths, or stories narrated from the life of the Prophet. These hadiths cover a broad range of topics, from prayer and worship to parenting and marital intimacy. Second to the Koran, the Sunnah is a great source of guidance for Muslim people.
Sometimes we will encounter a modern issue that is not covered by the Koran or Sunnah. Nuclear war, television, and mortgages, for example, were not in existence at the time of the Prophet (PBUH) and were not addressed in Holy texts. In cases like that we turn to scholars. Scholars are well-respected individuals who are highly educated in Islamic matters. They will study the Koran and Sunnah and try to apply the rules and morals to modern issues. After careful study, they issue a fatwa, or religious ruling. These rulings should always be backed up by Koran and Sunnah as much as possible.
By following a careful line of authority, Muslims can find answers to most every issue they encounter. Although no one is perfect and we all sin, we can strive to live an Islamic life… at least most of the time!