Allah Almighty knows and understands His creatures, the Descendants of Adam,
best. He Almighty knows their capacities and debilities, their excellences and their
shortcomings, and He only expects from them in accordance with what He knows
about them. As our Lord has decreed that, throughout the ages, it should become
increasingly difficult for human beings to live in accordance with what is good for
them. Allah their Lord, has lessened His expectations of them. He Almighty knows full
well that the people of the last time will not be capable of much obedience or devotion
to Him, and therefore He has made the successive Divine Laws revealed through His
Prophets progressively easier and less demanding, culminating in the Law revealed to
the Last and the Seal of Prophets, Muhammed, Peace be upon him, the tolerant Law
of Islam.

Even during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Allah Almighty lightened the burdens that
He Himself had imposed on believers, knowing that these practices would be too
difficult for them to bear. For example, fasting used to commence after the evening
meal, or from when a person went to sleep at night, and continue to the next sunset.
Then Allah eased fasting for the believers by permitting that they partake of a pre-
dawn meal and fast only from the first crack of dawn until sunset.

Although the revealed Law of Islam need never change throughout history, as it is the
Law revealed for the people of the Last Time – still, from the time of the revelation of
the Holy Qur’an until the end of this world, the level of observance expected of us by
our Lord, and the strictness or lenience with which He will judge our actions, is not the
same now as it was in the time of the Prophet.

Yes, the complete Divine Law as revealed to our Prophet stands unaltered as the
model of perfection to be striven for by believers of high aspiration and degree. But
according to the following tradition of our Prophet it is clear that the actions of the
people of such a degenerate time as our own will only be judged relative to the
conditions they had to endure. According to Tradition., the Holy Prophet once
addressed his companions, saying: “Oh my companions, if one of you abandons one
Divine Command from among one hundred, he will be in danger of losing his faith, but
there will come a time when anyone of my Nation who holds firmly to even one
Command from among one-hundred, may hope to save himself and his faith”.

We must understand the full implications of this prophecy, but generally our Islamic
scholars read such a tradition and never pause to reflect on it. Therefore, it is their
habit to be too rigid and intolerant in their dealings with new Muslims from Western
countries. As soon as a person agrees to become Muslim, those scholars proceed to
load them down with instructions on the full level of worship, fasting etc., required of a
full responsible Muslim, and the complete list of forbidden actions as well – all in all
five hundred orders and eight-hundred prohibitions! What should be the reaction of
such new people who, in our times, are not even converting from another religion with
practices and prohibitions of a roughly corresponding nature, but often from a
completely unregulated way of life? If we are to present Islam in such a way they will
certainly think twice before committing themselves to Islam, as they are not prepared
to instantly observe the whole of the Law. This is why so many Western people come
to me and ask if it is possible to follow a Sufi Way without embracing Islam; because
they view Islam as a gigantic mountain which they would be ordered to scale to the
peak, immediately, without training, without equipment – so, naturally they are hesitant.

We must be wise and aware of our responsibilities towards people whose hearts
incline towards Islam. We must remember that our Lord is the One who Himself
stresses His Mercy Oceans above all other Attributes in His Holy Book, and we must
learn from our Lord’s tolerance towards us to be tolerant with those with whom we
want to forge bonds of the heart, with those whom we want to guide toward our Lord’s
Love and take as our own brothers and sisters.

No one from among the Muslims can dispute the fact that the full command of the
Divine Law was revealed to our Prophet gradually over a period of ten years in
Medina, and this only after an initial thirteen year preparation period in Mecca, when
nothing specific was demanded of the believers except to believe in Allah, the Last
Day, His Prophets, and to do good deeds. The Holy Prophet summarizes the wisdom
of this approach in a famous Tradition: “Seek to make things easy for people, not
hard. Bring them good tidings, don’t drive them away”.

Look, we all know that, for example, the schooling of a child from Kindergarten to
University involves much studying and effort on the part of the student. But don’t say
to that little child: “Education is a long process involving the learning and even
memorization of so many big books, the solving of difficult problems in maths and
science, and doing lot of homework instead of playing.” If you paint such a picture for
that small child of what he is entering into, he will try to escape in sheer terror. But
we, as adults, know that in education the student will be prepared by his teachers for
solving every problem he is asked to solve, that he will be given challenges that
accord to his level and draw him to the next. First graders are never expected to read
the books or solve the maths problems in the fifth grade curriculum. To a first grader
you must say, “Come here and I will teach you A, B, C... yes, this is your lesson nothing
else”. Step by step that pupil will learn to read everything. So, in Islam, we lead
people step-by-step. There is a beginning and an end, but first we must help people
take the first steps; if they don’t take the first steps they will never take the last ones.

Unfortunately, Islam’s having been both revealed and propagated in this gradual
manner – without difficulty for the learner – is understood by neither Muslims no non-
Muslims. Therefore, in this time we are in need of new guidance, and we are not
anticipating that it will come from our scholars. It is understanding and guidance that
comes through the heart, from heart to heart, not merely instruction as to what we
should or should not do with our bodies.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike must understand this point, as a real understanding of
Islam is capable of saving the whole world. But if we persist in our misunderstanding it
will be impossible to reverse the movement toward the brink of disaster.

The Holy Qur’an addresses the whole of mankind, and we are in need of people who
are capable of understand it. Only such people are capable of helping people to their
shares of the Holy Book. The Holy Qur’an is a fountain, a gushing source that may
quench the thirst of billions, but very few people are following the river to its source;
everyone is drawing from it far downstream. We must seek the source; it is the life
spring for all mankind.

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