When Rasool Allah(saw) migrated to Madinah, there was another group of people that got addressed in the Qur’an. These people were the Jews of Madinah. And before moving onto the verse which we will learn about today, I need to tell you a bit about them. These specific Jews, whom Allah had addressed, were scholarly preachers. You can imagine them as someone who were extremely educated in their study of the Torah. Therefore, they were also the ones who used to give sermons, in their Jewish community, on how to stay upright.
As you keep that in mind, I will tell you what Allah says to them in ayah no. 44 of Al-Baqarah. He says, ‘Do you command people to goodness and you forget all about yourselves and you are the ones reading the book. Have you then no sense?’ The companions of Prophet Muhammad (saw) used to say that even though the ayah was primarily directed towards the scholarly Jews of Madinah, in it was a lesson for them too. Indeed, this ayah contains a very powerful reminder to all those who, in any capacity, are teaching the religion of Allah. Whether someone is a certified Sheikh or a low profile Islamic blogger, this ayah advises them to take a look in the mirror. To see if they are also practicing what they preach or not.
However, to explain this ayah more, a little should also be known about the nature of those lectures that the Jewish preachers used to give. In simple words they were too high and too holy for even the preachers to act upon them. From here I want to direct your attention to how the same problem is roaming around in our Muslim society too. Most of us get to hear about Islam either online or onsite lectures plus at Jumma’ too. And in order to motivate us to practice righteousness, sometimes, we are told about amazingly religious people. But for a majority of us, when we listen to such things, we aren’t motivated. You can be a struggling college student who submits the daily compulsory prayers but hasn’t yet started to pray the Sunnah. However, one day you learn about someone who didn’t just got his Sunnah prayers done but also used to pray the extra Nawafils and how it’s mandatory for all of us too. You might just come out of the lecture feeling guilty of how you don’t pray the Sunnah prayers. Even though one is not necessarily sinful for leaving them.
The point I’m trying to get across is that sometimes the standards of righteousness are raised so high that the one who feels short of it ends being depressed and hopeless. It starts to seem as if Islam is difficult when Allah made it easy for us. It’s okay if one hasn’t started the Sunnah prayers or the one who is praying the Fard and Sunnah isn’t praying Nawafils yet. Everyone takes their time and people eventually get closer to Islam step by step.
I told you the above to help you understand the major lesson which we learn from the ayah. Remember I mentioned that Rasool Allah (saw) used to say to his (saw) students, that were sent as ambassadors of Islam, to go make ease and not make difficulty. For example, if we introduce the Dhuhr prayer as a twelve Rak’ah long salah, people who are just trying to get close to the prayers might run away from them. If there’s a friend of yours who isn’t inclined towards Deen, the most you can do is tell her to pray at least the four compulsory Fard. This will be easy for her and with time Allah will also open her heart to pray above the compulsory prayers. The lesson we learn over here is that if we are in any position to teach people Islam, then we should make it easy for them.
As I conclude, I want to bring to your attention the second last phrase of the ayah. Allah is saying, first and foremost, to the Jews that they are the ones reading the Book. These people knew what was in the Torah but still made religion so difficult for the followers. You know what this means for us? if we are someone who knows what the Qur’an has allowed and what it hasn’t then don’t go on extending the list over and above what Allah has already mentioned for us. For example, we all know certain things which are forbidden to watch. But then YouTube shouldn’t also be labeled Haram because of the wrong content on it. As it has many Islamic videos on it too, through which people have actually accepted Islam. So let’s pray we, as Muslims, make things easy and not difficult for the people around us.