Q28: Why is Islam so “strict”?

Although there are people who are very respectful towards Islam and Muslims, there are some who think that there is little or no room for entertainment as Muslims are not allowed to participate in common social activities such as going out and drinking alcohol. However, if you look at things a bit more closely you can see that this is not strictly true and there are Muslims who have been successful in all walks of life without abandoning their religious principles. You can see many examples from here. There are many ways in which Muslims have found alternative ways to enjoy themselves. I will give a few examples below.

Firstly, it might surprise you to know that there is no concept of dedicating one’s life purely to praying and worship in Islam while cutting oneself off from the world. In a fairly long narration, there companions of the Prophet PBUH (Peace Be Upon Him) who came to visit him –one said that he prays all night every night, the second said that he fasts every day and the third said that he will not marry to which the Prophet PBUH replied: “Are you the people who said such and such things? By Allah, I fear Allah more than you do, and I am most obedient and dutiful among you to Him, but still I observe fast and break it; perform Salat and sleep at night and take wives. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah does not belong to me”. (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet PBUH also mentioned: “In this world, women and perfume have been made dear to me, and my comfort has been provided in prayer.” (Sunan Al Nisai 3939). Notice from this that the Prophet PBUH enjoyed things from this world but he never let it distract him from his main duties. He married and remained very loyal to his wives without having any such relationships outside marriage, which are very common in many parts of the world (for further details on this, please see my article “Why are Muslims not allowed to have boyfriends /girlfriends?”).

Drinking alcohol is very popular in many parts of the world such as in the UK where they have a “pub culture”. Although Muslims do not drink alcohol, they are allowed to enjoy drinking other beverages such as tea or coffee, which have become internationally famous with brands such as “Starbucks”, “Costa Coffee” and “Coffee Republic”. However, coffee was introduced to the world by Muslims as it was discovered in Yemen. They have also had a great influence on cooking and cuisine as well such as by introducing Mughlai Cuisine (food from in the Indian Subcontinent), Turkish Delight, olives to Europe and other foods. You can see more examples from my video here.

Likewise, Muslims do not eat various foods such as pork. However, they have been successful at cooking and at preparing meals. For example, the winner of the Masterchef UK 2017 was Dr Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed, Nadiya Hussain won the Great British Bake Off 2015 and Shazia Khan was the runner up of Masterchef India in 2010. In more recent times, Abz Navsarka, a British Indian Muslim, started his business, Dessert Van, at the age of 12. He prepares his own desserts. You can find out more about him here.

Many people enjoy going out to watch football matches and drinking alcohol, which Muslims are not permitted to do. However, they can still enjoy watching the matches without this and some of the most successful football players in the world are Muslim such as Zenadine Zidane, Sami Khadira and Mesut Ozil. As Muslims are not permitted to drink alcohol, there is also less chance of them being involved in football hooliganism (there have been many such cases such as in the UK and there was even a case where football hooligans were banned from attending World Cup matches as explained in this article here)

Many people around the world enjoy practising martial arts and some martial arts include “spiritual” activities, such as kneeling to each other, which Muslims are not allowed to participate in. However, there have been many successful martial artists who were Muslim. In fact, one of the greatest martial artists in the world in recent times was Ma Xianda, who was a Chinese Muslim. Among his students was the internationally famous martial arts champion and actor, Jet Li. Another example was Wang Zi Ping who defeated many international fighters. You can find out more about them from my video here.

Many people also enjoy comedy and likewise there are also Muslims who have been successful comedians such as Preacher Moss (from the US), Guz Khan (from the UK), Dean Obeidullah (from the US), Zaid Ali (from Canada) and many others.

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