Allah says: “Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burdens and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honor him, and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: It is they who are successful.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: (157)]


We should know that ease and facilitation are among the distinctive qualities of Allah’s final Message to humanity.

This noble verse depicts for us the features of Islam by describing the characteristic of its Prophet. It outlines the rights that he has and gives glad tidings to his followers that they will be successful. The verse describes at once both the Message and the Messenger, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) was an unlettered man who did not learn from any scholar, prophet, or indeed any other human being. He was taught what he knew by none other than the Lord of All the Worlds, and he was foretold and described in both the Torah of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus.

He was the final Prophet about whom the other Prophets gave glad tidings, and the one whom they pledged to believe in and help.

He is described in this verse as enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, permitting what is good and prohibiting what is foul. He relieve them of their “burdens and fetters”, a phrase which refers to the severity of the Law that the previous communities of faith were subject to. This is a graphic description of the state of restrictive and hardship that Islamic Law did away with, supplanting it with a Law of liberality and ease.

The word in the verse translated here as “burdens” literally means, according to al-Nadr b. Shumayl: “a heavy knot”. It can be used to refer to any heavy burden, since it weighs down the one carrying it and impairs his movements.

As for the “fetters”, they are literally the iron manacles bound by chains that are placed upon the neck and arms. Murtadâ writes in the dictionary Tâj al-`Arûs: “This word is repeatedly used in the Qur’ân and Sunnah to refer to heavy impositions and wearisome duties.”

Indeed, this verse gives us a graphic image of a person bound in irons, stooping down under the heavy load he is carrying upon his back. How can such a person carry out the duty of being vicegerent on Earth? This is the state of the people before Allah sent His final Prophet (peace be upon him) who “relieved” them of their burdens, who brought the key to open those fetters. This is a declaration that the religion of Islam – the true and tolerant – is not burdensome.

Facilitation and the removal of difficulty are not merely Islamic legal axioms expressed by jurists in statements such as: “difficulty requires facilitation” and al-Shâfi`î’s famous “If a situation becomes constrained, it warrants flexibility.” It is more than theory. Making things easy and removing difficulties are among the foremost objectives of Islamic Law. The following discourse in al-Muwâfaqât (2/121-122), by the Mâlikî legal theorist al-Shâtibî, illustrates how this is:
The sixth discourse is on the fact that Allah in His Law does not seek to impose hardships and misery upon the people. The evidence for this is as follows:

First, there is the scriptural evidence that articulates this meaning. For instance, Allah says: “…and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 157]

Then in the Qur’ân we find: “Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as You did lay on those who were before us!” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 286]

In the hadîth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited this passage from the Qur’ân and informed us that upon its reading: “…Allah says: ‘I have complied’.” [Sahîh Muslim (126)]

Allah also says: “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185]

And: “He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78]

And: “Allah desires that He should make light your burdens, for man was created weak.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 28]

And: “Allah does not desire to put you to any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you, and would perfect His grace upon you, so that you may give thanks.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 6]

In the hadîth, we have: “I was sent with the true and tolerant religion.” [Musnad Ahmad (21260, 23710)]

We also have: “Whenever Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was given a choice between two options, he would always take the option that was easiest, as long as there was no sin involved in it. If it was sinful, he would be the furthest person from it.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3560) and Sahîh Muslim (2327)]

He only said “…as long as there is no sin involved…” since there is no hardship in abstaining from sin, since it is merely refraining from something.

There are many similar texts that convey the same meaning.

If He intended to bring hardship to us, He would not have wanted to make things easy and lighten our burdens. He would rather have wanted difficulties and adversity, and this is a notion which is patently false.

Secondly, there is the existence of concessions in Islamic Law, which is something indisputable that all Muslims know about. For instance, there are concessions to shorten and combine the prayers, to break the fast, and to eat unlawful foods in cases of necessity. This aspect of Islamic Law shows us with certainty that there is a categorical principle of removing difficulty and hardship. We find the same idea in the prohibition of delving too deeply into matters, of not-picking, and of that which leads to not being able to persist in doing of good works.

If Allah wanted to burden us with difficulties, there would be no concessions or reductions of duties in Islamic Law.
Al-Shâtibî also says [al-Muwâfaqât (2/299)]:
The aforementioned scriptural texts are general in scope, encompassing both severe and intermediate degrees of difficulty. Even if we were to assume that the removal of difficulty is not mentioned in a general context, we would still be able to conclude that it is a general principle from the vast number of disparate situations wherein the principle of removing difficult is found. We see that tayammum is permitted in the absence of water. Prays can be performed seated by one who finds it difficult to stand. A traveler can shorten his prayers and break his fast. Prayers can be combined due to travel, sickness, or rain. A person can utter words of unbelief under the threat of death… to a host of other examples that, taken together, indicate a general purpose of eliminating difficulty. Therefore, a categorical ruling for the removal of difficulty in all matters can be ascertained through inductive reasoning.
In the same context we find the principle of adopting the easiest opinion. The Shâfi`î legal theorist al-Zarkashî writes [al-Bahr al-Muhît (4/340)]:
Adopting the easiest opinion might take place between different schools of thought. It might take place between two conflicting indicators. Some jurists have adopted this approach, on account of the verse: “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185]

And the verse: “He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78]

And the Prophet’s statement: “I was sent with the true and tolerant religion.” [Musnad Ahmad (21260, 23710)]

This principle is different than the principle of taking the least possible amount, since that requires there to be agreement on what the least is, which is not the case here. In brief, this principle refers back to the general axiom that the default ruling for harmful things is that they are prohibited, and adopting the easiest opinion is such a means of prohibiting harm.

Other scholars have opined that it is obligatory to adopt the more difficult opinion, just as there are those who say that one must adopt the greater quantity.
The Hanbalî legal theorist al-Tûfî, while discussing the issue of choosing between two mutually incompatible pieces of evidence, writes: [Sharh Mukhtasar al-Rawdah (3/669-671)]:
The second scholarly stance is that the more difficult of two opinions should be adopted. This is because of the saying attributed to some of the Companions: “Truth is heavy, while falsehood is light and infectious.”

[This statement has been attributed to both Ibn Mas`ûd and Hudhayfah b. al-Yamân. Refer to Ibn al-Mubârak, al-Zuhd (290, 850), al-Zuhd al-Hannâd (499), al-Hulyah (1/134), and al-Fiqh wa al-Mutafaqqih (1211)]

Then there is the old parable that goes: “If you are torn between two choices, then avoid the one that is closest to your desires.” [al-Fiqh wa al-Mutafaqqih (1212)]

Then there is the hadîth where ``A’ishah narrates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whenever `Ammâr has been faced with two options, he would always choose the more difficult.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (3799), Sunan al-Nasâ’î al-Kubrâ (2876) and Sunan Ibn Mâjah (9148)]

In some narrations, it reads: “more sensible” instead of “more difficult”.

Taking these two narrations together, the idea comes across that what is most sensible is to adopt the more difficult option.

The third scholarly stance is that the easier of two opinions should be adopted. This is because of the general statements in the scriptures that indicate the tendency in Islamic Law’s for making matters easy. These include the verses: “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185] and “He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78]

These texts also include hadîth like: “There shall be neither harm nor the causing of harm.” [Musnad Ahmad (2719) and Sunan Ibn Mâjah (2341)] and “I was sent with the true and tolerant and easy religion.” [Musnad Ahmad (21260, 23710)]

Our predecessor, al-Muzanî, said: “Among the axioms of Islamic Law is to apply the evidence that indicates the easier of two conflicting possibilities on the strength of the idea that this possibility is the one that encompasses the truth.”

I must add that it is established that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would always take the option that was easiest, as long as there was no sin involved in it. I must also point out that there is a difference between this and what was mentioned about `Ammâr always adopting the most difficult option. `Ammâr was a legally accountable man who was being extra cautious for the sake of his soul and his faith.

The Prophet (peace be upon him), on the other hand, was a legislator who was making things flexible for his followers so that they would not be subjected to difficulties. He had instructed: “Make things easy; do not make them difficult.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (69) and Sahîh Muslim (1734)]

He also said to some of his Companions in a tone of censure: “Among you there are those who drive people away.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (702) and Sahîh Muslim (466)]
With reference to the hadîth about `Ammâr quoted by al-Tûfî, the phrase “more difficult” seems to be a typographical error. The term in Arabic for “more difficult” is ashadd is found in some narrations as asadd, which means “more correct”. The difference in Arabic is no more than the absence of dots on one of the letters. Therefore, the hadîth about `Ammâr in reality has nothing to do with the question of t

On the strength of the evidence, scholars throughout history have preferred to adopt the easier of two opinions in matters of disagreement whenever adopting the opinion that appears strongest in and of itself happens to result in severe difficulty or hardship. They would opt against adopting what is indicated by analogy and narrow the scope of generally stated texts, on the strength of the general legal principle that: “overwhelming difficulty warrants the waiver of an injunction.”

As the Prophet said: “Were it not for the hardship it would bring upon my people, I would have ordered them to use the tooth stick.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (7240) and Sahîh Muslim (253)]