#321: Application of the Islamic Legal maxim Taisir wa Raf’ al-Haraj


Assalamualaikum ustaz. Can you explain briefly the maxim al-Taisir (التيسير) and Raf’ al-Haraj (رفع الحرج) and does this mean any difficulty is given a facilitation? Thank you.


Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

The shariah of Islam is easy and not burdening. There are numerous evidences from the Quran and hadiths which show this. Among them is a statement of Allah SWT:

مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَٰكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

“Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.” [1]

The above verse means that Allah SWT doesn’t intend difficulty for you in His rulings by obligating you to purify yourselves using water when it may endanger you. Thus, He revealed a new shariah as a replacement when there is difficulty in using water when one is ill or there is no water available. Such is the framework of perfecting His blessings upon you so that you’re grateful for His blessings and don’t disobey Him. [2]

Allah SWT further states in another verse:

وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ ۚ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ

“And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.” [3]

Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili stated that this verse means to fight in Allah SWT’s path against the enemies of Islam with the true jihad, at the same time hoping for His blessings. Allah SWT has chosen you to follow His religion and help His shariah. Furthermore, Allah SWT never creates burdens and difficulties in religion. Consequently, He granted ease and aid by giving facilitation (rukhsah) for you, for instance, the permissibility of jamak and qasar for prayer, breaking fast during Ramadhan for those who are travelling and sick, tayammum, eating carcass in exigent situations (in desperate situations) and others. [4]

Allah SWT also stated in another verse:

يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ

“Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship,” [5]

According to Syeikh al-Sa’di, this verse means Allah SWT wanted ease in your route that will bring you closer to Him with the lightest of facilitations. Thus, every commandment of Allah for His slaves basically is very easy, however, if there is something that becomes a barrier and burdens a person, then Allah SWT ease him with another facilitation by abrogating or lessening it with a facilitation. However, this matter cannot be explained comprehensively, for the details of it is the entirety of the shariah including every form of rukhsah and facilitation. [6]

Allah SWT states:

يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَن يُخَفِّفَ عَنكُمْ ۚ وَخُلِقَ الْإِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا

“And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.” [7]

This verse explained that people are created weak and he isn’t able to control himself and fight off his urges. Hence, Allah SWT wanted ease for them, so much so that it is made permissible for them to marry their women slaves. [8]

Likewise, in a hadith from Sa’id bin Abu Burdah, from his father, from his grandfather, the prophet PBUH sent Mu’az and Abu Musa to Yemen, the Prophet PBUH said:

يَسِّرَا وَلاَ تُعَسِّرَا، وَبَشِّرَا وَلاَ تُنَفِّرَا وَتَطَاوَعَا وَلاَ تَخْتَلِفَا

“Make things easy and do not make them difficult; gladden and do not scare; comply with one another and do not disagree.” [9]

In the above hadith, there are several obligations that should we follow such as making things easy for others in every matter, cultivating faith in them, and don’t make things difficult that it may distance them far away from us, especially if they are new to Islam. The same should be done for children whose faith aren’t firm yet, as to not burden them at the beginning so that they wouldn’t run away from obedience. [10]

Furthermore, in a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:

فَإِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُمْ مُيَسِّرِينَ، وَلَمْ تُبْعَثُوا مُعَسِّرِينَ

“For you have been sent only to make things easy and not to make things difficult.” [11]

According to Ibn Battal, this is as instructed by the Prophet PBUH to facilitate as mentioned in another previous hadith.  Then, he cited from al-Tabari who said the meaning of “يَسِّرُوا وَلَا تُعَسَّرُوا” is on sunnah matters and not matters that are obligated by Allah. Likewise, what Allah SWT has granted facilitation and ease in obligatory matters such as the obligatory prayers can be performed sitting if one is unable to stand, breaking fast during Ramadhan when one is travelling or sick and others are included in the rukhsah given by Allah SWT to His slaves. And it is commanded to make it easy for sunnah matters in the form of ease and not extreme that could make a person tired and bored to perform them. The reason is the best deed according to Allah SWT is a continuous deed although it is a little. [12]

Although the purpose of syarak is to ease and facilitate and to remove burdens but in the application of the Islamic legal maxim al-Taisir and Raf‘ al-Haraj, it must follow the guidelines set to ensure no misuse of trickery to avoid implementing the rulings of Allah or running away from fulfilling the obedience for Him.

The reason is Allah SWT actually set a certain ruling, not for the purpose of making a commandment a burden and difficulty. However, it is normal for any order or commandment to come together with a certain difficulty for behind every small difficulty there is greater maslahah and benefit, regardless of whether it is understood by people or not. This matter is in line with the statement of Allah SWT:

وَيُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

“And Allah makes clear to you the verses, and All ah is Knowing and Wise.” [13]

Thus, in applying this maxim of making things easy and removing difficulties, the meaning of the difficulty here should be understood. Thus, in this matter we cite the statement of Tuan Sidek Tuan Muda in his book [14], as the following:

  1. Usually, a certain difficulty that is normal with a commandment isn’t named as difficulty. For example, it isn’t called a difficulty to work to seek sustenance in various industrial sectors.
  2. The difficulty as stated in (1) is not what is meant by the creator of shariah (to make it a difficulty). Consequently, it is to be beneficial. A comparable example is a doctor who prescribes medicine to a patient or a patient who is amputated to save his life. Although the medicine is bitter, behind its bitterness, there is a cure that leads to maslahah.
  3. The difficulty that comes together with a commandment is no reason for it to be granted facilitation. Furthermore, Allah SWT rewards every mukallaf for every difficulty that he bears in fulfilling his obligations.
  4. An extraordinary difficulty that doesn’t normally come together with a commandment such as a sickness, travels, forced, forgetfulness, ignorance, umum al-Balwa (unavoidable or hard to avoid matters) and al-Naqs (deficiency in rational thought or self, such as a child and an insane person). If there are such difficulties, then facilitation is granted. According to the difficulties stated in number four (4), scholars concluded the Islamic legal maxim al-Masyaqqah tajlib al-Taisir which means a difficulty leads to facilitation.

Simply put, the various forms of difficulties stated above can be divided into two, which are a difficulty that leads to facilitation and difficulty that doesn’t lead to difficulties such as the difficulty of jihad, pain in the punishment of hudud, the pain of getting stoned for adulterers and others.

Alhamdulillah, in the istinbat of rulings and fatwa, the maxim discussed here is one of the factors considered in the deliberation of rulings. Moreover, this is what we practised, especially when there is masyaqqah in life. We end this discussion with the supplication:

اللَّهُمَّ لَا سَهْلَ إِلاَّ ما جَعَلْتَهُ سَهْلاً، وأنْتَ تَجْعَلُ الحَزْنَ إذَا شِئْتَ سَهْلاً

“O Allah, there is no ease other than what You make easy. If You please You ease sorrow.” [15]

May Allah SWT grant us all a clear understanding in practising this religion. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Surah al-Ma’idah: 6

[2] See al-Mukhtasar fi al-Tafsir, pg. 108.

[3] Surah al-Hajj: 78

[4] See al-Tafsir al-Wajiz, pg. 342.

[5] Surah al-Baqarah: 185

[6] See Tafsir al-Sa‘di, 1/86.

[7] Surah al-Nisa’: 28

[8] See Zubdah al-Tafasir min Fath al-Qadir, pg. 104; al-Tafsir al-Wajiz, pg. 84.

[9] Narrated by al-Bukhari (3038); Muslim (1733)

[10] See Ikmal al-Mu‘lim bi Fawa’id Muslim, 6/37.

[11] Narrated by al-Bukhari (6128)

[12] See Syarh Sahih al-Bukhari by Ibn Battal, 9/301-302.

[13] Surah al-Nur: 18

[14] See Panduan Memahami Maqasid Syariah, Konsep dan Peranannya in Penetapan Hukum Syarak, by Tuan Sidek Tuan Muda, pg. 49-51.

[15] Narrated by al-Baihaqi in al-Da‘awat al-Kabir (265), Ibn Hibban (974) and Ibn al-Sunni in ‘Amal al-Yaum wa al-Lailah (351)