Practicing Religion: Fear or Love?

We as individual beings living in an Islamic community, have acquired different ways of practising religion. Some of us have been instilled with the fear of the consequences that come with disobeying God and his rules, so we naturally practice our religion out of fear. The remaining others were instilled with the conception that god created religion out of love, these individuals prefer installing the notion that god forbade such things for our own good, god is compassionate and merciful, and that without love and peace, there is no religion.

I think at some point in our lives, some of us should ask ourselves, which concept we would adopt when practicing religion. Which ideology would you install in your children? Are you going to practice religion out of love or out of fear? Do your practice your religion because you love god, or because you fear god?

We live in a country, where the constitution states that to be a Maldivian citizen, you have to be a practicing Muslim. So our parents raised us, and taught us the faith that we follow now, plans were made, ideology was explained, haraam and halal was taught. Some Islamic scholars and teachers taught Islam with the concept of fear. I still remember that a teacher of mine used a particular hadith, to teach us about the wifely duties that us women owed to our husbands.

The Holy Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said: “Allah’s SubHanuhu wa Ta'ala Angels curse the woman throughout the night whose husband calls her to bed but she refuses and the husband goes to sleep in anger”.

Imagine my shock and the fear that went through my mind as I heard this. He had used fear to teach me about my the duties that I owe to my husband as a wife. He had taught me of the grave consequences that I would face, had I disobeyed. I was scared and distraught. What if i did not want to go to our bed that particular night? Would I have to do something I did not want to? All I know is that the fear he had instilled in me, made me consider doing it even if it was against my will.

We can talk endlessly about the fear that has accompanied our perception of Islam. But I feel that not enough light is shed on the love and compassion that follows with Islam as well. How many wonderful people have taught us that Allah is the most merciful, the most compassionate. The importance of doing good by others, to treat each other well, to be kind to one another, to help the unfortunate. How many wonderful people had taught us that the rise of Islam brought a stop to murdering female babies, or brought about women's rights at a time where the world was determined in oppressing women.

How many of us were taught that Allah listened to the cries of the oppressed. How many of us were taught that Allah commanded the husband to nurture and take care of his wife. How many of us were taught that we could gain entry to heaven from beneath our mother's feet, by the love that we show her.
If you think about it, it is all based on perspective. Some of us were taught that extra marital relations would bring his wrath, while others were taught that extra marital relations could end in a child growing up without a complete family, how it could lead to the spreading of diseases. Instead of telling us that God would be angry if we sinned, some of us were taught that god forbade some acts for our own good, because of his love mercy and compassion.

As the talk about perspective continues, let's look at more examples. While some have been instilled with fear of the azaab that comes with interest (rib'aa), how many of us have been taught why it was forbidden. It was forbidden, because the borrower had to pay more than the original amount borrowed. Didn't god forbid this to protect the people, didn't he do it for the benefit of humanity. Instead of scaring us with the consequences we would face along with drug use, teach us how god forbade it because it reduces our mental capacity, because it contributes to illnesses and decreasing of one's health in the long run.

Look at yourself, answer this question. Do you want to worship out of fear or out of love? Would you rather fear your creator, or be held in an all consuming love for all that your creator has provided you with. Do you want to be ungrateful because so much is forbidden, or would you rather be grateful that god has set out a righteous path for you?