Published in  
October 12, 2020

Lenience VS Convenience – Modern Day Fatwas

Lenience has been part of the process of fatwas for centuries, and to establish that the scholars would say:

1- A person should adopt for his own actions the most scrupulous position (الأورع).

2 – A mufti should adapt the relied upon position to what is easier (الأيسر).

3 – A qadi (judge) should adapt the relied upon position to what is most just (الأعدل).

4 – And the politician should adopt the most beneficial position (الأصلح).


Ease was and will always be an integral factor in fatwa. It is so deeply rooted within the tradition and sewn into the very fabric of fatwa that anyone who doesn’t believe it to be so is subject to questioning about his/her credentials in fiqh, usūl and – most of all – fatwa. However, it is important to note that there are regulations on how and when the principle of ease is to be applied.

Despite the fact that reasonable lenience may encourage the mufti to consider an easier view, I know of no scholar who has allowed the mufti to tailor a fatwa based on the convenience of the mustafti (questioner) in a way that convenience of the mustafti (questioner) overrules the sacred text. If this were the case, the questioner may as well give himself a fatwa as he knows best of his own convenience.

The fatwa comprises the text and the context. Some consider the text alone, fully disregarding the context. Others consider the context alone, fully disregarding the text and perhaps being unaware of it altogether. However, both the text and the context must be given due consideration. Some untrained muftis continue to use the principles of sharia, or should I say abuse, without knowing where and when each and every principle is applicable.

It is in this vein that the principle of “difficulty invites ease” is often quoted. However, what is left out is that not every difficulty invites ease. If that difficulty is connected to the very essence of worship then our perception of ease was never intended by Allah for that rite or ritual. For example, the difficulty of making wudū’ in a cold setting, fasting long days, traveling for hajj, obedience of the wife to the husband or bearing the consequences prescribed by Allah for specific crimes. All these are certain degree of difficulties which are meant by Allah and ease is not invited by such difficulties. However, each of them have circumstances where that hardship is raised and ease is, in fact, invited. Those circumstances, wherein ease is used to overrule the difficulties within the aforementioned examples, are also through divine prescriptions. It is not left to anyone who finds the prescriptions of Allah inconvenient in their lives to just redefine His laws on their own accord.

Furthermore, if that difficulty is not connected to the act of worship itself, such as social pressures, then there are three possibilities. If the difficulty is very strong, like the danger of being seriously physically harmed, then *difficulty does invite ease*. If the difficulty is very slight, such as a slight headache or some slight pain, then that *difficulty doesn’t invite ease*. If it happens to be somewhere in the middle, then the scholars normally have *differences of opinions on its legal significance*. From the above we understand that in two out of four possible scenarios, difficulty doesn’t invite ease. Furthermore, in one scenario difficulty may or may not invite ease. It is only in one scenario that difficult does always invite ease: when a person is subject to serious harm.

It is also imperative to point out that the discussion around this principle is often irresponsibly abused to confuse the questioner by individuals who themselves might be confused on how this principle works, in an attempt to rewrite religion for “convenience”. This is happening all too often today. Make sure you are getting your fatwas from qualified muftis. Unless someone has been endorsed for their knowledge of fiqh and fatwa by notable scholars, do not entrust your religion to them. I highlight again, like I have done many times, a degree in Islamic studies or related fields is not enough for this. Those credentials are enough for teaching in schools, universities and perhaps giving da`wah but fatwa is more than all that.

In conclusion, lenience and ease are given consideration but that consideration is regulated. Irresponsible usage of a regulated principle is abusive. Wallahu A`lam.


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