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Islam is a “Yes Religion!”


By Karim Serageldin

When I was seven-years-old I used to attend a halaqa that focused on “the Islam of No’s”. One summer day upon entering class, my stoic teacher and I got into this dialogue.

“What is this?” My teacher glared at my hand. A shiny bracelet wrapped around my tanned wrist.

“It’s a bracelet, my grandmother got it for me.” I said nonchalantly.

“Didn’t I tell you jewelry is haram?” He formed a plastic smile.

“But it’s silver. Boys can wear silver. My grandma got it for my birthday.”

“Didn’t I tell you celebrating birthday’s are haram?” His face went straight.

“But all we did was go to McDonalds and eat chicken nuggets.”

“Didn’t I tell you McDonalds is haram?!”

Seriously, that’s what happened.

Growing up, many Muslims constantly heard the word “No.” No you can’t do that, no you can’t eat that, no you can’t see, listen or touch that. Sure, boundaries are necessary in life, but what happens if we only emphasize the unallowable stuff. I heard a joke once that some masajid should be relabeled as “No Happiness Allowed Centers.”

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When we are constantly reminded of not doing something wrong, we develop a fear and anxiety based relationship with God. Psychologically, a self-destructive trend develops. A trend of fear of getting punished, worry about going to hell and experiencing guilt rather than the blessings and joy of God in our lives. Some of our brothers and sisters have developed a sever obsessive and compulsive disorder around their practice of Islam. The term is called scrupulosity and it is dangerous and sad. I once consulted a brother that would take almost one hour to make wudu and two to three hours to pray. He would repeat rituals over and over again until he got them perfect. He did this out of fear that his prayer would not be accepted by the powerful judgmental God he grew up with. I have personally worked with clients that had psychotic breakdowns due to this mentality. May the Divine help us.

One of the ways I help such cases is by helping clients reframe their perception of Islam as a “Yes Religion.” Everything is actually halal except for what is haram. Islam is not merely a religion of regulations, discipline and deprivations. We have to look at the yes side, the plus side, the blessings and gifts God has actually given us. Living Islam is a path that gives more than it takes.

Reflect on this:

  • Yes we get 24 hours a day. Approximately 25-30 minutes a day we are expected to connect with our Creator through prayer. That’s 0.017% of the day in prayer. The rest is “our time.”
  • Yes we have twelve months a year. Only one month a year, God asks us to practice self discipline through fasting and make Him a focal point. Through this fast, we still get to eat and drink by sunset and gain physical and psycho-spiritual benefits. That’s 92% percent of the year left to us to eat when we wish!
  • Yes God asks us to give approximately 2.5% of our wealth to those in need and those God did not give as much as He gave you! You still get to keep about 97.5% of your wealth and assets.
  • If we have the means financially and physically, God calls us to make pilgrimage only one time in our whole life to receive forgiveness! Not once a year, once a decade, one time in our whole life. If you live to be 80 years old, and perform one hajj, you spent approximately .00017% of your life in pilgrimage.
  • Yes we can eat and drink everything with exception to a few items like pork, alcohol and predator animals (like lions,tigers and bears which are uncommon in all cuisines anyways) 99.5% of all food and drink can make it into your belly!

There are many more examples that show Islam is a “Yes Religion.” The prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said YES to….

  • Forgive people and be patient with their wrongs towards you
  • Having flexibility with people’s customs
  • Give people time to accept da’wah and not be punished
  • Nearly all requests that came his way
  • Help and support others
  • Being optimistic and smiling

There is a saying that says if it was not for the “La” in La ila ila Allah, the prophet would never have said “no.”

I encourage you to reframe your perspective and make your own list of how Islam gives more than it takes. Focus on what Islam offers than forbids. Let’s get back to this “yes mentality.” Let’s acknowledge the gifts, the blessings and appreciate all that God has granted us. Let’s move towards God with love, let’s pray because we want to, let’s find joy in existence and look forward to meeting our Lord.


Karim Serageldin is a dedicated psychologist with years of experience working with the Muslim community. His practice is called Noor Psychology and he facilitates workshops, counseling and life coaching with an integrated approach of Islamic spiritual values, contemporary psychology and science-based research.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.



  1. Mohammed Khan

    April 23, 2015 at 2:21 AM

    Masha Allah a very nice article. The best line in the article is:

    “There is a saying that says if it was not for the “La” in La ila ila Allah, the prophet would never have said “no.”

    I remember reading that the Prophet (SAS), during the pilgrimage, sanctioned many shortcomings of pilgrims who came to ask him if their rituals are accepted.

    I also say that ” Islam is a “Yes Religion!” “

  2. Amat Un Nur

    April 23, 2015 at 6:11 AM

    Nice perspective. People should really start thinking this way …

  3. Norma Tarazi

    April 23, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    There are too many little dictators running around proving their religious credibility by being more strict than the last one you heard. That is an example of zealotry, not sound faith.

    A faith for the whole world would not be extreme. It must be moderate so all can follow it and have a good hope of Paradise. Islam is a gift from Allah’s mercy to us all.

    If the prophet (P) had a choice between two things, both halal, he picked the easier one. He also told people to shorten their prayers so babies would not cry for their mothers, to make things easy for people so they would not leave the faith, that our religion is moderation. One could write a whole book and more on this topic. I definitely commend the author of this piece and hope any who have doubts about it study the life of the Prophet, the Quran and hadith looking for examples of this concept of moderation. There are tons of them.

  4. Hira Amin

    April 23, 2015 at 11:54 AM

    Great article masha Allah. One of the problems is that Muslims in the West are very worried about losing their faith by either diluting it or not passing it down to their children. Therefore, it is like we are on “lock down” mode – any sniff of anything new is automatically classified as “haraam”. These are underlying fears (and it is a legitimate fear) that we need to address in a different way in order to move away from the “No’s”.

  5. June

    April 23, 2015 at 3:11 PM

    Salam. A nice short article to the point. It seems to me that more and more people have been bucking the trend of “haram police.” (or maybe it’s just the crowds I run with, lol.) There was so little I had to change when I said my shahada. I think the more we learn, the more we realize what we have been given. Of course there are limits and boundaries but those are for our safety and given out of love from our Creator. The “no’s” definitely need to be taught but in a way that demonstrates they are from love, not angry judgement. May Allah reward the brother who wrote this reminder.

  6. Aminah .F.

    April 24, 2015 at 2:20 AM

    A beautiful and precise piece maa shaa Allahu. I’ve come to realize that the more people are told ‘NO’ about Islam, the more confused and discouraged they get. But unfortunately, there are some of our brothers and sisters who only make comments about our bad acts but they forget to commend us when we do good. May Allah strengthen us (aamin).

  7. Muslimah DownUnder

    April 24, 2015 at 3:02 AM

    MashaAllah, great article. We should definitely focus upon the positives of Islam so that people don’t feel “trapped”. And I reckon that’s especially important amongst our youth. I find that they are constantly told that every second thing they do is haram. At that age…being trolled by the ‘haram police’….it won’t take much for them to abandon this beautiful deen.
    It’s all on perspective…

  8. Fazila

    April 24, 2015 at 3:24 AM

    Great article mashallah!

  9. Tauheed Ahmad

    April 24, 2015 at 7:21 AM

    Assalamu ‘alaikum,
    I like articles from MM and read them with enthusiasm, but this one probably falls short of its objectives. Yes, Islam is a ‘Yes Religion’ but this ‘Yes’ is not just about the Four Pillars … around which the article is focused.
    I agree that if a person does, what the author is bringing up, that may be sufficient for his success in the aakhirah, which is ultimate goal for a Muslim. But that doesn’t mean that we should start promoting an idea to restrict ourselves to this basic minimum and then do whatever we like. If that was the case, probably neither did we need a huge and explanatory book like Quran nor the exemplary life and recorded sunnah of the prophet SAW. What all was needed in that case would be just a list of ‘NOs’ and four rituals and that’s it. But it isn’t so… it isn’t so. What is being talked here is just the bare ‘minimum’ but both Qur’an and Sunnah exhort us to do much more. Just for example, the bare minimum charity to be given is 2.5%, but is that what Allah desires for us? — No, Allah SWT tells us that the better thing to do is to give up whatever is beyond the needs of Mominoon (Al Baqarah: 219) (and we know how much were the needs of Sahabah and Rasool Allah). Similarly, praying so called 0.017% time is only a bare minimum, but the Sunnah of the prophet and that of Sahabah tells us that this is not to what one should restrict himself and should do as much as possible. Prophet ﷺ told about special status on the day of Qiyamah for a person, whose heart is attached to the Masjid, similarly he stresses so many other forms and times of worship (tahajjus, dhuha etc.). And Qur’an also spells out the qualities of those who are beloved to Allah SWT as “Those who remember Allâh (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides,…” (Aal-e-Imran 191). Similar things apply to other forms of ibadah and lifestyles etc.
    I often wonder that whenever it is about Duniya we don’t even want to settle for the mid level, but we want to do/get best, then why do we try to satiate ourselves with the bare minimum when it is about deen and aakhirah?



    • kathryn

      December 4, 2019 at 10:21 PM

      mashaAllah my thoughts exactly. this seems another type of extremism. the ” I payed salaat, I can do what I want with the rest”/” I fasted in ramadan, i can eat what i want now”/”i prayed my 5 sakaat, now my time is mine” mentality is dangerousbin it’s own way and also very far from sunnah.if you make the minimum your standard, you don’t have very much to fall back in in tough times

  10. Sue

    April 24, 2015 at 11:02 AM

    Hmm here Mc Do is actually certified Halaal by the islamic certifying authorities. What am wondering is was it the case at your place as well and if not i think your teacher had a point in warning you against it.Lol had we told one of our islamic teachers we had been to a place he warned us against we would have got an earful

  11. Mukhtar Ba

    April 24, 2015 at 4:36 PM

    This approach is in fact the biggest door to piety. A great scholar and pious man commented, ‘What kind of Paradise is it if we have to be dragged to it with chains??; that is the worship of those who do not recognize Allah. Those who recognize Allah worship him through love and use gratitude for His bounties as a means of gaining His proximity”.
    It would be nice for someone to follow up with a more detailed article using academic material. May Allah reward our brother for this perspective and may He make his efforts a source of benefit to many.

  12. norman

    April 24, 2015 at 10:10 PM

    iam glad i found this website.. i’ve got the point you want to tell, you talk about it with calm and pleasant to read, and it tells very peacefully.. such a good article. probably if its okay, i would like to share this web.. sorry for my bad english

  13. WAJiD

    April 25, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    Salaam alaikum,

    While I get the point being made but perhaps a more balanced perspective would be to not ricochet from being a “No” religion to a “Yes” religion.

    Instead, it would be more accurate to state that there are somethings that Islam says “Yes” to and others that it says “No” and we shouldn’t emphasise one side to the exclusion of the other.

    • Sheila Domun

      April 25, 2015 at 11:30 AM

      Hi Wajid sorry. Plz dont say salaam alaikum, its Assalamu alaikum cause u dont get the actual meaning. Thanx


    April 26, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    really nice i think am suffering from that type of obsession i need help how can i contact you?

  15. Infidelicious

    April 28, 2015 at 3:50 PM

    So easy to get into the “holier than thou” competition, be it in a religious , political, or even athletic community. Easy to fear judgement from others, rather than what one sees as true for oneself.

  16. Russell Alexander

    May 1, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    Interesting article. This same issue occurs in most religions, especially when one authority figure wishes to increase his/her power over others. Nothing says “I’m in charge” like telling other people they’re not living correctly.
    Minor point:
    30 minutes out of 24 hours (1440 minutes) is 2.08%.

  17. Omer Malik

    May 1, 2015 at 12:44 PM


    We need this shift in perspective. Wallahi, this fear we have of Allah is not healthy. How can Muslims live with the anxiety and fear of Allah and hellfire. We never emphasize that Allah loves us more than our own mothers. That he is far more forgiving than our parents. Not only are we fearful but we’re living ungratefully. We find ourselves depressed because of how wired we are by our community in thinking about how restricted our lives are. We never sit back, relax and enjoy our blessings… probably because we think kicking back is a waste of time and displeasing to Allah lol COME ON! That’s dhikr! Anything that you do that reminds you of Allah is dhikr and worship. Allah is loving and his love far surpasses his wrath. Chill out, do your part as a Muslim and live your best waiting to meet your loving Maker.

    At the end of the day, we have to meet Allah with a sound heart. You have to come to Allah WANTING to meet Him and you can only want to meet Him if you love Him. The type of fear we should have is disappointing Him. Fear that we lost our trust in Him. Not that He’s going to throw us in the fire for eating McDonalds. Muslims are optimistic people.


  18. Nabilos

    May 1, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    Great read, I can add that
    Allah’s rhetoric in the Quran or Islam as a whole is highly sofisticated and to the point, but we as delivering his message we got to add spices sometimes that most of the time ruin the dish of understanding our deen. Just tell me go when green and I will know automatically that I should stop on red. This habit of teaching fear starts from the parents whether they are Muslims or non Muslims, since it’s a method that parents use to show all don’t(s) to their kids. It’s the right way in general, but not the case with deen.

  19. Tafi Nami

    May 2, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    Read Online Quran Translation In English

  20. Rezwana Nowrin

    December 4, 2019 at 7:54 AM

    “Yes we can eat and drink everything with exception to a few items like pork, alcohol and predator animals (like lions,tigers and bears which are uncommon in all cuisines anyways) 99.5% of all food and drink can make it into your belly!”

    Really?! Are you aware of this? ?

    “Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on which Allaah’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering of the animal), for sure it is Fisq (a sin and disobedience of Allaah). And certainly, the Shayaateen (devils) do inspire their friends (from mankind) to dispute with you, and if you obey them[by making Al‑Maytah (a dead animal) legal by eating it], then you would indeed be Mushrikoon (polytheists); [because they (devils and their friends) made lawful to you to eat that which Allaah has made unlawful to eat and you obeyed them by considering it lawful to eat, and by doing so you worshipped them; and to worship others besides Allaah is polytheism]”

    [al-An‘aam 6:121]

    Islam is not a “Yes Religion,” nor a “No Religion.” It’s a balanced religion, a way of life.

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