What is Ithar?
It is to take on upon oneself such takleef (inconvenience/trouble), which is not beyond one’s tolerance, in consideration of bringing rahat (ease/comfort) to others.
This infact is the ta’leem (teaching) in Islam. Despite being Muslim, we Muslims have not understood Islam. What an amazing phenomenon! Putting it differently: Despite being members of a household, we have not understood our home! Being members of a household, we have not recognised our home! Islam is a house, a basic fort, belonging to the Muslims. Yet we have not recognised this. Yes, we are Muslims. Well - Yes, admittedly, we are Muslims.
Like wealth: A person possesses a mere amount of money. Yes, admittedly, it may be said too that he possesses wealth. But, is he really wealthy, especially in present times? We have heard with our own ears - people, in spite of having a lot of money saying, "I am poor!". It was different in the past. We have passed through such an era, and seen an age, where people used to say of anyone in possession of even a little wealth, in a tone of awe, "That is a very rich person!"
Similarly with regards to Muslims. Even though most aspects of Islamic teachings are not to be found in them, and more un-Islamic features are found, even so, one concedes that they are Muslims. What type of Muslims? Anyhow, they are still Muslims.
Another example: If a person owns five or ten acres of land, technically he will be said to be owning land - he has land, whereas the next person may have nothing. But can he be called a landowner in the real sense of the word? Of course not! If he were to boast to be a landowner, he would merely be making a laughing stock of himself.Similarly, Muslims are themselves making a laughing stock of Islam. It is not others who are making a laughing stock of the Muslims. The Muslims themselves are making Islam an object of mockery. Should we tread firmly, and completely, along the path of Islam, with an even temperament (mustaqil mizaj), then nobody will have any occasion to mock or sneer.We are the ones inviting others to mock and sneer. The awe of others on Islam, depends on the Muslims.
DO NOT INCLINE TOWARDS THOSE WHO HAVE MADE ZULM
Be as it may, we consider ourselves to be Muslims. Well and good. This is also of use. We may be forgiven on that basis. However, it is to be seen whether this forgiveness comes after being censured, or after being slapped, or after being given a whacking. Or, Allah Ta'ala forbid! - being punished i.e. by the fire of Jahannam touching us, even though the full force of the fire does not envelop us. As is stated in the Qur'an, where the Mu'mins are being addressed:
"(O Muslims!) Do not incline towards those who have committed zulum (injustice/ oppression)."
These people of zulm infact committed zulm to themselves by adopting shirk and kufr. Do not adopt their ways! Do not imitate them in matters of mu'amalat (transactions) and mu'asharat(social etiquettes and lifestyle). As far as ibadat (worship) is concerned, Muslims do not imitate them: When a Muslim performs Solat, does he not make sajdah to Allah SWT alone? Obviously, a Muslim neither makes ruku' nor sajdah to idols, or to pictures placed in front of him, or to hand-fashioned statuettes, etc. "So, O Muslims! We must make sure that we neither incline towards nor adopt the habits, the mu'amalat and mu'asharat of the mushrikeen and kuffar.
(Based on the advices of Sheikh Muhammad Maseehullah RA)