First and foremost, we’d like to make it clear that the religion of Islam seeks not to cause any hardship to its adherents or burden them beyond their capabilities. Easiness and facilitation are among the main characteristics of Islam. Almighty Allah says: “Allah would not place a burden on you, but He would purify you and would perfect His grace upon you, that ye may give thanks. (Al-Ma’idah 6) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way.”
However, if one happens to endure a certain hardship that gets in his way in fulfilling an act of worship while he does not impose it on himself, he will get abundant reward from Allah for his endurance of such hardship. Yet, it is not sanctioned that a Muslim cause himself certain hardship that he can escape.
The eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, may Allah forgive his shortcomings, stated that: “Getting a greater reward for performing acts of worship is not dependent only on the hardship one faces. There are other considerations and several conditions for getting an abundant reward. The most important factors are sincerity and devotion to Allah as well as offering the act of worship in the most perfect way. The more the act is sincerely devoted to Allah and strictly done in accordance to the Sunnah, the more abundant reward it will yield. Moreover, the hardship one faces is taken into account provided that one does not impose it on himself. A person who naturally exerts much effort in his act of worship will be compensated for his efforts as long as he himself does not opt to impose hardship on himself.
For instance, suppose that a person lives near the mosque. Should he go around it to increase the distance and the steps he takes to the mosque, thinking that he may get a greater reward? This is not acceptable from a Shari`ah point of view. However, if it naturally happens that one’s house is far from the mosque, then he will get a reward for every step he walks towards the mosque. Therefore, when Banu Salamah wanted to come to live near the Prophet’s Mosque and abandon their homes that were located in the outskirts of Madinah, the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) did not allow them to do so. He, however, gave them the glad tidings that they will add to their credit of good deeds with Allah, one good deed or hasanah for every step they take to the mosque. This does not mean that one should take a long way or move to a farther place in order to get more hasanat or rewards.
Likewise, if one does not possess the fees to travel by plane and hence he uses a ship with cheap fees, rides a mount or even travels on foot, he will undoubtedly get a greater reward than one who takes the same distance in two hours or less without feeling any hardship. The most important thing is that one does not intentionally impose the hardship on himself while being able to get rid of it, such as one who goes to Hajj on foot while he can find a mount to ride, or one who travels on a mount while being able to travel by a car. The hardship that yields reward is not that which one imposes on himself but that which one cannot escape, as he has no other way.”