Moderation In the light of the Quran and Sunnah
Obaid Ullah Hamzah
We are labeled in the Quran as “UMMATAN WASATA”
Allah Says: “And thus We have made of you an Ummah justly balanced that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will a witness over you.” ( 143 :2 )
Allah, the Creator of the Universe, praises those who chose the middle path even in spending “and they are those who. When they spend ,do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever between that, moderate. “( 67:25 )
Islam is a divine religion, a divine way of life and also a divine guidance meant for all people ,all races and all nations. It is a mercy for mankind sent by All Merciful through the last Messenger – the Mercy of the whole universe.
One of the obvious characteristics of Islam is that it is a religion of moderation and balance in creeds, beliefs, acts of worships, and all that Islam stands for. Moderation is a very aptly measured balance between two opposite things. It is also the middle of any two contradicted sides. We know the best place, like the gem of the necklace is in the middle. In addition, things in the middle are always protected and safe while things at the extreme subjects to danger and risk. Moderation is strength because the middle is the center of power. The Sun, for example, is most effective when it is in the middle of the sky and man is strong during the middle age.
In brief, Islam strongly calls upon Muslims to exercise moderation in creeds, acts of worship and legal rulings. Islam also strikes a balance between the individual and communal liberties, a balance between texts and reason, a balance between body and soul.
We must keep in mind that people before us or the people of the book perished as a result of such excessiveness. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said:
اياكم والغلو في الدين فانما هلك من كان قبلكم بالغلو في الدين ( سنن النسائي )
“Beware of excessiveness in religion, people before you perished as a result of excessiveness. In another narration he said “Ruined are those go beyond the limits in their utterances as well as in their action.
Allah addresses these people of the Scriptures :
يا اهل الكتاب لا تغلوا في دينكم غير الحق ولا تتبعوا أهواء قوم قد ضلوا من قبل وأضلوا كثيرا وضلوا من سواء السبيل ( المائدة : 77 )
Say o people of the Scripture! Do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way. ( 5 : 77 )
Excessiveness may crop up as an insignificant action which we unwillingly allow it to continue and develop as a menace. This is how some rights are neglected at the expense of the others. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him, taught a group of men who came to him how to understand the faith and its application. Anas bin Malik narrated: A group of men came to the houses if the wives of the Prophet (SAAS) asking about his ibadah or worship and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient. One of them said, “I will offer salah (prayer) throughout the night forever. The other said, I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fasting. The other said, I will never marry. Allah’s Messenger came to them and said, BY Allah I am more submissive to Allah and more fearful of him than you; yet I fast and I break my fasting, I sleep and do offer salah at last part of the night. And I also may women. So he who does not follow my sunnah is not one of my followers. ( Bukhari )
In Islam, acting upon religion is made easy. We made it hard to comply with. Prophet Muhammad (SAAS ) said :
وقال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ان الدين يسر ولن يشاد هذا الدين احد إلا غلبه فسددوا وقاربوا وابشروا ( صحيح البخاري )
Religion is easy. Whoever overburdens himself will be overwhelmed with it. So be right (without excessiveness or negligence) and be close (to perfection) and have good tidings (in being rewarded or your deeds).
We must realize that no single cause is wholly responsible for the spread extremism It is a complex phenomenon with many interrelated causes. That is why it is so important that we should not concentrate on one single or specific cause as its causes are varied and could be direct or indirect, manifest or hidden. These causes may be religious, political, social, economic. psychological, intellectual or a combination of all those. But major cause of the deviation from moderation are lack of knowledge, intellectual shallowness, blurred vision, misconceptions, lack of insight into the Islamic history, occupation with less insignificant and minor issues instead of vital and fundamental ones, more emphasize on either allegorical texts or categorical texts, hasty judgments, imposing obstacles in the way of dawah etc.
This statement of one contemporary Islamic scholar is very amazing who said : A true Muslim is busy with his own belief while an extremist preoccupied with faith of others. A true Muslim always works hard for himself and others to be eligible for entering Jannah while an extremist tries to prove that others will go to hell. A true Muslim seeks the excuses of others to forgive them while an extremist investigates others’ faults to punish them.
We believe that causes are numerous, so are remedies. No magical touch can put an end to this problem. We believe , the following steps should be taken to promote moderation and curb extremism .
1- Gentle advice and kind speech should be used to convince him or her. Advice is always heavy so it should be not put forward as a mountain. Any speech that emanates from heart will find a place in heart . Allah says :
فقولا له قولا لينا لعله يتذكر او يخشى ( طه : 44 )
And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear (Allah ). ( 20: 44 )
2- Wisdom, logic and intellect will play a very effective role in wiping it out from their hearts. Allah said:
أدع الى سبيل ربك بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة وجادلهم بالتي هي أحسن ( النحل 125 )
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction and argue with them in way that is best. (16: 125)
Many Khwarij who because of their strange religious notions and delusions, fought the great Muslim Ali bin Talib in spite of being from among his followers and soldiers, had joined with mainstream Muslims after ibn Abbas debated them and refuted their arguments .
I would like here to emphasize the great responsibility our Ulama or Islamic scholars will play in eradicating this problem . Our deep sighted Islamic scholars will help promote the very good essence of Islam and it moderation in what it stand for.
3- The space must be kept open free for constructive and objective criticism. There must be an environment where freedom of speech is welcome and accommodated within shariah or legal allowed framework. Caliph Omar used to say “May Allah bless and shower mercy on him who informed me of my shortcomings and faults.
4- To show respect to the creeds, values and religious sentiments of all people in general and to those of majority in particular. Many extremists breed in a land where this is violated again and again and expectations of them are not met. So our laws , educational systems etc. must all reflect and express the people’s beliefs, values and traditions .
5- Society has to play a positive role in the remedy. As a Muslim society it has to show its genuine commitment to Islam .
6- Media with its outlets should play a great role in promoting moderation and reining in strictness and fanaticism. Many abominable terrorist attacks and incidents took place in different times and places because of irresponsible or biased use of media.