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Moderation: An Islamic Way of Life

Way of Life

Moderation means avoiding extravagance and exaggeration, sticking to moderation and balance and keeping away from abnormality in all areas of human behavior.

By Editorial Staff

Islam is the religion of moderation and balance in everything; in relationships, acts of worship, customs, transactions, social life and human desires. It is a sublime divine approach that protects man from leaning to one of the two extremes as it sets up all kinds of relationships on the basis of equilibrium and moderation.

Moderation means avoiding extravagance and exaggeration, sticking to moderation and balance and keeping away from abnormality in all areas of human behavior. It is a general approach that governs all relations and covers all walks of life.

Moderation in worship

The reinforcement of man’s relationship with his Creator is one of the prerequisites of psychological adjustment and spiritual comfort, just as the desertion of God is a major cause for concerns, misery and troubles. This fact is well known to the majority of psychologists and philosophers. If the relationship between man and God is not controlled by balance and non-extravagance, it may lead to counteractive results because the human nature makes this imperative. However, we must bear in mind that we do not mean by extravagance in worship the level of relationship with God, but we point to the aberrant practices, as indicated in the following hadith:

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet to inquire about the worship of the Prophet. When they were informed, they considered their worship insignificant and said: “Where are we in comparison with the Prophet (peace be upon him) while Allah has forgiven his past sins and future sins”. One of them said: “As for me, I shall offer prayer all night long.” Another said: “I shall observe fasting continuously and shall not break it”. Another said: “I shall abstain from women and shall never marry”. The Prophet (peace be upon him) came to them and said, “Are you the people who said such and such things? By Allah, I fear Allah more than you do, and I am most obedient and dutiful among you to Him, but still I observe fast and break it; perform Prayer and sleep at night and take wives. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah does not belong to me”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

We may quote these texts that urge moderation in worship:

  • Ibn `Abbas narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Beware of going to extremes in religious matters, for those who came before you were destroyed because of going to extremes in religious matters.” (An-Nasa’i)
  • `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Beware! The extremists are perished,” saying it three times.” (Abu Dawud)
  • The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) would say, “Do not impose austerities on yourselves so that austerities will be imposed on you, for people have imposed austerities on themselves and Allah imposed austerities on them. Their survivors are to be found in cells and monasteries. (Then he quoted:) “Monasticism, they invented it; we did not prescribe it for them.” (Abu Dawud)
  • Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The religion (of Islam) is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigor, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course (in worship); if you can’t do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night”. (Al-Bukhari)

Moderation in Da`wah

Da`wah to Allah is the mission of the Messengers of God (peace be upon them) and the best work that a Muslim may fulfill. However, Da`wah is regulated by certain controls and limits that are necessary for carrying out its desired goals and results.

Almighty Allah has linked the goodness of this nation with performing the obligation of Da`wah to him through the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil as Allah says,

You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. (Aal `Imran 3:110)

Thus, the regulation of enjoining good and forbidding evil must be achieved in order to achieve the goodness of this Ummah (Muslim nation). However, moderation in Da`wah by no means indicates limitless alleviation or strictness but rather it means taking into account the conditions of the invited ones and choosing the most appropriate methods. This is best expressed by the Qur’anic verse,

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. (An-Nahl 16:125)

Wisdom and good instruction are the regulators of Da`wah that protect it from diverting to the extreme ends of extravagance or extremism.

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim explained the wisdom mentioned in the above verse in the following words: “Wisdom is to do what should be done in the most appropriate way in the most proper time.”

Moderation in social relations

Man is a social being who always needs to integrate with other people. However, this integration should be bounded by the limits of moderation because extravagance in integration with others surely leads to poor compatibility. One should neither be completely indulged in friendship with others nor remain in isolation from them. The middle way is the best.

`Ali ibn Abu Talib teaches us moderation in social relations as he says, “Love your beloved mildly, perhaps he will become hated to you someday. Hate whom you hate mildly, perhaps he will become your beloved someday.” (Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

Proper social relations must be based on moderation, with neither exaggeration in mixing with others nor with extravagance in abandonment and seclusion. The proper social relations in the normal circle of moderation will not be relying on mutual benefits, but rather on intimacy, love, compassion and benevolence to others. However, those relationships that originate and end by material reasons are not social relations but can be called financial, economic or political relations that are not appropriate social relations.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A man set out to visit a brother (in Islam) in another town and Allah sent an angel on his way. When the man met the angel, the latter asked him, “Where do you intend to go?” He said, “I intend to visit my brother in this town.” The angel said, “Have you done any favor to him?” He said, “No, I have no desire except to visit him because I love him for the sake of Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious.” Thereupon the angel said, “I am a messenger to you from Allah (to inform you) that Allah loves you as you love him (for His sake).” (Muslim)

Moderation in family matters

Moderation and balance in familial matters are primary rules for the success and continuity of a family in the course of life. Moderation must be observed between all the family members; between parents and children and between the husband and wife. This principle should cover the different aspects of family matters including spending, giving, education, and even feelings. Below are some texts that highlight moderation in the family relations.

Almighty Allah says,

And those, who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes). (Al-Furqan 25:67)

And enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you, and the [best] outcome is for [those of] righteousness. (Ta-Ha 20:132)

Upon the father is the mothers’ provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. (Al-Baqarah 2:233)

But accompany them (parents) in [this] world with appropriate kindness… (Luqman 31:15)

`Amr ibn Al-Ahwas Al-Jushami (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that he had heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying on his Farewell Pilgrimage, after praising and glorifying Allah and admonishing people, “Treat women kindly, they are like captives in your hands; you do not owe anything else from them. In case they are guilty of open indecency, then do not share their beds and beat them lightly but if they return to obedience, do not have recourse to anything else against them. You have rights over your wives and they have their rights over you. Your right is that they shall not permit anyone you dislike to enter your home, and their right is that you should treat them well in the matter of food and clothing”. (At- Tirmidhi)

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Source: Adapted and translated from a research titled “Al-Wasatiyyah Manhaj Hayah” by Sheikh Muhammad Mahmud Muhammad, published on http://www.masajed.gov.kw/, last accessed 16, November, 2015.

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