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Moderation in the Light of the Sunnah

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Moderation has been and still a Prophetic and Islamic way of life, worship and belief.

By Editorial Staff

In a previous article, we talked about the meaning of the concept of moderation and its references in the Glorious Qur’an. We mentioned the direct and indirect references to moderation in the Qur’an that centered on the meanings of balance, middle ways, equity, balance, avoiding both extremes and straightforwardness. This fact has been confirmed through the various Qur’anic verses we have quoted in that article. Yet, by pursuing the same line about moderation, we will try to track the texts of the Prophet’s Sunnah that touched on moderation whether explicitly or implicitly to discover the harbored gems and imbedded purposes of the Sunnah in that concern. In fact, the hadiths that tackled this issue are so plentiful. So, we will quote only some of them.

Direct References to Moderation

  • Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There are one-hundred degrees in Paradise which Allah has prepared for those who carry on Jihad in His Cause. The distance between every two degrees is like the distance between the sky and the earth, so if you ask Allah for anything, ask Him for the Firdaus, for it is the middle part of Paradise and the highest part of Paradise, and at its top there is the Throne of Beneficent, and from it gush forth the rivers of Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari)
  • Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “When food is served, take from the sides and leave the middle, for the blessing descends in the middle.” (Ibn Majah)

Here, the derivative of wasatiyyah (i.e. moderation) which is wasat has been mentioned in the meaning of the middle part between two extremes. However, in the first hadith, wast is used to refer to the middle part which is the best and fairest part. This connotation goes in line with the verse that says,

And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

In the second hadith, wasat means the middle part where the blessings always descend, which is true for adopting the moderate approach which is the place of blessings.

  • Abu Hurairah (may Islam be pleased with him) reported that 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 Islam) at morn and at dusk and some part of night”. (Al-Bukhari)

The hadith stresses the fact that easiness is the mainstream of Islam while extremism and extravagance do not in any way pertain to Islam. Moreover, those who adopt the extreme approach will never go on. This is clarified in the hadith below.

Indirect References to Moderation

  • `Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him), “This religion is very profound so approach it in a gentle manner and do not make yourself hate the worship of Allah, since a traveler who does not let his mount rest will not reach his destination and his mount will not be able to keep going.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “What is meant is that no one goes to extremes in religious deeds and forsakes the easy approach but he will become incapable and will be unable to continue in that way. Ibn Al-Munir said: “This hadith is one of the signs of Prophethood. We have seen and the people before us saw that everyone who goes to extremes in religious matters will be cut off and doomed. However, this by no means indicates that we should not seek to be more perfect in worship, for that is something praiseworthy. Rather, what is forbidden is the kind of extremism that leads to getting bored with it, or going to such extremes in doing voluntary acts that one ends up forsaking that which is better, or it leads to delaying the obligatory act until the time for it is over, like one who stays up and prays all night, until sleep overcomes him at the end of the night and he sleeps and misses offering Fajr (Dawn) prayer in congregation, or until the preferred time for it is over, or until the sun rises and the time for the obligatory prayer ends.” (Fath Al-Bari by Ibn Hajar)

  • 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 (peace be upon him). 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 salah (prayer) all night long.” Another said: “I shall observe sawm (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 Salah and sleep at night and take wives. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah does not belong to me”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Battal said in his explanation of this hadith, “This hadith contains a juristic ruling that marriage is one of the acts of Sunnah in Islam and that there is no monasticism in our religion, and thus leaving marriage detesting the Sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) is something dispraised and innovated… This hadith also highlights the importance of following Imams (Prophet, companions and scholars) in worship and adopting their way. Then, one should not overstep their action as Allah chose them to be followed by people in religion and worship. However, those who want to go too far from their way will surely fall in evil. Thus, adopting the moderate and balanced approach in worship is better.” (Sharh Sahih Al-Bukhari by Ibn Battal)

By then, we come to know that moderation is most required by the texts of the Glorious Qur’an and the blessed Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is not something innovated or newly introduced to Islam, but rather it is the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his followers. Also, moderation does not mean slacking or negligence which some people wrongly ascribe to the recent calls of moderation because moderation, in its essence, means avoiding negligence and also extremism. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was characterized by the moderate and simple approach of action. He was never given a choice between two things but adopting the easier one as compared to the difficult one, but his choice for the easier one was only in case it did not involve any sin. (Muslim) Moderation has been and still a Prophetic and Islamic way of life, worship and belief.

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