By Editorial Staff
What Is Moderation?
As we discuss the concept of moderation and its implications in Islam, it is essential to examine the places where the concept of moderation or any of it uses is highlighted in the religious texts. The importance of this review stems from the fact that the religious texts stand for the source of rulings and concepts shaping the Islamic view of principles and codes of ethics. But, before going on it is worthy to mention that moderation means to adopt a middle way between both extremes, in all the various walks of life. Moderation is a separator between excessiveness and remissness, between extremism and extravagance, and between normality and abnormality. Islam stresses moderation and equity in everything; in relationships, acts of worship, customs, transactions, social life and human desires.
Direct References to Moderation in the Qur’an
Moderation has been reiterated in the Qur’an whether explicitly or implicitly, but in all its uses it confirms equitable and balanced situation in beliefs, conduct and even worship. It covered the man’s relationship with God, people and universe as a whole. In the following lines, we will review the Qur’anic use of the term moderation which is expressed by the term wastiyyah and its derivatives. We will discover how the Qur’an manifested the concept of moderation as being an essential characteristic and element of the Islamic Shari`ah and creed.
First: Almighty Allah says:
Thus We have mad you a wasat (middle) nation… (Al-Baqarah 2:143)
This verse was explained by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself as narrated by Al-Bukhari from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet Muhammad said, “Noah will be called on the Day of Resurrection and he will say, ‘Labbaik and Sa`dayk, O my Lord!’ Allah will say, ‘Did you convey the Message?’ Noah will say, ‘Yes.’ His nation will then be asked, ‘Did he convey the Message to you?’ They will say, ‘No Warner came to us.’ Then Allah will say (to Noah), ‘Who will bear witness in your favor?’ He will say, ‘Muhammad and his followers. So they (i.e. Muslims) will testify that he conveyed the Message. And the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves, and that is what is meant by the Statement of Allah:
Thus We have made of you a wasat (middle and just) nation that you may be witnesses over mankind and the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)
Imam At-Tabari said, “I believe that ‘wasat’ here refers to the center of the thing that lies between its two ends such as the center of the house… I think that Allah gave them this description because of their being of a middle approach in religion; neither they went to extremes like Christians who innovated monasticism and exaggerated in the appreciation of Jesus taking him as a God, nor they show negligence towards their religion as the Jews did when they distorted the Scriptures of God, killed His Prophets, and disbelieved Him. Allah characterized Muslims by moderation and equity because they adopted a moderate way between these extremes of exaggeration and negligence.
Second: Almighty Allah says,
Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient. (Al-Baqarah 2:238)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained this verse in his saying on the battle of the Trench as he said, “They have diverted us from (offering) the middle prayer, the `Asr (Afternoon) prayer. May Allah fill their bellies and their graves with fire, or he said: May Allah stuff their bellies and their graves with fire.” (Muslim)
Third: Allah says,
So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. (Al-Ma’idah 5:89)
The Qur’an asks the person who pays expiation for breaking his oath to offer food to the poor as one choice. However, this food must be an average food that is not too bad or too expensive. It should be a moderate one; an appropriate food.
Fourth: Almighty Allah says,
The most moderate of them said, “Did I not say to you, ‘Why do you not exalt [ Allah ]?’” (Al-Qalam 68:28)
The verse makes mention of the middle one from among the group referring to the one with better reason and opinion or the best or the fairest one from among them.
Indirect References to Moderation in the Qur’an
These verses cited the term moderation explicitly with its uses that do not overstep the linguistic meaning of the origin of the word, namely moderateness. This meaning is approved by the Shari`ah and coincides with other related Qur’anic texts. However, there are many other texts that shed light on the meaning of moderation through other words that refer to this meaning within a Qur’anic approach with clear and established proofs. We will mention some of them as follows:
Almighty Allah says,
Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:6-7)
The verse states that Allah has described the path with two things: being straight and inconsistent with the path of those who have evoked the anger of God (the Jews) and also the way of Christians who went to extremes in monasticism and worship until they overstep the boundaries of their religion, not only in worship but also in conviction. Thus, since the straight path is contrary to the way of those who committed negligence or extremism, it must be a moderate path. This indicates that the straight path which God has enacted is free from extremism and negligence, which is the core of the Islamic approach of moderation.
The same meaning is also shown clearly in Allah’s saying,
Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves. And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path. (Al-Baqarah 2:213)
The above mentioned verses prove and lay the grounds of the moderate approach established by the Qur’an.
However, the whole verses and chapters of the Qur’an call to moderation, justice, equity and other related concepts. Almighty Allah says,
Indeed! This Qur’an guides to that which is straightest. (Al-Israa’ 17:9)
The word ‘straightest’ refers to the safety valve of the Muslim nation, the nation of the Qur’an, which protects it from swerving from the straight path. It is the guidance of the Glorious Qur’an with its proper commands and regulations that conflicts not with sound minds and natural inclinations. Rather, the discourse of the Qur’an, in all its issues, goes in line with the soundest views and theories and observes both the material and spiritual sides on equal levels.