“O Allah, guide us to the Straight Path” (Surah al-Fatiha: verse: 6)
The entire Quran is an explanation of this verse. The essence of being a Muslim is to follow the ‘middle path’ which is in effect, the ‘straight path’ towards Allah almighty. Islam upholds a balance between the spiritual and intellectual, theory and law, infusing these elements together to find the middle path. The Islamic faith is moderate, balanced and equitable. This message is central to the Islamic practice and is seen to be addressed in all aspects of our daily lives. There is moderation in every deed, creed and trait.
وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا ۗ
…We have appointed you a middle nation (ummatan wasatan), that you may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you (Qur’an 2:143)
In this verse, Allah (swt) has commanded and ordained Muslims to be a nation of the middle path. The term ‘Wasatan’ refers to the central point that is right in the middle between two ends and away from the two extremes. The second and classical meaning of ‘Wasatan’ is to be the best of, or the pinnacle of i.e. the best of the people.
Therefore, it is evident from this command that Muslims must remain steadfast in committing themselves to the middle way. Muslims must not lax or be negligent(tafrit) in their practice and must be free from being too extreme or being excessive (ifrat). This ultimately is described as paving the way for the ‘best’ nation.
The call for moderation is embedded in all aspects of Muslim practice, some of which are highlighted below.
Moderation is needed during prayer:
Allah says ‘And do not be too loud (reciting the Qur’an) in your (congregational) prayer, and do not be too quiet in it, rather seek a (moderate) way between these two) (Qur’an 17:110).
“And those (pious ones) when they spend, they are neither extravagant nor miserly, rather their manner between them is of moderation” (25:67)
Moderation is even needed when giving to charity. This is to say that Muslims must help those in need but we must be equally aware of our own financial position so we do not place ourselves in hardship either:
“And do not keep your hand bound to your neck, and do not extent it either to its full extent, lest you end up sitting blamed and destitute” (17:29)
Even in matters of consumption:
“And eat and drink, and do not exceed the limits. Verily Allah does not like the exceeders of limits” (Qur’an 7:31)
When giving da’wah (islamic call):
In regards to calling people towards Allah (swt), the Qur’an gives clear instructions to“Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better” (Qur’an 16:125). The Qur’an therefore makes it clear that even in the matter of Islamic call (da’wah), one should be peaceful, non-violent, balanced and fair. It is important to lead by example, and to do so peacefully. “Da’wah” implies fair invitation infused with the provisions of wisdom (hikmat) to the common good of mankind. The Qur’an gives a clear instruction that there is no compulsion in religion (2:256). Nowhere in the Qur’an does Allah (swt) call to change people’s religion using force. We acknowledge that true guidance comes from the creator, not ourselves. The Qur’an states that people will remain different (11:118), they will always have different religions and ways and this is an unchangeable fact (5:48).
In matters against oppression:
O you who believe! Stand firm for Allah, [as] witnesses with justice. And let not hatred of a people cause you not to act equitably…(Qur’an 5.8).
It is important that Muslims protect those who have been the victims of oppression by bringing the aggressors to justice. The Qur’an also demands that Muslim’s do not ‘let the hatred cause you to act equitably’ and therefore, allow these criminals to turn them into similar criminals. Allah asks Muslims to not “transgress the limits of Allah” (Qur’an 2:229). If Muslims act equally atrociously to the oppressors, then they are simply following the footsteps of the oppressors and not the message that Allah has commanded in the Qur’an when reacting to the victimization of the oppressed.
This principle of moderation is enshrined in the Qur’an. Therefore, it is important to remember that the notion of balance and fairness must be deeply ingrained into one’s heart in order to fulfill their Deen to the highest level. Our souls are afterall – the most important and valuable item that we own in this life and must be constantly nurtured. It is not to say that we cannot enjoy the fruits of this world, but we must continuously acknowledge the akhira (afterlife) and not allow the fruits to effect or heavily burden our souls. Similarly, excessive and restrictive practice to a point where there is no capacity to manoeuvre can lead us down a dangerous path. Allah discourages Muslims from going beyond their limits and Islam advocates complete moderation, perfect ease and full liberty in all matters of faith and religious practices.
The struggle within Islamic practice is to acknowledge that ‘religiousness’ is not equated with ‘overwhelming’ practice but in fact to realize that the struggle is to find a perfect balance. Whenever you take action on matters, ask yourself “What would be the most excessive version of this action?” and “What would be the most relaxed version of this action?”. Reflect, you have vision (Qur’an 59:2)
“Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity” (Qur’an 2:286)