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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Moderation: Your Way to Self-Development

moderation

Human beings are prone to go to extremes when overtaken by passion.

By Abdur Rashid Siddiqui

A responsible highways authority will erect a variety of warning signs in order to alert drivers to dangers and so ensure safe passage. Similarly it is necessary that certain of the obstacles in the path of self-purification be identified for the benefit of the seekers of truth. Doing so will help them reach their destination safely. In broad terms, there are certain failings which gradually separate one from one’s goal against which it is well to be forewarned.

One of these failings is extremism. Human beings are prone to go to extremes when overtaken by passion. They often adopt an extremist position on particular issues, whether acts of worship or points of morality, overemphasizing certain matters at the expense of others. Islam enjoins human beings to seek balance and moderation in their outlook and warns them against extremism of any sort. One should therefore observe moderation in the effort to attain self-purification. It is reported on the authority of Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘Do not strain yourself in matters of faith lest Allah may treat you harshly.’ (Abu Dawud) In another hadith he warned: ‘Beware! Do not become entrapped by extremism. For people before you were destroyed on account of their extremism in faith.’ (Abu Dawud)

We have taken note of extremism as an obstacle and pitfall on the road to self-purification. This should not give rise to the impression that one cannot make progress on this road. Certainly this is not that difficult. Human beings instinctively welcome goodness and are repelled by evil. There are lessons to be learnt from every event in this universe, as well as from one’s own experience. One does not stand in need of joining some training course to assimilate these lessons. Furthermore, it is within man’s capacity to fulfill the obligations prescribed by Allah. Allah does not burden anyone beyond his capacity, for that would run counter to justice.

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Source: Excepted from Tazkiyah: The Islamic Path of Self-Development, edited by Abdur Rashid Siddiqui and published by Islamic Foundation, 2004.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

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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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Balance in Life: A Central Objective of Islam

stones like a scale

The spirit of the Shari`ah is that man should use for his comfort and welfare the powers and the resources that God has bestowed on him.

By Abul A`la Mawdudi

Islam stands for human welfare and its avowed objective is to establish balance in life. That is why the Shari`ah clearly declares that your own self also has certain rights upon you. A fundamental principle of it is: “there are rights upon you of your own person.”

The Shari`ah forbids the use of all those things which are injurious to man’s physical, mental or moral existence. It forbids the consumption of blood, intoxicating drugs, flesh of the pig, beasts of prey, poisonous and unclean animals and carcasses; for all these have undesirable effects on the physical, moral, intellectual and spiritual life of man.

While forbidding these things, Islam enjoins man to use all clean, healthy and useful things and asks him not to deprive his body of clean food, for man’s body, too, has a right on him. The law of Islam forbids nudity and orders man to wear decent and dignified dress. It exhorts him to work for a living and strongly disapproves of him remaining idle and jobless. The spirit of the Shari`ah is that man should use for his comfort and welfare the powers God has bestowed on him and the resources that He has spread on the earth and in the heavens.

Islam does not believe in the suppression of sexual desire; it enjoins man to control and regulate it and seek its fulfillment in marriage. It forbids him to resort to self-persecution and total self-denial and permits him, indeed, bids him, to enjoy the rightful comforts and pleasures of life and remain pious and steadfast in the midst of life and its problems.

To seek spiritual elevation, moral purity, nearness to God and salvation in the life to come, it is not necessary to abandon this world. Instead, the trial of man lies in this world and he should remain in its midst and follow the way of Allah in it. The road to success lies in following the Divine Law in the midst of life’s complexities, not outside it. Islam forbids suicide and impresses on man that life belongs to God. It is a trust which God has bestowed for a certain period of time so that you may make the best use of it — it is not meant to be harmed or destroyed in a frivolous way.

This is how Islam instills in the mind of man that his own person, his own self, possesses certain rights and it is his obligation to discharge them as best he can, in the ways that have been suggested by the Shari`ah. This is how he can be true to his own self.

On the one hand, the Shari`ah has enjoined man to fulfill his personal rights and be just to his own self, and on the other, it has asked him to seek their fulfillment in such a way that the rights of other people are not violated. The Shari`ah has tried to strike a balance between the rights of man and the rights of society so that no conflict arises and there is co-operation in establishing the law of God.

Islam has strictly forbidden the telling of a lie in any shape or form, for lies sully the liar, harm other people and become a source of menace to society. It has totally forbidden theft, bribery, forgery, cheating, the levying of interest and usury, for whatever man gains by these means is obtained by causing loss and injury to others. Back-biting, tale-telling and slander have been forbidden. Gambling, lottery, speculation and all games of chance have been prohibited, for in all of them one person gains at the expense of thousands of losers.

All these forms of exploitative commerce have been prohibited in which one party alone is to be the loser. Monopoly, hoarding, black-marketing, holding of land from cultivation and all other forms of individual and social aggrandizement have been prohibited. Murder, blood spilling and spreading of mischief, disorder and destruction have been made crimes, for no-one has a right to take away the life or property of other people merely for his personal gain or gratification.

Adultery, fornication and unnatural sexual indulgence have been strictly prohibited for they not only vitiate the morality and impair the health of the perpetrator but also spread corruption and immorality in society, cause venereal disease, damage both public health and the morals of the coming generations, upset relations between man and man and split the very fabric of the cultural and social structure of the community. Islam seeks to eliminate, root and branch, such crimes.

All these limitations and restrictions have been imposed by the law of Islam to prevent a man encroaching on the rights of others. Islam does not want a man to become so selfish and self-centered that for the attainment of a few desires of the mind and body he unashamedly assails the rights of others and violates morality. Thus, the law of Islam regulates life that the welfare of one and all may be achieved. But for the attainment of human welfare and cultural advancement, negative restrictions alone are not sufficient. In a peaceful and prosperous society people should not only not violate the rights of others and injure their interests but should positively co-operate with each other and establish mutual relations and social institutions that contribute towards the welfare of all and the establishment of an ideal human society.

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Source: Excerpted from the author’s Towards Understanding Islam, translated and edited by Khurshid Ahmad and published by Islamic Foundation, 2004.

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