Islam’s Moderation

All praise be to Allah alone, and peace and blessings be upon the Prophet.

Moderation is that which is just, righteousness, and beautiful, as Allah has said: ‘We have made you a middle nation’ (Al baqara : 143); this is interpreted as being morally upright. Al Maraghi’s understanding of this, may Allah have mercy on him, is that moderation in religion is that which is contrary to transgression or neglect, but instead leads to goodness and fulfillment of Allah’s obligations.

Islam’s moderation in doctrinal aspects :

Muslims bear witness that Jesus is one of many prophets sent by God, and he is a manifestation of God’s word and a spirit from Him which He conveyed unto Mary. The Quranic verse says: ‘The Messiah, son of Mary, was none other than a messenger like the messengers who had passed away before him. His mother was a saintly woman and they both used to eat humble food’. (Al-Maeda: 75). It is emphasized that he is God’s Messenger in the following verse: ‘When Jesus the son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Behold, I am the messenger of Allah unto you’ (Al-Saf: 6). He is a messenger like the other apostles, moderate in belief tending neither toward exaggeration nor neglect. Scholar Ibn Jibrin said: ‘Islam is moderate, neither estrangement and exaggeration, nor distortion that took place in previous messages; for example:

There is a disrespectful belief amongst some of the sects of Judaism downplaying Jesus’ important role in society and go so far as to allege that he is a prostitute’s son and his mother was an adulterer. God replies to this ugly accusation in the Quran that such people will be punished ‘Because of their disbelief and of their speaking against Mary a tremendous calumny’ (Al-Nisa’ : 156). Many of the Christian faith go to the other extreme insofar as they deify the figure of Jesus. Yet the Quran’s response to this is: ‘They indeed have disbelieved who say that God is the Messiah, or the son of Mary’ (Al-Maeda: 17). And he who transgresses moderation in theology and says that Allah is the third of three, referring to Allah, Jesus, and his mother, has disbelieved. ‘They surely disbelieve who say that Allah is the third of three’ (Al-Maeda: 73).

Many scholars allude to the prophetic tradition that says that Islam’s sects are seventy-three, yet the rightful of them is who walks the path of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his companions. In classical Arabic language, seventy is a number often used for hyperbole, meaning ‘many’. The prophet peace be upon him said: ‘Jews were divided into seventy sects, and Christians were divided into seventy two sects, and this nation will be divided into seventy-three sects, all will be punished except for one.’ They asked: O Messenger of Allah, are they? He Said: he who was like me and my companions.

Further doctrinal points:

First: Allah’s names and attributes

Muslims have moderate understanding of divinity in that although God is utterly transcendent from His creation, He simultaneously manifests His attributes in the world immanently.

Second: destiny

Muslims are moderate in their understanding of destiny. Although an element of predestination is accepted, it is in such a way that allows room for free choice. This allows for culpability in one’s actions, yet acceptance of Allah’s final decree.

Third: punishment

Muslims approach punishment in a moderate manner. They should not accuse people of eternal damnation because 1) it is believed that the soul of every person is in the hands of Allah, and He decided who will be punished and who will be forgiven; and 2) no one knows the ending of another, nor his eternal fate after his ‘seal on life’.

Scholar Ibn Jibrin said: ‘Islam is moderate, between extremism and estrangement.’

Moderation in worship

Islam does not require that one pray all night long without sleep or refrain from eating or drinking for months upon months or lead a monastic lifestyle in general. Nor does it recommend that people waste food, waste time, or waste money. It simply calls to a moderate and balanced lifestyle which does not impose undue burden on the individual.

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, himself said: ‘… I swear, I’m the most God-fearing and most pious, yet I fast and break my fast, I pray and sleep, and I marry, whoever strays from my example is not of me.’

Moderation in treatment of all people, despite their actions

Let us take an example of three different reactions to the behavior of an immoral man. One person might say: ‘I won’t even greet this person; rather I’ll desert him, and never talk to him.’ A second says: ‘I’ll not only greet him, I’ll join in his companionship and ignore his vices and regard him a virtuous man.’ And still a third says: ‘Although I dislike the actions of this man, I love him for his faith, and thus will never desert him unless it is for his own good.’ The first is too harsh while the second is too lenient; but the third individual understands the true spirit of Islam which is to love humanity and humankind, yet to detest injustice, immorality, and evil.

Balance in treating wives

The same might be true of a married couple. A man might be entirely negligent of his wife’s manners or education or development and simply not care about helping her in personal and spiritual development. Another man might be harsh and abusive and too strict in terms of his demands and personality thereby oppressing his wife. Yet a man of true Islam should treat his wife as God and His Messenger commanded, giving her rights and treating her kindly and with compassion since women ‘have rights similar to those of men’ (Baqarah: 228). Moreover, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘A believer must not detest a believing woman; even if he dislikes one of her traits he’ll be pleased with another.’

Islam is between Judaism and Christianity

Although the Quran is last book to be revealed (after the Torah and Gospels respectively) it calls to a way which is most balanced. While Judaism emphasizes retribution without amnesty in murders as a sign of divine justice, and Christians, meanwhile, lean toward complete amnesty, which is considered a sign of divine mercy, it should be known that Islam in fact combines the said elements of justice and mercy insofar as it allows the deceased’s relatives to choose between retribution and amnesty, pardon with ransom or pardon without ransom, thereby upholding justice should the oppressed desire retribution, or spreading mercy should they choose it as the higher road.

Finally, Islam is also moderate in its economic system. It is neither capitalism nor communism. It desires social order and has a unique participatory political system which enables its citizens to live in freedom and safety. It is indeed moderate in everything. All thanks and praise be to God for bestowing Islam upon us, and we ask Him by His beautiful names and attributes to guide us and make us of those who call to Islam with vision and wisdom, and manifest its realities on our hearts and limbs. And peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and companions, and praise to Allah.