Moderation in Islam

  • | Wednesday, 22 May, 2019
Moderation in Islam

Moderation is one of the main values fostered by Islam. It is one of the objectives that Shariah came to promote in Muslims’ lives, as Ibn Ashur said, “Moderation is the first and foremost objective of Shari’ah.”[1] The Islamic concept of moderation is based on the meanings of tolerance, temperance, and justice. The importance of moderation is that it represents the position between the two extremes of excessiveness (ifrat) and negligence (tafrit); it is thus the backbone of all virtuous qualities.

The concept of moderation has many manifestations. It relates to the way a Muslim deals with other Muslims, and also to the way he deals with non-Muslims. Here in this article, we will elaborate on the second kind through examining the philosophy of Islam in this regard, - the philosophy which is actually based upon more than one principle, as follows:

  1. The Nature of Diversity

Allah has created human beings different from each other. They are different in their languages, colors, races, etc. The Qur’an states, “And one of His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your languages and colors. Surely in this are signs for those of ˹sound˺ knowledge.” (Qur’an 30: 22) Thus, Islam presents this as a philosophy of creation, and it can never be believed that Allah orders us to hate each other for this difference. Allah was Fully Able to create all humans with one faith, since He is the Lord of all Worlds and He is Fully Able to do everything He wills. However, He, Most High, decreed to give people the freedom to choose the faith to adopt. The Qur’an clarifies this, saying, “Had your Lord so willed, He would have certainly made humanity one single community ˹of believers˺, but they will always ˹choose to˺ differ.” (Qur’an 11: 118)

 

  1. Ta’aruf (Knowing Each Other)

Based on the first principle, the logical question that follows is: what is the objective of such difference? The Qur’an answers this question clearly and directly when saying, “People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should know one another.” (Qur’an 49: 13) To best understand the implication and importance of the principle of ta‘aruf of the verse, it is good to look into the surah (Qur’an 49) in its totality. The surah presents a set of morals that protects community. It starts with highlighting the etiquettes of dealing the Prophet (PBUH). Then it presents the ethics and rules that preserve the Muslim community against gossips, discords, social diseases, etc.

It is thus suitable in this atmosphere that the surah presents the rules on the relation between the Muslim community and other communities, which is the principle of knowing one another.

 

  1. Fairness in Dealing with Others

Based on the fact that we all are the creatures of Allah, and Allah is the All Just, we are obliged to deal with each other in justice. Even if there is a sort of discord with others, a person is not permitted to neglect this rule of maintaining justice. The Qur’an stipulates this rule clearly when saying, “You who believe, be steadfast in your devotion to God and bear witness impartially: do not let hatred of others lead you away from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is closer to righteous.” (Qur’an 5: 8)

As people may consider that difference of faith as a cause of doing injustice and being unkind to people of other faiths, the Qur’an corrects this misunderstanding and shows how a Muslim should deal with non-Muslims saying, “God does not forbid you from being kind and acting justly towards those who did not fight over faith with you, nor expelled you from your homes. God indeed loves those who are just.” (Qur’an 60: 8)

Thus, the approach that Islam tries to present here may be summed up into the following principles:

  1. To confess that diversity is a Divine Law, thus there is no way to contradict or reject it.
  2. To believe in the unity of the human origin and human dignity. The Prophetic Tradition states: “O Allah, our Lord and Lord of everything, I bear witness that all the servants are brethren.”[2]
  3. To cooperate in issues of common interest for the entire humanity.
 

[1]  Al-Tahir Ibn Ashur, Maqasid Al-Shari’ah Al-Islamiyyah, 188.

[2]  Abu Dawud (5/1510)

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