Moderation, The Way of Islam

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

We thank and praise Allah SWT, Who prescribes moderation as the ideal way in our dealings and as a means of attaining socio-economic growth and stability. I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah — Whose dîn guarantees social and material security for all its followers.

I bear witness that Prophet Muhammad (saws) is the Messenger of Allah, who encouraged Muslims to shun extremes and to be moderate in every facet of life. O Allah, shower Your choicest blessings on him, his noble Companions and relatives… all those who preferred humility to pride and arrogance.

Allah SWT enjoins in the Holy Qur’ân:

“Thus have We made of you an Ummah, Justly balanced, that you might be witnesses over the nations. ”

Quran (2: 143)

Brothers and Sisters in Islam

A question most frequently asked when Muslims meet, is: Why are we so divided today? And almost in the same breath we venture reasons and solutions straight from sociology textbooks or try to justify the division as unity in diversity to quote the hackneyed phrase! Common sense tells us that the more we discard our human values — the values prescribed by Allah SWT and exemplified by His Prophet Muhammad (saws), the more we estrange ourselves from one another ans destroy the coherence of the ummah.

We often wrongly emulate what we perceive as “commendable values” only to find ourselves moving further from the mainstream of the community. One such perception is the so-called the bigger-the better-syndrome which dictates our mode of functioning. Extremism is a new sickness that seems to plague us individually and collectively in relationships with one another. We express extremes in our interpersonal behaviour, extremes in our lifestyles, extremes in our habits, like eating and sleeping and even talking, extremes in our interpretation of our dîn or political ideals, extremes in our expectations of our children’s abilities and many, many more.

These extremes are often not related to natural, God-given values and make it difficult for anyone…even our closest kin… to live in peace and harmony with us. In this khutbah we hope, insha-Allah, to look at and rid ourselves of this scourge, which threatens our survival as an ummah.

In the above verse of the Holy Qur’ân, Allah SWT offers us a clear direction on our stand in life: to be justly balanced in everything that we do ! Only then, says Allah, can we truly be witnesses over the nations . Parties often argue with one another because they hold extremely opposite views and refuse to compromise and accommodate each other’s views. It is only an outsider who is just that can bring them back to reason and make them realise their faults.

How often do we not suffer untold misery because of our excessive practices? Do we constantly have to blame market forces or use other capitalist euphemisms to justify our excessive spending? Sure, everyone loves a beautiful home, but do we have to land ourselves into financial difficulty and subject our families to humiliation and ridicule to acquire one? We would all love to have the beautiful things in life …and why not — most of them are free. But let us plan and budget carefully, even if it means taking longer to get the things we want. Allah SWT advises us in the Holy Qur’ân on the management of our spending:

“Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly,But hold a just balance between

those extremes…..” (25: 67)

The secret of success in any effort lies in our ability to keep a “just balance” between the extremes. There are some of us who are by the means to eat or dress properly, but we are thrifty to the extreme — to the extent that we starve ourselves and our families and dress like tramps. Once again let us keep the just balance between the extremes of extravagance and stinginess. We are reminded of the Hadîth in which Prophet Muhammad saws advises the ummah to dress according to their means. Abul Ahwâs reported from his father who said: “I came from the Messenger of Allah while there was a torn cloth on my person. Rasûlullah saws asked: “Do you have wealth ?” “Yes,” said I. He asked: “What wealth do you have?” “Every kind of wealth,” replied I, “Allah has given me camels, cows, sheep, horses and slaves.” Rasûlullah saws said: “When Allah has given you wealth, let the signs of the gifts of Allah and Allah’s generosity be shown upon your person.” (Nisa-i)

In another Hadîth Rasûlullah saws said: “The generous man is near Allah, near the Jannah (Paradise), near the people, and far from the Jahannam (Hell); and the ignorant charitable man is dearer to Allah than the pious miser.” (Tirmizi)

In our ‘ibâdât, the extremes in which we express our piety may well nullify our efforts. Let us consider the person who reads the Qur’ân so loudly in the mosque that his/her reading disturbs the mussallee next to him/her–similarly, a mussallee who recites his/her prayers so loudly that it distracts others around him/her. Hence Allah SWT reminds us:

“……..neither speak your prayer aloud, nor speak it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between.”

(Q. XVII:110)

And speaking of solâh, how often do we not miss our fajr (morning) prayer because we overslept (excessive sleep). On a lighter note, a visiting lecturer to Cape Town was asked for his observation of the Muslims of the city. His comments were that we eat too much, hence many of us are overweight; we talk too much, hence we often find ourselves in trouble; and we sleep too much, hence we are often late for our fajr prayers. I’m sure that if he had stayed longer he would have had a longer list! The Golden Rule is once again moderation. Let us consider the wisdom of Luqman as he addresses his son, as Allah SWT describes it in the Holy Qur’ân:

“And swell not your cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loves not the arrogant boaster. And be moderate in your pace, and lower your voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass.”

(S31: 18-19)

How true do these words not ring out when we think of those around us: the boaster and his/her despicable arrogance or the loud-mouth outbraying an ass! Not only are they despised by people but by Allah! Moderation is the middle way. ‘Alama Yusuf ‘Ali, in his comments on these Quranic verses, says: “In all things be moderate. Do not go the pace, and do not be stationary or slow. Do not be talkative and do not be silent. Do not be loud and do not be timid or half-hearted. Do not be too confident, and do not be cowed down.” So often we remind ourselves of the limits of our modesty in dressing, but we forget to remind ourselves of the undignified use of our voices in public. Many of us have forgotten how to laugh. It is reported that, when Prophet Muhammad saws laughed, it was hardly audible.

Another equally despicable practice among some of us is to appear self-righteous or religious and to regard all those who do not subscribe to our ideas, as lesser beings or being outside the fold of Islam. It is true that Allah commands us to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. But let us not overstep the authority given to us by Allah SWT by humiliating and hurting the feelings of those that see and interpret things differently. Allah is the ONLY Authority on HIS Qur’an and HIS dîn. Our interpretations are subject to our limited human understanding and intellectual capacities. This is precisely what we are warned against in the Holy Qur’an:

“O you who believe! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, but Commit no excess: for Allah loves not those given to excess.” (S.5: 87)

To be tolerant is to adopt a moderate, balanced attitude towards a person or an idea. Even if we don’t agree with a brother or sister, we can at least control our emotions and give him or her the right to say his or her piece. Why upset ourselves with those around us if they do not see things our way or move around too slowly or speak too softly for our liking (perhaps through old age)? Why should we and our likes and dislikes become criteria for judging others? Have we become too important, too learned to give our attention to those in need of our help. Once again, be careful: don’t become self-righteous …let’s not become an ummah unto ourselves, cut off from the rest of humankind. Let us rather be tolerant of one another by controlling our emotions and being consistent in all our actions. This is not such a difficult task. In fact, in a Hadîth, Prophet Muhammad saws narrated by Bukhari, Abu Hurraira reported that the Messenger of Allah saws said: “The dîn is easy, and nobody make it difficult…it will overcome him/her. So be steadfast and seek Allah’s Nearness. Give good news and seek help at morn and at dusk and some part of a dark night.” (Bukhari)

In another Hadîth, S. Ayesha reported that the Messenger of Allah saws said: “The most pleasing of actions to Allah is that which is done continuously (consistently) though it be little.” In this Hadîth, Rasûlullâh saws gives us the secret of moderation and success, which is consistency and steadfastness. Do a little at a time, but do it continuously or regularly. Let our students or even our athletes struggling to get fit, take a lesson from this Hadîth — do a little at a time…but be consistent. How much wisdom is there not in the nursery school ditty?

“Little drops of water,

Little grains of sand,

Make the mighty ocean and the mighty land….”

And finally, Brothers and Sisters

I will be failing in my duty if I do not remind myself and you of a potentially destructive extreme we often resort to in our relationship with our friends and more especially with our children. We expect too much of them…to the extent that we fail to see their real qualities. When our little daughter puts on her mother’s clothes, she is not being stupid or exhibitionist, just a little child learning through her fantasies. When our son at College or high school does not get an A-pass in mathematics, he is no less human than his friend who did get it. Our expectations must consider reality, not the reality we choose to create in our minds, but the reality that IS. Our expectations must be rooted in patience and constancy. How beautifully the Qur’an expresses this simple truth:

“And join together in mutual

teaching of Truth, and of Patience

and Constancy.” (S.103: 3)

Let us remember that we are part of Allah’s creation and have a duty to harmonise our will with the rest of creation. Only when we are able to do this and to live in peace and harmony with one another, then are we ready to submit ourselves fully and unconditionally to the Will of Allah. Then and only then, can we take up our place as Allah’s Vicegerent on Earth.

Hadîth: Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “Nobody who has faith in his heart to the weight of the mustard seed, shall enter Hell; and nobody who has pride in his heart to the weight of the mustard seed, shall enter Paradise.” (Muslim).

Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!