Moderation (Wasatyah) in Islam

In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Some characters of this true religion:

1- It is a divine method in its purpose and orientation.
2- This true religion is humane in its nature.
3- It embraces every time or place.
4- It is applicable at all times and places.
5- It is realistic, namely, it doesn’t accept the bad reality as it is but it develops it by realistic means.
6- It is crystal clear and can’t be missed but by the one who is astray.
7- It combines miraculously between steadiness and development.
8- The most distinguished character among all is the moderation and balance of this true religion, which is the topic of this meeting. We will tackle this issue through the different meanings of moderation in Islam and its reflections on creed, method, acts of worship, transactions, morals, and systems.

The definition of Moderation in Islam:

Moderation and balance are the most distinguished characters in this true religion, and when we say moderation and balance we mean that one side is tantamount to the opposite side, no side takes over the other, delete the other, oppress the other, or misjudge the other. There is no extremism, immoderation, exaggeration, delinquency, high-handedness, underestimation, transgression, or depreciation; yet, each side takes its right by righteous measures.

The moderation of Islam between the followings:

Islam, dear brothers, is in the middle between abominable materialism and dreaming spirituality.
Between bitter reality and idealistic imagination
Between dominant individuality and sweeping collectivity
Between routine consistancy and disorganized alteration
Between insistent needs and long term values
Between cold rationality and overwhelming passion
Between body desires and spiritual needs
And moderation in Islam is based on the following Ayah:

(Thus We have made you [true Muslims - real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you.)

[Surat Al Baqarah, verse 143]

Moderation is the slogan of the Islamic Umma (nation):

Dear honorable brothers, it is out of profound wisdom that Allah has chosen moderation and balance to be the slogan of this Umma that is the last of nations, and to this message (Islam) that is the seal of messages, as Allah sent His last messenger to all people as a mercy to all world’s nations, and the Prophet PBUH considered the following Ayah as the base of this moderation:

(Thus We have made you [true Muslims - real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you.)

The different senses of the word “moderation”:

1- Justice:

Justice lies between two conflicting parties without bias to any party or side, and justice is giving every right claimer his right without delinquency or inequity, the Interpreters said in the Ayah:

(Awsatauhom (The best among them) said: “Did I not tell you: why do you not say: Insha’ Allah (If Allah will))

[Surat Al Qalam, verse 28]

“Awsatauhom” means the most just (best) among them. A’adal piece of land means the land in the middle, Wasat of a circle means its center, and then the word Wasat is used to describe the best of man’s attributes because it is between two bad manners, for example, braveness is between cowardice and recklessness.

2- Righteousness of the method and farness from deviation:

Sirat Al Mustakeem according to one interpreter is the straight path, and the wasat line between two points is the straight and shortest line between them and the rest of lines are arched, and a Muslim, dear brothers, asks his Lord to guide him to the Sirat Al Mustakeem every day more than seventeen times, and that occurs when he reads Al Fatiha Surat:

(Guide us to the Straight Way, The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).)

[Al Fatiha, verses 6-7]

Those who earned Allah’s wrath are those who went to extremes, as they knew but they deviated from the right path, while those who were astray are those who abandoned the religion, as they deviated out of ignorance.

3- Moderation means virtue in all matters (physical as well as immaterial):

The most precious pearl of the necklace is the one in the Wasat (middle), and the leader stands always in the Wasat (middle) and his followers surround him, and in abstract sense, Wasat is better than extremism, and one of Arab’s proverbs: “Wasat is the best in matters”, and one of the wise men said: “virtue is Wasat between two vices”, and Ibn Katheer said in interpreting Allah’s Ayah:

(Thus We have made you [true Muslims - real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation)

[Surat Al Baqarah, verse 143]

Wasat here means the best of nations, and as it is said in Quraish (the tribe where Muhammad PBUH came from): Awsat Al Arab Nasaban (the best of them in origin), and the middle Salat (i.e. the best prayer – ‘Asr).
In Islam there are three sides; intellectual, psychological, and behavioral, and when one of these sides take over more than it should be, this will affect the other sides and lead to extremism, but when the three sides go along evenly and naturally, only then, excellence is achieved. Hence, we look forward to excellence not to extremism.

4- Moderation means being safe and far away from danger:

Usually, danger and corruption hit the edges but not the middle which is protected and guarded by what surrounds it. Hence, Twassut (middle of things) means security and stability, whereas extremism means deviation, corruption, and exaggeration.
Wasatayah (being moderate ) represents power, because the center of everything is the strongest point, take the sun as an example, it is gives the its most heat and light in the middle of the day and when it is in the middle of the sky, and a human being is in his best shape when he is in his middle age (in his youth) between feebleness of childhood and old age.

5- Moderation represents the unity point:

Whereas edges are many, we have only one center that all the edges come together to. All extreme ideas find their common denominator at the moderate idea. Hence, Tawassut and I’tidal (moderation) is the center of intellectual unity.
Hence, dear brothers, extreme ideas bring affliction to the unity of the nation, unlike the moderate schools of thoughts that reconcile with Kitab (Quran) and Sunnah.

The appearances of moderation in Islam:

In Aqidah (creed):

1- Islam is in the middle between people of superstitious ideology who believe in everything or every evidence, and between people of materialistic ideology who deny everything beyond senses and listen only to the sound of nature, mind, and clear miracles.
Islam invites people to faith, and to believe in what is evidence-based and certitude-based, and certainty here includes what is realized by senses, deduction, and divine news, and certainty rejects any delusion beyond those three .
2- Islam is in the middle between those who consider the universe as the only existing factor and that every other unseen thing is superstition and an illusion, and between those who consider the universe as an illusion in itself and that it doesn’t exist just like the mirage that is deemed as water.
Islam considers the universe as a reality but also as a gate to pass from the universe to the Designer, from the creation to the Creator, from the system to the Organizer, from the images to the artist, from the direction to the Director, and from rearing to the One who rears.
In fact, the universe is our path to the greater reality which indicates that the universe has a creator, educator, director, Oneness, perfect entity Who exists (Allah).
3- Islam is moderate in the way it looks to the Prophets, as it considers them as humans like us who eat, walk in the markets, mate, and have kids, however, they sublimed in their acquaintance with Allah, obedience to Him, and sincerity to Him. Hence Allah has chosen, purified, and guarded them, and Allah bestowed them with revelation and miracles, and this is the way Islam looks at the Prophets.

In the method used for searching:

Islam is in the middle between those who use only their minds to comprehend facts in this life, and those who believe only through their inspiration and illusions, beside their denial to the role that the mind plays in proving or disproving anything.
Islam admits that the religion is all about revelation and divine texts, and since the most critical thing in texts is their authentication, hence, mind has two missions in that respect: the first one is to prove the validity of texts, and the second is to comprehend the text in order to apply its orders.
This mind is your path to believe in Allah for certain, believe in His book (Quran) by reflecting on its miracles, and believe in His Messenger through His Book, only then, the mind starts comprehending and proving texts, needless to say that mind accepts through revelation only things that it can’t comprehend because they lack evidence, at the same time it doesn’t judge that revelation, and this is the moderation of Islam in the method of reception.

In the acts of worship and transactions:

Islam is moderate in the acts of worship it enjoined, it neither commands one to abandon it nor to dedicate oneself totally to it, the acts of worship are limited, acceptable, and interests oriented, not to mention that they are connected to transactional worship, namely, one whose Salah (prayer) doesn’t prevent him/her from evil deeds is not considered a prayer performer, one whose fasting doesn’t prevent him from forged testimony and actions is not a faster, and one whose Haj is performed by ill-gotten money will be responded to when he/she says: “O my Lord , here I am at Your service, here I am” by “you are not welcome and your Haj is not accepted”.
Spending money on the needy is not accepted when it is accompanied with debauchery, and two Ruk’as (prayer’s part) are from the pious are superior to one thousand Ruk’as (prayer’s part) from a combiner, and the combiner is the one who combines a good deed with a bad one, and for that, leaving an ill-gotten penny is better than one thousand supererogatory Haj (the Hajjs performed after the obligatory one)and the acts of worship and the deeds of him/her who has no piousness that prevents him/her from disobeying Allah (when he/she is alone by him/herself), will be the subject of Allah’s rejection.
Hence, Islam is all about acts of worship accompanied with deeds, as for the worship, it should be based on good deeds, and as for the deeds they should be based on righteous worship.
Islam is moderate in transactions too, Allah Almighty said:

(And those who, when an oppressive wrong is done to them, they take revenge)

[As-Shura, verse 39]

(The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof, but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. Verily, He likes not the Zalimun (oppressors, polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.).)

[As-Shura, verse 40]

(And if you punish (your enemy, O you believers in the Oneness of Allah), then punish them with the like of that with which you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, verily, it is better for As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.))

[Surat Al Nahl, verse 126]

Believing brothers everywhere, we conclude from the previous Ayahs that the wrongdoer is obliged to pay for his bad deed, whereas the right claimer (who was wronged by that person) is given the choice to forgive him/her, hence, justice is forcible, whereas forgiveness and benefaction are voluntary.

In morals:

Islam is in the middle between the idealistic extremists who look at mankind as an angel or close to angels by setting up a level that is unreachable, and between the substantial extremists who look at mankind as an animal who lives for his/her desires.
However, Islam looks at mankind as a creature made of mind and lust, and if this creature cancels his/her mind or misuses it by forgetting the secret behind his/her existence, forgetting the Divine method, and being directed by his/her desires and lust, he/she will be lower than an animal.

In life’s points of view:

1. Islam is moderate in the way it looks at the worldly life, as it is between those who consider it as everything by saying: “There is no (other life) but our (present) life of this world, and never shall we be resurrected (on the Day of Resurrection).”, so they worship their desires and interests, and between those who consider their mere existence in life as evil so they withdraw from life, and they forbid themselves from its permissible pleasures. Islam, in that respect, considers life complementary between the worldly life and the hereafter, as the former is the ride to the latter.
2. Islam attains balance between animist and materialist and it lies in the middle between the two, namely, between the worldly life and the hereafter, between values and needs, between desires and mind, and between lust and principles. Allah doesn’t want mankind to withdraw from the worldly life, quit living, and just perform acts of worship. It is not acceptable that one devotes him/herself to worship and stops working, or lives in celibacy and does not long for permissible pleasures. It is not acceptable that one performs acts of worship continuously, staying up all night long, fasting all day long, has nothing to do with life and all he/she has is patched clothes and barley bread, this isn’t the man Allah wants, on the other hand, Allah doesn’t want man to be like he who owned two gardens going haughty on his friend, bragging about his wealth, and swaggering about by saying: “I am more than you in wealth and stronger in respect of men”, Allah the Almighty said:

(And he went into his garden while in a state (of pride and disbelief) unjust to himself. He said: “I think not that this will ever perish)

[Surat Al Kahf, verse 35]

The consequences of such behavior are described in the following Ayahs:

(and will send on it Husban (torment, bolt, etc.) from the sky, then it will be a slippery earth., Or the water thereof (of the gardens) becomes deep-sunken)

[Surat Al Kahf, verses 40-41]

Allah also doesn’t want us to be like Qarun who owned as described by the Ayah:

(And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men)

[Surat Al Qasas, verse 76]

And what he did in return?

(but he behaved arrogantly towards them)

[Surat Al Qasas, verse 76]

He was carried away by his wealth, and he gave credit of that wealth to him not to Allah by saying:

(This has been given to me only because of knowledge I possess)

[Surat Al Qasas, verse 78]

So, what were the consequences?

(So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place)

[Surat Al Qasas, verse 81]

The true man is neither both, as he/she in the sight of Islam is a creature made of the two natures, his body was molded of earth clay, and he was breathed by the soul of Allah, Allah the Almighty said:

(“(Remember) when your Lord said to the angels: “Truly, I am going to create man from clay)

[Surat Sad, verse 71]


Man in his/her clay nature is equipped to strive on earth, construct it, explore its treasures, exploit its resources in his/her best interest, and to level up with that mission,

Whereas in his spiritual nature is equipped to fly to a higher horizon, long for a better world, and seek the long lasting better life, and by doing all this, a Muslim will subjugate the materials to his use and not the contrary, and use the earth’s treasures to his benefit and not the contrary. The Prophet PBUH used to use the boons of worldly life, and he never prohibited them, yet, they weren’t his first concern nor the focus of his thoughts.
His supplication was:

O Allah, don’t make the worldly life the greatest of our interests. O Allah, don’t make the worldly life the extent of our knowledge

He used to say to his companions when he saw any extremism in performing the acts of worship and neglection of the body, family, and work:

You owe a duty to your Rubb (Lord), you owe a duty to your body; you owe a duty to your family; so you should give to every one his due

And He used to say:

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 Salat and sleep at night and take wives. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah is not one of my nation

He also used to admonish his companions of being distracted by worldly life by saying to them:

By Allah, it is not poverty that I fear for you, but I fear that this world will be opened up with its wealth for you as it was opened to those before you; and you vie with one another over it as they did and eventually it will ruin you as it ruined them

Dear brothers, I should draw your attention at this point to the fact that was presented through so many Hadiths, that Jihad (Striving in Allah’s cause) equals to so many actions such as: honoring parents, being a wife in the full sense of the word (that is addressed to women), and rearing kids, especially daughters, which is considered one of the paths to paradise and the deed that doesn’t end by death. It is even considered an act of worship when a Muslim works at a lawful job, using lawful means in order to make a living that doesn’t distract him from his religious duties, obeying Allah, and seeking knowledge.

In the regulation rules of individuals and the society:

Individualism and collectivism reconcile in outstanding harmony in Islam, as there is a balance between the two in matters like the freedom of individuals and society, equalization in rights and duties, and just (fair) division of rewards and benefits.
The lawmaker in Islam is the creator of mankind, hence, it is impossible for a Wise Creator to lay down laws and rules that disengage the human nature, or oppose it.
Allah created mankind and installed individuality and collectivity in his/her nature simultaneously, as individuality is a crucial part of human being, and that is why man tends to like his/her existence, safety of his/her existence, perfection of his/her existence, and continuity of his/her existence, but at the same time man is inclined to be with other people, and that is the reason behind his/her imbalance when isolated from the society by choice, or by force when he/she is locked up in jail. Thus, the perfect system is the one that considers both sides in human (individuality and collectivity) so no side takes over on the account of the other.
Hence, no wonder Islam is considered as a moderation system, as it doesn’t take the individual’s side on the account of the society side, it doesn’t transgress the society for the sake of individuals, it doesn’t indulge individuals with rights, and it doesn’t overwhelm individuals with duties, however, it assigns individuals to duties within their capabilities without embarrassment or force.
Islam admits to human, through its moderation, rights that is tantamount to his/her duties, serve his/her needs, keep his/her dignity, and reserve his/her humanity, and for that, Islam admits the sanctity of blood and the right to live, Allah said:

(if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind)

[Surat Al Ma’ida, verse 32]

Accordingly, the Shari’a (Islamic laws) ordains retaliation in homicides, and affirmed that in retaliation lies the life of individuals and society.
Islam admits the freedom of the belief, and that no one should be oppressed to leave his/her religion and convert to another one.
Islam admits the sanctity of honor, i.e. reputation, thus, it conserves the dignity for individuals, so that no one under Islam’s umbrella or away from it should be harmed.
Islam admits the sanctity of wealth, as it conserves the individuals’ rights to possess, and their wealth shouldn’t be taken from them against their will.
Islam admits the sanctity of homes, as it conserves the individuals’ rights to privacy, and no one is allowed to break into their homes against their will.
Islam admits the freedom of sincere constructive criticism.
Islam admits individuals’ responsibilities which are the outcome of being charged, the individuals’ freedom of earning, and the inevitability of consequences.
Dear brothers, taking the social aspect of mankind into consideration, Islam enjoined man with duties that are tantamount to his/her rights, and it restrained these rights and individuals’ freedom with the interests of the society, as the individual in Islamic society shouldn’t use his rights in whatever harms and jeopardizes the society’s rights, and if in any way the rights of individuals contradict with the rights of the society, then the rights of the society take precedence

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds

Translation : Noora Al Sharabi
Auditing : Ghada Homad




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