without tooting my own horn it seems to come easy to me to at least come across as relatively moderate, maybe I am really just good at censoring the extreme dark side of my being which may or may not exist, God knows. Moderation is an ambiguous word, what does it actually mean?
According to the merriam-webster dictionary it is:
- avoiding extremes of behavior or expression
- tending toward the mean or average amount or dimension
- professing or characterized by political or social beliefs that are not extreme
- limited in scope or effect
- not expensive
- of a color : of medium lightness and medium chroma
Moderation is a word which, as can be derived from its definition, is dependent on the existing of two extremes, a scope or scale from which one can deduce what the mean, average or moderate is. Still it often lies in the eye of the beholder to judge what the extremes are and where the mid point lies.
Islam, as a way of life, places a lot of importance on moderation, in the Quran Allah (swt.) describes us as the nation of the middle.
“Thus, We have made you a justly balanced community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you.” [Quran 2:143]
Moderation in all things and balance is something we have striven towards for centuries, it is innate. Over 17 times a day we as Muslims ask God to guide us to the straight path, the path from which the Prophet (saw.) informed us devils in whatever form would try to swerve us from calling us to their paths left and right.
Ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, drew a line with his hand and he said, “This is the straight path of Allah.” Then the Prophet drew lines to the right and left and he said, “These are other paths and there are no other paths but that a devil is upon it calling to its way.” Then the Prophet recited the verse, “Verily, this is the straight path, so follow it and do not follow other paths.” (6:153)
The Arabic language holds a number of words which can be translated to mean moderation or balance one in particular is Al-wasitiyyah. The Arabic dictionary, Lisan al Arab by Ibn Manzur defines it such that:
Every praiseworthy characteristic has two blameworthy poles. Generosity is the middle between miserliness and extravagance. Courage is the middle between cowardice and recklessness. Humanity has been commanded to avoid every such blameworthy trait.[Lisan al-Arab 15/209]
‘Adl is often also translated as moderation, but has the primary meaning of justice. Literally meaning to divide in exactly two equal parts so that there is no disparity between them, thereby creating balance between the rights of two parties for example.
“And the heaven He raised and imposed the balance. That you not transgress within the balance. And establish weight in justice and do not make deficient the balance.”
The ayah above shows how justice is tied in with balance, just as Allah (swt.) created balance in the world, He demands from us to establish balance and justice in our interactions with the world.
Like all things however that is difficult, it is easier to seek revenge than justice. It is easier to eat junk food, than to eat a balanced diet. It is easier to seclude ourselves than to intermingle and deal with society. That balance in life. That work, social, spiritual life balance is what we all seek and what I still constantly fight with despite my outward appearance of moderation and the companions of the Prophet (saw.) also had to learn that.
“You have a duty to your Lord, you have a duty to your body, and you have a duty to your family, so you should give each one its rights.” [Bukhari: Sahih]
Therefore let’s try to be more moderate and balanced and just in everything we do. May Allah (swt.) make it easy for us.