Tag Archives: moderation

The moderate Muslim


the word Muslim is heavily politicised and racialized. Calling yourself a Muslim in a post 9/11 world, makes life difficult to say the least. Academics, Governments, Institutions, Think Tanks as well as the general non-Muslim public all give the label a meaning, which serves their particular interests.

Such as the terms “moderate Muslim”, “good Muslim” or “modern Muslim”, describing those who fit a certain profile, everyone who then doesn’t conform is a “bad Muslim” or a “puritanical extremist”.  This phraseology is colonial in nature  it has been used by orientalist scholars to describe those who collaborated with colonial rule, it’s been used in describing Dr. Martin Luther King as the good, peaceful black activist and Malcolm X as the bad, radical black activist.

This classical form of divide and conquer is used to play us off against each other. Muslims that engage in that narrative of good vs. bad should remember that people who hate you don’t care about what you call yourself, in the words of Pamela Geller: “What’s the difference? Today’s moderate is tomorrow’s mass murderer.

Part of that same good vs. bad narrative is also that the solution to extremism is following a certain branch of Islam. The UK government plays on this with its PREVENT Agenda funding those Muslim organisations that fits their profile to further their idea of what a good Muslim looks like and who one is and who isn’t. The moniker “moderate Muslim” also carries the implication that the moderate Muslim isn’t a real Muslim that those who read the scriptures and really believe in all of what it says are necessarily radical extremists. We don’t talk about moderate Christians, moderate Hindus or Buddhists for example in our day to day conversations.

Moderation however is indeed an important factor in the religion, but we need to get rid of the moderate/extreme Muslim binary in our language to categorise people who seemingly fit a certain profile. I have met people of all kinds of sects, religions and people of no religion who display arrogance and close mindedness and we see, hear and read of mankind as a whole committing violence and atrocities. We see violence everywhere and from everyone, sometimes for seemingly good reasons, sometimes for bad, sometimes for banal reasons and sometimes for very complex reasons that are often just glossed over in the mainstream media.

Life is a crucible. I do believe that people are inherently good, that we are born on the Fitrah, the God given natural inclination to do and be good. It is our environment, our experiences and trials in life, that changes the way we act. We do however have the capacity as humans to choose what we do. As Muslims we believe that this life is a test, a test of how we respond to the trials and tribulations we are faced with and what choices we take and that is where moderation comes into play.


Be more moderate


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:

  1. avoiding extremes of behavior or expression
  2. tending toward the mean or average amount or dimension
  3. professing or characterized by political or social beliefs that are not extreme
  4. limited in scope or effect
  5. not expensive
  6. 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.”
[Quran 55:7-9]

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.