[Sermon] Balance And Moderation In Islam, By Imam Murtada Gusau

Imam Murtada Gusau

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

All Perfect Praise be to Allah, we praise Him, seek His aid, and ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of ourselves and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides, there is None to MISGUIDE him, and He whom he leaves astray there is NONE to guide him! I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His slave and Messenger.

To Proceed:

“O you who have believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared, [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Al-Imraan: 102]

“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) he created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” [An-Nisaa’: 1]

“O you who have believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise).” [Al-Ahzaab: 70-71]

 To Proceed:

Verily the most truthful speech is the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW).

And the worst matters are the newly invented matters (in the religion), and ALL new matters are innovations into the religion, and all the innovations are misguidance, and all the misguidance lead to the fire.”

Servants of Allah!

Islam teaches us to be moderate and balanced in all aspects of life, whether it is religion, worship, relationships, ideas, or daily activities. Principled moderation is one of the defining characteristics of good character in Islam.

Allah the Most High said:

“Thus, We have made you a justly balanced community that you will be witness over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you.”

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:143)

Ar-Razi comments on this verse, saying:

“The justly balanced (wasat) in reality is the furthest point between two extremes. There is no doubt that the two poles of excess and extravagance are destructive, so to be moderate in character is to be furthest from them, which is to be just and virtuous.” (See al-Tafsir al-Kabir, 2:143)

Moderation is the center point between two extremes. Every one of our virtues sits at the moderate center of two vices that stray from it. Our goal should be to find that center and always return back to it when we move away from it.

Ibn Manzuur writes in his classical Arabic dictionary:

“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.” (See Lisan al-Arab, 15/209)

My respected people!

Moderation is closely related to balance (tawazun) and justice (‘adl), as justice implies balancing rights and duties and setting everything in its rightful place. The moderate, just, and correct action in any given situation often involves the balancing a various concerns and seeking the middle ground between them.

Wahb ibn Munabbih, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

“Verily, everything has two ends and middle. If you hold one of the ends, the other will be skewed. If you hold the middle, the two ends will be balanced. You must seek the middle ground in all things.” (See Hilyat Al-Awliya, 4818)

This understanding of moderation is alluded to in our concept of the straight path to Allah in Islam. The straight path is the one that traverses the middle ground, neither swerving right nor left.

Hudhaifah, May Allah be pleased with him, said:

“O people, remain straight upon the path and you will have taken a great lead, but if you swerve right or left then you will be led far astray.” (See Sahih Bukhari, 6853)

In fact, it is Satan who sets up his partners along the straight path to call people away from it. The devils intend to mislead humanity into the extremes of any direction as long as it is away from the straight and middle path.

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 is not a path among them 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).” (See Musnad Ahmad, 4423)

As such, the principle of moderation should be pervasive in our thought processes and at the forefront of our reasoning in daily life.

We should be moderate when it comes to balancing the duties of religion and the duties of worldly life.

Allah the Almighty said:

“Seek the home of the Hereafter by that which Allah has given you, but do not forget your share of the world.” (Surah Al-Qasas, 28:77)

Some of the companions complained to the Prophet about the mixed feelings they experienced. When they were in the study circle of the Prophet, their awareness of the Hereafter and its realities would be at its peak, while when they returned to family and work their lives would carry on as usual. The Prophet told them that this was normal and that a Muslim ought to devote time to the Hereafter as well as worldly life.

Hanzalah Al-Usayyidi reported: I said, “O Messenger of Allah, when we are in your presence and are reminded of Hellfire and Paradise, we feel as if we are seeing them with our very eyes, but when we leave you and attend to our wives, our children, and our business, most of these things slip from our minds.” The Prophet said:

“By Him in whose hand is my soul, if your state of mind remains the same as it is in my presence and you are always occupied with the remembrance of Allah, the angels will shake your hands in your beds and roads. O Hanzalah, rather time should be devoted to this and time should be devoted to that.” (See: Sahih Muslim, 2750)

As part of this, we should be moderate in our acts of worship such as prayer, fasting, and even charity. For example, our prayers should be recited in a moderate voice, neither too loud nor too soft.

Allah the Most High said:

“Do not recite too loudly in your prayer or too softly, but seek a way between them.” (Surah Al-Isra, 17:110

Abu Musa reported: We were with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, during a journey when the people began to exalt Allah loudly. The prophet said:

O people, be gentle with yourselves for you are not calling upon one who is deaf or absent. Rather, you are calling upon the Hearing, the seeing.” (See Sahih Bukhari, 3910)

The Prophet set the example in his leadership of the prayer and Friday sermon. He would lead the prayer and deliver a sermon that were long enough for the people to absorb a meaningful lesson or reminder, but not so long that it would cause boredom or distress.

Jabir Ibn Samurah reported:

“I was praying with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and his prayer was of moderate length and his sermon was of moderate length”. (See Sahih Muslim, 866)

Regarding voluntary acts of worship, the Prophet encouraged his companions on many occasions to limit their extra worship so that they could take care of their duties to their families as well as maintain their health.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported:

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said to me, “O Abdullah, I am told you fast all day and pray all night.” I said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet said: Do not do so. Fast and break your fast, pray in the night and sleep. Verily, your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you, and your wife has a right over you.” (See Sahih Bahari, 4903)

Salman Al-Farisi, May Allah be pleased with him, said:

“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.” (See Sahih Bakhari, 1867)

Brothers and Sisters!

We should be moderate in our charity for much the same reason. We ought to spend enough to help others in need, while still retaining enough to take care of our families and ourselves.

Allah the Almighty said:

They are those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor miserly, but follow a middle way between them.” (Surah Al-Furqan, 25:67)

We should be moderate in our mannerisms with others, carrying ourselves with tranquility and dignity rather than flamboyance, arrogance or melancholy.

Allah (SWT) said:

“Be moderate in your pace and lower your voice. Verily, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of a donkey.” (Surah Luqman, 31:19)

As-Suyuti comments on this verse, saying:

“It is a moderate pace between crawling and running, and you must have tranquility and dignity.” (See Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, 31:19)

Finally, we should be moderate in our relationships with others. This includes not only all of the virtues we mentioned that lie between extremes, but also to keep our feelings and emotions in check. We should love for people what we love for ourselves, but not as infatuation that we endorse their sins. And we should hate the sins and evil deeds people commit, but not as malice that we want to harm them.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, May Allah be pleased with him, said:

“Let not your love be infatuation and let not your hatred be destruction.

It was said, How is this?” Umar said: When you love someone, you become infatuated like a child. When you hate someone, you love destruction for your companion.” (See Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, 1322)

We need to be moderate particularly when dealing with non-Muslims. Some Muslims go to extremes either in imitating the bad behaviours of non-Muslims, or rejecting their culture and companionship completely. Rather, we ought to have a balanced relationship with them in which we bear witness to our religion with good character.

Ibn Hibban said:

“Do not exaggerate in seeking nearness to them, nor be excessive in seeking distance from them.” (See Tafsir Al-Maawardi, 60:8)

To conclude, moderation is a comprehensive principle in Islam that guides a Muslim in all activities of his or her daily life. It is the avoidance of any type of extremism pleasing to Satan that leads us astray from the straight path. With a renewed understanding of this Islamic teaching, Muslims can help counter the many rising tides of extremism that threaten not only the Muslim community, but all humanity.

O Allah! Make us among those who earn your forgiveness and mercy, and acquire safety from the Hell Fire, Ameen.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Prayers, peace and Mercy are upon our beloved Master, Muhammad, the son of Abdullah (SAW), his family and Companions.

 And success comes from Allah, and He the Most High knows best.

 This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Jumaada al-awwal 3, 1437 AH (February 12, 2016), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Juma’at Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosque, Okene, Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached through: +234 80 3828 9761.