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On Moderation

There was a companion of the Prophet named Hadrat Abud-Dardaa (Radhi Allah Anhu) who was devoted to worship. He fasted during the day time and performed salat during night time.  One day, Hadrat Salman Farsi (Radhi Allah Anhu) visited him at his home and found him weak and frail, as a result of continuous worship and fasting. He said to him, “Verily your Creator has a right upon you but, at the same time, you and your household have a right upon you. Better give to every right- holder his due.”  When the Messenger of Allah () heard of it he said:  Translation: “Salman has spoken the truth” (Bukhari).

Once three persons visited the Prophet at his home. They came to know about the extent of his worship and prayers. They said if the Messenger of Allah who has already been forgiven by Allah worships so much, then as compared with, we are doing nothing. One of them said, “Now I will perform salat the whole night;” the second one said, “I will fast every day” and the third one said “I will keep away from women and will never marry.” When the Messenger of Allah came out and was informed of their vows he inquired, “Have you said such things?” Translation of Meaning: “By God I’m the most God-fearing and most pious among you yet I fast and also breakfast; I perform salat in the night but also sleep; I also marry women. One who deviates from our path is not of us.” (Bukhari).

Meaning of Moderation

Moderation means to avoid both the extremes and adopt the middle path. This also called the golden mean. A man can observe best his own rights and duties as well as the rights of Allah and the rights of the slaves of Allah upon him only through moderation.  The absence of moderation means immoderation. If you give more emphasis to one aspect you inevitably do injustice to other aspects. If a man does not follow the course of moderation he may land himself in trouble. The Messenger of Allah said:

“والقَصدَ القَصدَ تَبلُغُوا” (البخاري)

Translation: “Follow the middle course, follow the middle course, you will reach your goal” (Bukhari). Moderation and the middle course is incumbent in all matters of life whether performance of religious obligations, or spending or eating and drinking or clothing.” The Messenger of Allah pronounced:

“إن الدين يسر ، ولن يشاد الدين أحد إلا غلبه ، فسددوا وقاربوا ، وأبشروا ، استعينوا بالغدوة والروحة وشيء من الدلجة”.

Translation: “Verily religion is all convenience. If somebody becomes extravagant [in matters of religion] religion will overcome him” (Bukhari).

The Messenger of Allah was an ideal follower of the middle path in all affairs of life. Allah (T) proclaims:

وَلا تَجْعَلْ يَدَكَ مَغْلُولَةً إِلَى عُنُقِكَ وَلا تَبْسُطْهَا كُلَّ الْبَسْطِ فَتَقْعُدَ مَلُوماً مَحْسُوراً (الإسراء: 29)

Translation of Meaning: “And let not your hand be chained to your neck nor stretch it wholly, lest you sit down rebuked, denuded” (Al-Israa: 29).  Allah (T) has described moderation in expenditure as a characteristic of his righteous bondsmen:

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَنفَقُوا لَمْ يُسْرِفُوا وَلَمْ يَقْتُرُوا وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذَلِكَ قَوَاماً (الفرقان:67)

Translation of Meaning:”And those who, when they spend, are neither prodigal nor grudging; and there is ever a firm station between the two.” (Al-Furqan: 67). The Messenger of Allah, emphasizing the need of moderation in expenditure, said:

“الاقتصاد في النفقة نصف المعيشة” (الخطيب)

Translation: “Economy in expenditure is half of livelihood” [Al-Khateeb].

Moderation in expenditure ensures sustenance, protects from destitution and saves from begging from others. The Messenger of Allah said:”ما عال من اقتصد”  “Anybody who followed the course of moderation is saved from penury” {Ahmad]. Conversely, extravagance leads man to destitution and going begging.

Moderation in Eating and Drinking

A believer is free from the lusts of life. He takes from his material life only that much which is essential for his subsistence.  He knows that his mission in life is not to enjoy the pleasures of life. He is, therefore, not avaricious. The Messenger of Allah has forbidden extravagance in eating and drinking.  He has taught that:

“ما ملأ آدمي وعاء شرا من بطن ، حسب الآدمي ، لقيمات يقمن صلبه ، فإن غلبت الآدمي نفسه فثلث للطعام ، وثلث للشراب وثلث للنفس”. (الترمذي ، ابن ماجه)

Translation: “No vessel filled by the son of Adam is worse than his belly. It is sufficient for a man to take some morsels to keep his back straight.  But if inner impulse overcomes a man then he should fill his belly one third by food, one third by water and one third by air” [Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah].

Moderation in Dressing

A believer should be circumspect in the choice of his dress.  The Messenger of Allah has forbidden wearing of expensive and ostentatious cloths.  He has warned:

“من ليس ثوب شهرة ألبسه الله يوم القيامة ثوبا مثله ثم تلهب فيه النار” (أبو داوود، ابن ماجه)

Translation:”Anybody who wears a dress for the sake of publicity he will be clothed on the Day of Judgment with a like dress then it will be put to flames” [Abu Daud; Ibn Majah].

This does not mean that believers should wear only rags and tatters. What is prohibited is ostentation, flamboyancy and profligacy.  On the contrary, the Prophet has exhorted to: “Wear new cloth; live nicely; and die the death of a martyr.” A sage has said your dress should not be as petty as the fools treat you with contempt nor so much dazzling as the wise find it objectionable.

Moderation in Work and Rest

A Muslim is cool and moderate by nature. One should not work himself to exhaustion leaving aside his food and drink. Immoderation in work leads to sickness. The bodily energy given to man is also a trust of God. It must be used reasonably and moderately.  His body also has a right upon him so far as rest and leisure is concerned. A cycle of work should be followed by a cycle of rest. Rest should also be taken moderately. One should avoid developing sedentary habits. Life means struggle and dynamism.  But one should take a middle course between inaction and overacting.

Moderation in Speech

To speak unnecessarily is regarded as abominable. The Messenger of Allah said:

“إن من أحبكم إلي وأقربكم مني مجلسا يوم القيامة أحاسنكم أخلاقا ، وإن أبغضكم إلي وأبعدكم مني مجلسا يوم القيامة الثرثارون والمتشدقون والمتفيهقون، قالوا : يا رسول الله قد علمن الثرثارون والمتشدقون فما المتفيهقون ، قال “المتكبرون”.

Translation: “Verily the most loved one and nearest to me in sitting on the Day of Rising will be the morally accomplished ones among you and the most hated and distant from me in sitting on the Day of Rising shall be the chatterers, flamboyant and arrogant ones.”

If one speaks circumspectly and moderately he is less likely to commit mistakes. And those who speak uncontrollably are prone to committing mistakes. A believer either speaks right or keeps silent.

The Messenger of Allah () said:

“ومن كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر فليقل خيرا أو ليصمت” (متفق عليه)

“One who believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak rightly or keep silent” [unanimous].

Virtue of Moderation

  • Moderation makes man sensible, respectable and lovable to God.
  • Moderation is an attribute of the apostles of God. The Messenger of Allah said: “Verily the right guidance, the right taciturnity, and thrift is one of the twenty-five attributes of apostleship.” [Abu Daud; Tirmidhi].
  • Moderation protects man from evils of both extremes and makes one’s personality solid and balanced. The Messenger of Allah said:

“وأما الذين اقتصدوا ،فأولئك يحاسبون حسابا يسيرا” (أحمد).

Translation:”Those who follow a middle course shall be reckoned with on the Day of Judgment easily” [Ahmad].