Path of Moderation, Organic Body, First Step to Repentance

Issue 630 » April 22, 2011 - Jumada Al-Awwal 18, 1432

Living The Quran

Path of Moderation
Al-Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 143 (partial)

"Thus We have made of you a community justly balanced that you might be witnesses over other nations and the Messenger a witness over yourselves."

The renowned Quran commentator, Ibn Kathir wrote concerning this verse that the Muslim community (ummah) qualifies as a witness because of its commitment to moderation (wasatiyyah) and truth.

The renowned Tunisian scholar, Muhammad Tahir ibn Ashur, went on record that 'in moderation lies the essence of all virtues and it is a great protector against indulgence in corruption and caprice.'

Yusuf al-Qaradawi has similarly observed that moderation is the correct path that leads the Muslim community to its ideals of attaining material and spiritual success: 'It is the divinely ordained moral and humanitarian mission of the Muslim community to pursue all its goals through moderation. Deviation from the path of moderation brings nothing but destruction and loss.'

Moderation is manifested, according to Wahbah al-Zuhaili, in the balanced attention one pays to one's rights over, and one's obligations towards, others, to the material world and the spiritual world; it also means a balance between forgiveness and resistance, between extravagance and niggardliness, and a resolute aversion to extremism and terrorism in all their manifestations. Zuhaili added that Islam advocates these values, not only among Muslims themselves, but also in their relations with other communities and nations.

One ought to acknowledge, perhaps, in the same spirit of moderation, that something has gone wrong with the substantive equilibrium of Islamic legal thought concerning the treatment of women. To refer once again to Yusuf Al-Qaradawi's insightful remarks: 'It is an obligation of the ummah to protect the women from the excesses of the Muslim juristic legacy of the past, and those of the Modern West, both of which strip women of their essential humanity.' Both need to be corrected through search for balanced and moderate solutions.

Lastly, is it a coincidence, one might ask, to note that this verse of moderation occurs in the exact middle of the longest chapter (al-Baqarah) of the Quran, which consists of 286 verses.

Compiled From:
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp.288-296

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Organic Body

Ummatic unity is organic, that is to say, the ummah is like an organic body whose parts are mutually and severally interdependent with one another and with the whole. For the part to work for itself is for itself to work for each of the other parts as well as for the whole to work for itself, is for itself to work for each of the parts.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, hit the nail on the head when he described the ummah as a body "which reacts in total with discomfort and fever whenever a part of it is hurt." [Muslim, Bukhari]

Comparing the ummah to an organic body, is perhaps the most apt description of Islamic society. The organic body is alive, and its very life is its organicness, i.e., the interdependence of its various parts to the end sustaining the whole, and their continuous sustenance by that whole. Organicness is not only a quality of life; it is life. For the ummah to be otherwise is for it to lapse into the pre-Islamic tribalism of the desert. Even that order, however, is built upon the assumed organicness of the tribe without which it could not exist. The ummah merely widened the tribe to include humanity. To deny the need of the ummah, is to assume as good the detached existence of individuals isolated from one another in a way which not only makes Islam impossible but equally makes civilization - indeed human life itself - impossible and unthinkable.

Interdependence can be exaggerated; for it can be intensified to the point of rendering the human person a mere clog in a larger body or machine, impervious to the cog's own advancement, self-fulfillment and happiness. The evils of regimentation and collectivism have always weighed heavily in man's consciousness, whether in the age of the tribe, the city, the nation, or the universal community. Here Islam has declared its purpose to be the achievement of felicity of the person as well as that of the group.

Compiled From:
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi, pp. 124, 125


First Step to Repentance

The soul wrongs and harms itself. One can imagine someone, for example, wronging someone else for the sake of some worldly benefit - this is imaginable and witnessed, although it is obviously not proper. However, it does not make any sense for a person to harm and wrong his own soul. This means that he is working against his own good; he is doing something that is of direct harm and no true benefit to his soul. This is what happens over and over again to the majority of mankind. This demonstrates the depths of misguidance that mankind can reach.

The main way a person harms his own soul is by disobeying Allah, His creator, who, out of His mercy, sent him guidance to lead him to the path of true bliss and happiness. In reality, a human has no right to wrong himself. Hence, one of the first steps along the road to repentance and purifying one's soul is the recognition that one has done wrong to his soul. He must repent to Allah for the wrong that he has done to his own self as it is only Allah who can forgive him for what he has done.

Compiled From:
"Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process and Means" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 63-65