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2008-06-25 Moderation



And on another occasion he warned, “Beware of extremism in religion, since those before you were only destroyed by extremism.”


Islam is about Moderation in All



Islam is About Moderation in All
Sardar Anees Ahmad

Finger Lake Times (NY)
April 25, 2008


‘Extreme.’ When you hear this word, what idea comes to your mind before any other? Extreme sports? Extreme weather? Most likely, and most unfortunately, the reader thought of Islamic extremism.


In people’s mind today, perhaps no other ideology is so inherently linked with the extreme than Islam. We even have an official term for a Muslim extremist – ‘Islamist.’ No other religion holds this dubious distinction. With at least fifteen prominent terrorist organizations and more than fifteen major incidents of radicalism since 2001 perpetrated in the name of Islam, one may ask how anyone can seriously consider Islam a moderate teaching. But before dismissing a 1400-year-old religious tradition as a cult, ask yourself one simple question: was Prophet Muhammad an extremist?


Before rushing to label Muhammad an extremist, remember this is the same man whose wife relates: “Whenever (Muhammad) had a choice of two courses of action he always chose the easier of the two, provided it was free from all suspicion of error or sin.”[1] The same man who never ate his fill for three consecutive days his entire life but still had a liking for honey and lamb. The same man who had the future of a world community upon his shoulders, and yet always prolonged moments of happiness by mentioning light anecdotes of his own. The same man whose bedding consisted of a dried piece of leather stuffed with palm husk, yet was still fond of perfume. The same man who forbade male Muslims expensive jewelry, but permitted a silver ring if they so wished. The same man who mandated that his followers who observed voluntary fast must also abstain from fasting periodically.


Once, three Muslims pledged to spend every night in prayer, to observe a fast every day of their life, and to abstain from marriage, respectively. Upon learning of the pledge, Muhammad admonished his followers, reminding them that he exemplified a perfect balance for his followers to emulate. Muhammad then censured this extremist attitude, emphatically declaring: “He who turns away from my practice is not of me.”[2]


On another occasion, Muhammad entered a mosque and found a rope hanging between two pillars. He was informed that one of the Muslims, when overcome by fatigue, would hang on to this rope in order to continue their prayers. Muhammad ordered it be removed, stating one should offer prayer within their capacity, after which they should retire.


And on another occasion he warned, “Beware of extremism in religion, since those before you were only destroyed by extremism.”[3]


If Muhammad was extreme in any regard, he was extreme in being moderate.


Yes, a minority of Muslims do harbor and promote extremist thought, primarily the clergy. From death threats for polarizing prose, to the perpetual burning of American flags, to persecution of religious minorities – extremism has become their staple diet. But Muhammad completely disassociated himself from such criminals, describing the clergy dedicated to creating disorder in the world as, “the worst creatures under the firmament of heaven.”[4]


So if the man who understood Islam best never promoted and/or condoned extremism, can one level this charge against Islam? Against some Muslims? Yes indeed. But against Islam? No. Never.

[1] (Muslim, Kitabul Fada’il)

[2] (Bukhari; Muslim)

[3] (Nisa’i; Masnad Ahmad; et al)

[4] (Mishkat, Kitabul Ilm)