Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, wrote in this regard. He states the following: “In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah says: “Thus have We made of you a Middle Ummah, that you might be witnesses over the people, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves…” (al-Baqarah: 143)
“Say: “O People of the Book! Make no excess in your religion, trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by, who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the even Way.” (al-Ma’idah: 77)
Muslims are called Ummatan Wasatan. The commentators of the Qur’an explain the word “wasat” as “justly balanced”, “the best (khiyar or khayr)”. (see al-Tabari, al-Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir etc.) Yusuf Ali says: “The essence of Islam is to avoid all extravagances on either side. It is a sober, practical religion.” (note 143 on 2:143)
Allah has made this Ummah a moderate Ummah. Muslims have to follow the middle path, the path that has no extremes or excesses.
It is a path that brings together in a harmonious balance:
1. Revelation and Reason
2. Individual and Community
3. Religion and World
4. This World and the Other World.
Islam teaches gentleness and softness in everything. Harshness and hardness (ghilzah) is not accepted in Islam. The Qur’an tells the believers to show “ghilzah” only in the battlefield (see al-Tawbah 9:73; 123; al-Tahrim 66:9). Also it says that do not ignore or avoid Allah’s Hudud (prescribed punishments) out of compassion to the criminals. (al-Nur 24:2) Otherwise it always speaks about gentleness and kindness.)
Islam has middle position in:
1. Beliefs (‘Aqidah)
2. Acts of worship (‘Ibadah)
3. Laws (Shari‘ah)
4. Morals and manners (Akhlaq)
Let us look briefly on two of these four areas in Islamic teachings:
1. Laws (Shari‘ah)
The Law in Islam is universal and comprehensive. It promotes human dignity, equality and honor. Its basic principles are permanent and it has flexibility according to the conditions of the people and their needs. The basic philosophy of Law in Islam:
a. No obligation beyond capacity.
b. All good things are permissible and all bad things are forbidden.
c. The basic purpose in obligations is honor and purification, not putting burden or humiliation.
d. Recognition of extreme necessity.
2. Morals and Manners (Akhlaq)
Islam gives very high place to ethics and morality. It says that a person who has no character has no religion. The basic nature of Islamic teachings on ethics and morality are:
a. Universal Values – not promoting any specific culture, race or country.
b. Positive and life affirming – it teaches that you can enjoy the good things of this life.
c. Not ascetic, monastic, morbid or moribund in nature. Islam wants people to be happy, healthy, optimistic and forward looking.
d. Practical – take into account human needs, emotions, desires, and aspirations and provides opportunities for their growth.
e. Egalitarian – There are no double standards – one for religious class and other for laity.
There are some Muslims who do not know Islam and there are some who do not practice Is
lam in the right way. It is important that we learn Islam and we should learn it in the right way. Islam is neither harsh nor difficult. There is nothing in Islam that is not practical or impossible. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“The religion is easy and whosoever will deal with religion harshly, it will defeat him. So be straight, follow the middle course, give good news and make use of the morning, the evening or part of the night (in prayer and remebering Allah).” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
In order to follow Islam you must make an effort and be serious. Learn your faith and pay some attention to it. Do not take your religion casually. Islam is not just a social and cultural thing. Islam is the religion of Allah and it is the most moderate, balanced, beautiful and perfect religion.”