How was the moderation of prophet muhammad? What is the moderation?
“Dignified good bearing and moderation in actions and behaviors are one of the twenty-five parts of prophethood.” (Muwatta, Shaar, 17; Abu Dawud, Adab, 2)
Moderation means that quantity and in quality between two states is right, orderly, straight, and well-proportioned. It expresses balance, naturalness, steadiness, conformity, and vitality. Moderation means to follow the middle path instead of following one of the two extremes.
Islam orders its believers to follow moderation and prohibits extreme actions in every aspect of life, such as eating, dressing, and even worshipping. This is why the best of deeds is the most moderate one.
Allah the Almighty created the universe and all creation in a perfect balance and ordered His servants to behave in moderation. This is stated in a verse as follows:
“And the sky He hath uplifted; and He hath set the measure, that you may not exceed the measure.” (al-Rahman 55; 7-8)
Wahb b. Munabbih said that:
“Everything has two ends and a middle point. If one holds from one of these ends, the other one will be off-balance. However if one holds from the middle point, two ends will be in balance. Therefore try to hold everything from the middle.” (Haythami, VIII, 112)
There should be harmony in psychological and emotional facilities just like the balance and moderation in the outer world. This harmony depends on the balance of the three basic capabilities which constitute the foundation of the moral life. According to this principle, wisdom is born from the balanced operation of reason; chastity comes out from the balanced operation of the sexual desires; and bravery originates from the balanced usage of orientation of power and anger. Creation of these balances in the inner world of human beings gives rise to the fourth facility, i.e. justice, and in this way the perfect morality is achieved.
Allah the Almighty warns the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) even about his distress in conveying the message of Islam and invites him to act in moderation saying: “We have not sent down The Qur’an to you to be (an occasion) for your distress…” (Taha 20; 2) Again, Allah the Almighty orders to act in moderation in regards to benevolence as follows:
“Make not your hand tied to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach, so that you become blameworthy and destitute.” (al-Isra 17; 29) Tying hands to the neck symbolizes stinginess and stretching it to its utmost reach represents wastefulness. In other words, believers should neither be stingy by tying their hands nor knowingly waste their belongings. They should find a middle path between them. Allah the Almighty praises such servants, calls them His true servants, and presents them as paradigms for the other servants as follow:
“Those (the true servants of the Beneficent Allah) who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes)” (al-Furqan 25; 67)
Satan tries to deceive people in two ways. It does not matter through which one of them he succeeds, for both of them carry the same result. One of them is exaggeration and the other one is laxness. Allah the Almighty wants easiness, which does not reach the level of laziness, for His servants. It is wrong to try to make the religion, which is relieved by Allah for His servants, difficult by using the name of Allah. Furthermore, nobody has such a right to do that.
According to the narration of Aisha (r.a.), the Prophet (pbuh) came in while she (r.a.) was sitting with a woman. He asked,
“Who is she?” Aisha (r.a.) replied,
“She is so and so,” and then told him about her excessive praying. He said disapprovingly,
“You do not need to count these acts. It is enough for you to perform your worship within your capacity; By Allah, He does not get tired as long as you do not get tired.” (Bukhari, Iman, 32)
In another saying, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) stated that:
“Do supererogatory deeds within your capacity; because the best act of Worship in the sight of Allah is that which is done regularly even if it is little.” (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 28)
Some of the companions came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah). So they narrated what they knew about the Prophet’s worship. Thinking that the Prophet’s moderate worship was insufficient, companions said,
“Where was he and where are we? And his past and future sins have been forgiven.” Then one of them said,
“I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.” The other said,
“I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.” The third said,
“I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.” Allah’s Apostle came to them and said,
“Are you the same people who said so-and-so? I warn you! By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah, more afraid of Him, more respectful to Him than you are; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and pray at night and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (not one of my followers).” (Bukhari, Nikah, 1)
Moderation in the Prophet’s deeds is a means of mercy for his ummah. Those who follow him in this respect will neither suffer a loss nor be criticized by others. People are not always able to perform many acts of worship. For this reason, it is left to the individual’s choice to perform as many acts of supererogatory acts of worship as he/she can. On the other hand, excessive acts of worship do not always show the high level of fear from Allah and strong religiosity.
What is prohibited by the Messenger of Allah in his saying is to transgress the limits of religion and incline towards a type of priesthood; because Islam does not allow priesthood. Allah the Almighty states in this respect:
“O you who believe! Do not forbid (yourselves) the good things which Allah has made lawful for you and do not exceed the limits; surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.” (Al-Maidah 5; 87)
The reason for the revelation of this verse is a nice measure for us in this regard. One day Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) talked about the signs of the Last Day to his companions. They were moved by this so much that they began to cry. Then ten of them gathered in Othman b. Muadh’s home. Ali and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with them) were among them. As a result of their counseling they decided to abstain from the world, to be castrated, to fast during the day and spend the entire night praying, to not eat meat, to abstain from women, to not put on perfume and to not spend time with the beauties of the world. When the Prophet (pbuh) heard their decision, he went to Muadh’s home, but he could not find Muadh at home. He left a message with his wife that Othman and his friends should come and see him. So they went to see the Prophet. Allah’s Messenger told them the matters that they decided to do and asked:
“You have agreed upon these matters, haven’t you?” They replied:
“Yes, we have, O Messenger of Allah! We have no intention to take this decision except goodness.” Upon this Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:
“I certainly am not ordered to do these things. Of course your bodies have rights upon you. Fast some days and eat on other days. Both sleep and perform acts of worship during the nights. I sometimes sleep and sometimes pray during the night. Some days I fast and on some other day I do not fast. I eat meat and sleep with my wives. Whoever does not follow my tradition is not from me (not one of my followers).” Then he gathered his companions and made the following speech:
“What is the matter with some of the people that they prohibit themselves to sleep with their wives, to eat and drink, put on perfume, to sleep, and to enjoy the lawful pleasures of this world? I certainly do not command you to live a monastic life and be a priest. There is no such thing in my religion as not to eat meat, stay away from women, and abstain from the world. My followers’ journeys are fasting and their priesthood is to fight for the sake of Allah. Do not accept partners to Allah, perform your pilgrimages, observe your prayers, give your alms, and fast during the month of Ramadan. Be straight so those who follow you will be straight. People before you were destroyed for their extremities. They made their religion difficult for themselves. Allah made it difficult for them. Today what you see in the monasteries and churches are the descendants of those people.” (Wahidi, p. 207-208)
Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) emphasized the most important matters and pointed out guide marks, which would protect his ummah from going astray and attracting Allah’s anger like the earlier people had done. The following prophetic saying clearly expresses that moderate, intelligent, and continuous efforts are what people need to do in order to reach their goals:
“…Follow the middle path. Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and try to be close to Allah the Almighty. Exert yourselves in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and Beware! Always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise).” (Bukhari, Riqaq, 18) The Turkish poet Edirneli Hâtemî elegantly interprets this prophetic saying in his following lines:
Erişir menzîl-i maksûduna âheste giden
Tîz-reftâr olanın pâyine dâmen dolaşır.
“Those who act slowly and surely can easily reach their destination; while those who haste unnecessarily usually face obstacles and get agitated.”
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) attached so much importance on moderation that he ordered to be moderate even in performing prayers, which he loved so much and called “light of his eyes.” Once the Prophet (pbuh) entered the Mosque and saw a rope hanging in between its two pillars. He asked:
“What is this rope?” The people said,
“This rope is for Zainab bint Jahsh who, when she feels tired during her prayer, holds it to keep standing.” The Prophet ordered,
“Remove the rope immediately. You should pray as long as you feel active, and when you get tired, sit down or go to sleep.” (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 18)
Jabir b. Samura reported: “I used to pray with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and both his prayer and sermon were of moderate length.” (Muslim, Jum’a, 41-42)
A good Muslim is the one who abstains from exceeding limits and tries to be balanced and moderate in his words, actions, and behavior. Those who do not obey these principles not only face troubles in this world but also deserve penalties in the Hereafter. They will not be liked by other people. They become such people from whom everybody wants to stay away from. This is why Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) advised to be moderate in every aspect of life saying that: “Ruined are those who rush into extremes into their words and behavior.” (Muslim, ‘Ilm, 7)
One needs to be moderate in his anger and love, too. A person should neither exaggerate his love nor cut all his ties from the person he dislikes. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) explains the reason for this as follows:
“Love your friend moderately for one day he might turn into an enemy.
Be easy in your anger against your enemy, for one day he might become your friend.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 60)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) disciplined his companions with this morality and presented them to all of humanity as perfect examples. Wahb b. Abdullah (r.a.) narrates:
“The Prophet made a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Ad-Darda. Salman paid a visit to Abu Ad-Darda and found Umm al-Darda dressed in shabby clothes and asked her why she was in that state. She replied,
“Your brother Abu Ad-Darda is not interested in the possessions and pleasures of this world.”
In the meantime, Abu al-Darda came and prepared a meal for Salman. Salman requested Abu al-Darda to eat with him, but Abu al-Darda said,
“Please you go ahead, I am fasting.” Salman said,
“I am not going to eat unless you eat.” So, Abu al-Darda ate with his brother. When it was night and a part of the night passed, Abu al-Darda got up to offer the night prayer, but Salman told him to sleep and Abu al-Darda slept. After sometime, Abu al-Darda got up again but Salman told him to sleep. When it was the last hours of the night, Salman told him to get up then, and both of them offered the prayer. Salman told Abu al-Darda,
“Your Lord has a right on you, your soul has a right on you, and your family has a right on you; so you should give the rights of all those who has a right on you.” Abu al-Darda came to the Prophet and narrated the whole story. The Prophet said, “Salman has spoken the truth.” (Bukhari, Sawm, 51; Adab, 86)
As in this example, companions of the Prophet (pbuh) followed each other as examples and tried to live moderately. Those who were warned by their brother never got offended or upset. On the contrary, they accepted their mistakes and followed their Muslim brothers’ warnings. Subtlety of Salman’s (r.a.) intellect and Abu al-Darda’s (r.a.) other good characteristics, such as observing brotherhood, getting along with friends, and abiding the truth, are among the things that draw our attention in the above mentioned example.
In conclusion, we should neither expect a human being to be like an angel nor let them exceed the lawful limits. One should always be aware of his humanness and strive to do the good, abstain from evil, and always follow the middle path; because “Dignified good bearing and moderation in actions and behaviors are one of the twenty-five parts of prophethood.” (Muwatta, Shaar, 17; Abu Dawud, Adab, 2)
Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş, Erkam Publications