The Path of Moderation in Islam and the Repudiation of Extremism

By al-ʿAllāmah Dr. ʿAlī b. Muḥammad b. Nāṣir al-Faqīhī
Reviewed by Abū al-Ḥasan Mālik al-Akhḍar
13 Ramadan 1439 AH | 30 May 2018

THE RELIGION OF Islam calls to balance and moderation. Allah says,

(وَكَذٰلِكَ جَعَلناكُم أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكونوا شُهَداءَ عَلَى النّاسِ وَيَكونَ الرَّسولُ عَلَيكُم شَهيدًا )

“Thus, We have made you a middle nation that you may be witnesses over the people, and that the Messenger may be a witness over you” [al-Baqarah 2:143].

Therefore, the Islamic nation is the best of nations, because it is the most moderate, i.e. the most just. This is the subject of The Path of Moderation in Islam and the Repudiation of Extremism by al-ʿAllāmah Dr. ʿAlī b. Muḥammad b. Nāṣir al-Faqīhī. In the beginning of the treatise, the author establishes that “the reason for the superiority of this Ummah is that it enjoins the good and prohibits the evil and believes in Allah,” which is the foundation of justice. He goes on to clarify that Allah selected “the best of Messengers” and sent him to all of mankind with “the noblest of His Books,” the Qur’an. So, by revealing the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah, “Allah did not neglect anything mankind needed in terms of their Religion and their worldly life.” And by adopting and following these two revelations, the Ummah became “the best,” “most just,” and “most moderate” of all nations.

However, in the second chapter the Shaykh illustrates how those who did not adhere to the two revelations deviated from the path of moderation and justice to the paths of extremism and negligence. He explains that the first group to deviate was the Khawārij, those who opposed the rightly guided Caliph Ali b. Abu Talib. The emergence of sects like the Khawārij, and subsequently the Rafidah Shia, was the result of going to extremes. Here, the Shaykh clarifies that these sects “have deviated from the Straight Path and each sect has inclined towards its own desires either towards extremism or towards negligence.”

To help the reader better understand this, the author adeptly contrasts the moderate Salafīs with the extremists of the various sects. He begins by defining the Salaf and their way, citing al-Imām al-Safārīnī:

The intended meaning of the madhab of the Salaf is whatever the noble Companions were upon and those who followed them in goodness and their followers and the Imams of the Religion from those whose trustworthiness was witnessed and their great status in the Religion was well known and the people accepted their speech, generation after generation.

Therefore, those who follow the Salaf are the most moderate of the people, standing in the middle course between the extremes: the extremes of tamthīl (resemblance) and taʿtīl (denial), as it relates to Tawḥīd al-Asma wa al-Ṣifāt; the extremes of the Jabariyyah, the Qadariyyah, and the Muʿtazilah, as it relates to the actions of worshippers; and the extremes of the Khawārij, the Murji’ah, and the Muʿtazilah, as it relates to the “titles of imān (faith) and Religion.”

To further illustrate the extremism of these sects, Shaykh ʿAlī Nāṣir relates the story of Yazīd al-Faqīr, who was once “obsessed” with one of the views of the Khawārij before repenting at the hands of the noble Companion Jābir b. ʿAbd Allah. The author writes,

The story of Yazīd al-Faqīr and his group, or his troop as he described them, which is found in Sahih Muslim, clarifies to the intelligent person who is sincere to himself and his Religion and his Ummah, that sitting with the wise, forbearing, Rabbani Scholars who have understanding of the Religion, as Ibn Abbas stated, protects the seeker of truth from errors, excess and extremism (ghuluww) in the Religion.

And as the Shaykh explains, Rabbānī Scholars like Jābir base their call on learning. “Warning, teaching, and instructing,” he writes, “occur after learning.”

And although the Khawārij of old, of the time of Yazīd al-Faqīr, have passed away, their call remains. The Shaykh reminds the reader that “the ideology of the Khawārij, which is exemplified by the takfīr of entire Muslim societies continues to be widespread.”  And perhaps those most affected by this call are the youth. This is because the younger generation has been targeted and deceived by callers who are ignorant of the Sharīʿah, callers who did not benefit from the Rabbani Scholars. These youth have been so affected that even when they hear the correct call, “none of it passes beyond their throats.”

Toward the end of the work, the Shaykh excerpts a beautiful piece of advice from his work al-Waṣāya fī al-Kitāb wa al-Sunnah (Advices in the Book and the Sunnah), entitled “The Advice to Hold Fast to the Sunnah and Remain Distant from Innovation.” In these words of wisdom, he warns those who distance themselves from the scholars to be wary of going astray. He also reminds the people of knowledge that it is obligatory upon them to clarify to the Ummah the dangers of the “devilish whisperings” of the deviant sects and to instruct and guide the Ummah to that which will rectify their Religion and worldly life.

This is an important work. And with so many of the youth falling into extremism and negligence, it is a timely offering, a guidepost to the path of moderation and justice.

 

The Path of Moderation in Islam and the Repudiation of Extremism
By Dr. ʿAlī b. Muḥammad b. Nāṣir al-Faqīhī
Translated by Maaz Qureshi
104 pp. Sunnah Publishing $10
Publication date: 1 Shawwal 1439 AH, inshallah

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