Wasatiyya (Moderation)


The 2015 Islamic World International Conference theme Wasatiyya (Moderation): The Path to Brotherhood, Social Justice & Beauty

Wasatiyya derives from the term Wasatan, which appears in the Holy Qu’ran in the
chapter Al-Baqarah. The word wasatiyya in Arabic means center and middle. In the Holy
Qur’an it means “justice, moderation, balance and temperance.” The word wasat appears
in verse 143 of the second chapter, which is 286 verses long, so it appears exactly in the
middle. The verse says: “And We have created you a middle ground (moderate)
nation” or “a centrist ummah [community].”
​The passage demonstrates that the
need to be moderate and temperate is a central principle within Islam.

Wasatiyya or moderation is the diametric opposite of extremism. In the 20th and 21st
centuries, we have witnessed the devastation that comes from Religious, Secular and
Cultural Extremism. We are witnesses to the harms of Weapons of Mass Destruction,
terrorism in the name of religion and the proliferation of violence and perverse sexuality
in our arts and entertainment. Extremism is as much a crisis as any other crisis afflicting
humanity in this time. It is indeed an affliction of the soul and humanity of a people. It is
our contention that ignorance of the realities and root causes of these phenomena is what
has lead to their pervasiveness.

Our goal is to bring forth an understanding that Moderation as a religious principle, has
been neglected, and extremism within our own religious tradition is a direct product of
that neglect. Educating our youth is the only way to battle ignorance and extremism.
Education, not bombs, will win the war on extremism and terrorism.

Locally, extremism has trumped moderation by deceiving us to believe that we should
‘Hate and be suspicious of our Neighbors’. A lack of knowledge of the ‘other’, coupled with
mistrust and fear has created a very precarious situation in many cities and towns
throughout the states. Indeed, it has been forgotten that the Holy Prophet of God said;
The best friend in the sight of Allah is he who is the well-wisher of his
companions, and the best neighbour is one who behaves best towards
​(Narrated by Tirmidhi). And from the Holy Bible; ‘You shall love your
neighbor as yourself.’​
(Mark 12:31) The human race has never been more connected
through transportation, communication or culture. We have become ‘neighbors in a global
village’, and it is imperative that we approach each other, truly, as neighbors.

Finally, at its core, Wasatiyya, is a deeply human principle. It engenders a willingness to
see those that have different skin colors, religions or sexes, not as “the enemy” but as
fellow human beings, shaped by different histories but all looking towards the day when
they can live in peace and security.