To maintain moderation

Like in every other duty, to observe moderation in services is a central principle. Just like a man of service cannot ignore his family, parents and his other responsibilities, he should not use his family and other responsibilities as an excuse to refrain from serving the creation of Allah the Almighty.

Allah the Almighty calls Muslims as middle nation in a verse:

“And thus We have made you a medium (just) nation…” (2; 143)

The Prophet (pbuh) states that:

“Best of the actions are the ones done moderately (the ones not going into two extremes)”(Bayhaqi, Shu’ab al-Iman, V, 261) and presents his ummah a perfect measure for their actions.

In another tradition he (pbuh) says:

“Whoever leads the people in prayer should shorten it because among them there are the sick, the weak, the old and the needy (having some jobs to do). Whoever prays alone may extend his/her prayer as much as he/she wants.”(Bukhari, Kitab al-‘Ilm, 28)

As can be observed from the aforementioned texts, to maintain balance and moderation in both worldly and spiritual affairs is an exceptional principle established by Allah and His messenger. When this principle is observed, both individual and social peace and tranquility will certainly be actualized. Therefore a man of service must be a moderate person. For instance a preacher should finish his sermon as soon as the athan starts, because people who have urgent things to do should be considered, and the congregation can peacefully start their prayer. Therefore men of service should be insightful and intelligent. They should not transgress the limits when they love, get angry, compliment, criticize, praise and decry. They should be sincere but not offhand; and be dignified but not too proud, and be modest but not despicable.

Men of service should treat people under their management with compassion, justice, and mercy and should not assign them such heavy loads or tasks. It should be remembered that treatment with justice does not mean equal treatment, but to give everyone whatever their right is. It is stated in a verse that all unfair actions must be avoided:

“O you who believe! be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness of Allah’s sake, though it may be against your own selves or (your) parents or near relatives; if he be rich or poor, Allah is nearer to them both in compassion; therefore do not follow (your)low desires, lest you deviate; and if you swerve or turn aside, then surely Allah is aware of what you do.” (4; 135)

Acting in moderation displays more significance in administrative offices. This also reveals the level of a person’s insight and intelligence. When the governor of Egypt, Amr b. al-As (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about the cause of his success, he said:

“I imagine that there is a rope between me and each person around me. When this rope is tightened too much, I let it loose a little; when I feel it got too loose, I pull and tighten it. In this way I maintain my relationship with people around me with moderation.”

Because, in the name of discipline, tormenting the people under command can never be excused. On the other hand, it is a fact that a lack of discipline results in anarchy. And this causes wasting wealth, time and service and wasting leads to disaster and collapse.The conqueror of Al-Andalus, Tariq b. Ziyad, was wearing old patched clothes when he entered Spain.  However the bravery and victory in his heart and soul was dazzling. In the end this spiritual state of him was instrumental in founding a great civilization. However when Abdulah al-Saghir, the sultan of the last Muslim state, Almohads, in Andalusia was defeated and leaving his country, even his horse’s saddle and spurs were made from gold. That means when moderation is lost after victory and worldly gains, there starts decline and defeat. In fact Abdullah al-Saghir stood on a hill and looked over Granada and he started to cry when he saw the city burning. His mother told him the following statement, which left a mark in history:

“Cry O heedless man cry! You could not defend this blessed country like a man; now cry like a woman…”

Since then that hill has been called “the Arab’s last cry” or “hill of the Arab’s cry.”

Trusts which are not properly protected will be wasted; and wasted trusts will be lost. As a matter of fact after the collapse of Al-Andalus, not just lands of Spain but also many works of Muslim civilization and unfortunately one million of manuscripts were burned down.

Therefore a man of service should know how and where to use the things entrusted to him. However he protects his personal possessions from wasting, he also should avoid wasting public property, education and services.

We should not understand wasting as wasting property and possessions. We should apply Divine warning: “Allah does not love the extravagant.”[1] into all aspects of our lives.

We must know that we  will be helf accountable for wasting our or another’s life and time. In this respect a teacher who knows the significance of his work should never waste his students’ time and energy. We should know that doing nothing and “killing time” is a kind of waste. Not to protect the lofty things entrusted unto us is also a great waste. And the greatest waste of all is forgetting that humans are the most honorable of all creation and therefore not giving them the proper education they deserve.

Therefore we should be very sensitive about the education and training of human beings. They should be trained with the ability to understand the book of the universe and to comprehend the delicate order and balance of the universe. Such an educational atmosphere will enable them to be perfect human beings, who can transform their faith into ihsan (to worship Allah as if seeing Him). In a way we should train individuals who have the same comprehension of faith as the Companions. Otherwise among so many billions of people the need for real human beings cannot be satisfied.

We must do our best to raise perfect human beings and to save as many children as we can from the fires of Hell they fell in. Who knows? Maybe the children whom we thrust our hand to save will be tomorrow’s Sultan Mehmeds (the conqueror), Yavuzes, Solomons (the Magnificient), Sinans (the Architect), Piri Reises (famous captain), Ibn Kamals (Muslim scholar), Akşemseddins or Aziz Mahmud Hudayis (Sufi saints).

A nation becomes a great nation and maintains its vitality as much as it raises such geniuses.  Even though the Ottoman emirate was the smallest emirate founded in Anatolia, it grew and became a great sycamore covering three continents as great as the figures it raised. However later it shrank and took its place in the pages of history in the hands of those statesmen who submitted themselves to personal gains, who loved their posts instead of the future of their people.

In respect to his duty, a real man of service is like a cashier distributing rights to the rightful people, because everything belongs to Allah the Almighty. Everything bestowed upon us is His blessings, and we will be questioned for each one of these blessings. If  we do not want the result of this questioning to be suffering, we need to listen to the following Divine warnings:

“And He it is Who produces gardens (of vine), trellised and untrellised, and palms and seed-produce of which the fruits are of various sorts, and olives and pomegranates, like and unlike; eat of its fruit when it bears fruit, and pay the due of it on the day of its reaping, and do not act extravagantly; surely He does not love the extravagant.”(6; 141)

“O children of Adam! attend to your embellishments at every time of prayer, and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant..”(7; 31)

“Surely the squanderers are the fellows of the Shaitans and the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.”(17; 27)

Extravagance is improper and excessive spending for ourselves. However  spending for sake of Allah is not considered waste. On the contrary, the more we spend the more we earn reward in the Divine Court. It is stated in a verse:

“They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit. And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare. Thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, that you may ponder-” (2; 219)

In short, the best way in all these matters is to maintain moderation and balance, and to avoid wastefullness, which ultimately will keep us from fulfilling our spiritual and social responsibilities..

Anger is another factor that destroys moderation. It is a weaknessand a mental imbalance. It is the expression of human weakness and incompetence. Therefore, men of service should be able to control their anger.

On one occasion the Prophet (pbuh) asked his Companions:

“Whom do you count as a wrestler amongst you? We said: He who wrestles with strong persons. He said: No, it is not he but one who controls himself when in a fit of rage.”(Muslim, Kitab al-Birr, 106)

In fact, usually the most erroneous decisions that results in disappointment are the ones made during times of anger. In respect to this fact, the Prophet (pbuh) says:

“…Do not judge between two persons when you are angry…”(Muslim, Kitab al-Aqdiyah, 16) He even adviced three times to one of his Companions who had asked his advice “not to get angry” (Bukhari, Kitab al-Adab, 76).

There are different states of human beings. They sometimes are angry and sometimes cheerful. In order not to cause an injustice, an angry person should not make a decision right away. Upon the advice of the Prophet (pbuh) angry persons should sit if they are standing,and  lie down if they are sitting. If they still cannot control their anger, they should perform ablution. After they completely control their anger, they can make a decision, because usually balance is lost and judgment weakens during anger, and others rights may be infringed upon. Men of service should always be careful when it comes to moderation, courtesy and grace.

The psychological state of people is very important in educational services. Just like a pilot who does not feel psychologically normal cannot be given a license to fly, a teacher who is angry or who feels down should not be allowed into a classroom. At the same time, an angry teacher must search for the reason for his or her anger and try to control that anger at which point, instructions can calmly be given, along with warnings and advice, but must stay clear of certain extremes that could hurt the students.

Allah the Almighty calls our attention to gentleness in our way of speaking:

“And pursue the right course in your going about and lower your voice; surely the most hateful of voices is braying of the asses.” (31; 19)

When a need to forbid someone to commit something evil arises, not to hurt his/her feelings his/her fault the person should not be told directly; the act should be mentioned in general without mentioning the sinner’s name or the speaker should attribute the fault to himself/herself. In fact the Prophet (pbuh) did not tell anybody’s fault to his/her face, instead he used to delicately reprove and say:

“What is it that I saw you doing such and such…”[2]

The monumental figures of Islamic history who were raised with high morals have directed the members of the Muslim society from the lowest class to the sultans. Sheikh Edebali’s advice to Othman Ghazi and all other statesmen in his person are very wise and meaningful:

“O Son! You are an emir! From now on

Anger is for us; calmness is for you

Resentment is for us; reconciliation is for you

Blaming is for us; endurance is for you

Weaknesses, mistakes are for us; tolerance is for you

Dissension, disagreement, disputes are for us; justice is for you

Evil eye, predicting bad luck and false comments are for us; forgiveness is for you”

“O Son! From now on

Dividing is for us, integrating is for you

Laziness is for us; fostering, shaping is for you…”[3]

[1].      Qur’an 6; 141

[2].      See Bukhari, Manakib, 25; Muslim, Kitab al-salat, 119.

[3].      See for the rest of Edebali’s advices related section at the end of this book.