Al-Wasatiyyah is an Arabic term originating from the word wasat and elaborated from the word ummatan wasatan (the moderate people).
“Thus We have made you [true Muslims] a just [and the best] nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger [Muhammad] be a witness over you” (Al-Baqarah 2:143). It has two meanings - the best and the most just and balanced between extremism and negligence.
Other references on moderation are in Al-Qalam (68:28) and Al-‘Adiyat (100:5).
Wasatiyyah is the middle between materialism and spirituality; reality and imagination; individuality and community and between change and stagnation. The inherent characteristics of wasatiyyah as shown above are being fair, humble, moderate, justice, excellence, goodness and balance.
For example, the leader of people is always in the middle of the people and in the best place, like the gem of a necklace is in the middle.
Prof. Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan premised the concept of wasatiyyah must encompass three key attributes which include justice, excellence and balance/moderation. It requires an objective mind, not swayed by emotions, biases or prejudice that would favour any of the disputing sides in making judgments, decisions or solving disputes. He observed the qualities of justice and excellence are neglected due to the over-emphasis on moderation.
There is no moderation if it there no justice. However, moderation should not be misunderstood as a license to be lax in the performance of religious duties in the name of modernism.
In the present day, many people are peddling the word wasatiyyah without understanding its real meaning.
Keeping in mind the three key attributes viz justice, excellence and balance/moderation, let us have a look at a few recent examples.
How do we rate the fate of people in Kuantan on the bauxite mess? Is there any justice when the rakyat can be made to suffer like that? Worse still, they have to pay for the cleaning up and not the perpetrators.
Next, there were scepticism and a feeling of travesty of justice on a decision of a big investigation made recently. Applying the excellence attribute, there are rooms for improvements.
Compare the decision made on the investigation with the excellent showing of the negotiators for the TPPA. Not that I agree with the TPPA but credit should be given where it is due. By the way, I would like to correct the minister in charge of the TPPA when he said Malaysia is the only country to debate it in Parliament. Canada is also putting it to their Parliament and its International Trade Minister wrote, “signing does not equal to ratifying”.
Now, let us have a look at Bank Negara’s (BNM) warning to Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH) and also to the minister in the PM’s department on how the former’s finances could affect the government's financial position. The fact that necessitates the issuing of the letter should be noted. Yes, LTH did some proactive measures to strengthen its risk management practices.
I am sure LTH depositors truly appreciate the action by BNM and for doing such an excellent job. But sadly, in another probe, BNM’s investigation papers and recommendations for action was somewhat ignored. Nevertheless, I have high regards on the Governor who recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award, Central Banker of the Year 2005, Tokoh Ma’al Hijrah 2010 and have been accorded “Grade A” among the heads of central banks for 10 times by the Global Finance magazine.
Now, that is excellence.
The word ‘moderation’ is used by people for many things. Sometimes good and at times, not so good. Example, one must be moderate in eating, sleeping, exercising and even working. Then we have a doctor saying to a patient, ‘if you are to consume intoxicants/alcohol then do so in moderation’. Vices are always harmful and destructive, yet it is used to imply something that is good.
Moderation is stability and safety while extremism is diversion and corruption. “And those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes)” (Al-Furqaan 25:67).
The Bible have these to say on moderation, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything” (Corinthians 6:12) and “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord [is] at hand” (Philippians 4:5).
Buddha meditated for 12 years on extremes and discovered the middle path is the way to salvation. Buddhism is called the Middle Way because he realized that extremes do not lead to awakening. For the Hindus, moderation is the middle path. It is a path between the opposites. This is a path between dwiita and adwaiita. This is the path of stitaprajna.
I like what the deputy PM said in his 2016 new year message. He said the government is always committed to fairness and justice and stressed the government took into account the views of all quarters when administering the country.
Hopefully, there should be no roadblocks to fulfil this noble deed.
Finally, may Allah SWT reform all affairs, to provide us (political leaders and the rakyat) with strong will to change our country for the better, to provide Malaysians with glory, strength and unity. We also ask Him also to accept our deeds, prayers and supplications.