The Role of the Qur’ānic Principle of Wasaṭiyyah in Guiding Islamic Movements

  • Nabil Yasien Mohammad
Keywords: Wasatiyyah, Maqasid al-Shari'ah, Islamic Movement, Islamism, Modernism


This paper discusses the Qur’ānic principle of wasaṭiyyah (moderation/middle-way) towards guiding the Islamic movement and building an applied Islamic ethics. It demonstrates the application of the principle of wasaṭiyyah in the spheres of politics, civic engagement, spirituality, jurisprudence and theology.  Wasaṭiyyah is an expression of the universal Qur’ānic principle of justice (adl).  In the primary Qur’ānic verse on wasaṭiyyah, it describes the Muslim community as a witness of moderation to other nations. Observing the principle of wasaṭiyyah may draw individuals, the community and Islamic movements towards a middle-way. The paper will focus on modernist and Islamist movements in the late nineteenth and twentieth century. To reverse extremist tendencies among fringe groups within these movements, a practical methodology on the foundations of a centrist-based approach is needed. Through embracing Islam’s teachings on moderation, truth and justice the consequences of extremism may be remedied. The Islamic movement as a collective endeavour to guide humanity to Islam and restore the message of tawḥīd in the hearts, minds and lives of Muslims will be studied through the prism of wasaṭiyyah. The paper attempts to develop an applied Islamic ethics on the theoretical framework of wasaṭiyyah and maqāsid al-Sharī’ah (Objectives of Islamic Law) towards guiding the Islamic movement to promote justice and moderation. Thus, through harmonising wasaṭiyyah and maqāsid al-Sharī‘ah we may develop a balanced legal model, synthesising the ethical and legal face of the Islamic tradition.