From Issue: 947 [Read full issue]
Liberty and Restriction
A person who falls ill during the fasting month of Ramadan may not be certain as to whether he is definitely incapable of observing the fast, and the question thus remains of whether he should observe the original obligation (azimah) or take advantage of the concession (rukhsah) under the circumstances. Which of these is the preferable option? A general response recommended in this situation, which is also deemed to be in conformity with the spirit of wasatiyyah (Moderation), is that he should start the day with fasting but should then break it when he actually feels that he would be unable to sustain it without hardship, in which case he would be able to take advantage of the concessionary rule.
Taking unwarranted liberty or excessive restrictions with the religion can be violative of moderation on either side. The first can occur by declaring as permissible what is clearly prohibited or advising unjustified abandonment of the religious duties, or even declaring as permissible (mubah) what the religion has clearly made obligatory on one hand, and permitting or recommending what is clearly reprehensible (makruh) on the other. Similarly, downgrading a major transgression into a lower one or even to the level of makruh, and taking unwarranted liberty with the interpretation of clear text without the required knowledge—all fall afoul of the advice of wasatiyyah in the treatment of religious ordinances. Issuing a judgment (hukm) or a fatwa without any supportive evidence in the sources in order to gain the pleasure of rulers, for self-enrichment or nepotism, or opening the doors to usury (riba) by declaring dubious practices and transactions permissible, cannot be vindicated in the name of wasatiyyah. The list can be extended to include taking unwarranted liberties by treating lightly indulgence in commercial fraud, or hoarding and profiteering in response to pressure, self-advancement, or gaining favour of others.
"The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam: The Qur'anic Principle of Wasatiyyah" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, p. 99