Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Islam in Life | Al-Risala December 1987

A gentleman by the name of Qamruddin, who was from the same part of the country as me, being a very devout person, was extremely regular in his prayers and fasting. But the strange thing about him was that he generally found it difficult to reach the mosque in time for the congregational prayers on a Friday. His intimates knew, of course, that he was delayed, not by sloth, but by his being overparticular about the bath laid down by Islamic law. So extreme were his views that, whenever he started bathing on a Friday morning, he would be beset by doubts about his thoroughness, and, agonizing over which parts of his body he might have missed, would repeatedly bathe all over again, much to his own inconvenience. Sometimes he would become so distraught that his tears would mingle with the bath water. This self-doubting attitude was quite unnecessary, for, although one should always be punctilious about religious duties, it should be borne in mind that the Quran, addressing the People of the Book, says quite specifically, “Do not go to extremes in your religion” (5:77). Excess in religion produces the antithesis of religion. Innocent in intention, it is far from being innocuous in effect.

Worship of God is one of the obligatory observances laid down by Islam. But supposing a worshipper spends every night reciting the Quran, this would amount not to devotion, but to excess.

Islam approves of one having a sense of honour, but if this develops to the point where one loathes to accept the truth if it detracted from one’s honour, this too would be considered excessive.

Respect for men of learning is also taught by Islam, but if this is interpreted to mean that they should never be subjected to criticism, this likewise would be a form of excess.

It should be appreciated that religious fervour alone does not make an action acceptable in the eyes of God. It is also essential that one’s actions should be free from phobias and fanaticism, for only then will they conform to the commandments of God and His Prophet.