What is the difference between moderation and extremism?

Moderation is the opposite of extremism and is closely interlinked with peace. When people possess the virtue of moderation, they necessarily think in terms of peace and will engage in their struggle in a peaceful manner. Where there is moderation there is peace, and vice versa.

According to a Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad observed: The moderate action is the best of all actions. Hazrat Ali advised the people: ‘Adopt the middle path.’ (Tafsir Qurtubi, 154/2)

The middle path means the path of moderation. One instance of it can be seen in the following verse of the Qur’an:

‘Be neither miserly nor prodigal, for then you should either be reproached or be reduced to penury.’ (17:29)

The same point, worded differently, has been made in another verse which characterizes “the true servants of the Merciful” as “those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but maintain a just balance between those extremes” (25:67).

According to this verse, moderate spending means neither lavishness nor miserliness but rather a balanced expenditure, which will make life much easier to lead. In the same way, as regards optional fasts, prayers, etc., a middle path is desirable for man, as this enables him to maintain such a pattern of behaviour over a long period of time.