The first Hadith any student of the Islamic Tradition will learn is the Hadith of Mercy. In it the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him gives us the recipe for receiving the Mercy of God by saying, “those who are … Continue reading
In this day and age of throwing terms around that many don’t have a good handle on the meanings of, it is a requirement that one understands what their speaking about. We live during a time that many Muslims are issuing judgments and declaring rulings left, right and centre, yet not understanding the inner workings of the subject matter their talking about. So I decided to write a bit of a technical article regarding the subject of innovation.
Before getting into this subject, I should make a factual assertion. To seek lifting the difference of opinions in most matters of Islam, which originate from the days of the Companions may God be pleased with them to our current times is to seek the unattainable. Therefore, the Muslim should not be overly concerned and trouble him or herself with differences that have been around from the very beginning until now. However, what should be sought, if one is indeed attempting to understand, is that which is weightier and sounder according to the majority of scholars, depending on the matter at hand.
The word “innovation” (bid’a – بدعة) is an Arabic term referring to anything that is new and not familiar from the past. God Almighty says in Chapter 46, Verse 9 of the Quran:
قُلۡ مَا كُنتُ بِدۡعً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلرُّسُلِ وَمَآ أَدۡرِى مَا يُفۡعَلُ بِى وَلَا بِكُمۡۖ إِنۡ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَىٰٓ إِلَىَّ وَمَآ أَنَا۟ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬
Say: I am not the first of the Messengers and I don not know what will be done with me or with you
What the above verse means is that the Prophet peace be upon him did not come with a new creed. Rather, he was just confirming the same message delivered by the Prophets who preceded him.
As I’ve come across it in my studies, the use of the term “innovation” during the Prophetic era was for anything new whether it was acceptable or not. However, from the Islamic ruling point of view, as according to the narration from Abi Tha’laba Al Khashni and some of the narrations of Ibn Abbas may God be pleased with both of them, that the Prophet peace be upon him used to always mention in his sermons that every innovation is a misguidance.
To put the definition simply according to the Shariah, what the Prophet peace be upon him was referring to is all that stands against the Prophetic Tradition (Sunnah).
From a historical perspective, the very first innovation was the armed revolt against the rightly-guided Caliphs as the Kharijites did when they killed Othman Bin Affan may God be pleased with him, and then killed Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib may God be pleased with him. Just a side note, this is not the same thing as what is taking place in the Middle East, but that’s another topic of discussion.
The definition given by Imam Ash’Shatibi may God have mercy on him was that an innovation is:
الطريقة في الدين التي لم ترد في السنة ويراد بها المبالغة في العبادة
A practice in the religion that did not come in the Tradition with the purpose to exaggerate in the acts of worship
The Imam did exclude worldly transactions implicitly in his definition, as well as explicitly in his text Al I’tsam (الاعتصام), which you can review if you’re looking for more details.
It should be pointed out here that for something to be declared an innovation, it really goes back to the intention behind it. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah may God have mercy on him said about innovation:
Whoever wears a robe that is a particular color intending with it to get closer to God has innovated in the religion
Saying that innovation opposes the Tradition of the Prophet peace be upon him prompts one to make an inquiry into what can be defined as the Tradition. It turns out that Imam Ash’Shawokani divided the actions of the Prophet peace upon him into 7 types:
- What he peace be upon him did as a religious act and therefore is required to be followed
- What he peace be upon him did as part of his regular human character and actions such as sleeping and eating and drinking and the like. This is not considered an act of worship in itself for it is how he peace be upon him was created by God. Emulating the Prophet peace be upon him in these actions would be out of love for him and depends on the environment one lives in
- What oscillated between a religious act and a character act of the Prophet peace be upon him. For example, the light nap on his right side that he peace be upon him used to take after the two rak’ats before Fajr, and the sitting after finishing the obligatory prayers. The majority of scholars went to the opinion that these were matters of character of the Prophet peace be upon him. However, the Shafi’i scholars went to the opinion that these were closer to being acts of worship
- What he peace be upon him did as one of his duties such as leading the prayers, judging between people, and leading the army, etc.
- What he peace be upon him did as punishment for some people due to transgressions of the law
- What he peace be upon him awaited until Revelation came
- What the evidence has indicated was specific for him peace be upon him and not for others, and this is divided into 3 categories:
- What has been indicated to be obligatory for the Prophet peace be upon him, but recommended for the rest of Muslims, such as brushing the teeth (siwak), praying during the night (qiyam), and praying the early morning prayer (Duha).
- What has been indicated to be prohibited for the Prophet peace be upon him and discouraged for the rest of Muslims, such as wearing dirty clothes, and eating while leaning on something
- What has been indicated to be obligatory or permissible for the Prophet peace be upon him and prohibited for the rest of Muslims, such as being married to more than 4 wives at once
This extensive breakdown of the actions of the Prophet peace be upon him by Imam Ash’Shawokani brings the approach towards the Prophetic Tradition into perspective. Once it is determined that a particular act is in fact intended for worship, and has been qualified as an innovation, the “innovation” qualification is categorized into two subcategories:
An Authentic Innovation (Bid’a Haqeeqiyya – بدعة حقيقية)– this is one that has been invented without any basis in the religion with the purpose of completing the religion with something that one sees as missing from it. In doing so the individual coming up with such an innovation would be denying the Verse where God says:
ٱلۡيَوۡمَ أَكۡمَلۡتُ لَكُمۡ دِينَكُمۡ وَأَتۡمَمۡتُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ نِعۡمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ ٱلۡإِسۡلَـٰمَ دِينً۬اۚ
Today I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion
An Additional Innovation (Bid’a Iddhafiyya – بدعة اضافية)– this is one where there is a basis for the act of worship. However, the general proofs have not dictated this act of worship to be performed in this invented manner or at that time. For example, praying voluntary prayers is something that has come down in the Prophetic Tradition. But for one to consistently pray after the Asr prayer 4 rak’ats as a voluntary act, or for one to repeat a certain invocation or praise of God in a certain formula, would be something innovated, albeit has a basis that it originated from even though not in the specific formulation the individual is performing conducting the act.
Imam Ash’Shatibi may God have mercy on him and many of the scholars include the Additional Innovation in the general statement of the Prophet peace be upon that every innovation is a misguidance. However, Imam Al Iz Ibn Abdus’Salam and Imam Al Qarafi may God have mercy on them, as well as others do not include it because it has been authentically transmitted that the Prophet peace be upon him has approved actions of this sort. For example, the Ansari companion who started with the new more elaborate hamd (ربنا ولك الحمد حمدا كثيرا طيبا مباركا الخ) after raising from ruku’ in the prayer. Some scholars have objected to using this as a proof by saying that this was done while the Prophet peace upon him was alive when he could approve such an act and can’t be generalized. The response back against this objection was that the Prophet peace be upon was teaching the Muslims that the principle of doing something new that has a sound basis in the religion is accepted. So the matter has a difference in opinion; the Authentic Innovation is rejected by all the scholars, whereas the Additional Innovation is differed upon.
Just a note here, when it comes to the approval of the Prophet peace upon him, it was of two types. Either he approved it verbally and commended the action performed, or he approved it silently, which is a different type of Tradition of the Prophet peace be upon him – Al Sunnah Al Iqrariya (السنة الاقرارية).
There is a saying that is incorrectly repeated by many Muslims nowadays, which is that “innovation is worse than sin”. The incorrectness of the statement stems from the fact that innovation is one of the categories under the general heading of “Sin”. The statement is incorrectly used due to a misunderstanding of what Imam Ibn Taymiyyah may God have mercy on him meant when he made it, which is that an innovation that takes one out of the folds of Islam is worse than sin. This makes sense, because the innovation that causes one to be declared a non-Muslim is definitely worse than a general sin, which doesn’t take one out of Islam.
What about the statement from the pious predecessors that the innovator has no repentance?
This was a statement made by Abu Umar Ash’Shaybani and when he made it, it was based on his personal experience of innovators who generally are not guided by God to repent from their innovation. This is understandable given the fact that the innovator falsely believes that he is doing something pleasing to God, when in fact he is not. However, it should be pointed out that this statement does not refer to matters where there is a difference in opinion among the scholars. Just because some have deemed a matter to be an innovation, it does not negate the opinion of those who have not deemed it so. So one should be very careful not to judge others.
I should mention that some attempt to utilize the categorization of innovation into a good innovation or a bad innovation, while others have tried going with the categorization of Imam Al Iz Ibn Abdus’Salam of innovation into 5 types; obligatory, recommended, permissible, discouraged, and prohibited. These categorizations are valid only from a linguistic point of view. But no one can ever say that something that has been deemed an Authentic Innovation to have anything good in it.
A final issue is in regards to how some Muslims deem it impermissible to sit and talk with innovators. The first question that needs to be answered is whether the innovation is differed upon or not. If it’s unanimously agreed upon and the person can be declared Islamically to be an innovator, then those who are feared to be affected should avoid this individual. However, it’s an obligation for the one who is able to sit with the innovator to remind them and establish the proof against them. The Quran itself is filled with sitting with non-believers to establish the proofs and to tender their hearts, so how can one not extend this type of treatment to a fellow believer who happens to be committing a sin. Furthermore, abandoning a Muslim is in itself impermissible if it goes beyond 3 days.
This article was more on the technical and dry side, but necessary because the approach to the Tradition of the Prophet peace be upon him in Islam needs to be a knowledgeable one. Some Muslims are using the term “innovation” more freely than the term allows for in the Shariah, simply because they’re unaware of what the scholars have said about the term. Rather than a superficial following of what one hears from others that have not investigated the matter, I hope what I’ve written here brings some things to light for those who have not been exposed to the longer texts dealing with this matter. I avoided talking about the obvious examples that come to one’s mind when the subject of “innovation” is addressed, such as the celebration of the birth of the Prophet peace be upon him, because that would require a separate article – something that I may write about in the future if God wills it.
That and God knows best.
One of the terms that are thrown around by some Muslims that like to label other Muslims is “Ash’ari”. Whenever I hear this term, or any term for that matter, being used to label any Muslim, my first reaction is revulsion, followed by the question: what do you mean by “Ash’ari”? I ask this question not to necessarily get an answer from the person. Rather, I’m looking to turn their attention to their manifested ignorance of the term they’re using. Before you form an idea that I’m siding with anyone, I ask the same question when someone uses the terms “Wahhabi”, “Salafi”, “Sufi”, or any other term for that matter. It’s typically a sign that an individual doesn’t know what a term means when they liberally use it to label many of their fellow Muslims, which is sadly just part of the calamity of this age; manifest ignorance and Googlism to the highest degree.
For those who are interested, I’ll take a few lines to display why when I ask the question “what do you mean by Ash’ari?”, I’m doing it to expose this person’s ignorance to himself.
In brief, Imam Abu Al Hasan Al Ash’ari was a great scholar born in the year 260 AH in Basra, Iraq, during a time of great scholarship and erudition. During his time the Mu’tazilite group of scholars was the most elite and powerful. In fact, they got to such power at one point that the Muslim ruler at the time having adopted their school of thought began to persecute any scholar that rejected their school. For those who are not versed in this part of Muslim theological history, the Mu’tazilites was a group of scholars who put the intellect (Al Aql) as a judge over the transmission (An Naql). For example, if they read a verse or came across a transmitted narration from the Prophet peace be upon him, and it contradicted their intellectual understanding and logical processes, they would reject the verse or narration from the Prophet peace be upon him. On the surface their methodology and reasons for rejection of many things seemed completely logical to many of their followers. However, for reasons I won’t go into here, the Sunni scholars were able to logically refute their fallacious claims. For a great example refutation read Al Hai’da (الحيدة) by Imam Abdulaziz Al Kinani, who debated the most feared Mu’tazilite theologian of his time, Bishr Al Mareesi, and refuted him to a point that was laughable (l actually did laugh quite a bit when I read it!).
I will point out here that the Mu’tazilites utilized fear tactics and went as far as killing scholars that disagreed with them and ended up putting Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal in prison and tortured him because he would not adopt their theology. In fact, Imam Ahmed was given the title Imam Ahl As’ Sunna Wal Jama’a because of his courageous stance against them when literally all other Sunni scholars were too afraid to speak up. Their most commonly known theological claim is that the Quran was created, rather than being an attribute of God. The classic question they used to determine whether they persecuted a scholar was: what do you say about the Quran? To answer that it is the uncreated word of God meant torture, prison, and possible death. To answer that it is created by God meant safety from their tyranny!
The purpose of this short post is not to address all the different positions on certain theological issues that divided Muslims into the different theology schools. The issue regarding the Quran was one thing. Another contention that up to this day Muslims are, for a lack of a better word, fighting over is how to understand the ambiguous verses that deal with the attributes of God. If God wills it, I will write on this topic in the future. For now, what I’ve mentioned above was just a very ridiculously brief pre-emption to what I wanted to mention about Imam Abu Al Hasan Al Ash’ari.
Imam Al Ash’ari was the most prominent theologian for the Mu’tazilites for about 40 years. In fact, one could say he was their head theologian that theorized and laid down many of their arguments. He then had what can only be described as an opening from God, in which all the fallacies in their arguments became manifest and clear to him. This caused him to rebel against the Mu’tazilite school and to spend a second and brief period of his life attacking them. In fact, he was using the Mu’tazilite school premises on many of their arguments to refute them. Finally, he entered his third, and what would be his last, phase of his theological evolution. This is when he settled on the creedal formula and theological understanding of God and His nature that was adopted by the pious predecessors. May be in a future post I’ll get into all the different schools and where they differed and based on what evidence they differed on. However, for now, and for the past and the future, I’ll keep quoting the narration of the Prophet peace be upon him:
من قال لا إله إلا الله دخل الجنة
Whoever says there is no God but the One True God, has entered Heaven
I’ll also quote the verse from the Quran where God says in Chapter 4, verse 48:
إن الله لا يغفر أن يشرك به ويغفر ما دون ذلك لمن يشاء ومن يشرك بالله فقد افترى إثما عظيما
Surely God does not forgive that anything should be associated with Him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases; and whoever associates anything with God, he devises indeed a great sin
As Imam Al Qurtubi mentions in his work Al Jami’ Li Ahkam Al Quran, this verse unequivocally makes it clear that so long as a person doesn’t associate partners with God, then he is in a position to receive forgiveness from God over any other sins he commits. This would include mistakes or misunderstandings in the branches of theology and creed that deviate from the consensus of the Muslim scholars over the past 1400 years. Unfortunately, when Muslims throw labels around, it serves as a first step to excommunicate fellow Muslims from being Sunni, which then can be followed by kicking them outside the folds of Islam, and that’s exactly how the Kharijites functioned historically.
Am I deluded to have thought that all Muslims are in fact Muslims? Why is it that so many of our fellow Muslims are so eager to excommunicate the rest from Islam? With all the problems we as Muslims have nowadays, and all the division we are already suffering through, it can be described as nothing less than a capital crime to label each other with names and titles that we don’t even understand. In fact, I’m sure if the Commander of the Believers Umar Ibn Al Khattab may God be pleased with him was around today, he would beat most of us with his stick for our behavior, and no one could blame him.
So if anyone tries to throw the label of Ash’ari on you, or on anyone else for that matter, just ask the question: what do you mean by Ash’ari?
The use of the term “religion” as a general adjective to describe the different faiths practiced by the diverse populations in today’s world is problematic. For instance, it assumes their similarity to a degree which renders them interchangeable, and that any apparent differences in practice are insignificant in the big picture. In the west, when the term “religion” is used, the word is pregnant with a Christian understanding. This is not surprising since the western experience and background has been a Christian one. However, as the communication revolution is shrinking the world into a “global village”, and as the western culture becomes more diverse with increased immigration, it behooves one to qualify the term “religion” so as not to create a confusion, and more importantly so as not to be inherently confused.
The importance of such qualification of the term “religion” lies in the fact that despite the values and ethics various religions share to different degrees, there are fundamental differences within them that touch on core foundations, which dictate a particular worldview that is unique to each. Examples of where the differences lie include the understanding of God, the relationship between the physical and metaphysical realms, as well as the position mankind takes in relationship to the physical and metaphysical realms. One of the most important differences between religions relates to how The World is seen.
As a pre-emptive to the following lines for those who do not speak Arabic, it should be known that the Arabic language is based on root words, which for the most part are composed from three letters while in some cases from four. In other words, picture a tree where the root word is the trunk, and the branches are the different words that derive from it. Arabic has thousands upon thousands of those trees. In the Arabic language are two common terms used for The World as it is presented in the Quran. One word is عالم (a’lam), which is a branch from the three-letter root word ع ل م (a’ li’ ma’), which has a basic meaning relating to “that which is known”. The other word commonly used is دنيا (dunya), which is more interesting for me. In traditional Arabic, the second word was used to describe a branch of grapes that looks close enough to reach for and grab, but once one reaches for it they realize that it’s too far to be grasped. The understanding here is that one is under an illusion that the branch is close and they can reach it, but the reality of the matter is that it’s unreachable. Linguistically, the word dunya comes from the three-letter root word د ن ي (da’ ni’ ya’), which means “to come close”, i.e. come closer to me (idnu’ ila’ia ادنو إلي). It also means “that which is low”.
It should be made clear here that what I’ve done is not doing lexicological justice to these words, but it’s meant to bring them a little closer to light in order to give an accessible understanding to the topic at hand.
Once the Arabic terminology is understood, how Islam treats The World in the light of faith becomes clearer. The World has two aspects to it from an Islamic point of view; one whose pursue is permitted, while the other’s is condemned. A common misunderstanding by many Muslims, especially ones who have lived and studied in the west is that a devout Muslim would view The World as “just a temporary state and has no meaning”. While this might in some way reflect an old traditional Christian understanding, albeit an incomplete and misunderstood one, the statement carries a correct notion about The World, namely its temporality, but overall is incorrect from an Islamic point of view. To call The World meaningless is to make everything within it a meaningless and vain pursuit. There would no longer be a point in demanding justice, seeking happiness, showing kindness, establishing good relations, or anything else that has to do with the human presence on this planet. It would then follow that everyone should give up and forfeit everything to the Next World and to simply suffer through a miserable existence, and while doing so dedicate their lives to a monk-like lifestyle in the mountains somewhere. On the other hand, you can reject such a notion and pursue a materialistic and hedonistic lifestyle for however long a time you have to live on this planet.
The Quran deals with how The World should be approached in several verses. One of the most interesting (to me) is in chapter 57, verse 20:
ٱعلَمُواْ أَنَّمَا ٱلحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهوٌ وَزِينَة وَتَفَاخُرُ بَينَكُم وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِى ٱلأَموَٲلِ وَٱلأَولَـٰدِ كَمَثَلِ غَيثٍ أَعجَبَ ٱلكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ۥ ثُمَّ يهيجُ فَتَرَهُ مُصفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَـٰمًا وَفِى ٱلأَخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغفِرَةٌ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرِضوَٲنٌ وَمَا ٱلحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنيَا إِلَّا مَتَـٰعُ ٱلغُرُورِ
Know that the life of The World is only play, and idle talk, and pageantry, and boasting among you and rivalry in respect of wealth and children; as the likeness of vegetation after rain, whereof the growth is pleasing to the farmer, but afterward it dries up and you see it turning yellow, and then it becomes straw. And in the Hereafter there is grievous punishment, and (also) forgiveness from God and His good pleasure, whereas the life of The World is but matter of illusion.
The analogy given in the verse about The World’s illusionary nature is that of plants sown by farmers, which receive a good rain that allows their growth and vegetation, thus overly impressing the farmers. But finally the plants wither and become yellow as they eventually die off. In the commentary on this verse by Al Zamakh’shari in his exegesis on the Quran named Al Kashaf, he mentions that here the Quran is warning the reader to not by deluded by all the “stuff” because in reality it will all perish in the end. Al Tabari in his exegesis Jami’ Al Bayan mentions that the temporality of the illusionary pleasures of dunya, are contrasted with the everlasting realities of the Next World. An interesting narration is related in the exegesis of this verse by Al Qurtubi, in which he mentions what Imam Ali may God be pleased with him says about dunya to a man:
Don’t despair about dunya for it is 6 things: food, drink, clothing, scent, a ride, and a mate. The best of food is honey, and it’s the excrement of bees; the best of drink is water, and all animals are similar in their need for it; the best of clothing is silk, which a bug makes; the best of scents is musk, and it’s a glandular secretion from deer; the best of rides is the horse, and on top of it men are killed; the best of mates are women, and they all decorate themselves in ways to cover blemishes.
Some might misunderstand this verse, and in fact use it to rebuke the pursuit of material prosperity during one’s lifetime. This is a gross deviation from what the verse is actually warning against. The warning is against becoming a victim to the illusion, i.e. dunya. Such a point is addressed by Al Qurtubi in his work “The Secrets of Asceticism”. A superficial read of this book makes it seems that one should sell everything they own, give up all the proceeds, and live in a hut under a bridge. But a deeper analysis of what is said by Al Qurtubi brings to light what a misunderstanding this would be. It is not reprehensible to own a fancy house, drive a nice car, or dress and eat well. This only becomes a problem when one goes to an extreme and worse yet when one forgets that at some point it will all perish, and more importantly none of it will be taken to the grave. The problem is when one becomes emotionally attached to it. There is a vast difference between pursuing material things for their sake, and pursuing them for a greater purpose that they can be utilized for. Islam does not view The World as a meaningless place. Rather, it has an illusionary property that one can fall for as part of being in it, which is in reality the meaningless pursuit.
God says in the Quran in chapter 7, verse 32:
قُل مَن حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِى أَخرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِۦ وَٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ مِنَ ٱلرِّزقِ قُل هِىَ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ فِى ٱلحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنيَا خَالِصَةً يَومَ ٱلقِيَـٰمَةِ كَذَٲلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ ٱلأَيَـٰتِ لِقَومٍ يَعلَمُونَ
Say, “Who has prohibited the adornment God has brought forth for His servants, and the wholesome things of sustenance?” Say, “They are for the believers during this worldly life (though shared by others), while they are purely for them on the day of Resurrection. This is how We elaborate the verses for people who understand.”
In his exegesis Mafateeh Al Ghaiyb, Imam Fakhr Ad’Deen Ar’Razi mentions that this verse asks the rhetorical question to turn one’s attention to the fact that God has provided the adornments of The World to be enjoyed. In fact, Imam Ar’Razi states that the adornment mentioned in this verse encompasses anything that is considered to be as such, including anything used to take care of the body, any method of transport, all types of jewelry except for what is not permissible for men, food and drink, getting married, use of cologne and scent, and in a sense anything that can be enjoyed in this life as long as Islamic Law is not broken. In other words, if one has the ability to own a nice home, buy a nice car, eat at the best restaurants, wear nice clothes, go on vacations to new places every time they’re able to, and stay at the nicest hotels, while not forgetting their obligatory duties towards their family and the needy, they would be well within their rights and no one can say anything to them, for they would be exercising permissible luxuries that God has provided on the earth for them to enjoy. The caveat here is that all of these things must remain in their hands and never enter their hearts.
This brings the issue of how to not let materialism encompass the heart. If one constantly indulges themselves in all they can just because they can, it will eventually be a corrupting force for the heart. Sometimes an exercise of self-deprivation should be undertaken just as a self-reminder that “things” are not the most important part of The World. One should not allow themselves to get used to having caprices and desires satisfied every time. Occasional periods of self-deprivation would serve to limit the growth of the monster of the lower self from within, and promote a better spiritual development. One notices this during Ramadan, which is a time at which the normally permissible action of eating and drinking is restricted during the day. Many Muslims observing this month notice themselves having a heightened spiritual awareness and the simple act of restricting food intake ends up helping in their journey of purifying their hearts and elevating their general states. This strategy could be applied to many other aspects in life as a method to keep the lower self of the individual in check. If one finds it bothersome to be denied a material and illusionary aspect of The World, it should serve as a sign that something is seriously wrong within their heart and steps must be taken immediately to purify their state.
How to handle the two abovementioned verses would be to have an understanding of verse 143 in chapter 2 of the Quran, where God says:
وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلنَـٰكُم أُمَّةً وَسَطًا
Thus We have appointed you a middle nation
Imam Ibn Attiya mentions in his Quran exegesis Al Muharrar Al Wajeez Fi Tafseer Al Kitab Al Aziz that some of the scholars mentioned about this verse that the Community of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him did not exaggerate in their religion as the Jews have with their Law, and did not transgress in elevating a Prophet to a Divine status as the Christians have. In other words, for Muslims, religion is meant to bring a balance to one’s life. To obtain and maintain such a balance, one has to be aware of their inclinations and not enter into any extreme states of over- or under-indulgence.
To bring this idea home, one has to look no further than to the Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. One of the companions, Othman Ibn Matth’oon, may God be pleased with him came to the Prophet peace be upon him and had a conversation where he mentioned that he was basically looking to divorce the world, leave eating meat, not use perfume, and basically become and ascetic. The Prophet peace be upon him redirected this companion’s path towards the Prophetic way, which is the middle and balanced way. Giving up The World is not part of the Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, and whoever disregards the Tradition of the Prophet peace be upon him will be prevented by the angels on the Day of Judgement from reaching the Basin of the Prophet peace be upon him.
Islam is a middle way that requires a Muslim to have a balanced approach to The World. God has provided various blessings and luxuries for His servants to enjoy them while they fulfill their mission in The World of getting to know and worship Him. A Muslim should not be deluded by the illusionary nature of The World, and not allow material things to enter their heart. We all came to The World with nothing material, and we all will leave The World with nothing material. It’s not a problem to enjoy the material while we’re here. Just remember that it’s an incidental aspect of being here and not the reason for it. So long as all the “stuff” remain externally on your hand, and not be internalized into your heart – so that if you lose it you will be thankful for having had it but not upset for having lost it – you would be walking in balanced footsteps on the path of the Prophet peace be upon him.