MODERATION OR AL-WASAT
Moderation or Al-wasat in religion means that one does not exaggerate and go beyond the limit set by Allaah, and that one does not neglect it and fall short of the limit set by Allaah. And Moderation in religion also means following the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Exaggeration means trying to do more than he did, and negligence means not reaching that level.
Allah said: These are the limits [set by] Allah, and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted by Him to gardens [in Paradise] under which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein; and that is the great attainment. Quran Surah Nisa 4:13
An example of that is a man says: “I’m going to pray the entire night and not sleep from now on because salaat is from the most virtuous acts of worship therefore I love that I remain praying the entire night.” We say: This person is an extremist in the religion of Allaah and is not upon the truth.
This (incident) occurred during the time of the Prophet, sallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam. Some individuals gathered together and one from amongst them said: “I’m going to pray and not sleep.” The other said: “I’m going to fast and not break it.” The third said: “I’m not ever going to get married.”
So that which they said reached the Prophet, sallaahu ‘alahi wasallam, so he, ‘alayhis salaatu was salaam, said: “What is wrong with some people who say such and such (a thing). I fast and I break my fast, I pray and sleep and I marry women. So whoever goes against my sunnah (i.e. way) is not from me.” The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once asked a companion: "(Is it true) that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?" The companion replied that the report was indeed true. The Prophet then said: "Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave (it) at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you." - Sahih Al-Bukhari 5199 (Volume 7, Hadith 127)
These people exceeded the bounds and thus the Messenger, sallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam, freed himself from them because they turned away from his sunnah which entailed fasting and breaking the fast, praying (at night) and sleeping and marrying women.
As for the lethargic person: Then he is the one who says: “I have no need or desire in performing supererogatory acts of worship. I do not perform them but rather I only perform the obligatory acts of worship.” It is probable that he will fall short in the obligatory acts. So this is the lethargic person.
The moderate one is he who treads upon what the Messenger, sallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam, and his rightly guided successors were on.
Another example: three men are faced with an immoral man. One of them says, “I will not greet this immoral man and I will boycott him, keep away from him and do not speak to him.”
The second one says, “I will go with this immoral man, greet him and smile at him. I will invite him to my place and accept his invitation. He is just like any righteous man to me.”
The third one says, “I hate this immoral man for his immoral actions, but I love him for his faith. I will not boycott him unless doing so is in his best interests. If there is nothing to be gained by boycotting him, and if that will only increase him in his immorality, then I will not boycott him.”
We say that the first man is going to extremes, the second is negligent and the third is moderate.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately. Always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course, whereby you will reach your target (of paradise)." Sahih Al-Bukhari 6463 (Volume 8, Hadith 470)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "The good deeds of any person will not make him enter Paradise i.e., (no one enters paradise only through his good deeds)." The Prophet's companions asked: "Not even you?" The Prophet replied: "Not even myself, unless God bestows His favor and mercy on me. So be moderate in your religious deeds and do what is within your ability. None of you should wish for death, for if he is a doer of good, he may increase his good deeds, and if he is an evil doer, he may repent to Allah." Sahih al-Bukhari 5673 (Volume 7, Hadith 577)