Professor Abdal Hakim Murad, Cambridge

Islam’s self-understanding as a middle way is both well-known and distinctive. Contrasting itself with some evolved forms of the earlier religions, the new faith announced itself as neither purely legalistic nor purely spiritualizing. Ethically, its pattern of life was to embrace neither the severe asceticism of early Christianity, nor the hedonism of ancient Rome. ‘Thus have We made you a middle nation,’ (2:143) the last people of God are informed; and the commentators decided that this was to be geographical, spiritual, and moral. But in what sense could such a self-image be, pre-eminently, a basis for the intellectual life? Can one set too much store by reason (can it be itself if practiced to excess?). Or too little?”

Reason as Balance PDF