IAIS Malaysia

Past Events

Book Launch: Wasatiyyah Dalam Al-Quran dan Sunnah

09 SEPTEMBER 2014 - 05:00pm

Venue: Conference Hall, IAIS Malaysia.

book launch sep2014

[click to view event pictures]

A work by the Institute’s Founding CEO, Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Moderation and Balance in Islam: The Qur’anic Principle of Wasatiyyah (Kuala Lumpur: IAIS Malaysia, 2010) was recently translated into Malay by Tan Sri Dr Syed Hamid Albar, a Malaysian politician and former cabinet minister, as Wasatiyyah dalam al-Qur’an dan Sunnah (Kuala Lumpur: MPH, 2014). The book launch ceremony, held at IAIS Malaysia on 9 September 2014, was officiated by a special guest, the Minister of Communication and Multimedia, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. The ceremony also included speeches by Kamali, Syed Hamid and Shabery, and ended with a book signing ceremony and press conference.

Kamali said in his speech that beneath every translation lurks a narrative, at times the translator himself functioning almost like a co-author, whose choice of language and vocabulary mediates the diverse understandings between different language communities. The book concerns both the conceptual dimension of wasatiyyah as well as its application. As a virtue the scope of wasatiyyah is wide but it has especially close affinities with justice (‘adl) (which it can regulate) and wisdom (hikmah). Its application is always contextualized and gradual, paying respect to local custom (‘urf) and conditions. What is ‘moderate’ is synonymous with what is the ‘best’, as understood by reading together the Qur’anic verse concerning ummatan wasatan (the middle nation) (2:143) with that on khayr ummatin (the best of nations) (3:110). In essence though, wasatiyyah aims at avoiding extremism.

Sharing his experience in translation, Syed Hamid emphasizes translation as a creative interpretive act, and thus the importance of appreciating the inter-twining of concepts and ideas as well as the subtleties of expression, particularly when what is conveyed in one language may not carry the same nuances in the other language. Specific vocabularies which have acquired special significance must thus be translated with the same worth in the other language.

In his speech, Shabery Cheek highlights the importance of the subject of wasatiyyah to confront stigmas of Islam as extremist and fundamentalist which gained currency in the aftermath of the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979 and Muslim resistance to Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But the idea of “fundamentalism” was appropriated from Christian discourse as to who has the “purer” version of Christianity and more faithful to the original teachings of Christ. Yet “fundamentalism” should be a good term as it simply means sticking to the “fundamentals” of religion. In Ghazalian parlance, that means nurturing mahmudah (praiseworthy) traits and eschewing those which are madhmumah (blameworthy). [Tengku Ahmad Hazri]


International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.
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Email: email@iais.org.my

Quotable Quotes

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. - Words of Wisdom from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Humour Without Malice

An old woman came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said: "O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah that I will enter Paradise." He said jokingly, "O Mother of So-and-so, no old women will enter Paradise." The old woman went away crying, so the Prophet (pbuh) said, "Tell her that she will not enter Paradise as an old woman, for old women will enter Paradise in their prime youth." - Reported by al-Tirmidhi.


One who acknowledges the virtue of an old man and honours him for his age, God will save him from the fright of the Day of Resurrection. Honouring a Muslim with white hair partakes in Glorifying the Majesty of God. (hadith)

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