Islam is a ‘deen’/ system of moderation. Islam emphasizes moderation to such an extent that excess is not permitted even in the way of good deeds. In Quranic terminology, word ‘zanb’ (pl. ‘zanoob’) includes two kinds of actions; the first are those excesses which are done in the way of bad deeds; second are those excesses which are done in the way of good deeds (e.g. to bequeath away all property, or to offer prayers whole night without sleeping etc.) The first kind of actions are termed as sins; whereas the second kind of actions are also not permitted in Islamic system.
“Say: O my servants! who have acted excessively (asrafu) against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the ‘zunoob’ altogether; surely He is the Forgiving the Merciful” (al-zumar-53).
Sins are essentially excesses in the way of bad deeds. But in this verse, the excesses mentioned are not necessarily excesses in the way of bad deeds; these may be also excesses in the way of good deeds. The examples of excesses in the way of good deeds are numerous e.g. to humiliate himself in the way of Allah; not to get married to commit himself fully to good deeds; to borrow money excessively to spend in the way of Allah; to bequeath his property leaving nothing or less to his heirs; to be fasting daily without intervals (other than in Ramadhan); to spend whole nights for prayers without sleeping etc. all such excesses are not permitted in Islam.
The criteria to judge whether or not an act is excessive is our Nabi’s (saw) Sunnah; what is permissible in sunnah is not excessive; all the rest is excessive- good or bad excessive.
Allah has already forgiven our Nabi’s (saw) ‘zunoob’ ( excesses in the way of good deeds) (al-fath-2). That is why, according to one Hadith, on the Day of Judgment, Hazrat Jesus (as) would ask the people to approach our Nabi (saw) to request to Allah for early ‘hisaab’, because our Nabi’s (saw) ‘zunoob’ (excesses in the way of good deeds) have already been forgiven. To request to Allah for early ‘hisaab’ of people on Judgment Day could be excess in the way of good deed; that is why people would approach our Nabi (saw) for making that request to Allah.
The word ‘zanb’/pl. ‘zunoob’ has also been used in Quran at many places to express excesses in the way of bad deeds (sins). Sometimes both meanings (i.e. excess for the good and excess for the bad) may be inferred.
The Muslims have been called as moderate Ummah. “Thus, We made of you a balanced/moderate ummah, that you will be witnesses over the nations…” (al-baqra-143).
Because Muslims are moderate ummah in their faith and actions to be done, that is why they will be witnesses over disbelieving people who are not moderate in their faith and actions to be done. It means there is no room in Islam for anything which is not moderate one. This fact must not be picked up to malign Jihad/qattal. Jihad/qattal are essential part of Muslims’ moderate outlook to life and outlook to world. In Islam Jihad/qattal are undertaken to rectify the imbalances created or likely to be created in individual’s life and world at large.