By Imam Vernon M. Fareed We are living in a time of extremes and many members of society have taken a position at one extreme or the other. Oftentimes when we think about extremism we tend to equate it with wrong thinking and bad behavior, but to the contrary there are extremes in doing good as well as bad. The misconception of extremism causes us to overlook the extremes of good and consequently it goes on much longer prior to being detected. Following is an example of extremism while involving oneself in a good deed. There is a report that some people went to Muhammad the Prophet (ppbuh) to inform him about a holy man that had been in the Mosque praying all day. With regards to the man the Prophet asked the people, “who is feeding him?” Now the logic of this inquiry could be extended to ask further, who’s clothing him; who’s taking care of him, etc.?” The people responded to the Prophet saying, “we are dear Prophet.” This prompted the Prophet to say to the people, “you are better than him!” The people who were taking care of the man who was praying all day were said to be better! You might say, “how is it possible for prayer to be a bad thing?” Prayer within itself is not a bad thing, but when it is taken to extremes it becomes something detrimental to human progress. If you can imagine someone living in your home and didn’t work – they just sit around the house all day and pray! Someone has to provide the space for that individual to continue praying every day. Someone has to pay the rent, utility bills and buy food to eat. So the people that provide the accommodations are better than the one who is being accommodated. Too much good medicine can become poison and might result in death. Extremism is a tool of the devil (the arch enemy of human beings). The key to a productive and healthy life is balance! Political parties sometimes encourage people to go to extremes; the Democratic Party moves you to the left and the Republican Party moves you to the right. Diets intended to improve your health will sometimes carry you to the extreme, and instead of improving your health it is made worse. Extreme behavior and lifestyles have become so prevalent and acceptable in society until the balanced person is almost rendered an outcast. To quote the late Pope John Paul II, the culture of today’s society is a “culture of death.” The fact that society has embraced extremism does not mean that everyone has to be accepting of it! People who are in the middle (balanced) are constantly being pressured to adopt extreme positions, and this has to be rejected. We should learn the lessons from our own bodies and from the environment. Our bodies seek homeostasis and nature constantly works to achieve balance. We should emulate this in our behavior and avoid extremism because it is destructive and unhealthy.