The Harmful Effects of Extremism

Abdikadir Ibrahim

In today’s world, the role and responsibilities of an individual, family, community, and nation are mixed up. Also, right and wrong are blended and it is difficult to differentiate them. The religion and purpose of life are misunderstood. Every corner of the world is burning with the flames of injustice, economic inequality, and racial disparities, persecution of religion, and ethnicity to name some of the issues afflicting the Muslim world.  No one is taking care of the problems Muslims are facing. Everyone is trying to write the prescription. This is like someone prescribing medicine that he or she never learned or heard of. In other words, everyone is giving fatwa (religious edict) without enough knowledge. In a country like the U.S., one cannot open a clinic or give prescription unless he or she is certified from an accredited institution. Unfortunately, Muslims do not have an oversight agency due to lack of central authority. Extremists have benefited from the chaotic state of affairs in the Muslim world. Extremists who are committing violent acts in the name of our religion abuse Islam. Articles and videos from Islamic Workplace show that terrorists kill more Muslims than non-Muslims. 85% of people killed by Al-Qaida between 2004 and 2008 have been Muslims.

People with hardliner views are everywhere. Last week, when some Muslim leaders attended an interfaith program with Minnesotans of other faiths to support Muslims in the U.S. about the increasing Islamophobia. People with extreme accused the scholars and Muslims in the Twin Cities of apostasy (or losing their faith). This begs the question; can Muslims and people of other faiths live together peacefully?

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) motivated by the general welfare of citizens of Medina, commenced to establish regular and clearly defined relations between Muslims and non-Muslim communities in Medina.

The arrangements that the Prophet (pbuh) made regarding the rights of protection, security, peace, justice, duties of all citizens of Medina and the relationship between the Muslims and non Muslim communities are embodied in a document which has come to be known as The Constitution of Medina. The following points are from a long document of Medina constitution that the Prophet (pbuh) authorized:

  1. The Jews are one community with the believers (the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs), their freedmen and their persons except those who behave unjustly and sinfully, for they hurt but themselves and their families.
  2. The Jews must bear their expenses and the Muslims their expenses. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. They must seek mutual advice and consultation, and loyalty is a protection against treachery. A man is not liable for his ally’s misdeeds. The wronged must be helped.
  3. Yathrib [Medina] shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document.
  4. A stranger under protection shall be as his host doing no harm and committing no crime.
  5. The contracting parties are bound to help one another against any attack on Yathrib (Medina).
  6. This deed [document] will not protect the unjust and the sinner. The man who goes forth to fight and the man who stays at home in the city are safe unless he has been unjust and sinned. God is the protector of the good and God-fearing man and Muhammad is the apostle of God.

Omar bin Al-Khatab was the second Caliph of the Muslims after the Prophet, peace be upon him died. During Omar’s leadership, Islam spread to many parts of the world mostly not by violence, but by the character of Muslims. After its conquest, Omar visited Jerusalem at the request of its inhabitants, mostly Christians. Caliph Omar was invited to a Christian church, and he stayed in the church until the afternoon prayer. The priest of the church told Omar to pray in the church. However, Omar told the priest “I do not want to pray in here because if I pray in the church, I am afraid that some Muslims, after me, will use my prayer as an excuse to take the church from you.” The Caliph then signed the following treaty.

  1. From the servant of Allah and the Commander of the Faithful, Omar: The inhabitants of Jerusalem are granted security of life and property. Their churches and crosses shall be secure. This treaty applies to all people of the city. Their places of worship shall remain intact. These shall neither be taken over nor pulled down. People shall be free to follow their religion. They shall not be put to any trouble.

Islam is not the idea of a person and these preceding examples are enough for us. Whoever does not agree or follow the Prophet (pbuh) and rightly guided caliphate is basically misrepresenting Islam. The Prophet never sent troops unless he admonished them to not kill priests, women, children, and farmers or destroy places of warship, general public places such as hospitals, schools, etc. Islam is very clear and we all know the examples and behaviors of the Prophet (pbuh) towards people of other faiths.

The outlaw group who called Muslims of Minnesota and their scholars murtads (apostates) surely have other agendas. This is because Minnesota Muslims clearly stood against extremism and terrorism of Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab views.  This outlaw group is simply not happy about the unity of Muslims and their actions to stop anti-Islam, anti-Muslim and anti-humanity threats. If going to church to talk and interact with non-Muslims makes someone non- Muslim is unheard. Churches and non-Muslim religious organizations brought many Somalis to the U.S. Not only did they bring refugees but still provide social services to Muslim immigrants. The Counties help the new comers with housing, healthcare, education, food stamps, and cash. If presenting Islam to non-Muslims makes people to become non-Muslims, do they not know that they went to a church just to come to U.S or their memory is all of sudden lost?

The same individuals who called Muslims in Minnesota murtadeen (apostates) were using the pulpit of the Mosque to attack fellow Muslims, causing immense defamation and character assassination to respected leaders. The same individual was the one who called police to scholars and Muslims in weekend school some years back.  The issue here is not about religion. It is about the same problem that is going on in Somalia. The same people, who destroyed Somalia, called everyone non-Muslims, participated in all the civil wars are trying to damage the image of Muslims in Minnesota. If the community is not careful, they may cause our Islamic centers, mosques, and institutions to be closed. These are the same ideas and actions of Al-Shabab leaders like Ahmed Godane and Mukhtar Robow. First, they call people non-Muslim, and then killed them, bomb the mosques, schools, and displace the whole population. If this same person who is calling people to be non-Muslim had the means, he would have physically hurt his opponents. If he were not scared of the U.S. laws, he would have called upon all these people whom he is calling non-Muslim to be eliminated.

Extremism is described as actions or ideologies of individuals or groups outside the perceived political center of a society; or otherwise claimed to violate common moral standards. In other words, it is excessive actions or opinions of fanatical method of behavior.

This dangerous idea is not new to Muslims – it existed since the Prophet’s time.  They accused the Prophet of not acting justly. When Omar bin Al-Khattab asked the Prophet a permission to take action after they accused the Prophet for not acting justly, the Prophet said just leave them, “He has friends whose worshipping exceeds yours, and whose fasting is better than yours and they recite the Qur’an but it does not go beyond their collar bones.” Deviations are as a result of weak, twisted, and impotent understanding.

The Prophet (pbuh) judged some people to be misguided and that they were the worst of creatures even though they did many acts of worship such as prayers, fasting, and reciting the Qur’an.

Some of their characteristics include: declaring people to be unbelievers including Muslim authorities/leaders, fighting against Muslims or anyone that has different views from theirs.  The ideology that promotes hate and violence is not part of Islam, no more than excessive and deviation from the path of majority of Muslims. Unfortunately, these days many people are using the name of the religion to fulfill their political agenda and to promote their hate message to the community. And if the Muslims do not stand shoulder to shoulder to stop this virus idea, it will create more problems. This corrupted ideology is connected to the (khawarij sect) in early days of Islam. They killed the Islamic leader, Ali bin Abi Talib (r’a). This type of extremism puts much emphasis on minor issues based on their narrow understanding.  They make anyone who does not fit their profile out of the religion. That attitude is unwise in an interdependent world.

Proper understanding leads to correct action, proper application and avoiding pitfalls. ‘Omar Ibn Abdul-Aziz said, “If a person does something without understanding, he causes more harm than good.”

They are missing the whole value and principles of Islam, which are moderation, tolerance, cooperation, justice, equality, and peace. The main objectives of Islam are protection of religion, life, property, intellect and dignity. They are missing authority and order of Islam such as who is gives fatwa (religious rulings) within Islamic guidelines. Giving fatwa is not an easy task. One has to take into consideration the place, the time, the people and the situation; therefore, only a trained mufti can give fatwa.

The renowned scholar, Dr. Yusuf Al-Qardawi said, The method that I’ve employed over the course of my entire life is: That I seek to build and I don’t destroy, I unify and I don’t divide; I leave [other scholars] to make their own choices, and I will not force my opinions and legal conclusions on them, nor will I let them force me to follow their opinions… and legal verdicts.”

Therefore, the rush to judgment and labeling innocent people unbeliever is a very serious crime in Islam. Those who act this way continue to cause irreparable harm to Islam and Muslims and they must stopped before they cause more harm.

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