By Sulaiman Badamasi (Mahir)
Now that more than 40 leaders of the world have attended anti terrorists march in Paris, it high time we edify ourselves about the reality that we are not used to knowing. First of all, as a Muslim, I strongly condemned all sorts of terrorist attacks all over the world in their entirety, I find it a good idea to discuss about fundamentalism, extremism and terrorism, they way the three words should have been put and the manner in which they are being used.
This write-up aims to affirming that the words; FUNDAMENTALISM, TERRORISM and EXTRIMISM have been mis-given, misinterpreted by some biased media/individuals while misheard, misunderstood by the audience, due to lamentable acts of some few uninformed/misinformed Muslims, a development which every sensible, concerned Muslim is fretting about – Don’t judge me with the act of another – Thus don’t judge Islam/any religion with the act of few followers!
It seems like the media as a source and the people at the receiving end have taken the ‘three different words as the same, yet they obviously differ grammatically and conceptually.
The following paragraphs explain the grammatical and conceptual meanings of the words accompanied with Islam’s perspective and teachings about each of them. I will try as much as I can to back my points with textual, doctrinal evidences from the sources of the Islamic teachings (Qur’an,Prophetic tradition and scholarly consensus)
The word fundamentalism originates from ‘Fundament’ which is defined, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “An underlying ground, theory or principle”, while ‘Fundamentalism’ means “a movement or an attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principle”
Thus, a person who adheres to basic principles of any discipline (religious, scientific, social or political etc.) is a ‘fundamentalist’.
The first movement whose act was referred to as fundamentalism was founded by a Christian group which “began in the late 19th-century to early 20th-century among British and American Protestants as a reaction to theological liberalism and cultural modernism. The group argued that 19th century modernist theologians had misinterpreted or rejected certain doctrines, especially biblical inerrancy, that they viewed as the fundamentals of Christian faith” (Sandeen 1970).
In order for one to become successful in any discipline he/she has to follow the fundamentals, pillars and basic principles of that discipline.
Before one becomes a successful scientist he/she must adhere to the fundamentals of science. (Dr. Naik). Likewise, before one becomes a true Muslim he/she has to trace the root of the correct Islamic discipline.
Fundamentals of Islam
The first fundamental in Islam is seeking for knowledge. This can be found in the first verses ever which Allah (God) revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) which says:
‘Read in the name of your Lord who created – (1) Created man from a clinging substance. (2) Read, and your Lord is the most Generous – (3) Who taught by the pen – (4) Taught man that which he knew not. (5)’ (Al-alaq, 96,verses: 1-5)
” And they were not commanded except to worship Allah , [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah. And that is the correct religion.” (Albayyinah, 98:5)
The priority that God has given to seeking for knowledge before anything else is to make it an ingredient that will help one to understand the five pillars of Islam and implement them accordingly.
The ‘Five pillars’ of Islam are the foundation of Muslim life:
- Faith or belief in the oneness of God and the finality of prophethood of Muhammad
- Establishment of the daily prayers
- Concern for and alms-giving to the needy
- Self-purification through fasting
- The pilgrim for those who are able
Above are the pillars/fundamentals of Islam by holding onto whom one is a ‘Fundamentalist Muslim’
Therefore, it is an unwelcome injustice for the media/individual to label of person who terrifies, tortures or kills innocent people a fundamentalist. If one looks vividly into the five pillars, Allah does not ask the Muslims to hate, terrify or kill non-Muslims.
The word extremism, in Islam is a meaning of Arabic words ‘Al-guluww’or ‘Al-tatarruf’ which literally means“transgression (to exceed a limit, to over step some limit or boundary)” So “who ever exceeds the limit is an extremist.” Some Muslims scholars have further defined extremism as “exceeding the limit of Islamic discipline by adding something (that has not been ordained) up in terms of intention or actions.” Source: (Prof, Sheikh Abdullahi Alkanhal, in the Arabic version of his lecture; Extremism in Islam: Its meaning, how it is and the danger).
A person who exceeds the limits, over step some limits or boundary is an extremist! Talk-less of one who kills innocent persons without a due cause.
Therefore, extremism is forbidden in Islam due to the following evidences from the Qur’an (God’s word), the hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s tradition) and the opinion upon which the Muslim scholars collectively agreed;
God says in the Qur’an:
“O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth” – (Nisa’ 4:171)
Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.” – (Ma’idah 5:77)
Hadiths (Prophetic tradition):
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said what is in the following meaning;
“Those who go to extremes are doomed.” He said it three times. (Narrated by Muslim: 2670).
In another hadith, the Prophet said;
“Beware of excessiveness in religion. [People] before you have perished as a result of [such] excessiveness. ”
The scholars have many explanations for what is meant by extremism and those who go to extremes, all of which are in harmony with one another and do not contradict one another. All of them may be summed up as meaning one thing; it boils down to overburdening oneself and being too strict in matters where strictness is inappropriate. (islamqa.info 2014)
Indeed, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) always condemned any tendency toward religious excessiveness. He cautioned those of his companions who were excessive in acts of worship, or who were too ascetic, especially when this went beyond the moderate Islamic position. Islam seeks to create a balance between the needs of the body and those of the soul, between the right of man to live life to its full, and the right of the Creator to be worshipped by man; which is also man’s raison d’etre.(Yusuf El-Qardawi)
Therefore, ‘Extremism’ in Islam is forbidden, thus holding onto the basic principles of Islam does not make one to become an extremist rather, violating the set rules and throwing of the true doctrinal teachings away.
To elaborate what has been written above, even though it’s a mandate on every Muslim to hold onto the basic fundamentals of the Islamic religion, there are three ways in which our action towards that can be described; laxity, moderation and extremism.
Laxity implies to adherence to God’s commandments based on I-don’t-care-attitude. In other words; not being careful enough to adhere to the teachings, rules, standard set by the religion.
Extremism is what has been described above.
Moderation is the act of not going to the extreme or level of excessiveness, and not neglecting the set rules. By doing this, one becomes moderate.
This is the state that Allah and His beloved Messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) prescribed for those who want to please them with their acts of worship.
Therefore, a Muslim is required to be moderate, not laxit nor extremist. In other words he/she should fulfill all servant-to-God responsibilities in line with the right teachings of the religion without committing any act of terrorism or falling in to extremism.
In this part, I decided to preserve my words and allow the reader to drink directly from the three different valid sources of Islamic discipline mentioned above (Qur’an, Prophetic tradition and scholarly consensus):
God says in the Qur’an:
“…But do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors”. (Al-Baqara, 2:190),
“You are not a taskmaster over them” (Al-Ghashiyah, 88: 22),
“There is no compulsion in religion. Rectitude has become clear from error …” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 256),
‘And if your Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Would you then compel people until they are believers?’ (Yunus, 10: 99),
‘And say, “The truth [that comes] from your Lord; so whoever will, let him believe, and whoever will, let him disbelieve”.’ (Al-Kahf, 18: 29),
‘You have your religion and I have my religion’ (Al-Kafirun, 109: 6).
Prophetic tradition (Hadith):
In 628 C.E. Prophet Muhammad(s) is narrated to have granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. It consisted of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.
An English translation of that document is presented below:
“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”
A copy of this letter is available in many libraries and encyclopedias, but this copy has been copied directly from ‘News Rescue’s official facebook page’on 22nd Oct, 2014.
Scholarly consensus (Ijma’):
In an open letter to ISIS’s leader, Dr. Ibrahim Awwad Al-Badri, alias ‘Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’,which is reviewed and signed by over 120 Muslim scholars worldwide, disapproving the group’s deadly, ungodly act and cautioning him as well, the group which represents the worlds Muslim community and speaks on its behalf had the following to say in the executive summary of the 23-pages letter:
- It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings.
- It is forbidden in Islam to kill the innocent.
- It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers.
- Jihad in Islam is defensive war. It is not permissible without the right cause, the right purpose and without the right rules of conduct.
- It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat—in any way—Christians or any ‘People of the Scripture’.
- It is forbidden in Islam to force people to convert.
- It is forbidden in Islam to deny women their rights.
- It is forbidden in Islam to deny children their rights.
- It is forbidden in Islam to torture people.
- It is forbidden in Islam to disfigure the dead.
- It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God
Note:I just cherry-picked the points above amongst many other ones that were made available in the letter, which we, the Muslims, strongly conquer with and adhere to.
It is forbidden in Islam to commit suicide (killing one’s self), for in it there is self-oppression. An act that we the Muslims are not allowed doing- Thus suicide killing is considered as a major sin, by committing which one will not attain eternal mercy.
Allah says in the Quran:
“Nor kill nor destroy yourselves, for surely God has been to you Most Merciful”(An-Nisaa’ 4:29)
“And do not throw yourselves in destruction” (Baqarah 2:195)
It was narrated that The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Among those who came before you there was a man who was wounded and he panicked, so he took a knife and cut his hand with it, and the blood did not stop flowing until he died. Allah said ‘My slave hastened to bring about his demise; I have forbidden Paradise to him’” [Bukari; 3276, Muslim; 113]
The Prophet said:
“Whoever throws himself down from a mountain and kills himself will be in fire of hell, throwing himself down therein forever and ever. Whoever takes poison and kills himself, his poison will be in his hand and he will be sipping it in the Fire of Hell forever and ever. Whoever kills himself with an iron, that piece of iron will be in his hand and he will be stabbing himself in the stomach with it in the Fire of Hell, forever and ever.” [Bukhari; 5442, Muslim 109]
Therefore, it is a baseless whopper to commit/see an act of terrorism or any affair that is related to extremism and relate it with Islam.
Sulaiman Badamasi (Mahir)
Yobe state – Nigeria