Thursday, 18 March 2010

Moderation and Extremism in Islam

”Extremism as norm...”

Moderation and Extremism exist in all religious convictions and beliefs including Islamwith all its sects. The extent of Islamic extremism varies from time to time and from one place to another. Until a few decades ago the Arabs were largely moderate Muslims, but this picture has changed dramatically in the last ten or fifteen years as extremism started to rule. This change is the fruit of the political shift of power that took place in the Middle East in the 1970s which brought Saudi Arabia, with its oil wealth and wahhabicommitment, to the leadership of the Arab world instead of Egypt (1).

The pattern of spread of Islamic extremism has been that it affects mainly the younger generation. However, the older generation has not been spared, and it is striking that even secular Arabs sometimes move towards Islamic extremism, after spending decades of their lives as non-practicing Muslims. It is noteworthy that this shift between moderation and extremism is a one-way traffic; moderates can become extremists but extremists do not become moderates. This observation becomes even more significant when we remember that extremists may occasionally leave Islam altogether, but they never move back to moderation. From these observations we may conclude that moderation in Islam is only a temporary phase towards extremism, which is the ultimate stage of true Islam, as preached, practiced and enforced by Mohammed.

Submitting to Islam is like contracting a virus; some people go through the full blown disease while others, called carriers, harbour the virus without showing any signs of the illness. Some people who submit to Islam become fully practicing Muslims, the west calls them extremists, while others may go for years without practicing any of its rituals although they still believe that Islam is divine. Just like the virus carriers, this group of believers live normal modern lives and look civilized. In the Islamic circles, they are called ‘Muslims by name’ because they are not keen on the Islamic rituals and hardly ever read the Qur’an or other Islamic books. Indeed their knowledge about Islam is very shallow, which explains why they are moderates.We may surmise that a moderate Muslim is really an ignorant Muslim, who knows little about Islam. In this sense, there is little difference between a moderate Muslim and a non-Muslim, which is why the true Muslims, termed ‘extremists’ in the western society, often target these moderate Muslims for annihilation.

Who has hijacked Islam???

Since Islamic terrorism started to come to light, the west has been obsessed with making the distinction between the moderate Muslims and the extremists. This obsession unveiled an unexplainable weakness in the west, which appeared to be more obsessed with appeasing the Muslim countries than putting a fight against terrorism. It also highlighted the lack of both courage and common sense that characterised the west’s strategy in combating the Islamic terrorism. The west appeared unable to face the reality that it is being targeted by Islam and thatIslam is the enemy. By insisting on this distinction between the extremists and moderates, the west has engaged itself in a process of self-deceit to underestimate the true enemy and has reduced it to a mere handful of extremists who has misunderstood Islam.

Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a handful of extremists” became the official slogan of the western governments and its main stream media, which doesn’t allow any other reference to Islam that may cast some doubts on this allegation. This false assertion has become the foundation on which the western strategy to combat terrorism is based. Nobody in the western governments or media dares to ask: why, after eight years of war against that handful of extremists, there number is increasing instead of dwindling.

In the home front, the mainstream media have carefully shifted the public anger on icons of Islamic extremism, like Anjem Choudrey or Abu Hamza. The westerners frequently see on television how those extremists openly express their hatred towards their host countries. They say all they want to say boldly and fearlessly without any attempt to soften up their opinions.They do not apologize about the atrocities that are proudly carried out by their brothers in Islam. They do not claim that Islam is a religion of peace, but insist it is a religion of jihad. They are not ashamed of their explicit hostilities and make no secret of their intention to undermine the west. The message from the media is clear:“those extremists are very unusual people, you don’t see many of them and you don’t see Muslims who agree with them. We only need to fear this handful of extremists who hijacked Islam because the majority of Muslims are upright peace loving people”.

Those Muslims did not hijack Islam but faithfully follow its teachings, perhaps the only teaching they don’t seem to have mastered is deceit, or taqyya. What these ‘extremists’ say in the west is what other ordinary Muslims say in their own countries, so why call them ‘extremists’ and the others moderates? These outspoken Muslims are hated by their fellow Muslims in the west only because they are too open and say in public what others say only in private. Of course they are evil and wicked, but their wickedness advertises their presence like a roaring wild animal, once you hear it you know what to do. This is why I do not fear them; on the contrary, I believe their openness helps our cause because they prove our point. Their bearded men and veiled women are proper representatives of the true Islam which we try to expose.

The Muslims I fear most

The Muslims that I fear are those soft spoken, nice looking guys who are labelled by the western media as ‘moderates’. I fear them because even with the serious damage they inflict on the west, they are not recognised as enemies at all. On the contrary, they are recognized as allies by the western governments who often turn to them for advice on how to defeat terrorism! People like Tariq Ramadan, Azzam Tamimi, Abdul Bari Atwan and their likes are clear favourites to the western media because they say what the west likes to hear. They are regular guests in the western media who introduce them to us as ‘experts in Islamic affairs’ and turns to them to learn about Islamic issues. The western media provides thesedisguised extremists with free platforms to spread their lies virtually unchallenged.

Such groups of Muslims exist in both Islamic and non Islamic countries, always disguised as ‘moderate Muslims’. They usually appear as good doers who are active in the community and Islamic charity works, which enhances their image even further. They may look modern and sophisticated but their aim is to radicalise the Muslim societies and mislead the westerners. They do not openly call for the destruction of the west but they actively support all actions to achieve that goal. They do not openly support terrorism but indirectly justify it. Their message is to persuade the westerners that the terrorists are angry victims and the west is the true aggressor.

Moderation in Islam

Muslims who appear to be moderates can be classified into two groups. The first group are those Muslims who are extremists by nature but wear a mask of moderation that is acceptable to their future victims. In effect they practice the Islamic principle of deceit, calledtaqyya, as a means to achieve their goals. They are the extremists in disguise, described above, who are politically active and influential in their communities as they run the various Islamic councils in the west.

The second group are Muslims who believe in Islam but find it hard to keep up with its commands. They enjoy the pleasures of modern life and constantly seek ‘easy fatwas’ to justify their poor piousness. They rationalize their attitude in every possible way and try hard to convince their minds that there is nothing in Islam that is against modernity. They live in a state of denial, which may not last for long. Those Muslims are vulnerable to fall into the grip of extremism once their sins reach an alarming level that wakes up their ‘Islamic conscience’.

This group of Moderate Muslims have submitted to Islam and carry its virus. They may be aware of the existence of a rough side of Islam but they do not to think too much about. They create a fantasy world of harmony between Islam and morality and defend Islam’s cruelties under the banner: blame the Muslims, don’t blame Islam! However, deep in their minds there is a concealed feeling of guilt because they are not doing enough for the afterlife. They suppress their awareness of their accumulating sins with the hope they will make up for them in their later years, or that Allah will forgive them. As they indulge more in the earthy pleasures, these moderate Muslims accumulate more sins until they cannot handle it any longer. Once they get to that stage, they know that time is not on their side, and that is the stage when they fall victims to extremism, which may lead to their ‘martyrdom’.

Just as not all virus carriers develop the disease, also not all ‘Islam carriers’ become extremists. Some are lucky not to get to that stage at all. Moderation is the outside layer of Islam that is being practiced by the amateur Muslims, while extremism is for the professionals who are more aware of their duty to fulfil their pledge to Allah.

Islam- A pledge to Allah
Submitting to Islam actually involves making a contract with Allah (2). According to the contract, Muslims are required to put their total faith in Allah and follow His messenger’s teachings. In other words, Muslims are required to give up their own power of reasoning and judgment. Their own, principles and moralities become irrelevant and get replaced by a new set of Islamic ethos. In return, Allah promises paradise. The Qur’an refers to this deal, or ‘ahd’, (Arabic for agreement, word of honour or contract) in many verses, like these:

fulfil your contract with Me as I fulfil My contract with you, and fear none but Me.

Fulfil the contract of Allah when ye have entered into it.

Q.13:20 Those who fulfil the contract (pledge, covenant)? of Allah and fail not in their plighted word;
Q.33:23 Among the Believers are men who have been true to their contract with Allah: of them some have completed their vow, and some (still) wait: but they have never changed (their determination) in the least:

anyone who fulfils what he has covenanted with Allah, Allah will soon grant him a great Reward.

The contract with Allah becomes binding once Muslims say the ‘shahada’ statement:?I witness there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger. Moderates, by being Muslims, have signed that agreement with Allah and are aware of their commitments. As humans, they are tempted to live in moderation, which they know would be a breach of their pledge to Allah. They would try not to let their awareness of their accumulating sins to spoil their peace, but their guilt feeling will always be lurking in the background. Unless those Muslims see the light of freedom, one day they may return to the true Islam and learn that Allah created their brains to guide them to His path, not to question His wisdom. Their minds and power of reasoning will finally shut down and their human conscience will be numbed to any grievances about any of the Islamic practices. The following verse will answer it all:

Q.33: 36:
It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path”.





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