A subject that becomes the talk of the town in the month of September is the peril of extremism and terrorism in the world. Sometimes, this debate goes one step further and people start talking about extremism and radicalisation in Islam. Is there any extremism in Islam?
There is no room for extremism in Islam whatsoever. Islam categorically and unreservedly and in the strongest terms condemns extremism of any form, of any kind and for any purpose. The Holy Prophet Muhammad advised Muslims to be moderate and said: “In every matter, moderation is best. A person should take the path of moderation in his activities.”
It is true that Islam has had to face some extremist elements in one form or another throughout its history. But extremism itself has no place whatsoever in the religion of Islam. If Islam is so strict against extremism then why is it associated with terrorism?
The fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Community says: “Islam is as closely related to terrorism as light is to darkness or life is to death or peace is to war. They do come into contact with each other, of course, but from directions diametrically opposed. They are found grappling with each other but never walking hand in hand happily together.
“However, one cannot deny that on many occasions some Muslims are found involved in terrorist activities either on behalf of a group or on behalf of a country with a predominately Muslim population.”
One should bear in mind that the involvement of some Muslim individuals or groups in extremist activities does not justify labelling Islam as promoting terrorism and extremism. Terrorists and extremists can have any religious background.
What we should focus on is whether a religion itself has to do anything with extremism or sponsors militancy. Does Islam condone terrorism for any reason?
The Holy Quran promotes the establishment of peace, champions the sanctity of human life and condemns disorder in the land. It states: “Whosoever killed a person – it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and who so gave life to one, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind” (5:33).
“Whenever they kindle a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. And they strive to create disorder in the earth and Allah loves not those who create disorder” (5:65).
“There should be no compulsion in religion” (2:257).
“And Allah calls to the abode of peace.”
These few references will prove that Islam as a religion does not tolerate violence and aggression. The involvement of some Muslims, individuals or groups in terrorist attacks has nothing to do with Islam because that is their personal agenda.
In its report about its 10 priorities for 2009-2014, the EPP Group has also made a clear distinction between Islam and radicalisation. The report says: “We have to combat terrorism, not a religious movement. A clear distinction must be made between Islam and Jihadist terrorism. Though carried out in the name of religion, attacks on human life are acts of hatred motivated by a totalitarian political vision that shows contempt for religion.”
It is a fact that there are Muslims’ groups and countries that sponsor and support militant groups or so-called religious and charitable organisations, even those banned by their governments. Such funds often remain unnoticed and are spent with no system of checks and balances in place.
A recent report by the European Parliament revealed that some Wahabi and Salafi groups are involved in the “support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world”. This support is definitely promoting terrorism and extremisms in many parts of the world.
Unfortunately, these hard-line Muslims and their leaders are just like a hunter who moves stealthily towards a deer he is stalking in the forest, shooting at the right moment. They know nothing about compassion for humanity.
Terrorist attacks are so painful that any human being with even just a trace of decency and benevolence will definitely not engage in such barbaric activities. The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community asks: “Is it not shameful that a complete stranger should be unjustly killed while occupied in his daily affairs, thus widowing his wife, making his children orphans and turning his house into a funeral parlour?”
If Islam is so strict against extremism why is it associated with terrorism?
I believe funding of militant groups is doing humanity no good. How nice it would have been if these millions of dollars had been spent to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to cure the sick, to eradicate suffering and poverty from the globe and help the vulnerable and destitute.
Unfortunately, the Muslim world today is riddled with numerous problems and violence is rife. A ferocious and barbarous wave has shattered the entire fabric of society. Charismatic and persuasive leadership is lacking.
The people are frustrated and hopeless. They are dead meat for exploitation by their own corrupt leaders.
Many leaders in Muslim countries seek sanction from Islam for their acts of violence and oppression notwithstanding that bloody revolutions, acts of extremism and terrorist attacks are totally alien to the philosophy of Islam.
I conclude with a quote by fourth Caliph of Ahmadiyya Community: “Terrorism is a global problem and needs to be studied in its larger perspective. Unless we understand the forces behind the violence, we shall not be able to understand why some Muslim groups and states are turning to terrorism to achieve certain objectives.
“I am fully convinced that almost every form of communal violence witnessed in the world today, wherever that is and whatever cloak it wears, is essentially political in nature. Religion is not the exploiter; it is itself exploited by internal or external political interests.”
Laiq Ahmed Atif is president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta.
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