Friday, June 5, 2009

Understanding "What is not extremism?"

The degree of a person's piety as well as that of the society in which he lives affect his judgment of others as far as extremism, moderation, and laxity are concerned. A religious society usually produces a person sensitively aversive to any deviation or negligence, however slight it may be. Judging by the criteria of his own practice and background, such a person would be surprised to find that there are Muslims who do not offer Ibadah during the night or practice siyam. This is historically obvious. When examining the deeds and practices of people, the nearer one gets to the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), his companions and the Tabiun the less worthy seem the deeds and practices of the pious among the later generations. Hence the gist of the saying: "The merits of those nearest to Allah are but the demerits of the righteous."

This reminds one of what Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) used to tell the Tabiun of his contemporaries, "You do things you consider trifling. But during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) these same actions were seen as mortal sins."

On the other hand, a person whose knowledge of and commitment to Islam is little, or who has been brought up in an environment which practices what Allah has forbidden and neglects Shariah, will certainly consider even minimal adherence to Islam a kind of extremism. Such a person-who quite often feigns godliness would not only question and criticize, but would even deny the validity of a certain practice. He would also accuse those who are committed to Islam, and initiate arguments on what is haram and what is halal. His attitude would, of course, depend on his distance from the fundamentals of Islam.

Some Muslims-those who are influenced by alien ideologies and practices consider adherence to clear-cut Islamic teachings concerning eating, drinking, beautification, or the call for the application of Shariah and the establishment of an Islamic state as manifestations of "religious extremism." For such a person, a young Muslim with a beard or a young girl wearing hijab are both extremists! Even the commanding of the common good and the prohibition of evil are regarded as forms of extremism and interference with personal freedom.

Although a basis of faith in Islam is to believe that our religion is right and that those who do not believe in it are wrong, there are Muslims who object to considering those who take a religion other than Islam as kuffar (non-believers), considering this as extremism and bigotry. This is an issue upon which we must never compromise.

Compiled From:
"Islamic Awakening between Rejection and Extremism" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

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