How Extremism Overshadows Islam: The Result Of Intellectual Shallowness And Lack Of Religious Insight
04 July 2016
By Tariq A. Al-Maeena
The recent bomb blasts and suicide bomber attacks in the Kingdom have brought
to surface once again the terror that lurks beneath. The perpetrators, who in
carrying out their evil deeds, have ensured themselves a one-way ticket to
hell. There are no other rewards in the hereafter for such crimes.
This brings to mind a question I was asked by an American who wanted to
understand more about the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East on whether Islam
was indeed a radical religion and by virtue did it foster extremism. It was a
question that is probably on many minds that are concerned or alarmed on the
perceived rising acts of terrorism that the media quickly attributes to
Although my knowledge is limited, I told him all I know from my own personal
education and experiences. No, Islam is not radical. In fact, the word Islam
means submission and that in itself is not an act of aggression. Unfortunately
in recent times it had been hijacked by very narrow-minded people who have
manipulated the religion to read what they want to hear.
Sheikh Qardawi, a religious scholar, warned that ''Intellectual shallowness
and lack of religious insight result in an intense interest in marginal issues
like giving excessive importance to the growing of beard, the wearing of
cloths below the ankle, so on and so forth. What is more dangerous is
attempting to impose these on others. Sometimes what is obligatory is
supplanted by what is recommended, and this is against the spirit of Islam.''
Such extreme views often are adopted by those who choose to believe nothing
Extremists also place a lot of emphasis on metamorphic text while ignoring the
Qur'anic verses which are straightforward and clear and giving more stress on
the allegorical ones is another cause of extremism. They also tend to lack
respect for qualified authority on religious subjects. One of the factors of
extremism is a reluctance to listen to people who hold different views.
Extremists have little interest in discussion or dialogue, as they never
imagine that their views could be tested in the light of others, and be either
contradicted or refuted. They are often recipients of half knowledge and
naturally assume they know it all. These young people ignore the fact that if
they want to study Shariah, they must seek help of reliable Muslim scholars.
But they simply refuse to do so. They eagerly flock to the calling of those
religious scholars who adopt a harsh, non-accepting view of anything
Such people are also not familiar of true historical events. They probably
were not aware that after the message came to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), he
spent 13 years in Makkah, performed prayers and the tawaf on the premises of
Kaaba, even though it was surrounded by more than 360 idols at that time.
Gradually and over time he built a following that grows daily.
According to Sheikh Qardawi, ''Allah created the universe in stages. In the
initial call to Islam, initially, Prophet (pbuh) gradually introduced the
basic teachings of Islam. To achieve targeted goals, giving the allowance of
due time is important. Extremists seem to ignore these two important ways.''
They want change right away and in the manner they feel is right, brutal as it
may be, and according to the interpretation they choose to adopt.
The US Ambassador to the Kingdom, Joseph W. Westphal, perhaps said it best for
all of us: ''As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close, Muslims from the
United States to Saudi Arabia and beyond should now be celebrating the advent
of Eid Al-Fitr. Instead many of us will be grieving, in particular, the
families of the Saudi security forces personnel and others who were hurt or
killed in the senseless attacks in Jeddah, Qatif and Madinah today.
I condemn, and all decent people condemn, these attacks. All of
us deserve the right to worship in peace, and those who would transform this
holy time into an occasion for hatred and bloodshed deserve our strongest
It is time for all good Muslims to recognize that extremism does exist within
our midst and that we have to collectively take an aggressive stand toward
diffusing or stamping it out as it does no service to promote this peaceful
religion. Only then will others understand what Islam stands for.
— The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena