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Book Information
Name: Religious Extremism in the Lives of Contemporary Muslims
Author: Dr. Abdul Rahman ibn Mualaa al-Luwaihiq al-Muitairi
Translator: Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo
Publisher: Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations
ISBN: 1-891540-11-4
Year of Publication: 2001

Religious Extremism in the Lives of the Contemporary Muslims

In this work, the author has concentrated on many of the manifestations of extremism found in the Arab world.
However, upon close inspection, one will readily note that many of the ideas addressed by the author critiques can be found in many Muslim communities. Indeed, the author touches upon many topics of direct concern to Muslims living in the West.

Outline of the Book

1- A preparatory chapter covering five topics:
2-The roots of extremism and its nature in the lives of contemporary Muslims
3-Credal and Shari`ah-related manifestations of extremism
4- Practical and real manifestations of extremism or the practical and behavioral manners in which extremism is manifested
Conclusions and Recommendations
The author concluded that Islam is a religion of justice, moderation, facility and easiness.
Forbearance is one of its clearest features and one of its distinguishing signs. Extremism has historical roots to it.
The contemporary extremists benefited from the extremists of the past by using the same arguments and proofs for their own views.
It also has intellectual roots that are exemplified in two facets:
(a) The complexity of the views and opinions
(b) The methodology that the extremists used to come to their conclusions [is another ideological root of extremism].
It was shown that their approach was confused and distorted, hence leading to distorted conclusions.
There are also psychological roots for extremism of two aspects.
(a) A reaction occurred to laws, systems and interactions that were the antithesis of the religion and contradicted the values of society.
(b) Some also had a psychological make-up that made them conducive to extremism.

Extremism is multi-dimensional problem.
Islam is a comprehensive religion.
Therefore, to understand this problem as being one related to security alone will lead to a serious gap in one’s understanding.
It is a universal problem. Every Muslim country complains of it, leaving aside the question of how sincere or truthful is the complaint.
It is a homegrown product in every country and it is not something imported.
Indeed, it springs from within the [contemporary] Muslim society itself.

In comparison with the amount of terrorism in the world and the amount of extremism among the religions and other movements in various countries, it is clear that the amount of extremism among Muslims has been greatly exaggerated and—due to the goals of the Western media has been given more than its appropriate share of attention and coverage.

A review of the statements of contemporary scholars concerning extremism finds that their views are based on Shareeah texts.
However, they make some mistakes when it comes to the practical application of those texts.
Studying and analyzing the research done by secularists on extremism shows that their conception springs from their secularist beliefs.
They view every request to apply the law of Allah, every call to the comprehensiveness of Islam and its application to every aspect of life as a type of extremism and radicalism.

In their study of the problem of extremism among Muslims, the Westerners proceed from the concept of extremism among the Christians.
Their conception leads them to the statement that the literal belief in the Quran and the belief that it is the word and commands of Allah that must be applied is a form of extremism or fundamentalism, in the same way that the literal belief in the Gospel and the belief that the Gospels are the word of God is extremism or fundamentalism.

The Author recommended the following:

Solving the extremism problem is a commonly felt concern for all strata of society, starting from the rulers and ending with the extremists or those accused of extremism.
In the following, The Author mentions a number of recommendations need to be followed to solve the extremism problem.

First: The Spreading of the Beliefs of the Early Generations [Salaf]

The spreading and dissemination of the correct beliefs—the correct beliefs being taught in the schools, universities and mosques, being studied carefully by the callers to Islam and made as part of their program should provide a protection for society from extremism.
Second: The Dissemination of the Knowledge of the Shareeah

The Author recommends the disseminating of Shareeah knowledge and the establishment of appropriate institutes, such as what are called open universities as well as centers serving the society at the Islamic universities.
These would be meant for the purpose of teaching the youth the Islamic sciences.
Furthermore, Shareeah study programs should be set up—run by those who are qualified and trusted by the people, that is, the people of knowledge and sincerity.

Third: Reviving the Role of the Scholars

The Author recommends that attention should be paid to reestablishing the scholars` role.
Members of society as a whole, the youth in particular, must listen to the scholars and implement their commands and Shareeah verdicts.
If the role of the scholars is fulfilled in society, it will act as a shield from the phenomena of deviations and a protection from the problem of extremism, as well as from other problems.

Fourth: Dialogue and Debates with the Extremists

The method of debating or dialogue is very successful as a remedy for extremism.
This is because the light of truth shines and its proofs are definitive.
It will always be dominant and can never be dominated.
However, the author points out a number of important points for such debates:

(1) The debate must be based upon trust..

(2) Those accused of extremism must be dealt with as people who have been accused of something and not like convicted criminals who are in front of a judge awaiting sentencing.

(3) Both sides must have complete freedom in the discussion.

(4) The goal of the debate must be the seeking of the truth, not simply a compiling of evidence against those accused of extremism.

Five: Bridging the Gap between the Scholars, Rulers and Youth

Bridging this gap is a must in order for there to be mutual trust and in order to build up the needed love under whose shade all of the problems can be solved.
When a youth trusts those in authority and power, be it a ruler or scholar, he will then listen to him and obey him.
And when the one in authority, be it a ruler of scholar, trusts the youth, he will open his heart to him, solve his problems and rectify his complaints.

Six: Ruling in Accord with the Law of Allah

Indeed, most of the manifestations of extremism are related to this problem.
Therefore, it is a must upon the Muslim rulers to rule in accord with what Allah revealed throughout all aspects of life to end up extremism.
Then, they must be followed up by their proper implementation and execution.

Seven: Clarifying the Realities

The author recommends that the one who deals with this problem must first have a true perception of the reality of extremism.
Otherwise, the supposed remedy will lead to the opposite of what is desired .

Eight: Dealing with the Problem from Its Roots

The most important aspect to concentrate, when dealing with the problem of extremism, is on its roots, so that the remedy can be an effective one, cutting off the problem from its source so that its well becomes empty and its tributaries dry.

Nine: Starting from a Sound Ground

Any attempt at solving the problem of extremism must start from a sound ground, and that is the moderate, true religion.
In this way, it will be possible to achieve a mutually acceptable solution that will end in good results.

Ten: Eliminating the [Sources of the] Grievances

The extremists complain and demand that some conditions should be corrected.
However, they expresses those demands in way that is not sanctioned by the Shareeah and differ in the way that they state their grievances and make their demands.
Therefore, the Author sees that the greatest and closest means to put an end to the problem of extremism is by removing the sources of their grievances and striking at its root.

Eleven: The Rebuilding of Society

The non-Islamic manifestations that have afflicted many of the Muslim nations are one of the greatest things leading to the support of extremism and are one of its roots.
Indeed, they are a source of agitation for the one who is calm, not to speak of others.
Therefore, it is obligatory upon the Muslims, citizenry and rulers, to rebuild their societies upon a sound foundation from the religion.
All of the aspects of deviation must be studied and remedied in the light of the Shareeah.

Twelve: Refraining from Using Force in Dealing with Extremism

The Author recommends that force and powe ot be used in dealing with extremism.
That simply leads to greater harm and a very dangerous situation.
If all other peaceful means are exhausted in dealing with extremism and punishment is the only means left, it must be done based on a judgment from the scholars and Shareeah judges.
Furthermore, the punishment must be specific for the individuals involved and not on a wide scale, as has occurred in some Muslim lands.

Thirteen: Adhering to the Shareeah Methodology for Evidence and Derivation of Rulings

A review of the writings of the extremists makes it very clear that they have a deficiency with respect to their methodology of reasoning and deriving conclusions.
Therefore, the Author exhorts everyone who embarks upon writing to be very keen in adhering to the proper Shareeah methodology, and to use as evidence what the early scholars of this nation used as the sources of the Shareeah: the Quran, the Sunnah, the consensus…

One must also follow the sound method of deriving laws.
One must give preference to the specific texts over the general statements and apply the conditional clauses against the unconditional statements.
One must also give preference to the explained and detailed texts over the ambiguous texts.
Following the proper methodology is the means by which one arrives at correct conclusions and rulings.

Fourteen: Being Wary of Accusing the Extremists and declaring them to be Disbelievers

The Author advises people to be very careful from falling into something similar to what the extremists are accused of: declaring the people disbelievers. He also recommends being very careful in accusing the extremists of being foreign agents or traitors.
If the extremist himself knows that he is not a foreign agent or traitor calling him such will only make him more dedicated to the path he is following.

Fifteen: Being Wary of Duplicity and Contradictions

Avoiding duplicity and contradiction is of prime importance for the one who desires to deal with the extremism problem.
Many contemporaries have fallen into a sort of double-faced approach.
They raise their voices in the media and draw people’s attention to the issue of the niqaab (face veil) and they consider it, according to their claims, a form of extremism.
At the same time, we never see any of them opening their mouths about the disgusting semi-nudity that one sees in the streets and at the beaches. The manifestations of disintegration in the Muslim society are brought about in the name of individual freedom. Isn’t the wearing of the niqaab also an issue of individual freedom? [Why do they not speak out in its defense also?] This duplicity enflames the fire in the hearts of those who are just and moderate, not to speak of the extremists.

Sixteen: Being Wary of Confusing Revival with Extremism

It is obligatory upon the Muslims—leaders, scholars and masses—to be wary of confusing and mixing the Islamic revival with extremism.
They also must be cautious about following the steps of animosity that justify striking out against the Islamic revival under the guise of striking out against extremism.
In reality, extremism in the Muslim societies is of a small size.
It is unjust to pronounce a ruling [of extremism] upon the majority who, in reality, represent a just and balanced movement.

The Methodology of the Book
The author exerted great efforts to follow a pure scientific approach, free of any personal or intellectual biases.
In fact—and all praise be to Allah—he was very careful to study every detailed point without being driven by an opinion that he supported or a thought he was zealous about.

In this book, the author has used the following methodologies:

(1) Historical approach: This is an approach relying upon texts and documents that are the sources for the original history.

Based on them, one can make a strong judgment, verifying their authenticity, understanding them in their proper context, not giving them more of an interpretation than what they actually give… In this way, one can have the truest and most reliable picture of what truly was.

(2)Scientific, analytical approach: This uses organized steps to uncover realities and prove them.
This is done by dividing a whole into its parts and decomposing the whole into its constituent parts and analyzing them.

(3) Content analysis approach: Content analysis is one of the ways of scientific book used by bookers, in particular in the field of media and communications, in order to describe the substance of the apparent phenomena and the clear contents of the topic one wants to analyze.
This is done in response to the book arguments presented in the thesis statement or hypothesis.
It is done in order to uncover the intellectual, cultural, political or ideological background from which springs forth the topic one is trying to analyze. It is also used to understand the intentions and goals of the writer. Hence, content analysis has two major components: quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis.

As for the drafting and composing of this present book, the methodological approach may be summarized in the following points:

For the opinions of every individual or group, he relied on original sources and did not use secondary sources. He quoted from the books of the Westerners and secularists concerning their understanding of extremism.
He quoted the opinions of the extremists from their own books and writings. Only on particular occasions was there any exception to this practice, such as wherein the evidence used by extremists was well-known through oral transmission from them.

(2) He concentrated on the most important issues, opinions and evidences and turned away from what he saw as trivial issues and opinions.

(3) When there were differences of opinion among the scholars on a particular issue, he attempted to analyze the dispute.

(4) The author intentionally quoted the statements of scholars often while discussing the opinions of the extremists.
In particular, he quoted those scholars who are well-trusted among most of the sects, such as the Companions, the leaders of the Followers, al-Tabari, ibn Taimiyyah and others.

(5) The study of the different phenomena of extremism resulted in clarifying Islam’s middle stand on those issues in which extremism has taken place. This was the necessary result of many causes, among the most important being:
(a) The phenomenon of extremism is contended over by two sides: the extremist and its opposite of inaction.
If the booker only presents, critiques and refutes the opinions of the extremist, his opposite may then take the words of the booker as support for what his desires lead him to.
This fact is obvious to those who read refutations. [Hence, it is necessary to explain both extremes and to clearly point out Islam’s moderate stance.]

(b) One must judge deviations by a certain standard or criteria.
Therefore, this standard had to be pointed out and the deviations had to be judged in its light and guidance.

(c) Reading the opinion of a deviant could possibly strike a chord in the person’s heart that would make it difficult for that opinion to be removed from his heart.
Hence, one must present the true position with its evidence before explaining the deviant position.

(6) He used the Hijri Calendar except on those occasions when it was difficult to determine the Hijri date, as when the event was stated in the references according to its Western date and that date corresponded to one of two possible Hijri years.

(7) When he uses the phrase, Shaikh al-Islaam, he is referring to Shaikh al-Islaam ibn Taimiyyah. And when he uses the term, al-Haafldh, he is referring to Haafidh Ibn Hajar.

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