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The Development of Extremist Ideology and Its Effects on Civilization

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Allah almighty says in Al-Quran:
(والذين يؤذون المؤمنين والمؤمنات بغير ما كتسبوا فقد احتملوا بهتانا وإثما مبين)
[And those who annoy Believing men and women Undeservedly bear on themselves a calumny and a glaring sin]

And Allah also says:

(وكذلك جعلناكم أمة وسطا)
[Thus have we made you An Ummah justly balanced]

If we look carefully into these noble Ayat, we will see that Allah does not approve of fanaticism, especially with regard to religion. He not only disapproves of it, but also urges us to be moderate and distance ourselves from fanaticism. His Prophet (the prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him) says:
"Rid yourselves of fanaticism for it has destroyed those who were before you in time."
Though terrorism is not a new phenomenon, the rise of extremism that we witness these days, whether under the guise of religion or not, along with the increasing danger it represents, and the diversity of slogans propagating it, as well as the widespread activity of its followers urged us to tackle this issue. We do it with our keenness to support the approach of moderation, which represents the key to peace and security, and with our keenness for the youth in order
for them not to fall into the malicious net of terrorism. We hope that this paper will find its way to the listening ears and mindful hearts.

We must indicate first that there has to be a distinction between religious, which means compliance with the provisions of religion, and extremism, which means fanaticism and abandoning the true concepts of moderate Sharia. At the beginning of this paper, I will start with an overview over the history of extremism in what was linked to the Muslim nation.

The Origins of Extremism

Those who first embraced Islam were the people whose hearts were freed from the remains of the vicious pre-Islamic traditions and vile fanaticism. Their souls were open to what the Prophet of Allah called them to believe in. They were people of justice, moderation and faith - indeed the saved ones. But there were others whose interests were to cause chaos and divide the unity of the nation, the kind of people who neither embraced Islam nor rid their souls of their destructive doctrines and poisonous ideas. They hid under the name of Islam and kept spreading evil and dividing the nation. Some of them embraced the ideas of Mazdaism or the principles of paganism while alleging they were Muslims and those they were preaching Islam, bringing the number of deviated groups that preach Islam to more than seventy.

Muslims after the death of the Prophet were on the same standing with regard to all the details of Islam, except of course those who showed unity and concealed hypocrisy. Thereafter came the dissension of the apostates and Musaylama the Liar, then the battles with the dissidents who declared disobedience at the time of Caliph Ali bin Abi Talib (may Allah be satisfied with him). As it is quite known, disobedience must not be declared against the ruler unless he shows blatant infidelity as in the Hadith related by Muslim: "He who disapproves of anything done by his ruler must resort to patience with him, as anyone who dissents against his rule, even in the slightest manner, and die on this condition, would be like he died in the pre-Islamic era before embracing Islam"; and the other well-known, authenticated Hadith related by AI Bukhari and Muslim: "You shall not dispute the ruling of your rulers unless you see from them blatant infidelity" and "blatant" here means beyond confusion. Also there was the dissension of the Khawarij who accused Caliph Ali, Mu'aweya, and the arbiters Abu Moussa AI Ash'ary and Amr bin AI Aass of infidelity for the arbitration. They also accused the followers of AI Jamal, Talha, AI Zubair, Ayisha, and all those who consented the arbitration, of infidelity.

They considered infidel any Muslim who commits a sin, whether small or grave, in contradiction with the consensus of the people of good judgment who saw that no Muslim could be accused of infidelity because of committing a sin unless he considers it lawful for him to practice. The fatalist Mu'tazila followed that group claiming that there were two Creators of people's doings. The nation split, but widespread knowledge was there to teach people that the reasons behind the doings of the rulers was not the war against Islam, but to cast away any dissension and only suppress the wicked. We can see that the extremists remained a minority with no influence against the majority of people with the true belief. But when knowledge decline, and many scholars abandoned their role, and rulers refrained from dealing with abnormalities under different pretexts and various excuses, the dissension grew stronger and the people split into warring groups and sects, bringing the nation to a disgraceful state of weakness and causing it to fall as a result of the successive blows by tendencies emanating from the extended arm of extremist thoughts. That was the big fall.

Extremism at Modern Times

As terrorism originates from deviation and aberration from the convictions of the majority, and as those with the true beliefs were always the majority over times, the deviated people found themselves a minority and thus used to gather secretly to continue their existence. That is how the old-fashion deviation moved in time to the present. So we see the old beliefs of Allah's resemblances and embodiments, fatalism, reincarnation, and the Khawarij thoughts recurring again and again, but in different names. Like their predecessors who used to accuse those who differ in their view on infidelity and liquidated them when they could, as in the case of the Khawarij who killed some of the Prophet companions' sons and those who believed in embodiment who cracked rifts and turbulence in Baghdad and killed a lot of people, the grandsons of those people carried on with the same accusations and killings but on a larger scale, as they are not faced with enough resistence.

We may spot the most radical thoughts now present in large scale in all Islamic countries as follow:
1. A doctrine that calls for inactivity and accuses of infidelity anyone who came with a new idea that did not exist at the time of the Prophet (the prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him).

2. A doctrine that assumes the protection of Islam as its duty, and alleges it wants to establish an Islamic Society. It accuses the rulers of Islamic countries of infidelity, under the pretext that they rule with man-made laws, as well as the Muslims for not overthrowing those rulers.

The first of these two groups can be divided into two sections:
1. One that prohibits modernity of all matters, religious-oriented and otherwise; prohibiting the use of phones, TV sets and such modern technology appliances claiming that they did not exist at the time of the Prophet (the prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him).

2. The second bans the new traditions regarding issues related only to the religion, not distinguishing between new heretical creations that are contradictory to the Sharia the and commendable ones. The followers of such doctrine consider all that has been introduced anew regarding religion are deviated, heretical and reprehensible, with no differentiation between what is in accord with the Sharia and what is not. By pursuing that, they contradict with what the Prophet (the prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him) said in a Hadith: "He who innovates a good tradition into Islam shall have its reward and as much reward as those who do it after him without deducting any of their rewards." Has what the second-generation follower (successor) of the Prophet, Yahya bin Ya'mor, done, dotting the Holy Qur'an, a heretical creation? What if all the Muslims reciting the Quran today benefit from the dotted copies? Can we claim that the Muslims are following a heretical creation? Of course not. Indeed the proofs against their deviated logic are numerous.

This group considers celebrating the Prophet, or pious people, or visiting their graves, as an association of deities to God. Well, has the visit of Imam Shafi'y to the grave of Imam Abu Hanifa when he was in Baghdad been so? In his book The History of Baghdad, AI Khatib AI Baghdadi quoted AI Shafi'y as saying that he did not seek any blessing from Abu Hanifa, but used to visit him while in Baghdad; and in case he needed to have some issues settled, he visited his shrine and prayed to Allah and invoked Him and shortly afterwards, all issues were settled. So, would that be an act of association by AI Shafi'y? On the other hand, isn't it stated in the book AI Mustadrak, of AI Hakim's, that the Prophet (the prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Jesus, son of Mariam, shall indeed descend as a just ruler and shall take a path to perform Pilgrimage or Umrah, and indeed shall come to my grave and salute me and indeed I shall salute him back"? Can we say that Jesus' journey with the purpose of visiting the grave or the mosque of the Prophet (the prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him) is some sort of deity association? The influences of such accusation-oriented thinking were then reflected in the violent practices of the Muslim youth across the Islamic countries.

As for the other (first) group, the deviation manifests itself in deeming infidel any Muslim ruler who rules on the one hand according to man-made law; then in their on the Muslims to revolt against such rulers by virtue of coups, violent revolutions, destroying the main institutions
of a country, or killing the police and army officers. If those peoples do not do what they call upon them to do, they deem them infidel too, and decree that their lives, property, and honor are all lawful to be destroyed. Bombing of buses, airports, and public roads that occurred in Syria two decades ago was of that kind. This group adopts a strategy that was embraced by its theorists and that became increasingly widespread through a lot of books published and translated into different languages, a strategy that affirms the infidelity of the Muslim society and hence calls for the necessity of revolting against the existing rulers in order to change the ignorant society and establish the Muslim rule that this extremist group is calling for.

Here we quote some of the phrases circulated in such books which many of those extremists think of as their constitution. One of them says "the time has returned to the way it was before this religion come to humanity with the testimony of (there is no God but Allah); humanity relapsed to the worshiping of people and to the injustice of other religions and abandoned the testimony of (there is no God but Allah)." It goes on saying that "all humanity relapsed, even those who repeat the words of "there is no God but Allah" on minarets without knowing its meaning or reason, they all relapsed to the worshiping of people." This kind of thinking, as we saw, through the collective deeming of the society considers that we are living in the pre-Islamic era before the prophet (the prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him). It deems infidel all Muslims for ruling according to man-made laws, even if it is in one case, saying that by them doing so they are declaring their rejection of Allah as their God and their rejection to acknowledge the oneness of Allah as their God. Again this different infidelity accusation phrases against Muslim rulers and peoples are repeated in such books.

We will not be exaggerating when we say that this trend of deeming rulers and peoples of infidelity is one of the most prominent aspects of extremism during the second half of the twentieth century that influenced the doctrines of most extremist movements in the Arab and Islamic worlds.

A booklet issued by some adherents of this call, entitled "Seeking Weapons and Using Them is a Religious Duty", says, "Every Muslim must do his utmost to obtain weapons in whatever way, then he must use them in killing the protectors of infidelity and evil, all the heads of treachery, from the least important to the most", i.e. from janitor to head of state.

Here we can see that the instigation to kill is the pivotal basis for those people who consider the society pre-Islamic. The idea of the pre-Islamic society unleashed by those who embrace the infidelity-accusation way of thinking was received by the extremist groups and base on what they built their ideas they believe in the terrorist operations to carry it out. It is even difficult to recognize the main idea they are calling us to believe in while their groups are loyalty-distracted and accuse each other of infidelity. What order would they put in place after they have already killed people before seizing power? Not everyone who memorizes an Ayat of the Qur'an is a Sheikh or a leader. And since when have their statements become a source of religious law. This attitude of ours is only based on our great fear for our Arab and Islamic countries to fall victim of the dangers of extremism and fanaticism.

Extremism Weakens Nations for the Benefits of Foreign Colonial States

The rise of extremist movements disguising under the name of Islam during the second half of the twentieth century accords well with the schemes of the nation's enemies. One of our rulers was right when he indicated that the external conspiracies' target was to weaken the domestic front through violence, saying that "they pose a threat to the stability of Islamic countries and cause anarchy through what they do of revolting against authorities and instigating turbulences and riots, causing in the end more weakness to the power of Muslim nations. When extremists do that, they indirectly or unconsciously assist the enemies of Islam in their conspiracy against Muslim peoples and nations.

The exact goal of those who support the extremists is to try to link the charge of violence, or what is known as terrorism, to the Arab and Islamic worlds. They do that through various criminal groups, under different names in each country, but connected to a global system that has its main centers in the major industrial countries where they have their conferences held, donations provided, and designs prepared. In such ways, the growing extremist movements serve well the schemes of the nation's enemies to strike and weaken it and plant the seeds of disputes in its build. These destructive groups are one of the core pillars of the colonial powers' plans against the Islamic countries. They have many methods and techniques, but the most dangerous of these is tarnishing the convictions of Muslims, through those whom they portray as scholars, in order to entangle people and embroil their minds with regard to their religion for the purpose of spreading deviation and corruption in the name of knowledge and the scholars.

These groups represent a security-political related phenomenon that disguises under the name of religion, as they conspire against their homelands, and practice criminality. They are violent movements whose goal is to seize power. They have an extremist belief that is controlled and supported by foreign powers. Their activity is the good sought by the external powers, which know that extremists can play an alternative role instead of direct military invasion in the countries they flourish in, as they exhaust military, economic, and security potentials of such countries. When those external powers assume control at home, with those extremist ideas they believe in, they would find a pretext for direct military invasion and colonization. That is why external powers assist those extremists and grant them cover and support in all forms, as it will
serve their short- and long-term interests.

The support the extremists receive from foreign countries embodies a conspiracy that tries to achieve the following: Exhausting the resources of Arab and Islamic countries.

Damaging the security and peace of those countries.

Hindering development and advancement and weakening their powers.

Expected future wars between countries and extremist organizations that exist inside those countries will be an excuse for some states to invade others in order to stem extremists out, then staying for a long time so as to solidify and carry out the in ultimate goal. That was the story of Usama bin laden in Afghanistan.

We have to focus our attention here on the point that supporting extremist groups by foreign states falls into the category of waging war against the Arab and Islamic world, as an alternative to the direct invasion at one stage, and a pretext to it at other stages, so as to accomplish the goal of controlling the strategic regions and natural resources in the Islamic world. The global relentless efforts, exercised by the international media, which is mostly controlled by Jews, to draw a "reprehensible and negative mental image" of the Islamic world is intended, in the most despicable way, to associate Arabs and Muslims with violence as they want to depict.


Many people would ask the ways and methods to remedy the societies from extremism that tarnishes the image of Islam and spreads terror and violence in our countries. The answer is that we have to realize that extremists hide under the slogans of Islam in deceit, and propagate ideas that have no relation whatsoever to Islam. So we have to know that the confrontation must come through exposing them and removing the masks they hide behind, and by facing them with proofs that demonstrate the disintegration of their logic and the vileness of their practices based on their devilish ideas.

The war on extremism is a scientific war that must depend on pre-emptive measures to prevent extremists from fortifying themselves behind high ranks and positions that enable them to move and speak deceitfully in the name of Islam. We have to block them from channels that are meant to spread Islam and its concepts that are completely remote from extremism and fanaticism. Here comes the role of scholars, sheikhs and preachers who stand as the first and strongest line of defense against those extremists; if this line falls, the road will be clear to those extremists and their objectives will be much easier to accomplish. Therefore, we emphasize on the importance of preparing the preachers, and for them to be competent with knowledge and ready with proofs and give evidence to uncover those extremists and its followers, exposing them to the world so that they cannot find other means to deceive the ordinary people.

A wonderful example of teaching both the preachers and the public is through the interpretation by the people of the righteousness of the Ayat ((And whosoever does not judge according to what Allah has sent down, then those are they (who are) the disbelievers)). The interpretation of this goes into two directions: first, which is the interpretation of Ibn Abbas, the Interpreter of the Qur'an, and is related in AI Mustadrak by AI Hakim, and authenticated by Al Thahabi, and related by Ahmed in his book the Religious Rulings on Women, it is not that disbelief that you think of, that separates one from religion. It is a kind of disbelief other than infidelity, i.e. a lesser disbelief, just like dissimulation, which the Prophet (the prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him) described as a lesser association of deities when he said "Distance yourselves from dissimulation for it is a lesser association." It is of course known that dissimulation is not infidelity that separates one from religion, and likewise is the ruling according to man-made laws; it is not a case of infidelity that necessitates the separation from religion, but the application of laws contradictory to the Qur'an is what is unlawful.

The other interpretation of the Ayat is the one by the revered companion of the Prophet, AI Sara' bin Azeb, related by Muslim, which said that the three Ayats of the Surah al-Ma1ida (the Table) were all revealed in relation to the Jews who distorted their religion and disbelieved the Prophet. When the prophet told them that the adulterer should be stoned according to the Torah, they insisted on disbelieving him and on claiming that God did not reveal stoning; that of course is infidelity that separates one from religion.

It is obvious how important the role of the authorities is in curbing the spread of the phenomenal extremism by preventing those extremists from reaching the public; it is unacceptable to let those extremists have the opportunity to spread their ideas under the pretext of freedom, for those who threaten the common interests of the people and the security of the nation under such pretext pose an irreversible danger and serious consequences that occur in many cases.

Extremists move according to the carefully studied, designs and clear plans, along with external financing, to strike the security of the Arab and Islamic countries and distract them through conflicts, violence and internal strives, in order to give the enemies of the nation more excuses and pretexts to interfere in our internal affairs and direct them according to their interests.

In dealing with the issue of extremism through security agencies, it only represents the confrontation of the "criminal" aspects emanating from extremism, not the "reasons" behind it. It faces only the physical activities of the extremist thoughts such as murder, violence, and sabotage, i.e. the results of the extremist ideas that endanger the societies, not the reasons of the "movement" and the spread of these thoughts. Limiting our action to security agencies the confrontation of extremism may represent a motive for extremists to continue with the conflict through the cycle of action and reaction, in addition to its effect of expanding the struggle from generation to generation.
Extremism, when suppressed by force, motivates the thinking of, and preparing for, a long time of struggle in an exhaustingly retaliatory manner that would be fed by parties benefiting from its consequences; and with the help of such parties, extremism would seek to strike back with serious and destructive blows. Wars between states and extremist groups cannot be ended only by armed forces for many reasons, and police tactics alone could cause paying attention to, and sympathizing with, such groups by other parties. Therefore, correct concepts must be spread among the ordinary people by all possible means, such as television programs, radio, mosques, seminars, lectures, etc., so that the society becomes immune by virtue of the right religious knowledge with which it can differentiate between moderation and extremism. To sum it up, preventing the spread of extremist ideas and expanding the reach of the moderate concepts through the right people give tremendously effective results provided they are continuous and ascending in pace.

No matter how numerous the techniques extremism is confronted with, in order for them to prove successful, they must not be void of religious enlightenment (with a rising pace) that exposes the extremist ideas and their dangers in front of the Muslim peoples and spreads out The the moderate principles of Islam; they must also stress the following: The importance of adhering to Islam and its right, moderate principles importance of combating the spread of extremist ideas that threaten Muslims' homes and institutions, in addition to public institutions.

In order to succeed, things have to be named and addressed according to their actual reality; names of extremist leaders must be made public, exposing their radical ideas and proving that they have no logic behind them but misinterpretations; their books must be banned and lifted off the shelves of mosques, schools, universities, and libraries.

The principle of unification with the public when confronting the extremists is a useful factor to win the war against them, as well as giving the space to non-governmental organizations and societies to express condemnation of the acts of extremists to exhibit that they are not publicly welcome and that their problem lies with the people that do not accept them, removing the governments out of the picture. This is important because the extremists always benefit from any rift between the "peoples and governments". So it has to be clear that the struggle is between the extremist groups and the people, making use of the fact that such groups do not save the people in their horrendous acts, as they use them for pressuring and embarrassing governments, with the aim at reaching a stage where the peoples may ask the governments to have a dialogue with the extremists and let them share the power.

In fact, extremism is not caused only by one reason; there are many psychological, social, historical, and political reasons behind it. They may sometimes be complicated and intertwined. So when we are dealing with it, we should not deal with one reason and leave the other. We have to deal with these reasons with wisdom and courage, bearing in mind that ignorance is fought through knowledge, extremism through moderation, and wrong through right.

In the end, we have to acknowledge the usefulness of resorting to the fountains of truth and sticking to the sources of the Sharia without distortion, as the right religious knowledge safeguards the people from all forms of extremism. The Prophet (the prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him) was indeed right when he said, "0 people, you learn; knowledge comes through learning and scholarship through studying", related by AI Tabarani in AI Mu'jam AI Kabir with good authentication.

We want religious piety as a solution to the hateful fanaticism that spreads in the societies, supporting the unjust to be even more unjust, feeding on anger, and living on hatred. It shall only be conquered by the sublime approach by sticking to the pure religious piety. That only shall defeat our watching enemy, shall bring together the scattered lines, and shall strengthen back our one resolve. So, come and walk in the path of the prophets and follow the way of Allah's messenger's, for there is the happiness and there is the peace. And may Peace, Mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you.