The Call of Islam: Peace and Moderation, Not Intolerance and Extremism
By Sadullah Khan
This article first appeared in www.islamicity.com
Islam is salaam (peace) and tasleem (submission to the Divine). In Islam Peace is the standard, it is the principle, and each person of faith has the moral obligation to maintain peace, without compromising on justice and truth. Islam invites to the subul as-salaam (pathway of peace); peace of mind, peace of conscience, peace in the family and society, peace with one’s Creator and His creation. One of the attributes of the Divine is As-Salaam (The Source of Peace) and Muslim greeting universally, upon meeting and departing, is as-salamu ‘alaykum or “peace be unto you”. The final and ultimate reward for human endeavor is Paradise, referred to in the Qur’an as Dar-us-Salaam (Abode of Peace)
The Believers were intended to be an ummah (community) that serves as a standard/model for others; what the Qur’an describes .”…And we have made you (ummatan wasata) a median community / a people of moderation/ a balanced medium in order that you may be a testimony or model for humanity.” [Qur’an 2:143] It is the absence of the balance provided by wasatiyyah (moderation) that extremism creeps in. Wasatiyyah is an antidote to … ghuluww (excessiveness), tanattu’ (harshness), tashaddud (severity), tatarruf (extremism) … in all its forms.
How is it then that some Muslims are so intolerant of other faiths, involved in atrocious and heinous acts of violence and senseless killing? Are they oblivious to the historic example of how the Prophet engaged those of different Faiths? It seems that some among Muslims seem to have lost sound understanding of the teachings of our Faith and are substituting the sublime message of Islam by a discourse of anger and the rhetoric of rage. There is no command or teaching in Islam that can be referenced as the direct reason behind an extreme act, and killing. Those who are planning and orchestrating any senseless killings are the worst representatives of their religions and enemies of their communities. Those who are perpetrators acts of wanton violence in the name of Islam are doing a most grievous disservice to Islam. Others take pride in being Muslims however un-Muslim their stance may be. Then there are those who cheer acts of violence because they too have degenerated into a hateful people.
Zealots are a plague upon religion.
Extremists, whether reactionary or radical are a bane to religion. Reactionary extremists do not want any pluralism; they view the world in black and white, good and evil terms. They are good and anyone who opposes them is evil. From among the Muslims these are people who ‘excommunicate’ any Muslim who fail to share their interpretations of the Qur’an and their understanding of the faith. They use takfir (denouncing a Muslim as an unbeliever) and character assassination as a tool for marginalizing any criticism directed at them.
Radical extremists differ only in that they will use violence to further their cause and that the end justifies the means. They see any act as acceptable if it will further their ’cause.’ This is blatantly anti-Islamic. In Islam the means must reflect its noble ends. Any means that does not embody the core truths and ethics of Islam is not from Islam and thus denounced as aberration. Islam is not a secret society of conspirators who no one knows what they are planning. Islam declares openly its aims and objectives and these are recognized by good people everywhere as pure and congruent with their own wisdom and traditions. Islam never allows a Muslim to kill the innocent and the helpless
Labeling something Islamic does not make it justifiable.
Realize, that just because you are religious does not mean that you are right. Desiring to implement Islamic values is always noble, but having a meaningful and effective strategy is indeed most significant. Forcing other is never an acceptable resort and certainly not the first resort; especially since our deen/way of life commands us not to use compulsion as a tool. Just because something needs to be done does not mean that anything that is done is okay; and just because something is done in religious fervor does not in any way prove that it is Islamically correct.
According to the Qur’an [5:32]; Muslims have inherited the command from that prescribed to the Children of Israel “whoever takes a single life without justification is as if he has killed the entire humanity.” Furthermore we are reminded, If Allah had not repelled some people through others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques; all in which Allah’s name is much celebrated, would have been destroyed. Allah will certainly help those who help His cause and surely, Allah is All-Powerful, All-Mighty’ [Qur’an, 22:40]
If we do not abide by these principles established in the Qur’an, then we are undermining the very spirit of our Deen. We must heed the Qur’anic warning against extremism in religion. … do not be extreme in your religion [Qur’an 4:171] The Prophet further warned, My intercession will not be availed two categories of my community; an oppressive/unjust ruler and a rebellious extremist [Tibrani] I warn you regarding extremism, because communities before you were destroyed due to extremism [Nisa’i]
Injustice of the self-righteous
Some deviant people/groups are committing acts in the name of Islam which are contrary to the fundamental of our faith, while not enough seem courageous enough to openly stand up to these bullies who are denigrating the name and image of Islam.
Remember the words of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):”A Muslim (one who proclaims faith) is that person from whose hands and tongue other Muslims are safe; A Mu’min (one who manifests faith) is that person in whom humanity find safety and security regarding their lives, property and honor.” [Baihaqi] The Prophet (pbuh) further advised …Allah is kind and loves kindness in every matter, and kindness has been granted capacity which violence could never attain. [Sahih Muslim]
May Allah protect the innocent from the injustices of the self-righteous.
Shaykh Sadullah Khan is the Director of Impower Development International www.impowerinternational.com.
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