While enjoying a Johnny Rockets burger in Riyadh last month, I could not help but notice the different types of people sitting all around me. There were women who were not allowed to talk to the waiter and there were others who were dressed as though they were participating in a beauty pageant. There were couples who did not say a word and others who would not stop talking. There were families respectfully having a meal and there were girls flirting with boys in the “singles’ section”. Observing the vast differences in people made me think of a greater phenomenon the Muslim region is witnessing; a phenomenon that has become more and more evident in the past few years, and that is the phenomenon of extremism. While extremism is something that is becoming evident globally and across different cultures and religions, I would like to shed light on the topic through perspectives that pertain to Islam.
“Thus, have We made of you a Nation [that is] justly balanced …”
–The Holy Quran [2:143]
Although it is contrary to Islamic ideals, in today’s Muslims’ societies, extremism has begun to surface in every aspect of life. Muslim terrorists are killing innocent civilians, Muslim women are being banned from education or driving, and other Muslims are diving deep into spirituality or deifying popular figures. In addition, “moderate” Muslims have also been affected by the extremism they have witnessed. Some of them have rebelled and abandoned Islam in its entirety and others have modified Islam to suit their perceptions of the modern world.
A multitude of factors could have caused this phenomenon; however, I believe these extreme pursuits or habits may have been the subsequent results that occurred while the society was adapting to the modernization and development of their respective regions. I believe that extremism, whether in openness or in intolerance, can be detrimental to any society. Hence, for our societies specifically, extremism needs to be eradicated in order to preserve the Islamic essence emphasized in the Quranic verse above.
In my opinion, Muslims can easily achieve that and return to the state of being a “Balanced Nation” by following 3 main principles.
First, Muslims should know and have faith in their religion based on evidence, not human logic that may at times be affected by current circumstances leading it to be fallible. This evidence could be found in Quranic verses, authentic accounts of the Prophet Muhammad’s life (May Peace be Upon Him), accounts of the lives of the Pious Predecessors, or the consensus of Muslim scholars.
“Had the truth followed their desires, the heavens and the earth and all those therein would have fallen in total disorder. However, We have brought to them their advice, but it is their advice that they are averse to.” –The Holy Quran [23:71]
Second, Muslims should acknowledge their religion in its entirety. Since Islam is a total way of life, it requires its followers to conform to it as a whole.
“O Ye who believe! Enter into Islam wholly,,” –The Holy Quran [2:208]
It is important that when accepting Islam as a whole, its true form should be considered rather than the altered forms as conveyed by extremists. Needless to say, accepting parts of the Quran and omitting others can lead to extremism and corruption such as the killing of innocent civilians, self inflicted pain for the sake of religion, and extreme rebellion.
“…Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you…” –The Holy Quran [2:85]
Last and most importantly, Muslims should make an effort to learn, practice, and teach religion to themselves and their families. They should constantly strive to evaluate themselves and improve their surroundings as much as possible in order to avoid the birth of extremist ideologies in Islamic societies and to preserve the Islamic essence of balance.
“…Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves…”
–The Holy Quran [13:11]
In summary, the Islamic societies have begun witnessing extremist ideologies in different aspects of life whereas Islam calls to being a justly balanced nation. In order to tackle extremism, Muslims should know their religion based on evidence, accept Islam in its entirety, and strive to learn and teach their families the balance, moderation, ease, and good character of Islam.
“…Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you..”
–The Holy Quran [2:185]
Mohammed’s bi-monthly column aims to openly and honestly target issues around the native culture, society, religion, economy, and policy that have resulted as a consequence of the constantly changing demographics of the region. The column is characterized by a point-like articulate approach that gives the reader a comprehensive understanding of the discussed issues.