Although I don’t agree with Yusuf al-Qaradawi on everything, I like his ideas on extremism. He mentions several hadith that support the idea of moderation and ease in Islam, including the following:
How superb is the Prophet’s advice to all Muslims not to overburden themselves in worship and to be moderate so that they will not be overcome by fatigue and finally fail to continue. He said: “Religion is very easy, and whoever overburdens himself will not be able to continue in that way.”
He then lists the indications of extremism:
- Bigotry and intolerance, which make one obstinately devoted to his own opinions and prejudices, as well as rigidity. Such a person does not allow any opportunity for dialogue with others so that the may compare his opinion with theirs, and chooses to follow what appears to him most sound.
An extremist seems to address people in this way: “I have the right to speak, your duty is to listen. I have the right to lead, your duty is to follow. My opinion is right, it cannot be wrong. Your opinion is wrong, it can never be right. (How sad that this sounds SO familiar.)
The issue becomes even more critical when such a person develops the tendency to coerce others, not necessarily physically, but by accusing them of innovations, laxity, unbelief, and deviation. Such intellectual terrorism is as terrifying as physical terrorism.
- Commitment to excessiveness.
God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties (Q, 2:185) A bedouin once asked the Prophet (pbuh) about the obligatory prescriptions required of him. The Prophet (pbuh) replied that there are only 3: prayer, zakat, and fasting during Ramadan. As the Prophet (pbuh) was leaving, he heard the Bedouin vow he would never do more or less than those three things, to which the Prophet (pbuh) replied that the Bedouin would surely succeed/enter Paradise.
- Overburdening of others without regard for time and place: applying Islamic principles to people in non-Muslim countries or to people who have only recently converted to Islam, as well as to Muslims who are newly devout.
- Harshness in the treatment of people, roughness in the manner of approach, and crudeness in calling people to Islam, all of which are contrary to the teachings of the Qur’an and sunnah.
Qaradawi also mentions that suspicion and mistrust are characteristics of extremists. Instead of assuming someone is innocent until proven guilty, extremists are quick to jump to the conclusion that someone is guilty.
The slightest mistake is blown out of proportion; a mistake becomes a sin, and a sin a mortal sin. Such a reaction is a stark violation of the spirit and teachings of Islam which encourage Muslims to think well of other Muslims, to try and find an excuse for their misbehaviour, and to help them improve their words and deeds.
Hmmm, not something I see a lot these days, especially not in the blogosphere!
Avoid suspicion as much as possible, for suspicion in some cases is a sin (Q, 49:12).
It’s funny how we associate extremism with a minority of Muslims, yet many of these attributes can be found amongst large parts of the Islamic community, in my opinion. Bigotry and intolerance, and the idea that you’re right and I’m wrong – are these really minority positions amongst Muslims? I especially like Qaradawi’s idea of intellectual terrorism: again, don’t we see this often? How many times are Muslims told they are doing something wrong or that they aren’t practicing Islam “properly”? It’s sad, but I think these characteristics actually describe a lot of Muslims these days…
What do you think?