Enough has been said about the extremists who murdered Charlie Hebdo. I do not appreciate his disrespect of our most beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, but such distasteful and untactful humour, especially from a disbeliever permits nothing more than trying to reason with him, and if that fails, treat him like he does not exist. The people that took this man's life, did not have any permission to do so per the Shari'ah of ALLAH.
There are long standing issues with certain descriptive terminology that is used for Muslims. Because of recent events in which people who identify themselves as Muslims violently oppress their fellow Muslims and also non-Muslims, claiming that the religion of ALLAH is what permits or encourages them to do so. Many people have asked that moderate Muslims publicly denounce these acts, and this does indeed positively support the situation. It also raises the question: what defines a moderate Muslim, and how is or what needs to be moderated in Islam? Why are moderate Muslims often contrasted with fundamentalist Muslims? Does this suggest that something is fundamentally wrong with al-Islam? The focus on this piece will be fundamentalism, moderation, and extremism in Islam as seen by Muslims.
The fundamental teachings of Islam are what Islam in fact is:
· What ALLAH said in his book
· The spoken teaching and exemplarily actions of the messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him, which is called the Sunnah
o This is conveyed to via authenticated narrations from his companions, especially those who were closest to the Prophet
· The consensus of (master/senior/experienced) scholars who have spent lifetimes learning studying the Qur’an and Sunnah, memorized, it, implemented, and who carry the tradition of teaching from the first generations of Islam (because the prophet said this generation has the most authentic understanding)
A Muslim who sincerely lives for ALLAH, will respect what He sent as fundamentals for the Muslim to live by. ALLAH said,
هُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ ۖ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ ۗ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ
Which means “It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the foundation of the Book - and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah . But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.”(ale-Imraan 3:7)
Is there anything in the Qur’an that ALLAH said that is evil? Did ALLAH order evil deeds to be done in the Qur’an? Per the statement of ALLAH quoted above, Muslims must acknowledge the obligation to do everything that ALLAH and his messenger commanded, even when falling short. ALLAH said
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ
what means “So keep your duty to ALLAH and fear Him as much as you can” (
As such, it is not acceptable for Muslims to try to invent interpretations of Islam to allow themselves and others to do haraam just because he or she cannot admit that they are in error. It is more pleasing to ALLAH that they admit their wrongdoing and ask ALLAH for forgiveness, as not doing so will harden the heart and form arrogance and pride. It is narrated from Shaddad ibn Aws (radiAllahu anhu) that the Messenger of ALLAH, prayers and peace be upon him, said that the most superior way of asking for forgiveness from Allah is to say
اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لا إِلَهَ إِلا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلا أَنْتَ
If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it, and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise; and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise”
For one who argues that evolution and development of society surpassed the limits of what the Qur’an legislated, recall that only those rulings which ALLAH abrogated himself are subject to change; the rest is applicable for all time. Because ALLAH said
مَا نَنْسَخْ مِنْ آَيَةٍ أَوْ نُنْسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ . أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ وَمَا لَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلا نَصِيرٍ
which means “Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things?
Being a fundamentalist is different from being an extremist. Extremists can be of two types: those who subtract from the religion, to lift the burden of obedience to what ALLAH has enjoined and prohibited, and the other type is one who is exceeding that was is enjoined, even to the point of ignoring where that limit is set in Shari'ah, or trying too hard to be good.
The messenger of ALLAH said about extremists,
هَلَكَ الْمُتَنَطِّعُونَ . قَالَهَا ثَلَاثًا رواه مسلم 2670
“Those who go to extremes are doomed.” He said it three times. (Muslim 2670)
Al-Imaam An-Nawawi said in “those who delve too deep and go to extremes, and overstep the limits in both word and deed.” (Sharh Muslim 16/220)
There are many explanations from the scholars about extremism. Some can be found in detail here, such as:
· Going to extremes in worship, which leads to excessive hardship (going too far beyond the minimum requirement, instead of limiting oneself to the minimum or maximum that he or she can do easily, while at least fulfilling the minimum obligation)
· Introducing innovations into religion, by forbidding that which ALLAH did not forbid, and introducing forms of worship and commitments that did not exist at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him).
· Indulging in that which does not concern one, asking about that which is inappropriate, and delving too deeply into that which is of no benefit.