The faith of Islam has become grossly misunderstood today. The role of Muslim clerics, Imams and leaders is looked through the prism of suspicion. On one hand, Islamic religious institutions are considered untrustworthy in developing moderate and peaceful British citizens. On the other hand, we have many misconceptions about Islam, which are being fuelled by irresponsible forces. This negative portrayal warrants a very intellectual and ideological response based on the authentic evidence from the classical Islamic resources to counter the negative narrative. One of the leading and world-renowned Islamic Scholars ‘Shaykh-ul-Islam’ Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri who has intellectually and theologically challenged extremist ideology throughout his whole life is now launching a Islamic Curriculum on Peace and Counter-Terrorism, accompanied by around 25 text books, which will annihilate any superficial justifications furnished by the extremists and allow the young Muslims to become better equipped to counter the extremist narrative both online and in their communities.
Moderation is a very salient feature of the Islamic teachings and it is not confined to the partial implementation of Islamic teachings, but rather it is a very comprehensive method to be applied in every aspect of life by every individual, group or nation. Anyone who deviates from the path of moderation has indeed neglected the fundamental teachings of the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (blessings and Peace be upon Him). Those who resort to extremism, fanaticism and radicalization have in essence rebelled against the letter and spirit of the Islamic teachings. In the Qur’an Almighty Allah describes the Muslims through the following verse:
“And, in the same way, (O Muslims,) We made you the best Umma (Community—fair to all with a tolerant, moderate and balanced outlook) so that you may bear witness to the people” Qur’an 2:143
According to Classical Arabic dictionaries, the term Wasat has three meanings, which are as follows:
- To be in the middle
- To be moderate
This verse signifies that Muslims are moderate, who avoid any form of extremism and because of this unique feature it has been declared as being the best. Even while commanded to practice the faith of Islam, Muslims have to remain moderate. Some examples are as follows:
“Eat and drink, but do not spend extravagantly because certainly He does not like the extravagant” Qur’an 7:31
“And (these) are the people who are neither extravagant nor miserly when they spend. And their spending is (based on) a balance between the two extremes (of extravagance and miserliness).” Qur’an 25:67
In the above verses Muslims are categorically commanded to remain moderate while eating or spending in the way of Allah so that they don’t fall into any form of extremism.
In Islam extremism is viewed as a spiritual disease and if it is not diagnosed correctly, it leads to destruction. This is based on a clear-cut saying of Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon Him):
“Ruined are the extremists” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 6450)
He repeated the above sentence three times to emphasize on the severity of this spiritual disease. In another tradition he warned his nation of the consequences faced by previous nations who indulged in extremism by saying:
“Beware of Extremism, in religion because the only thing that destroyed those before you was extremism in religion” (al-Nasai, Hadith No. 4049)
The above traditions are sufficient to elucidate the fact that extremism in all forms whether in belief or actions is not permissible and those who persist in this will perish.
The theme of moderation exists throughout the teachings of Islam. Therefore to comprehend the faith of Islam, reliance should be on the fundamental sources interpreted by reliable and qualified Muslim Scholars, rather than unqualified people who hold no credentials to speak on Islam. When unqualified people are taken as authorities on Islam this generates intellectual dissension which leads innocent people to distrust Muslims. The best way forward is to educate each other on the true values of our faith and not let a handful of extremists from both sides destroy the healthy fabric of the society and stop us from contributing to world peace and human civilization.
As Muslims we should come to realize extremists and media falsely present Islam. In such occasions our reaction should not be based on our emotions but rather a rational response is needed to avoid conflict. Through the Islamic Curriculum for Peace and Counter Terrorism Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri will present the Islam that Prophet Muhammad (Blessing and peace be upon Him) demonstrated through his blessed life which is peaceful and moderate and neither advocated nor calls for violence which is obvious from the intellectual discourse that he will present.
Article by: Shaykh Rehan Ahmed Raza (President MYL UK)