of Excess, Extremism among Muslims
by Imam Ghayth Nur Kashif
Kashif is Resident Imam for Masjidush-Shura
in Washington, D.C
says in the Qur'an , "Thus we have made of you
an ummah justly balanced, that you might be witnesses
over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over you." (HQ 2:143)
The Prophet (s.a.a.w) reportedly said, "Beware
of excessiveness in religion before you perish as a result of such
excessiveness in religion." (Reported by Ahmad).
Allah states in the Qur'an that: "He Intends
every facility for you; He does not want to put you in difficulties".
"Religion," the Prophet is reported to have said,
"is very easy, and whoever overburdens himself will not be able to
continue in that way. Be right (without excessiveness or negligence), near
(perfection, and have good timing (in being rewarded for your regular
people of the Book were warned: "O people of the Book,
commit no excesses in your religion, nor say of Allah anything but the
Truth...." (HQ4:171) Allah warns the Muslims likewise: "O you
who believe! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for
you, and commit no excess; for Allah loves not those given to excess. (HQ
recently Muslims in America have been spared much of the tradition-bound and
sectarian divisions that have led to violent oppression and fratricidal warfare
among various Muslim proponents, leading often to mutual slaughter, "In
the Name of Allah." Allah forbid that they should
invoke His Name, or the name of the Prophet as "partners" in their
mutual disputes and violence. These are "inventions against Allah’s
Name." Just as the early pagans and their partners acted, making
"alluring the slaughter of their children in order to lead them to their
own destruction and cause confusion in their religion."
warned them that "He will requite them for
their invention." (HQ 5:137-8) Unfortunately, this "traditional
baggage" has now entered into the ethos of the Islamic growth in America,
where we find innocent Muslims being caught up in the negligence and excesses
of the worldwide "Ummah" following
them in their schisms, ranging from claims of "sacred" cultural mores
to disputes of the interpretation of the Sunnah (and ahadith)
of the Prophet (s.a.a.w), to claims of the supremacy
of ahadith over the Qur`an. Allah Forbid! Then
we now have claims of supremacy of one "School of Thought" over the
others. And again claims of supremacy of one community over the other in the
knowledge of Qur`an and Sunnah. How are we
caught up in this? Allah forbid.
fear that we stand in great danger of going the way of societies before us
unless we pause and take heed to Allah’s command: "Hold fast all
together, by the rope which Allah stretches to you, and be not divided among
yourselves." (HQ 3:103.5) Allah has warned: "And obey Him and
His Messenger; and fall not into disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart..." (HQ 8:47) Allah warns in another
Ayah: "(their doom is) because Allah sent down the Book in truth but
those who seek causes of dispute in the Book are in schism, far (from the
purpose)." (HQ 2:176). As He said of the People of the Book: "There
is among them a section who distort the book with
their tongues. You think that it is a part of the book, but it is no part of
the book, and they say, This is from Allah, but it is
not from Allah. It is they who tell a lie against Allah." (HQ 3:48)
not Muslims in America reflect upon the relevant examples in the Quran? Why
should Muslims in America take on the historic and manifest failures of the ummah, following their manifestations of divisions
and disputations over this or that fatwah,
this or that purported hadith, in contradistinction of another? Muslim
opponents have taken delight in this and have come to mock the Muslims in
America and elsewhere for these circus-like conflicts. Should Muslims in
America become partisan to these conflicts between proponents of the so-called
schools of thought, or to the Sunni/Shia disputes of historical renderings.
these parties are questioned about their circus-like tendencies and the
exaltation of traditions canonized by their fathers, they retort to reckless
slander: charging that the people who question them do not believe in the Sunnah.
What audacity! We should not fall into the trap laid by the evil seducer, Shaitan himself, who "whispers, then withdraws" -- then comes later as an arbitrator to
settle the disputes with cunning and flowery speech. Let us not be deceived,
nor think that we can out-flank Shaitan while
indulging in the schisms he sets up. Allah says that: "Shaitan and his tribe watch you from a position where you
cannot see them..." (HQ: 7:27)
we see that these forged disputes are an attempt to move the innocent Muslim
away from his commitment to take in the orphan, to feed the poor, to clothe the
naked, to feed the homeless, and to build a balanced community? His
"religion" has thus become one of criticizing and attacking Muslims
with whom he differs, often on insignificant issues. Unfortunately from these
individual differences, exploited as such, grows the seeds of sectarianism and
shirk, followed by fitnah (subversion and rebellion). This is shameful,
us beware: Remember those before us who took idols, angels, and even prophets,
making them partners with Allah and equal in the Godhead. They began to mention
them exclusively at every mention of Allah. Think of the case of Issa (a.s). They began by
declaring stories (ahadith) written about him,
such as the New Testament (by Mark, Luke, John and Paul) to be Divine, or in
fact the Injil (Revelation) itself. Gradually,
over time, they began to include Issa as a co-equal
with Allah Himself. They have thrown the injil
behind their backs, just as they threw the Torah behind their backs.
Allah, however, has cleared His Prophet Issa (a.s) of any such charge. May Allah be praised forever! He
distinguishes His Revelation from all else. He is One.
His Revelation is One. He is Allah. None is like Him.
No partners, no associates.
in America must be aware of the "baggage" of extremism exported to
North America as legitimate Sunnah and fiqh.
This "baggage" is propagated by zealots (innocent and otherwise) who
insistently accuse others of "bid`ah"
(innovation in religion), wantonness, unbelief and deviation. They are known to
claim piety for themselves, exalt the Sunnah over the Qur`an and engage others in endless arguments.
al Nawawi reported that the Prophet (s.a.a.w) repeated three times: "Ruined are the
people who indulge in hair-splitting." Thus it is important to
identify the mode operandi of these mercenaries because of the harm they bring
to the innocent Muslims in America. We find that they make a grandiose show of
their recital of selected ahadith in Arabic;
often da`if (weak) or highly contextual in
time and circumstance. Their display of their "erudition" is supposed
to confirm their "hikma" (wisdom or
implied piety) in the Deen (Al-Islam). Yet
sincerity lies in the heart and breast. They make an impressive show of
embellishing their arguments with Arabic, particularly to the new Muslims who
understand little more than As-Salaamu-Alaikum and Al-Faatihah. Yes,
it IS time for the (balanced) Muslim communities to put a stop to the purveyors
of deliberate confusion and disunity.
Please note: In no way does this imply that learning to
read and recite the Qur`an in Arabic is not essential to the deeper
understanding and practice of our Deen. IT IS,
and Muslims must strive to acquit themselves, especially in the study of
Qur`anic Arabic. No excuse, however, can be given to those whose intent is to
obfuscate. (HQ: 3:78)
then must be done? How may we express our differences? How do we correct a
wrong? We take note here of the utter abuse and misapplication of the reported Hadith
of the Prophet (s.a.a.w) i.e.: "To correct a
wrong with your hand, your heart or your tongue." Often lacking
adequate knowledge, we tear into others with the belief that our particular
perspective or rendering of an issue, ritual, or interpretation of Hadith
or Qur`an is unquestionably right or authentic.
crude approach often masks, or excuses an aggressive, ill-reasoned action or
response to something we differ about that has long been in question, even at
the highest levels of the scholarly ummah over
the centuries. Another overworked hadith is that the scholar is "worth
more than a thousand ignorant worshippers." In most cases, it is
exalted by those whose scholarship has become the end goal, rather than the means.
It (scholarship) has become the objective, and not for the pleasure of Allah.
Allah is no longer the goal of such pursuers, but sophistic scholarship is!
Thus we have fallen into disputes of the so-called "learned": like
that of Western Philosophers, i.e.: "How many angels can sit on the head
of a pin?"
"extremes," among the literate and the illiterate become a perverse
"religion." Yet they understand not. Allah knows best: whenever we
begin to exalt anything as equal to Him or His Words (Guarded Revelations),
then we are truly gravitating toward Shirk. Let us consider some advice
found on page 428 of the Encyclopedia of Seerah, (vol. 6). The author writes: "If
there is any difference of opinion, it cannot be on the Truth of the Qur`an and its Message, which is one and the same for all time.
If there is a difference among Muslims, it can only be in their imperfect
understanding of the Qur`an and its Message; but if
this difference of opinion is within limits of acceptable interpretations, it
is not bad nor evil, nor is it dangerous or injurious to the collective."
If however, people go beyond the acceptable limits and start arguing on a
political, sectarian, or sophistic basis (for argument sake), then there is no
cure for such disputes and wrongdoing.
different opinions of the companions of the Prophet were of the former (above).
This type of difference is called a mercy. But if these differences or details
are considered as al-din (compulsory) and made the means of dispute
between different sections of people, then even this type of difference becomes
condemned. Truth is only the Qur`an, and people's opinions are only opinions,
and as such may be right or wrong.
to Ibn Kathir, Allah's Prophet disliked these things:
"Unnecessary disputes and arguments, questioning and inquiring without
any need, and wastage of wealth." Having grown weak from disputes,
many Muslims have lost their sense of purpose in bringing glad tidings to the
believers and warning the rulers and citizens of the land. They are content to
rail, and mock them instead, becoming obsessed with simply calling them "Kufar". They exhibit little evidence of dawah, such as feeding the poor, or working
collectively with any Muslim community to establish a good life in society.
Rather, they are bent upon trying to "convert" the converted. They
demonstrate a lack of Iman by raising doubts
of others. Could this be hypocrisy in disguise? Could this be subversion in
disguise? Allah Knows.
are obligated to warn, to argue in the best manner (words, manners, conduct): "To
call for justice, for the release of the slave (mentality), for the feeding of
the hungry, for the housing of the homeless, for the sharing of wealth."
We must warn against Riba, against arrogance,
against mis-education, against waste and lack of
economic productivity. Cannot we hear? Are we deaf? Do we not know that we have
Watchers over our souls?
Posted September 17, 1998. This article is
based on a speech delivered at the First Annual ISNA/Dar Al-Hijrah
Conference in April 1994. A revised edition was printed in the August 1994
issue of the Voice of Islam newsletter. (This newsletter is published by the
Islamic Society of the Washington Area).