Extremism entails holding extreme views and taking extreme actions on the basis of those views. Extremism is one of the flaws of human psyche. In Islam, it is one feature of human ,behavior that has been condemned and totally abhorred. Extremism is a translation of many terms in Arabic: ghulul, tashaddud, tanatta’ all of which come with the meaning of going beyond the appropriate measure, rigidity and inflexibility.
In their response to the message of Islam, Muslims are divided into three groups:
1. Those who adhere to the message of Islam and remain steadfast along its path.
2. Those who become very negligent and lackadaisical, not coming up to the limits set by Allaah
3. Those who go to the extreme, above and beyond the limits set by Allah.
There have been strong warnings not to go beyond bound in religious expression. Allah says:
'These are the limits ordained by Allah, so do not transgress them. if any do transgress the limits ordained by Allah, such are the wrongdoers." (Q2 (Baqarah):229)
The limits are the furthest boundaries of what is permissible from the allowable acts, regardless of whether they be commanded or not. Transgressing the limit means going beyond it and not stopping at it. Such transgression is actually one of the goals of Shaytan. In general, he seeks either one of the deviations: extremism or lackadaisicalness. The religion of Islam is a balanced position between the lax person and the extremist.
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) also warned us against extremism in strong terms. Ibn Abbas (RA) said that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) asked him to collect some pebbles for him to use during the stoning of the pillars during the pilgrimage. He brought him small sized pebbles. When he put them into the Prophet's hand, the Rasul(salallahu alayhi wa sal/am) said:
''How fine ore Ike this size. Beware of going beyond the bounds of the religion. The people before you were destroyed by going to extremes in the religion." (Ahmad)
There are many ways in which extremism is demonstrated and the following represents a few of them:
1. Exuberance of assumptions and inquiries about what has not happened yet or things that have no beneficial impact on faith and its practice. Such questions as 'was the ant that Prophet Sulaiman (alayhi salam) heard its voice, a male or female? or 'what is the name of Prophet Musa's mother?' have no bearing on a Muslim's imaan an as such unnecessary. Allah warned us to be careful with our questionings:
"0 you who believe! Ask not about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if you ask about them while the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you. Alfaah has forgiven that, and Mari is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing." (Q5[Maidah]: 10 )
A man asked Ubayy bn Kab (RA) questions on some matters. Ubayy said. '0 son, has this ever taken place?' He said, 'No' Ubayy said, "So wait until it takes place, so that I may think of the answer and then tell you." (Daarim)
2. Exaggeration in doing voluntary acts of ibaadah to an extent that leads to abandoning what is obligatory. For instance, a Muslim may spend the entire night praying, trying not to sleep until he fell asleep by the end of the night. He thus becomes unable to pray the fair saloat in congregation at the mosque.
3. Rejection of allowances and ease that Allah has provided His servants at certain times and in certain cases of hardship preferring to bear such hardship. For instance, Allah has allowed the use of tayammurn for one who is ill and unable to use water for ablution. If such a person went ahead to use water inspite of available ease, then he is an extremist.
4. Accusing people of disbelief only because they have committed a form of disobedience or a major sin. A man may also accuse of disbelief the one who does not accuse others of disbelief.
Environment: A person may be brought up in an environment that considers extreme reaction as valor and such individual may not have the intellectual capacity to make independent judgment and he may just take a cue from his surroundings.
Relying on Oneself for Knowledge: A person may sincerely desire to acquire Islamic knowledge but yet unaware of the correct path to take. He may rely on his own judgment in this regard. He may be concerned with books that may lure him into this flaw, Books present silent viewpoints and cannot answer the question reading or reality may give rise to.
However, if this knowledge is sought through a trustworthy teacher, the teacher may be able to answer the questions and clarify misunderstandings due to his deep insight, experience and knowledge.
Acquiring Knowledge from the Ignorant: A Muslim who have desire to acquire knowledge may find no credible person to teach him and may unfortunately fall into the hands of some ignorant people who would push him into this flaw. The Prophet (saliallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
"Allah does not take away knowledge by taking it away from the hearts of people, but takes it away by the death of the (religious) learned men till none of the learned men remains, people will then take as scholars ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead people astray" (Bukhari)
Absence of Scholars: The absence of scholars who are capable of regulating thought, vision and even behaviour may lead to extremism particularly in the presence of the zeal of the youth who crave to improve the situation of the Muslin i community. These youth push themselves forward to bear the banner and rely on themselves in understanding and deducing juristic rulings, so they easily fall into extremism.
Before being Competent: A Muslim may deal with fatwa and ijtihad before being competent. To be competent, he must be able, for example, to connect the parts with the whole, refer the Quranic verses that are not entirely clear to the verses that are basic or fundamental and clear, gather between the different points on opposition or preponderance, and not consider what is apparent in the text before probing deep in it and realizing its goals and purposes.
Extremist are often repulsive to the general people because of their demand from them what will place on them undue stress, Abu Masud (RA) narrated: "A man came and said, "O Allah's Messenger! By Allah, I keep away from the Morning Prayer only because so and so prolongs the prayer when he leads us in it." The narrator said, never saw Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) more furious in giving advice than he was at that time. He then said:
some of you make people dislike good deeds (the prayer). So whoever among you leads the people in prayer should shorten it because among them are the weak, the old and the needy." (Bukhari)
Wasted Time & Efforts
The extremist because of his rejection of all facilities and ease provided to him by Allah spends considerable length of time and energy on acts that may earn him little or no reward to the detriment of deeds that are easy and more rewarding.
Worry & Psychological Disturbance
Those who are afflicted with extremism may wish to drive others to comply with their own warped understanding of the application of the laws of Islam and when their desire is met with rebuff and rejection, the result will be worry and psychological disturbance and sometimes assault on others.
Allah's judgment must be applied as regards the Islamic creed, worship, morals, rules, legislation, thought and behavior. This will satisfy the inherent instinctive behavior of the extremist.
Active scholars and preachers should be encouraged to play their roles and perform their duties towards Islam and Muslims.
There should be proper clarification of true import of servitude to Allah, call to Allah and giving fatwa so that tho who do not belong to its people would find their own level.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited