Chapter Two
Causes of Extremism

Extremism does not originate haphazardly. It must indeed have causes and motivation. Like living organisms, events and actions do not come out of the blue and cannot germinate without seeds. Rather, they are governed by the law of cause and effect-one of Allah's sunan-in His creation. Knowledge of the causes in this respect is essential to enable us to define the remedy which, medically speaking, must always be preceded by diagnosis. But diagnosis is impossible-at least extremely difficult­when causes are not known. With this in mind, we endeavor to examine the causes and the motives which have generated extremism­a term which has become synonymous with ghuluw, i.e., excessiveness in religion.

We must realize at the outset that no single cause is wholly responsible for the spread of extremism. It is a complex phenomenon with numerous interrelated causes, some of which are direct, others indirect, some found in the distant past, others in the present. Consequently, we should not focus on one cause and totally ignore the others, as do people who advocate some schools of thought. Psychologists, and especially psychoanalysts, for instance, attribute all behavior to certain subconscious psychological causes. Meanwhile, sociologists point to man's helplessness vis­a­vis social and environmental influences; for them, man is simply a lifeless puppet whose strings are in the hands of society. The advocates of historical materialism emphasize economic forces which, they argue, create events and change the course of history. On the other hand, others who hold a more comprehensive and balanced view believe that the causes are complex and interrelated, producing various effects which, although differing from one cause to another, have their undeniable impact in the final analysis. It is important that we should not concentrate on one cause of extremism, as its causes are varied and could be direct or indirect, manifest or latent. The causes of extremisim may be religious, political, social, economic, psychological, intellectual, or a combination of all of these. The main cause may be in the extremist himself, in his relationship with the members of his family, or-if deeply analyzed-may be found in his society and all its contradictions between faith and behavior, ideals and reality, religion and politics, words and actions, aspirations and achievements, the secular and the divine. Naturally, if these contradictions are tolerated by the old they, cannot be tolerated by the young. If some young people do tolerate and bear contraditions, they do so only temporarily.

Extremism may also be initated by the corruption of regimes, i.e., the despotism of rulers, their egotistic pursuits, their adherence to the views of corrupt counsellors and advisers as well as various foreign enemies of the Ummah, and their total disregard for the rights of their peoples. These practices have severed the bond between religion and the state.

Undoubtedly, one of the main causes of extremism is a lack of knowl -edge of-and insight into-the purposes, spirit, and essence of din. However, such a lack, which does not imply total ignorance, does not lead to extremism or excessiveness, but rather to their opposites, i.e., degeneration and laxity. It implies, however, semi­knowledge. A person ma' presume-and sometimes genuinely believe-that he knows all there is to know; that he is a scholar, a faqih. But actually he has no more than a hodgepodge of undigested and unassimilated "knowledge" which neither enhances insight nor clarifies vision. A person possessing such "knowledge" concentrates on marginal and trivial issues only, and thereby fails to see the relationship between the parts which form the whole (and the whole itself) or between the categorical and fundamental texts vis­a­vis the allegorical ones. Further, this person cannot synthesize or give preponderance to evidence over mere considerations. Aware of the danger of such semi­knowledge. Abu Ishaq al Shatibi' (RA'A) discussed it in his book al l'tisam. He argued that self­presumption and conceit are the root causes of bid ah as well as the disunity of the Umma, and could lead to internal schism and gradual disintegration. He asserted that when a person unduly presumes himself or is presumed to be knowledgeable in religious matters and capable of exercising ijtihad. and when he acts accordingly, claiming that he has the right to present different opinions and interpretations, whether the verdicts and opinions pertain to minor aspect or to major aspect of din, thus he cites majoraspects, to pull down major ones; he is indeed a mubtadi' In the following hadith, the Prophet (SA'AS) warned against such a person:

Allah does not take away the knowledge by taking it away from [the hearts of] the people, but takes it away when none of the 'ulama' remain, and people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray. Some of the learned infer from the above hadith that people are never led astray by genuine 'ulama: but in the absence of the latter people turn to semi 'ulama' who lead them astray by giving incorrect advice. Thus it has been said that a trustworthy person never betrays a trust, but the traitorous one does. We add to this: a genuiune 'alim never innovates, but a semi­'alim does.

Anas ibn Malik (RA'A) narrated: "Rabiah was once seen weeping bitterly. When he was asked whether a calamity had befallen him, he replied, 'NO, but people are seeking fatwa from persons who possess no knowledge.

The fact is that semi­knowledge, coupled with vanity and pride, is more dangerous and subversive than an admitted total ignorance, because the former is the ignorance of a person who is not aware of his limitations. Such ignorance manifests itself in various ways, the most important of which is sticking rigidly to the literal meanings of the texts in total disregard for their essence and purposes. The phenomenon is not new: Centuries ago the Zahiriyah school of thought did exactly the same. The adherents of this school rejected both ta'lil al ahkam and consequently qiyas, because they believed that Sharfah differentiates between the identicals and equates the variants.

The contemporary Zahirtyah follows the old one by seeking to regulate acts of ibadah and tran~sactions without any kind of rationalization, reflection or attempt to understand their deeper meanings. Perhaps the only difference between the two schools is that the adherents of the old one were much more committed to their convictions, while their successors never admit that they only blindly stick to the negative attitudes of their predecessors, i.e., total rejection of talil. My own opinion, as well as that of other 'ulama' who have studied the matter deeply, is that 'ibadah is the cause and purpose of the obligatory duties which are not, and can never be, an object of an assessment. However, the teachings which are aimed to regulate our lives can be, and must be, analyzed. It is wrong, therefore, to claim that a person who gives money to poor Muslims or finances useful Islamic projects can dispense with hajj; nor should it be claimed that giving the price value of hady al tamattu' in sadaqah or qiran during hajj is better than the actual sacrifice. It is equally inconceivable to say that modern taxes can replace zakah, the third pillar of Islam and one which is on a par with Salah. In fact, Sala. is rarely ever mentioned in the Qufan without zakah following immediately, or in the verse that follows after. Nor, of course, should Ramadan be replaced by another month for siyam, nor Friday by another day for salat al jumah, which is obligatory for Muslims. But in matters other than the purely devotional ones, we can examine the reasons and take account of the underlying meanings and purposes. Once we grasp those we can base verdicts upon them and either accept or reject them.

Let us examine the following text:

  1. It is related in an authentic hadith that a Muslim should not carry a copy of the Qurtan when traveling in the land of the kaffar or the enemy. But if we examine the reason underlying this prohibition, we conclude that the Prophet (.SA'AS) prohibited this out of his concern that the ku;ffar might do harm to or defile the Book. In the absence of such harm or defilement, Muslims can take it with them wherever they wish. This is the customary practice among all Muslims today. Indeed, people of other religions and faiths now compete to distribute their "sacred books" and utilize all possible means in the process. Muslims are trying to do the same through translations of the meanings of the Qur'an for nonArabic speakers.
  2. Another authentic hadith prohibits a Muslim woman from travel­, ing unless she is accompanied by a mahram.' Surely, the main purpose of this prohibition was to protect women at a time when traveling was a laborious and dangerous experience. Presently, however, the means of transportation used by travelers have considerably reduced the risks faced by a woman traveling on her own. Her husband, for instance, can take her to the airport and see her off. When she arrives at the other end, a mahram can meet her and convey her safely to her ftnal destination. In fact, the Prophet (.SA'AS) foresaw such a development, for he said that there would come a time when people could travel from Iraq to the Ka'bah (in Makkah) fearing none except Allah (SWT).

  3. The Prophet (.SA'AS) also did not permit a Muslim who had been away from his family for a long period of time to arrive back at night. He himself used to return only in the mornings or early evenings. There are two reasons for this. First, arriving home unexpectedly after a long absence may indicate that the husband mistrusts his wife and intends to take her unawares. This kind of mistrust is not acceptable in Islam. Secondly, it is argued that the prohibition seeks to give the wife the right to know of her husband's arrival so that she may beautify herself for him. But in modern times a traveler can come home any time he likes, on the condition that he informs his wife by telephone or by letter, telex, telegram, etc. Further, today's traveler cannot always choose when to travel, for he is governed by schedules and timetables. Therefore, such a prohibition cannot be taken at its face value; it must be analyzed on the basis of its original purpose and intent with regard to the circumstances of time and place.

As previously mentioned, compulsory obligations related to 'ibadah cannot be rationalized in order to exclude zakah by claiming that it is part of the financial and economic system rather than of 'ibadah. Zakah, in addition to being a pillar of Islam-as a religious duty and a divine prescription-constitutes a significant and permanent source of income in Islamic Shariah, and is therefore, a pillar of the Islamic economic system as well. That is why all madhahib apply rational deduction on its ahkam including qiyas because of zakah's actual or potential growth like wealth. Personally, I believe that it is obligatory for Muslims to give ten percent (one­tenth) or five percent (half of one­tenth) of all the produce of cultivated lands to the poor, whether fruit or grain, fresh or dry, edible or not. All the necessary reasons are there, i.e., growth, the established right of the needy to the money of the rich as well as to the vegetables of the growers, who need to be purified and sanctified:

Of their goods take alms, that so you might purify and sanctify them" . However, a contemporary Zahiri, (literalist) rejected the foregoing argument by quoting a hadith which says, "There is no sadaqah on vegetables." He also argued that there is no precedent in the Prophet's practice to show that he took zakah on vegetables. I replied that the first argument is false, for the hadith is weak and is therefore an inconclusive evidence against the overall spirit of the Quran and Sunnah. This hadith has not been authenticated by any of the hadith scholars but was only reported by al Tirmidi, who eventually classified it as weak, adding that nothing authentic can be attributed to the Prophet (SA'AS) in this respect.

The second argument is also false for two reasons, one of which was put forward by al Imam Ibn al 'Arabi, who said that there was no need for citing this kind of evidence as the issue is categorically dealt with in the Qur'an: "Eat of their fruit in their seasons, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered". The second reason is that even if there was no precedent in the Prophet's practice, we should deduce that he might have left the matter to the conscience of his followers, since in those days it was difficult to preserve fruits and vegetables.

However, the contemporary Zahiri literalist persisted that there is a hadith which restricts zakah only to dates, raisins, wheat, and barley. But this hadith is also weak. It has not been authenticated by any of the scholars, and it has not, therefore, been taken as evidence by aqy of the madhahib. Hence, how could it stand as evidence against the comprehensive audmenticated texts which institute zakah as obligatory c n all the produce of land as stated in the following Qur'anic verse:

It is He who produces gardens with trellises and without dates and filth with produce of all kinds, and olives and pomegranates, similar [in kind] and different [in variety]. Eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered.

And in another:

O you who believe' Give of the good things which you have earned, and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you.

There is also an authentic hadith which makes the rendering of zakah more inclusive than the contemporary literalists would like to admit. The Prophet (SA'AS) said: "One­tenth on a land watered by rivers or rain [i.e., easy, natural irrigation]; five percent on a land watered by saqiyah [artificial irrigation]."'

These texts are not confined to a particular produce, and the obligatory rendering of one­tenth­or half of one­tenth­is clearly evident. This was what Abu Hanifah deduced from all the above texts and later accepted by 'Umar ibn 'Abd al 'Aziz. This interpretation is in tune with the essence and purposes of Sharfah. May Allah (SWT) bless the Maliki Imam and just judge Abu Bakr Ibn al 'Arabi, who pointed out that the views of Abu Hanifah regarding this issue are sounder than those put forward by the others. These views were expressed in al 'Arabi's interpretation of the Our'anic verse: "It is He who produces gardens. and in his explanation of the aformentioned hadith, "On a land watered by rivers.''

After presenting the evidence put forward by different madhahib and showing their weaknesses, Ibn al'Arabi says in A,hkam al Quran 2/947 "Abu Hanifah made the [previously mentioned] verse his mirror [guide] and was consequently able to see the truth." He also says in Sharh al Trmidhi:

With regard to this issue, Abu Hamfah's madhab provides the most solid evidence, shows the most provident care for the deprived and gratitude for Allah's bounties, all of which are evident in the general content of the verse and the hadith. In conclusion, failing to see the relevance between the ahkam and their reasons will lead to dangerous contradictions when we differentiate between the similar ones and equate the variants; this is contrary to the justice which is the basis of Shari'ah. It is true that psuedoscholars too often indulge in such complex issues seeking (without knowledge or insight) reasons for ahkam, and thus unjustly extend their domain without authentic evidence. This should not hinder our endeavor to give people their due right, or to open the gate of ijtihad for those who are qualified and capable, warning at the same time against intruders and parasites.

1. Occupation with Side Issues

Intellectual shallowness and lack of religious insight also manifest themselves in an intense interest in marginal issues at the expense of major ones-those which could affect the existence, identity, and destiny of the whole Ummah. There is excessive and unnecessary talk about growing a beard, wearing clothes below the ankle, moving of the finger during reading the tashahhud in prayer, acquisition of photographs and so on. Unfortunately, such time­wasting arguments persist and occupy our thinking at a time when we are being confronted by the unrelenting hostility-and infiltration-of secularism, communism, Zionism, and Christianity, as well as deviationist groups in the Muslim world. Christian missionaries are waging a new crusade against the Ummah with the intent of undermining its historical and Islamic character. Muslims are being mercilessly slaughtered in various parts of the world; Muslim du'at are being subjected to the worst forms of intimidation and aggression.

Strangely-and indeed tragically-I found that those who emigrated to the United States, Canada, and Europe in pursuit of knowledge or to earn a living have actually brought with them such conflict and controversies on marginal issues as are prevalent in their societies. I have often witnessed-or heard about-violent debates and stormy arguments which have succeeded in creating disunity among Muslims on issues that are subject to extrapolation and ijtihad, some of which I have already outlined, and on which jurists will continue to differ and people are unlikely ever to agree. Instead of such futile wrangling, it would be far better for these Muslim expatriates to concentrate their efforts on disseminating true adherence to Islam among themselves, especially among the young, committing them to the obligations, and helping them to avoid major prohibitions. If Muslims in these countries succeeded in accomplishing these things, they would realize a great hope and open up new opportunities for the dissemination of Islam. It is a pity that those who initiate and encourage these confrontations are well known for their negligence of essential religious duties, i.e., kindness to parents, cautious investigation of what is permissible and what is prohibited, execution of their own tasks, and respect for the rights of their spouse, children, and neighbors. However, instead of improving themselves, they derive great pleasure from initiating conflicts which eventually lead them to take either a hostile or a hypocritical position.

Such wrangling is the subject of the following hadith: "People going astray after guidance are bound to be argument­stricken.

It is also not uncommon to find people warning Muslims not to eat animals slaughtered by the People of the Book (the Christians and Jews) although there are many past and present fatawa which have legitimized this. Yet, if we examine the attitude and behavior of these people with regard to other more serious matters, we find that they engage in some definitely forbidden practices. This reminds me of a man living in the United States who, I was told by trustworthy brothers, spoke in full­throathed clarity against eating the meat of animals slaughtered by Jews or by Christians, yet he did not mind eating with others at the same table while they were drinking alcohol. Nonetheless, he unreservedly takes this extreme stand against uncertain and controversial matters. Such contradictory behavior of some Muslims once outraged 'Abd Allah ibn 'IJmar (RA'A) when a man from Iraq asked him-following the murder of the great Muslim martyr al Husayn ibn 'All (RA'A)-whether it was halal or haram to kill a mosquito. Ahmad related in his musnad:

As I was sitting with Ibn 'Umar, a man came and asked him about the blood of a mosquito. (In another version of the hadith, the man asked about a pilgrim killing a mosquito). Ibn 'Umar asked the man: "Where are you from?" The man answered, "From Iraq." Then Ibn 'Umar said: "Look at this man! He is asking me about the blood of mosquitoes when they [the Iraqis] killed the Prophet's grandson (i.e., al Husayn ibn 'All (RA'A). I heard the Prophet (SA'AS) saying: they [al Hasan and al Husayn] ale my two sweetest­smelling flowers of this world.

2. Excessive Extension of Prohibitions

One of the indications of this shallowness, of the lack of a thorough knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and of Shariah, is making things difficult through an invalid extension of prohibitions despite the very clear warnings against this in the Qur'an and Sunnah: But say not­for any false thing that your tongues may put forth: "This is lawful and this is forbidden," so as to ascribe false things to Allah. For those who ascribe false things to Allah will never prosper.

The Prophet's companions as well as the early righteous forebears never prohibited anything unless they were sure that it was categorically so. Otherwise, they used to recommend against it, or express their abhorrence of it, etc, but never categorically declared it haram. Extremists, however, hastily prohibit without reservation, out of piety and coutiousness, if we take them to be well­meaning, or possibly out of other motives known only to Allah (SWT). If there are two opinions in Islamic jurisprudence about a certain issue, one declaring it mubah and the other makruh, the extremists abide by the latter; if it is declared makru,h by one and haram by another, they also favor the latter. If there are two opinions, one which facilitates while the other makes things difficult, they also follow the latter. They persistently adhere to Ibn 'Umar's hard-line opinions, but never accept Ibn 'Abbes' facilitations. This tendency is largely due to their ignorance of the point of view which avails facilitation.

To illustrate this point, I would like to relate the following incident which I myself witnessed. One day, an extremist saw a man drinking water while he was standing. The extremist roughly asked him to sit down because such an action was a deviation from the Prophet's Sunnah. Confused, the man remained standing. He was then told that if he were a true Muslim, he would immediately induce vomiting to purify himself. At this point I gently intervened, telling the extremist: "The matter does not deserve this harshness. Standing is a minor controversial issue which does not deserve outright condemnation or harshness." The extremist then said that there is a haith which categorically forbid it, and require "whoever absentmindedly does so to induce vomiting." My reply was: "But the ahaith which permit drinking while standing are more authentic and were therefore cited by al Bukhari in a chapter in his Sahih entitled "Drinking While Standing, but he cited none of the a,hadith which forbade it. Furthermore, al Tirmidi as well as others, reported several a hadith which testify to this. It is also true that the Prophet (SA'AS) drank water while standing during his farewell hajj. Moreover, it is narrated that 'AIi ibn Abu Talib (RA'A) drank while standing and said "Some people dislike drinking while standing, but I saw the Prophet (SA'AS) doing it, just as you see me doing it now.

Al Tirmidi also reported the permissibility of drinking while standing, basing this on the sayings and practices of a number of the companions of the Prophet (RA'A). According to al Tirmidi, Ibn' Umar said:

"During the time of the Prophet (SA'AS) we used to eat while walking and drink while standing"

Kabshah also said: "I came once upon the Prophet (SA'AS) and saw him drinking from a suspended waterskin."

The interpretations handed down to us by the most reliable scholars of the hadith show that although there is a clear encouragement to drink while sitting, there is no prohibition of drinking while standing. These scholars argue that the a,hadith which encourage the former were revoked by other ahaith, and that this was confirmed by the practice by Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman end 'Ah (RA'A). Therefore, in such an entangled issue, it would be totally wrong to forbid a person to drink water while standing.

Similarly, many young people today engage in speculationsabout the proper Islamic dress. Such speculations are based on the following sound hadith: "The part [of the garment which hangs] below the ankles is in the fire.'' In their desire to adhere to this hadith, many young people wear above­the­ankle garments and also seek to impose a similar style on people around them. Such pressure on others engenders ill­will on both sides, and charges of extremism or nonadherence to Islamic norms will certainly be levered by both parties against each other. The ahadith which warn Muslims against wearing garments below the ankle, are qualified by other ahadith which, upon a deeper reading, reveal the reason for this prohibition. Below­the­ankle garments were once seen as manifestations of pride, arrogance, and extravagance.

For example, the Prophet (SA'AS) answered: "Allah will not look, on the Day of Resurrection, at the person who drags his garments [behind him] out of conceit.

Abu Bakr (RAA) once said to the Prophet (SA'AS): "My hangslow if I do not take care of it," and the Prophet (SA'AS) answered: "You are not of those who do so out of conceit."

For this reason, al Nawawi and other Mulsim scholars contend that wearing such a garment is makruh but a makruh can become mubah when there is a compelling reason.

3. Misconceptions

Such afore­mentioned examples of contused thinking and blurred vision of the fundamentals of Islam, its shari'ah and the aims of its message have led to many misconceptions in the minds of Muslim youth. Such misconceptions need to be fully explained and carefully defined as the form the basis of relating to others judging and reforming them. Some of the most important misconceptions include concepts like Islam, iman kufr nifaq and jahiliyah etc. Linguistic complexities or a lack of mastery of the Arabic language by some people have led to confusion and misunderstanding. The complexities of language escape the non­experts. Consequently, they become unable to differentiate between the figurative or metaphoric and the literal meanings, thereby confusing matters. They are unable to realize, for instance, the difference between absolute (or perfect) iman and limited (or nominal) iman; between perfect Islam and limited (or nominal) Islam between major kufr leading to non­lslam and the kufr of disobedience between major shirk and minor shirk; between hypocrisy of belief and hypocrisy of action. They also equate the jahiliyah of ethics and behavior with that of belief. The following is a brief clarification of these concepts with a view to preventing dangerous consequences.

Absolute (or perfect) iman combines what a person believes, say and does. This is the kind of iman referred to in the following Quran verses:

For, believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened and put [all] their trust in their Lord. Successful indeed are the believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers .

Only those are believers who have believed in Allah and HisApostle, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the cause of Allah: Such are the sincere ones .

The same concept of iman is also expressed in the following ahadith:

Anybody who believes in Allah and in the Last Day should keep good relations with kith and kin...he should say what is good or keep silent.

In another, iman is defined by negating what is not:

None of you will have zman until he wishes for his [Muslim] brother what he wishes for himself.

The Prophet (SA'AS) in another hadith defines iman:

When an adulterer commits fornication, he does not have iman at the time he is doing it; when somebody drinks alcoholic drink, he does not have iman at the time of drinking; and when a thief steals. he does not have iman at the time when he is stealing.

It is important to notice that in the last two ahadith iman is defined by negation. This means that the reference here is to absolute or perfect iman not to iman as when you say: "He who does not practically apply his knowledge is not a scholar." Negation here is of perfect knowledge rather than limited knowledge. Perfect iman is also referred to in the following hadith: Iman consists of seventy branches [i.e., parts] and haya is part of iman."Abu Bakr al Bayhaqi in his book al Jami li Shuab al Iman likens iman to a tree. The trunk symbolizes the fundamental articles of faith which represent religious observances, manners, ethics, and transactions. Just as a trunk is essential to the existence of the tree, so are the fundamental articles of faith essential to the believer. Conversely, since the tree could survive even in the absence of some of its branches, so a believer's status in the fold of Islam is in proportion to what remains of the branches of his iman. The basic iman was defined by Angel Jibril: "Iman is to believe in Allah, his angels, books, messengers and the divine destiny."

Al Hafiz ibn Hajar wrote in Fath al Bari:

Our righteous forebears said: "iman is a belief in the heart, an utterance by tongue, and a practice of the fundamentals of faith." They meant that translation of iman into practice is a requisite for its perfection. In this sense, they believed that iman can increase or decrease. The Marjiyah contended that iman is a belief and an utterance only; the Karamiyah believed that utterance is enough; the Mu'tazilah believed that it consists of practice, utterance, and belief. The difference between them and the righteous forebears is that the former considered practice as a necessary condition for the truthfulness of iman, while the latter considered it as a necessary condition for its perfection. But perfection is only Allah's; for us, declaration of iman in utterance is sufficient. Once this is done, the person is to be judged in accordance with the Shari'ah but cannot be considered a kufir unless he commits an action of kufr, i.e., prostrates himself before an idol, which shows that he is still an unbeliever. If a person commits an act of sinfulness, short of apostasy or blasphemy, he may or may not be considered a believer depending on his utterance of iman; a person may be judged as a non-believer according to the concept of perfect iman. If a person is accused of kufr he is to be judged by committing an action of kufr. If a person is exonerated from the accusation of kufr, he is to be judged according to his practice of iman.

Islam could signify a person's utterance of shahadah which is the gateway to Islam; a kafir becomes a Muslim as soon as he witnesses that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger, even before performing Salah or giving zakah, because these forms of ibadah are only accepted from a Muslim. He only needs to accept these duties and commit himself to them, even if he does not practice them. It is the utterance of shahadah that secures protection of his life and property. The Prophet (SA'AS) said: "If they [people] utter it [shahadahl, they safeguard their lives and properties from me so long as they fulfil its responsibilities. They are accountable to Allah." The term, Islam, may also be used to mean the five pillars, as mentioned in the Prophet's noted hadith, narrated by Ibn 'Umar: "Islam is based on five pillars: to witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muh. ammad is His Messenger; to perform salah; to give zakah; to do siyam during Ramadan ; and to perform hajj."

Hadith literature contains Jibril's definition of Islam. When the Prophet (SA'AS) asked libril to tell him about Islam, the latter said: "Islam is to worship Allah alone and to associate no other beings with Him to perform Salah, to give the ordained zakah, and to do siyam during Ramadan . In libril's words we can find the difference between the concepts of iman and Islam; it is also evident that the two terms can be used synonymously, if they are linked together each is implicit in the other. There is indeed no iman without Islam, and no Islam without iman.

iman pertains to the heart; Islam pertains to bodily action and outward behavior, as we can see from the following hadith: "Islam is overt, iman is [what is believed] in the heart. The same definition of iman and Islam is found in the following Quranic verse: "The desert Arabs say: 'We believe'. Say: 'You have no faith: but you [only] say: 'We have submitted our wills to Allah, for not yet has faith entered your hearts"

Islam can also be used to signify perfect Islam as in the following hadith: "Islam is [the state when] your heart submits [completely] to Allah, and when you avoid harming Muslims with your tongue or hand" Also in two other ahadith: "A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands," and: "You are a Muslim when you wish for people what you wish for yourself." In juristic language, kufr signifies the rejection and denial of Allah (SWT) and His messages, as in the following Qur'anic verses:

Anyone who denies Allah, His angels, His books, His Apostles, and the Day of judgment has gone far, far astray .

Kufr could also imply riddah (apostacy), and consequently the complete loss of iman:

If anyone rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost [all spiritual good]"


And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruitin this life and in the hereafter. They will be companions of the fire and will abide therein .

The term kufr is also used to denote transgressions which are short of a total rejection of Islam and do not amount to a rejection and denial of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger. The scholar Ibn al Qayyim divided kufr into two categories-major and minor. Major kufr leads to eternal punishment in Jahannam, minor kufr leads to temporary rather than eternal punishement in Jahannam. Consider the following ahadith: "Two things if practiced by my Ummah are manifestations of kufr: false accusation about a person's lineage and lamentation of the deed." And: "He who has anal sex with his wife commits kufr in what was revealed to Muhammad." And: "If a person seeks a diviner or fortune­teller and believes in him or her, he commits kufi in what was revealed to Muhammad."And also: "Do not revert to kufr after my death by killing one another." This is the interpretation of Ibn 'Abbas as well as the majority of the Prophet's companions of the following Quranic verse: "And if any fail to judge by [the light of I what Allah has revealed, they are [no better than] unbelievers"

There are various interpretations of the above verse. Ibn 'Abbes says: "It is not kufr which excludes a person from the fold of Islam, but it has an element of kufr in it, because the person who commits it does not deny Allah and the Last Day." .Tawus exressed the same opinion. 'Ata said: "This is kufr or an injustice or fisq which can be greater or lesser in degree than another." Others, like 'Ikrimah, argued that those who do not judge in accordance with what Allah (SWT) has revealed commit kafr. But this argument is weak, because sheer rejection of Allah's revelation amounts to kufr whether a person has judged in the light of Shari'ah or not. 'Abd al Aziz al Kinani believes that kufr comprises negligence to judge in accordance with all that Allah (SWT) has revealed, including tawhid and Islam. But this is also farfetched, for the reference in the verse is to the rejection of all or part of what was revealed.

Al Baghawi reported that most jurists are agreed that the reference is to those who deliberately contradict the text of which they are neither ignorant nor confused. Qatadah and al Dahhak are of the opinion that kufr in the above verse refers to the People of the Book, i.e., the Jews and the Christians. But this contradicts even the literal meaning of the verse and therefore cannot be accepted. Some jurists maintain that it signifies a form of kufr which indeed excludes a person from the fold of Islam. Ibn al Qayyim says:

fudging contrary to what Allah (SWT) has revealed contains both types of kufr, the major and the minor, according to the attitude of the person making the judgment. If he believes that a judgment must be passed according to what Allah (SWT) has revealed and a punishment decided, but refrains from doing so out of disobedience and transgression, in that case he commits minor kufr. But if he believes that it is not obligatory and that he is free to act, notwithstanding his conviction that it is divine, he then commits a major kufr. But if he acts out of ignorance, or makes an unintentional mistake, he is only to be judged as a wrongdoer.

The gist of the matter is that all transgressions and disobedience are types of kufr implying ingratitude, because gratitude requires compliance and obedience. Therefore, human endeavor could be manifest in gratitude, or in kufr, or in something other than the two. Only Allah (SWT) knows.

Shirk is also divided into two categories: major and minor. Major shirk is basically to worship beings other than Allah (SWT) or to associate other beings with Him. It is the subject of the following Qur'anic verse: "Allah does not forgive that partners should be set up with Him: but he forgives anything else to whom He pleases" .Minor shirk involves such practices as taking a sacred oath in the name of someone or something other than Allah (SWT), or believing in the power of amulets to bring good or bad fortune. This shirk is the subject of the following ahadith: "He who takes an oath in the name of any other than Allah commits kufr," and "He who wears an amulet commits shirk," and ``Charms (ruqa), amulets (tamaim; tonwiz), and mascot (tawlah) are [all] shirk.

Nifaq (hypocrisy) is also major and minor. A major nifaq is to cherish kufr while pretending iman in order to deceive: it is mentioned in the following Qur'anic verses:

Of the people, there are some who say: 'We believe in Allah and the Last Day" but they do not [really] believe. Fain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves and realize [it] not!


When they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe"; but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: "We are really with you. We [were] only jesting" . This is the kind of nifaq which is mentioned in Surat al Munafiqin, as well as in other Qur'anic verses. It is the same nifaq which Allah (SWT) promises to punish:

The hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: You will find no helper for them . Minor nifaq signifies the nifaq of believers, i.e. the behavior of a Muslim who genuinely believes in Allah (SWT) and in the hereafter, but retains hypocritical characteristics. This is best described in the following ahadith:

The signs of a munafiq are three: whenever he speaks, he tells lies; whenever he promises, he breaks his promise; and if he is trusted, he proves to be dishonest. Whoever has the following four characteristics will be a blatant munafiq, and whoever has one of these characteristics will have an element of nifaq, until he gives it up: if he speaks, he tells a lie; if he is trusted, he betrays; if he makes a convenant, he proves treacherous; and if he disagrees he behaves in a very impudent, evil, and insulting manner.

This is the kind of nifaq which the companions of the Prophet (SA'AS) and our righteous forbears feared most. They said in describing it: "None but a munafiq will rest assured against this kind of nifaq which is only feared by a true believer.

4. Emphasis on Allegorical Texts

It is important to point out here that a root cause of extremism and of misunderstanding of religious matters, in the past as well as in the present, is emphasis on allegorial texts and disregard of the categorical ones: the allegorial ones are those with implicated and unclear meanings; the categorical are those whose meanings are clear, manifest and defined. Laying emphasis on allegorical texts cannot be the attitude of those with knowledge and insight, but of those who cherish deviation in their hearts. The Qur'an states:

He it is Who has sent down to you [Muhammad] the Book: in it are verses basic or fundamental [of established meaning]; they are the foundation of the Book; others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for hidden meanings, but no one knows its true meanings except Allah.

Extremists and innovators of old used such allegorical texts as their final evidence, neglecting and overlooking the fundamental categorical ones. Extremists today do exactly the same: using the allegorical to define and determine important concepts which result in serious and grave consequences when used as bases for judging individuals or groups, for assessing their behavior, and for classifying them as either friends or enemies, believers or kuffar who must be fought.

Such shallowness in understanding and hastiness in making judgments, without careful investigation or comparision (since the fundamental, categorical texts were neglected, and only the allegorical considered) caused the Khawarij to fall into the trap of takfir, considering all Muslims but themselves as kuffar. On the basis of strange "religious" notions and delusions, they fought the great Muslim 'All ibn Abu Talib (RA'A), although they were among his followers and soldiers. The main reason for their disagreement with 'All (RA'A) was his decision to accept arbitration to settle his differences with Mu'awibn Abu Sufyan in order to maintain the unity of his army and to save the lives of Muslims on both sides. The Khawarij, however, rejected any arbitration because of their misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Qur'anic verse: "...the command is for none but Allah", and accused 'All (RA'A), one of the first Muslims to give in the cause of Islam his essential support, of deviation. AIi replied to their citing of the above verse with his famous saying: A word of truth twisted to serve basil [falsehood]."

The fact that the command and all authority in all matters are for Allah (SWT) alone does not mean that human beings are forbidden from arbitrating and judging subsidiary issues within the framework and injunctions of the Shariah. Abd Allah ibn 'Abbas, who had deep insight into and knowledge of Shariah, debated the Khawarij on this issue and refuted their arguments, citing and­referring to verses in the Quran which sanction various types of arbitration.

The following verse, for instance, sanctions arbitration to settle differences between a husband and a wife:

If you fear a breach between them twain, appoint [two] arbiters, on from his family and the other from hers. If they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation .Another instance of arbitration can be seen in the discretion that the arbitrators can exercise in judging a pilgrim who hunts and kills while in pilgrim garb:

O you who believe! Kill not game while in the sacred precincts or in pilgrim garb. If any of you does so intentionally, the compensation is an offering, brought to the Ka'bah, of a domestic animal equivalent to the one he killed, as adjudged by two just men among you; or by way of atonement, the feeding of the indigent, or its equivalent in fasts, that he may taste of the penalty of his deed .

Some people who do not carefully examine and contemplate the Quran and Sunnah and consider them in their entirety, seeking balance between the affirmed and the negated, comparing the specific with the general or the absolute with the limited, believing well meaningfully in the categorical and the allegorical; All such careless people will inevitably go astray, lose clarity of vision, and make haphazard judgments.

This is the trap into which those who nowadays hasten to brand others with kufr have fallen, and into which the Khawarij of old fell. According to al Shatibi, the fundamental cause behind this extremism is ignorance of, and undue presumptions about, the purposes and meanings of Shariah, which cannot be the practice of a person who is versed in Islamic knowledge.

It is worthwhile to reiterate the case of the Khawarij to whom reference has already been made. Is it indeed instructive to contemplate how they "slipped out of religion as an arrow would slip out of its kill," which testifies to the Prophet's description of them as those 'who recite the Qur'an but [its teachings] never touch their hearts." This probably means-and Allah (SWT) knows best-that their verbal recitation of the Qur'an is just a physical exercise that never influences or affects them. This also recalls the previously quoted hadIth about, "...taking away of knowledge."This interpretation is in tune with one advanced by Ibn' Abbas (RA'A) as reported by Ibrahim al TaymI both in Abu 'Ubayd's Fada'il al Qur'an and in Sa'id ibn Mansur's interpretation of the Qur'an:

'Umar ibn al Khattab once wondered, while sitting alone, why people who follow one Prophet and turn their faces to the same qiblah in salah are tormented with disagreement. 'Umar then sent to Ibn' Abbas and asked him: "Why should this Ummah be tormented by disagreement when it has the same Prophet and the same qiblah?" (Sa'id adds to this "and the same Book." Ibn' Abbas answered: "The Quran was revealed and we read it and comprehended the reasons for its revelation. But there will come people who will read the Quran and fail to understand the occasions and subjects of revelation. As a result they will make different interpretations and will, therefore, disagree.

Sa'id ibn Mansur added:

Ibn 'Abbas said; "Every group of people will have an opinion about the Qur'an, which will lead to disagreement, and then to fighting." But 'Umar and'AIi, who were also present, did not like this [Ibn 'Abbas'] ominous explanation and they reproached him. But no sooner had Ibn 'Abbas left than it occurred to 'Umar that there might be some truth in what he said. He sent for him again and asked him to reiterate what he had told them earlier. After careful consideration, 'Umar recognized and appreciated what Ibn 'Abbas said.Al Shatibi wrote:

Ibn' Abbas was right. When a person knows the reason behind a certain verse or surah, he knows how to interpret it and what its objectives are. However, ignorance of that leads people to misinterpret it and to have different opinions, without an insight and knowledge which could lead them to the truth and prevent them from indulging ignorantly in such matters with no support or evidence, and therefore go astray and lead people astray.

This can be demonstrated by what is reported by Ibn Wahab from Bakir who asked Nafi': "What does Ibn 'Umar think of the Haruriyah, i.e., the Khawarij, who were also called the Haruriyah after the place-Harura-where they gathered and were fought by 'Ali ibn Abu Talib and the companions of the Prophet (SA`AS) who supported him?" Nafi' answered:

"He [ibn 'Umar] thinks they are the most evil of people. They applied the verses which pertain to the kuffar to the believers." Sa'i d ibn Jubayr explained this, saying that among the allegorical verses misinterpreted by the Khawarij are: "If any do fail to judge [by the light of ~ what Allah has revealed, they are [no better than] wrongdoers", which they usually combine with "Yet those who reject Faith hold [others] as equal with their Guardian­Lord". Therefore they reached the conclusion that if a ruler does not rule justly he commits kufr, and he who commits kufr associates others with Allah and therefore commits shirk. On this basis they declare people mushrikun and fight and kill them. This indeed is the kind of misinterpretation and misunderstanding which Ibn' Abbas has warned against, and which results from ignorance of the meaning intended in the revelation.

Nafi' said: "Whenever Ibn 'Umar was asked about the Harurtyyah, he used to say: 'They declare Muslims as kuffar, sanction the shedding of their blood and the confiscation of their property; they marry women during their 'iddah; and marry women who are already married and whose husbands are still alive. I know of no other people who deserve to be fought more than them."

5. The Need To Acknowledge and Respect Specialization

One of the causes of the extremists' shallowness and lack of insight is that they never listen to people who hold different views, never accept any dialogue with them, and never imagine that their own views could be tested in the light of others and be either contradicted or refuted. Many of them have not been taught by reliable Muslim ulama' specialized in the field. Rather, they have received semi­knowledge directly from books and newspapers without any opportunity for revision or discussion which could test the learner's understanding and analyze the depth of his knowledge. They simply read, "understand," and then deduce what they wish. However their reading, understanding, and deduction may well be wrong or deficient.

There might be someone somewhere who opposes their opinions on stronger and more valid foundations, but they are not aware of that because nobody has drawn their attention to such a possibility. These devout young people have ignored the fact that if they want to study Shariah, they must seek the help of reliable Muslim scholars. They cannot venture into this extensive and sophisticated discipline without the guidance of such reliable scholars who can interpret and explain obscurities, define terms, and point out similarities and the relationships between the parts and the whole. Those who venture into it alone will meet with the same catastrophic results which would certainly befall the unskilled swimmer who into deep waters. Proper knowledge of Shariah cannot be perfected without practice and close contact with the experts, especially in those areas where opinions diverge, evidences seem to contradict each other, and certain matters seem to be confusing. This is why our forebears 'ulama' have warned us not to seek to study and understand the Quran through a person who has only memorized it without any knowledge of its contents, nor to seek knowledge through a person who has acquired his own "knowledge" from reading books and journals only, without being properly tutored by reputable and qualified scholars.

Seeking knowledge of Islam alone and only through books reflects the young people's complete loss of confidence in the professional ulama and learned scholars, especially those patronized by the authorities, because they believe that such people have lost the courage to disagree with rulers who go astray. Not only are the religious scholars silent about rulers, atrocities and their negligence of Shari'ah, but they too often-and quite hypocritically-glorify and commend them for such deplorable actions. It would be better for such ulama' to at least keep silent rather than to support batil (falsehood).

It is not surprising therefore, that young Muslims have decided that they can only trust past rather than present­day ulama and consequently have sought the former's books for knowledge and guidance. When I once asked one of these devout young Muslims why they do not try to seek knowledge through learned ulama: he said to me: "And where do we find the 'ulama we can trust? There are only those who are puppets in the hands of rulers; those who unscrupulously give fatawa to permit or to prohibit in accordance with the whims and wishes of rulers; those who bless socialism and consider it Islamic should the ruler happen to be a socialist, but should he happen to be a capitalist then capitalism is blessed and considered Islamic! Those 'ulama who declare that peace with the enemy is haram and munkar when a ruler decides to wage war, but quickly give support and blessings for such peace when the ruler's policy is changed; those who '...make it lawful one year, and forbidden another year.; those 'ulama who have equated between the mosque and the church, between Muslim Pakistan and pagan India!'

My reply to this was: "We should not generalize. There are indeed 'ulama' who have condemned batil, stood up against oppression, and refused to compromise with or support dictators, in spite of all intimidations and temptations. Many of these 'ulama' were imprisoned, subjected to all sorts of torture, and even fell martyrs for the cause of Islam. "The young man-though admitting that that is true-insisted that the power to guide, advise, and give fatawa is still in the hands of the former instead of the latter, i.e., the deviant so­called "eminent" 'ulama.'

One however cannot but admit that there is a great deal of truth in what the young man claimed. Most of the "eminent" 'ulama' who are entrusted with leadership and guidance have become mere pawns in the hands of those in authority, who direct them as they wish. Such 'ulama' need to know that keeping silent about the truth is synonymous with uttering batil; both are Satanic evils. In a debate on Egyptian television on "family planning" and "birth control" from the point of view of Shari'ah, one of the speakers, a well­known Muslim scholar, asked­to the astonishment of the chairman-whether the aim of the debate was to advocate or oppose "family planning", so that he could be on his guard! May Allah (SWT) bless the preceding generation of 'ulama', one of whom courageously addressed a very influential member of the regime in Egypt in the past saying: "He who stretches his legs to look for work does not need to stretch his hands to beg.". One wishes that the contemporary scholars who have been deficient in belief and piety could enrich and deepen their knowledge, in general, and fiqh in particular!

The fact is that devout young people who genuinely desire to deepen their knowledge of Islam have come in contact with well­known 'ulama', illustrious in the circles of rhetoric and letters, only to find that the latter's knowledge of the Qur'an and Sunnah is seriously deficient.

One of those 'ulama" wrote in a daily newspaper claiming that there is no usury in transactions between a government and its subjects. He presumptuously deduced that since there is no usury between father and son, one could say that there is no usury between a government and its subjects. But the context of father and son, which this man based

his argument on, is controversial and has been the subject of considerable disagreement It is not supported by an authentic text or by consensus. How then could it be taken as a foundation upon which other matters could be analyzed and judged by analogy? Even if it could be taken as a criterion, it should have been differential analogy.

In view of this, one has to admit that the youths' disappointment in and despair of such people who are devoid of both piety and knowledge are justified. They have found that some of these 'ulama' would cite ahadith spurious in content or isnad and disregard the authentic ones which are agreed upon by all. Some would seek cheap popularity by appealing to the desires of the masses and the "elite" and never seek knowledge from its proper source. For these reasons, the young have lost confidence in them and in everything they say. Even some reputable 'ulama' whom the young used to respect and admire fell into the trap and were lured by the media to voice and express their support for the authorities, throwing all the blame on the young without listening to their arguments or points of view, or even trying to understand the reasons behind their attitudes.

On another occasion, after the Egyptian government had imprisoned many members of various Islamic groups and suspended their activities, one of the well­known 'ulama'declared in a public meeting that the Islamic groups were forsaken by Allah (SWT). He argued that if they were following the right path and were blessed by Allah (SWT), neither the police nor the army could have defeated them. Such an absurdity is no criterion for judging between truth and batil, and is downright un­Islamic.

There are many conditions and means which could lead to victory, but these may not be available to the person or group fighting for the truth, and thus they may encounter defeat. Alternatively, a person or group fighting for falsehood may be helped to triumph by certain circumstances; but such a victory can never last, however long it may endure. The ups and downs of current history amply demonstrate this. In these days defeat and victory are not determined by truth and falsehood; they are determined by the interference of superpowers. Indeed, the "victories", of Israel over the Arabs are a case in point.

Do we not all know how the committed Muslim Turks and their 'ulama', were mercilessly crushed by Ataturk and his gang? And how Islam was elbowed out of the homeland of the caliphate to be forcefully replaced by irreligious secularism that was insidiously perpetrated upon the Turkish people? Which of the two sides was following the truth, and which was following batil? Recently, some venerable 'ulama' were tortured and sentenced to death in a Muslim country because the opposed a "family law" which the government intended to enforce even though it was a stark deviation from Shari'ah. The punishment was intended to terrorize and silence all who opposed this law. The despotic authority achieved its objective and other 'ulama', indeed all the people, were silenced. Does this mean that the government was right and the sentenced 'ulama' wrong? In another Muslim country, the non-Muslim

minority rules the Muslim majority. Thousands of Muslim men as well as women are arrested and terrorized daily to suppress any opposition or rejection. When prisons are full, these men and women are liquidated Moreover, to humiliate and coerce such devout Muslims as those who do not fear death and even torture, the authorities resort to heinous atrocities the likes of which were not committed even by murderers like Hulagu, Genghiz Khan, or others; they rape their daughters, sisters, or wives in front of them.

O God! How many innocent people were killed? How many sacrosanctities were dishonored? How many sacred precincts were debased? How many time-honored mosques were demolished? How much precious wealth robbed? How many homes-indeed whole cities-were wrecked on their inhabitants? How many men, women, and innocent children were subjected to atrocities? This is the course of history, indeed of Islamic history.

Al Husayn ibn 'Ali (RA'A) was defeated by the army led by Ibn Ziyad, one of the commanders of Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan. As a result, Banu Umayyah ruled for decades, but the descendants of the Prophet (SA'AS) were not given any reprieve even during the reign of the 'Abbasiyin, their cousins. Could this be cited as evidence that Yazid was following ,the truth while al Husayn (RA'A) was following batil?

Furthermore, years later the courageous and learned commander 'Abd Allah ibn al Zubayr was defeated by the unscrupulous al Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. Then al Hajjaj crushed another great Muslim commander, 'Abd al Rahman ibn al Ash'ath, as well as a group of prominent ulama' which included Said ibn lubayr, al Sha'bi, Mutrif ibn 'Abd Allah, and many others. All of these defeats were great losses to the Ummah, especially Said ibn Jubayr of whom al Imam Ahmad said: "Said was killed at a time when every Muslim was in great need of his knowledge and learning."

It is pertinent to mention here what some Muslims said when they were overpowered by their enemies during a battle: "By Allah! Eiven if we were tom into pieces by wolves we would never doubt the truth of our convictions and the falsity of your claims." When Ibn al Zubayr and a few of his followers were besieged in Makkah, he said: "By Allah, the righteous will never be degraded even if the whole world collaborated against them. And by Allah, the wrongdoers will never be rightly honored even if the moon appeared on their foreheads!"

This is in keeping with what the Qur'an tells us of the fates of various prophets who were killed by their own people:

Is it that whenever there comes to you a messenger with what yourselves desire not, you are puffed up with pride? Some you called imposters, and others you slay!

Among such prophets were Zakariya ('AS) and his son Yahya ('AS). Could it be said that the killing of these prophets and the success of their enemies indicate that the formers stand was false? We also read in the Qur'an the story of A'hab al 'Ukhdud ('the Makers of the Pit') who made pits of fire and threw the believers alive into them while they sat around sadistically enjoying the bizarre spectacle: "And they ill-treated them for no other reason than that they believed in Allah, exalted in power, worthy of all praise.

Were these tyrants right because they defeated helpless believers and eliminated them? Were the believers wrong because their end was so bizarre? There are instances in the Qur'an which show that the believers are sometimes tested by mishaps, and that the unbelievers are tempted by success.

Allah (SWT) says:

Do men think that they will be left alone on saying: "We believe," and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false .

After the defeat of the Muslims in the battle of Uhud, the following verse was revealed:

If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others. Such days [of varying fortunes] we give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks martyr-witnesses [to truth]. . . Allah (SWT) also says of the unbelievers:

by degrees shall We punish them from directions they perceive not.

6. Lack of Insight into History, Reality and the Sunan of Allah

In addition to the lack of insight into the true teachings of Islam, we could add the lack of insight into reality, life, and history as well as into Allah's sunan in His creation. In the absence of such insight, some people will continue to seek or demand the impossible and unavailable. They will imagine what does not or cannot happen, misunderstand occurrences and events, and interpret them on the basis of certain latent illusions which are not related in any way to Allah's sunan or to the essence of Shariah. They want to change the whole fabric of society: its thought, traditions, ethics, systems; they also want to change its social, political, and economic systems by illusory means and imaginary methods. To realize these unrealistic objectives they show the courage, daring7 and sacrifice to brave death and disregard any consequences for or against them, so long as their intentions and goals are for Allah's sake and for His message. Hence, it is not surprising that such people venture into actions which others refer to as either "suicidal" or "crazy", in total disregard of the numbers that fall victims thereof.

If such Muslims would but contemplate for a moment and heed the Sunnah of the Prophet (SA'AS), they would surely find their guidance. We need to be reminded that the Prophet (SA'AS) spent thirteen years in Makkah instructing and calling people to the message and even performing Salah and ,tawaf at the Ka'bah, although it was surrounded at the time by more than 360 idols. Aware of the insignificance of his physical power as compared to that of his enemies, he never decided on a commando attack to destroy the idols. He was perceptive enough to realize that to do so was to endanger himself as well as his followers. Moreover, the physical destruction of the idols-which could easily be replaced-would not blot out the polytheism which was ingrained in the minds and hearts of his fellow tribesmen. He therefore endeavored to liberate their minds and thought from the fetters of superstition and paganism. Thus the Prophet (SA'AS) ignored the idols and concentrated his efforts on teaching monotheism and on purifying the pagan heart through piety, so that those who embraced the message would constitute a nucleus of believers who knew what they were fighting for; a group sure of success through patience and perseverance; a group that would neither be intoxicated by victory nor despondent over defeat. Indeed, there was a time when his companions, outraged by the brutalities which the pagans had inflicted upon them, requested his permission to fight back, but he always refused, realizing that the time was not yet ripe and that they had to endure until Allah (SWT) gave the permission for fighting.

One day, the Prophet (SA'AS) came upon 'Ammar ibn Yasir (RA'A) and his parents being tortured by the unbelievers. All that he did at the time was to encourage them to endure patiently, and to give them good tidings about their assured place in Jannah. Things continued in this manner until the Muslims were permitted to fight in defense of their freedom and religion:

To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to fight], because they are wronged- and verily, Allah is powerful for their aid- [They are] those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right, [for no cause] except that they say, "Our Lord is Allah.

But this permission was only given after the Prophet (SA'AS) and his companions had managed to establish a home for themselves and increase their power and authority. Thereupon they were allowed to fight their enemies. They gained one victory after another until Ailah (SWT) granted themiath4i of Makkah from which the Prophet (.SA'AS) had emigrated under the pressure of persecution), destroying the idols therein and reciting the following Quranic verse:

And say: "Truth has [now] come, and falsehood perished: for fis [by its nature] bound to perish" .

This is the pattern of history which Jamaat al Tafir wa al Hijrah group in Egypt (since the late 1960's), strangely enough, considers unworthy to accept or emulate. Such a strange and absurd attitude is the cause of the difference between two of the leading men of the group, 'Abd al Rahman Abo al Khayr and Shaykh Shukn, its founder. In his "Reminiscence,' Abo al Khayr records that the group's "lack of confidence in and reliance on Islamic history" was the fourth aspect of the difference between him and Shaykh Shukn, who considered Islamic history a series of unauthentic events." History, for Shukri, consists only of the stories narrated in the Quran, and therefore he prohibited any interest in or study of the periods of the Islamic caliphate.

Reflect on such an unreasonable, narrow-minded, and shallow conception, one which considers-on "religious grounds"-the study of Islamic history haram. A history of a nation, with all its positive and negative aspects, its victories and defeats, is a rich mine upon which that nation draws in order to reconstruct and redirect its present. A nation which neglects its history is like a person who has lost his memory; or like a nation without roots or sense of belonging or direction. How could any group make such an unhealthy and abnormal condition the basis of its survival? Further, history is the mirror in which Allah's sunan are reflected in the whole universe in general and in human life in particular. This is why the Qur'an has given special attention to the impact of the historical perspective and the wisdom that can be drawn from it. There are various Qur'anic references to this. Let us contemplate the following verses:

Many were the ways of life that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth .

Allah's sunan, however, are characterized by consistency-they never change or alter:

They swore their strongest oaths by Allah that if a warner came to them, they would follow his guidance better than any [other] of the peoples: but when a warner came to them, it only increased their flight [from righteousness], on account of their arrogance in the land and their plotting of evil. But the plotting of evil will hem in only the authors thereof. Now are they but looking for the way the ancients were dealt with? But no change will you find in Allah's way [of dealing]; no turning off will you find in Allah's way [of dealing] .

As Allah's sunan are common factors for all, His ways of dealing with those who follow evil are the same in all cases and apply to all people irrespective of their religion, as well as of time and space. We have an instructive example in the battle of Uhud, when the Muslims paid dearly for disregarding the Prophet's advice, and which is clearly pointed out in the Qur'an:

What! When a single disaster smites you, although you smote[your enemies] with one twice as great, do you say: "Whence is this?" Say [to them]: "It is from yourselves: for Allah has power over all things" .

Another verse makes clear the nature of the mistake which led to their defeat:

Allah did indeed fulfil His promise to you when you with His permission were about to annihilate your enemy,-until you flinched and fell to disputing about the order and disobeyed it.

The assertion that history is a series of doubtful events may be true with respect to some trivial incidents, but the general direction and the fundamental events are well known and are well authenticated by more than one source. Even those events which are doubtful can be investigated by the learned in order to determine the truth and to sift out any errors, fabrications, or exaggerations.

However, we are not only concerned with Islamic history but with the whole history of humanity, that of Muslims and non-Muslims, ever since the beginning of creation. Wisdom is not drawn from the history of the believers alone, but from that of the atheists as well as from both the pious and the profligate, because Allah's sunan - like natural patterns-operate upon both parties without any favoritism towards the monotheist or the pagan.

Indeed, we cannot comprehend the Quran properly or acknowledge with gratitude the favor conferred upon us by Islam unless we understand the erroneous nature and practices of jahillyah referred to in the following verses:


...While, before that, they had been in manifest error.

...And you were on the brink of a pit of fire, and He saved you from it.

This is also the essence of the following saying by 'Umar ibn al Khattab (RAA): "The bonds of Islam will be undone, one by one, as some Muslims become ignorant with [the evil nature of] jahilyah [and fail to appreciate Islam]."

Although many of the people concerned about Islam and its propagation have neither carefully studied nor comprehended history, they nevertheless have not prohibited its study by themselves or by their followers as some extremists have done. The study of history is not just a recognition of events in their time sequence, but an activity that requires insight and perception into the events in order to comprehend their essence, draw wisdom from them, and spell out Allah's sunan in them. Mere observation of the ruins of earlier nations serves no purpose. The following verse shows that insight into history cannot be realized by such observations or by simply hearing about them:

Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts [and minds] may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts.

Historical occurrences repeat themselves and resemble each other because they are governed by consistent laws which set them in motion and adjust them. This is why Westerners say: "History repeats itself," and the Arabs express the same notion: "Tonight is similar to last night."

The Qur'an refers to the observable similarity in attitudes, utterances, and actions due to the similarity of the thoughts and visions which emanate from them:

Those without knowledge say: "Why does not Allah speak unto us? Or, why does not a sign come unto us?" So said the people before them words of similar import. Their hearts are alike. We have indeed made the signs clear unto any people who hold firmly to faith [in their hearts].

Allah (SWT) also said of the pagans of Quraysh:

Similarly, no messenger came to the peoples before them, but they said [of him] in like manner: "A sorcerer or one possessed!" Is this the legacy they transmitted to one another? Nay, they are themselves a people transgressing beyond bounds.

This similarity between the attitudes of the former and the latter nations toward Allah's messengers and the hastiness with which the people accused the messengers of sorcery or madness is not the result of transmitted legacy between the two, but because both are unjust and transgressing. Since the cause, i.e., transgression, is common to both, the attitude is the same.

Those who comprehend the importance of history and the operation of Allah's sunan in it can-and should-learn from the mistakes of past generations Happy will be those who take a lesson and a warning from the mistakes and misfortunes of others and seek, nevertheless, to adopt their good. Wisdom, wherever he finds it, is a believer's goal, because he is more worthy of it than anyone else.

7. Two Important Sunan

Hasty enthusiastic Muslims usually overlook two important sunan, i.e. gradation and that achieving goals requires the allowance of due time.

First: Gradation is clearly manifest in the process of creation as well as in legislation. Allah (SWT) is able to create the heavens and the earth in less than the twinkling of an eye: "Be, and it is". Yet he created them in six of his days, i.e., in stages, known only to Him because they are different from our concept of "day." Gradation is also apparent in the creation of all living organisms which grow in stages until they reach maturity. The same process can also be seen in dawah, which began with the inculcation of monotheism to liberate tminds from the fetters of paganism and superstition. When that was firmly established, wajibat and muharramat were then gradually introduced, as in the case of salah, siyam, zakah, and the prohibition of alcohol, etc. And in this we see the difference between Makh and Madan texts.

'A'ishah (RA'A), describes the process of gradation in the introduction of Shariah and the revelation of the Qur'an: "The first Quranic verses to be revealed were those in which Jannah and Jahannam were mentioned [Later], when people embraced Islam, verses dealing with halal and haram were revealed. If verses prohibiting drinking alcohol and practicing fornication were revealed first, people would have said, 'We would never give up drinking or fornication."

Hence those who call for the return to the Islamic way of life and the establishment of the Islamic state must take into consideration the necessity of gradation for the realization of their goals, taking into account the sublimity of the goal, their own means and potential, and the multiplicity of impediments. This brings to mind the example set by the righteous Caliph, 'Umar ibn 'Abd al 'Aziz, who successfully reconstructed life on the model set up by the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. But the process of reconstruction was not easy. Even his own son, 'Abd al Mailik, a very devout and enthusiastic Muslim, thought that his father was too slack in his attempts to eradicate all traces of deviation and aggression. He once addressed his father saying: "O, father, why don't you implement [reforms swiftly]? By Allah, I would not care if you and I perish for the sake of the truth " But 'Umar replied: "Do not be hasty my son. Allah condemned alcohol twice in the Qur'an and prohibited it only on the third time. I fear if I force all the truth on people [at once] they would reject it all at once. This may causefitnah."

Second: The second of these sunan is complementary to the first, i.e., everything has an appointed term during which it reaches ripeness and maturity. This applies to the material as well as the moral. Nothing should be harvested before its appointed time; crops cannot be harvested before they have ripened. Rather than being useful, unripe fruit and vegetables can cause harm. And just as crops need time-sometimes a long time-to mature, the true meanings and values of great actions become apparent only after many years. The longer actions take to mature, the greater they are. The endeavors of one generation often materialize in the following one, or even much later. There is indeed no harm in this if everything takes its planned natural course. During the Prophet's early days in Makkah, the unbelievers used to mock him whenever he warned them of the punishment awaiting them if they persisted in rejecting Allah (SWT), and therefore they asked him to hasten this punishment, not realizing that it must take its course and could neither be delayed nor hastened:

They ask you to hasten on the punishment [for them]: had it not been for a term [of respite] appointed, the punishment would certainly have come to them: and it will certainly reach them, of a sudden, while they perceive not!.

And: Yet they ask you to hasten on the punishment! But Allah will not fail in His promise. Verily, a day in the sight of your Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning.

At this stage Allah (SWT) advised the Prophet (.SA'AS) to persevere just as the earlier prophets had done and not to hasten in invoking Allah's punishment on them:

Therefore patiently persevere, as did [all] the messengers of inflexible purpose; and be in no haste about the [unbelievers] .

Allah (SWT) reminded the Prophet (SA'AS) and his followers of the unflinching perserverance of earlier prophets in the face of hardships, the prolonged struggle, and the difficulty of awaiting victory: Or do you think you shall enter the garden [of bliss1 without such [trials] as came to these before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried, "When will the help of Allah come?" Verily, the help of Allah is [always] near. Indeed, Allah's ordained victory is near, but it has an appointed time known only to Him, for He does not hasten things as His creatures do. For this reason, the Prophet (SA'AS) used to advise his companions to be patient and not to expect victory before its appointed time. The following incident demonstrates this point: When Khabab ibn al Arat complained to the Prophet (SA'AS) of the great suffering which he encountered for the sake of Islam and asked him to invoke Allah (SWT) for help, the Prophet (SA'AS) was so angry that his face became red and he said:

[A believer] before you used to be cut off with iron cutting tools so that nothing of his flesh or nerves remained beyond his bones, and another used to be sawed (alive) into two parts, but neither would abandon his religion. By Allah, He will surely make Islam prevail so that a traveler from Sana [in the Yemen] to Hadramawt [in Oman] will not fear [during his journey] anything except Allah, and the wolf for his sheep. But you are [always] impatient.

8. Islam: A Stranger in Its Homeland

Perhaps the most alarming and unbearable factor for any ardent, committed Muslim, especially the young, is the lack of adherence to the teachings of Islam in Muslim countries where perversion, corruption, and falsehood are rampant. Marxism and secularism are being propagated openly and publicly. The contemporary "crusaders" plan and act to in filtrate everywhere without fear. The media, in addition to clubs and "heaters, spreads obscenities and misconduct. Half-naked, drunken women roam the streets tempting and provoking; drinking alcohol is legally available and common. Every aspect of distraction or sensual entertainment in the form of obscene literature, songs, plays, films, and pornographic material is being designed to corrupt and to deepen ignorance of Islam and to hamper faith.

In addition, the committed Muslim observes daily that the legislation-which is supposed to embody the beliefs and values of the Ummah in the forms of laws upholding its morals and punish those who transgressendorses all that is forbidden by Shariah and advocates corruption, because existing legislation does not derive from divine guidance but from secular philosophies. No wonder, then, that it sanctions as lawful what Allah (SWT) has prohibited and prohibits what He has made permissible. It also neglects obligations ordained by Allah (SWT) and renders the specific punishments assigned to prohibited deeds by Allah (SWT) or the Prophet (.SA'AS) inoperative. Moreover, the young witness daily the deviation of most of the rulers of Muslim countries-those who were entrusted with this responsibility. They unashamedly make friends with the enemies of Allah (SWT) and show hostility and enmity towards those who fear Him and who endeavor to call for the divine truth; the former enjoy the rulers favoritism and protection, the latter their wrath and oppression. Islam is seldom mentioned, except on national and "religious' occasions to deceive and beguile the masses

Furthermore, the young constantly witness clear social injustices and great disparity between the poor and the rich, between those who can hardly exist and those who waste millions on gambling and women; they see mansions which cost millions but are only occasionally- if ever-used while millions of Muslims remain unsheltered; they hear of fortunes smuggled abroad to be kept in secret foreign accounts, while millions of Muslims are content with the little that is still denied them, those who can hardly feed their children or buy medicine for the sick and old. Yet, if those who usurp oil revenues, or those who have benefited from the policy of economic cooperation with the West, or the agents of big international companies, donated but a portion of the wealth thrown away on gambling or on women, it would relieve a great deal of poverty as well as feed and shelter tens of thousands. Countless riches and public funds are being usurped in broad daylight; bribery and favoritism aredeeply rooted. Those who commit these thefts always escape justice. but those who commit relatively insignificant misdeeds are harshly and severely punished. Such injustice has created bitter feelings of envy, hatred, and malice between the various sectors of the community. The advocates of destructive ideologies exploit these feelings of bitterness to kindle the fire of class struggle and social hatred, and manage to create an atmosphere where their imported alien ideologies can be accepted as alternatives In that atmosphere the advocates of such ideologies find a large number of people willing to listen to them, not because of a rational acceptance of their ideas but as a reaction to and hatred for prevailing conditions.

There is nothing enigmatic about the root cause of this tragic condition. Islam, as a way of life, with all its comprehensiveness, vision, justice, and balance is almost absent from the scene, a stranger in its homeland. It has been removed from public life, from the economic and public affairs of the state, from legislation and from international relations, and has been cornered in a private relationship between the individual and his Lord-a situation akin to that of Christianity during the period of its decadence. Islam has been made a din without Shariah, a religion without a state, a Qurian without authority.

Islam has been made to suffer the consequences of a past alien to its own history and to its Ummah. The history of the Catholic church in the West was rampant with disasters and negative attitudes in which the church aligned itself with despotism, with unjust monarchs and feudal lords against the helpless masses. It initiated the Inquisition, which persecuted and tortured men of knowledge and new ideas; scholars and scientists were burnt alive; ignorance and aggression were forced on societies in the name of religion, i.e., of Christianity. It is no wonder then that the masses revolted against it and sought to liberate themselves. There is no reason, however, that Islam should bear the consequences of this black and alien history, only to be banished from any influential place in legislation and in guidance of the Ummah and to be confined to the conscience of the people or to the mosque-a tongue-tied "mosque" which is always under secret service surveillance. Even there, Islam is not allowed to command the common good and forbid that which is evil and undesirable.

The problem can basically be attributed to the imposition on Muslim Societies of secularism-an alien trend which is at odds with all that is Islamic Secularism teaches the separation between religion and the state, legislation and authority-a concept unknown throughout the history of the Muslim Ummah. Islam and the Shariah were always the source of 'ibadah, of legislation, public transaction, traditions, and ethics. True, there were a few cases in which the rulers and their subjects deviated from the right path, but there was not a single incident in which Shariah was neglected in settling disputes or differences between opposing parties. Even the most despotic rulers, such as al Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, did not have the impudence to reject a verdict based on the Qur'an and Sunnah. This distinction is important, because there is a tremendous difference between deviating from Shariah for personal ends, envy, negligence, anger, etc., and denying its superiority over other systems; for Shariah should overrule everyone and everybody by virture of its nature and capacity as embodying. Allah's word and judgment: "Do they seek after a judgement of [the days of] ignorance? But who, for a people whose faith is assured, can give better judgment than Allah?"

No wonder then that the conscience of this generation of young Muslims-confronted with this state of affairs-is shocked to find that non-Muslim countries adapt their lives in accordance with their ideologies, philosophies, or concepts about faith, existence, God, and man; yet the Muslim alone is coerced to undergo a conflict between his beliefs and his reality, between his din and his society. In this respect, I wrote: Secularism may be accepted in a Christian society but it can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society. Christianity is devoid of a shari'ah or a comprehensive system of life to which its adherents should be committed. The New Testament itself divides life into two parts: one for God, or religion, the other for Caesar, or the state: "Render unto Caesar things which belong to Caesar, and render unto God things which belong to God" (Mathew 22:21). As such, a Christian could accept secularism without any qualms of conscience. Furthermore, Westerners, especially Christians, have good reasons to prefer a secular regime to a religious one. Their experience with religious regimes"-as they knew them- meant the rule of the clergy, the despotic authority of the Church, and the resulting decrees of excommunication and the deeds of forgiveness, i.e., letters of indulgence.

For Muslim societies, the acceptance of secularism means something totally different; i.e., as Islam is a comprehensive system of worship ('ibadah) and legislation (Shari'ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari'ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah's in junctions; It is indeed a false claim that Shariah is not proper to the requirements of the present age. The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humane' limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: "Say! Do you know better than Allah?".

For this reason, the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shariah is downright riddah. The silence of the masses in the Muslim world about this deviation has been a major transgression and a clear-cut instance of disobedience which have produced a sense of guilt, remorse, and inward resentment, all of which have generated discontent, insecurity, and hatred among committed Muslims because such deviation lacks legality. Secularism is compatible with the Western concept of God which maintains that after God had created the world, He left it to look after itself. In this sense, God's relationship with the world is like that of a watchmaker with a watch: he makes it then leaves it to function without any need for him. This concept is inherited from Greek philosophy, especially that of Aristotle who argued that God neither controls nor knows anything about the world. This is a helpless God as described by Will Durant. There is no wonder that such a God leaves people to look after their own affairs. How can He legislate for them when He is ignorant of their affairs? This concept is totally different from that of Muslims. We Muslims believe that Allah (SWT) is the sole Creator and Sustainer of the Worlds. One Who " . .takes account of every single thing" that He is omnipotent and omniscient; that His mercy and bounties encompasses everyone and suffice for all. In that capacity, Allah (SWT) revealed His divine guidance to humanity, made certain things permissible and others prohibited, commanded people observe His injunctions and to judge according to them. If they do not do so, then they commit kufr, aggression, and transgression.

Devout and committed young Muslims daily witness all these evil abominable, and un-Islamic practices, but do not know how to confront them. They cannot change things by physical force or by voicing their concern and opinion. The only way for them is to condemn these practices in their hearts, though this is the least manifestation of iman. But this internal tumult cannot be suppressed forever, and must eventually explode.

In addition to all this, the Muslim world and all that Muslims hold sacrosanct are under attack. Various non-Islamic powers-Zionist, Christian, Marxist, pagan and so on, which forget their fundamental differences and join forces in an open-or coven-campaign against any signs of an Islamic revival or any form of an Islamic movement or state. For this reason, all non-Islamic issues find material and moral support from the East anthe West. But Islamic issues find no real or practical support from this or that camp. Allah (SWT) has referred to such in His book: "The unbelievers are protectors, one of another".

It is impossible for a Muslim to observe with silence and indifference the tragic mishaps that beset his Ummah, (or to watch his brothers in Islam being slaughtered like animals, or convened to Christianity, or misled into falsehood and ignorance). What about Muslim brotherhood and the solidarity of Muslims? A Muslim must believe in the brotherhood of Muslims. He should be proud of belonging to the best Ummah that has ever evolved for mankind. Furthermore, he must believe that Muslims, irrespective of their nationalities or language, are one Ummah in which the person who is least in rank is responsible for all and where all join together in solidarity against the enemy, and accept the Prophet's hadith that "he who does not concern himself with the affairs of Muslims is not a Muslim". Daily news brings to the concerned Muslim reports of the sufferings of his fellow Muslims in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Eritrea, Somalia, Cyprus, India or other places where either an oppressed Muslim minority or a subjugated Muslim majority exist. In addition, the young observe with indignation that such happenings do not elicit any adequate response from the governments of other Muslim countries. Instead they are completely indifferent to the persecution of fellow Muslims and they either impose a blackout on such news or, even worse, side with the enemies of Islam. The concern of Muslim rulers is for their parochial, regional, national, or racial interests, or loyalty to certain foreign powers rather than loyalty to Allah (SWT), His Prophet (.SA'AS), His din, His Ummah and its cause.

Muslim youth are also aware that all of these negative attitudes towards Islamic causes-locally and internationally-are initiated by foreign forces, and carried out by some Muslim rulers who act are mere puppets manipulated by Zionist, Christian, or atheist powers. These forces initiate a sense of fear in the hearts of these rulers about an Islamic revolt, convince them of a potential danger, and incite them to crush the Islamic groups or movement-they always fall into the trap!

One of the main issues that has created frustration and resentment in the minds and hearts of the young Muslims during the last two decades is the 1967 Six-Day War between Arabs and Israel-a major catastrophe whose impact was intentionally minimized when those responsible for it, as well as their accomplices, called it "the set-back" insted of "defeat". The young Muslims in Arab countries were brought up with the conviction that Israel was a parasite, an alien to the area, created by aggression and usurpation, and that the liberation of Muslim land from this foreign body was a national and religious obligation; that Israel had no right to occupy a land that did not belong to it. The late Haj Amin al HusaynI (RA), muff' of Palestine, said in this regard: "Palestine is not a country without a people to accept a homeless people!" However, after the catastrophic defeat of the Arab regimes in 1967, politics in the Arab world took a new turn whose main objective became "the reparation of the effects of the aggression," i.e., recognition of the existence of Israel. In fact, this means that the 1967 Israeli aggression has legalized the previous ones. If that is so, then what was the reason for the 1949, 1956, and 1967 wars? Why did the Arab regimes not agree to recognize Israel from the beginning and relieve the Ummah of the tragic consequences of these wars? This was followed by the "initiative" of the so called "peaceful solution" and peace treaties. But such an endeavor was disappointing and frustrating to the aspirations of Muslim youth. The authorities in Egypt tried to justify these on military and political, local as well as international, considerations. But all this was a severe shock to the hopes and the aspirations of Muslim youth. The shock was augmented by the fact that all of the major powers supported the illegal existence of Israel although the rights of the Arabs and Muslims were obvious. This led to the inevitable conclusion- supported by authentic evidence-especially among the youth, that a contemporary "crusade" assuming a new form is being waged against Islam. These feelings greatly influenced the Muslim youth who sensed that the old crusading spirit still motivated a large number of Western politicians and leaders who view the whole Islamic world, as well as any Islamic movement, with inherited hatred accumulated through centuries of struggle with the Muslim Ummah.

Many Muslim intellectuals, however, very much doubted the reality of this Western crusading spirit, claiming that national interests are paramount and are usually the sole motives for the West when taking a political or a military decision or action. But recent and current circumstances have clearly demonstrated to these optimists that they have been wrong and that the crusading spirit is still alive. I am not speaking of Generals Allenby or Gourand but of our own contemporaries: Why does the West support Israel to exist on Muslim land? Why does the United States challenge the whole world by vetoing every United Nations resolution that condemns Israel? Why does it support Ethiopiathough a Marxist country for many years-against Eritrea? Why is there a blackout on all Muslim causes, yet a great deal of fuss is made about far lesser incidents, i.e. the hijacking of an airplane? Why is the Muslim blood cheaper than that of others? There seems to be no explanation for this other than the existence of a devilish alliance of Zionist, Christian, and atheist powers for a vicious and united campaign against Islam and Muslims.

In the opinion of devout young Muslims, all the rulers of the Arab and Muslim countries are mere "pieces on a chessboard" and puppets in the hands of the secret powers which rule the world. They see military coups d'etat and major political changes in the Muslim world as mere maneuvers by foreign powers to bring to office persons who are incapable of managing anything, but are made to appear as heroes. There may be some exaggeration in all this, but on the whole, the suspicions of the young are partly well-founded and supported by many events and incidents which strongly establish the conviction that the rulers are accomplices in a devilish strategy which seeks to nip the Islamic reawakening in the bud. The youth strongly believe that these rulers only appear to be true national leaders concerned for their people and their religion, while in reality they are no more than paid agents serving the enemies of the Ummah.

9. The Impediments Imposed on Da'wah and Du 'ah

Another cause of extremism pertains to the freedom - indeed duty- to call people to Islam. It is a truism that Islam teaches a person not only to be pious and righteous but also to endeavor to reform others. This is the purpose of the obligation to call people to righteousness, to command the common good and forbid that which is evil and undesirable, to join together in mutual teaching of truth and of patience. From the Islamic point of view, every Muslim is required to call to Islam to the best of his or her ability. The following verse is addressed to every Mluslim: "Invite [all] to the Way of your Lord. . Furthermore, every follower of the Prophet (SA'AS) is a daIyah, as the following verse makes clear: "Say: This is my way. I invite unto Allah-with evidence as clear as the seeing with one's eyes-I and whoever follows me".Henceforth, the motto of the reformers: "Make yourself righteous, and call others to righteousness." The Qur'an says: "Who is better in speech than one who calls [men] to Allah, works righteousness, and says, 'I am of those who bow in Islam"'.

Islam does not want a Muslim to work alone. The Prophet (SA'AS) said: "Allah's hand [of support] is with the group,' end also: "A believer to another believer like a building whose different bricks enforce one another." Cooperation in kindness and in commanding righteousness not only a religious obligation but a vital necessity. It is no wonder, therefore, that collective work in the field of dawah is an obligatory duty, because that without which a wajib (obligation) cannot otherwise be completed is in itself a wajib. The fact that non-Muslim ideological forces work collectively in the form of blocs, parties, and associations makes it incumbent upon Muslims to counter these forces by similar techniques Otherwise, we will continue to lag behind, totally unable to do anything while others achieve progress. For this reason, the gravest sins committed by some of the governments in Muslim countries are the censorship of the freedom to call people to Islam as a din and a system of beliefs and a way of life, and the intimidation of du'ah and those who call for the application of Shariah, the establishment of the Islamic state, the unity of the Ummah, the liberation of Muslim land, and the support of all Islamic causes. This pressure on da'wah and du'ah, and the restriction of all forms of Islamic work, especially the collective one, is one of the main causes that generates extremism. This is especially so since the adherents of secular philosphies and ideologies are allowed to organize themselves in groups and to disseminate their ideas with complete, freedom and support and without any interference or restriction. It is illogical to grant complete freedom-in Muslim land-to the advocates of secularism, Marxism, liberalism, and so on, to establish parties, organizations, newspapers, and magazines, and alone censor Islam and its du 'ah, who speak for the majority of the people.

Dawah to Islam, as a positive and comprehensive din and a way o life, faces censorship and suppression in many Muslim countries. The only form of Islam allowed is that upheld by the dervishes and the professional traders in religion; the "Islam" of the ages of backwardness and decadence; the "Islam" which only celebrates occasions, supports despotic rulers, and prays for them to have a "long life." It is an "[slam" based on "Divine pre-determination" and "no-choice" in belief, sanctions Islamically condemmed bida (innovation) in 'ibadah (worship), permits passive ethics and intellectual rigidity, and encourages emphasis on minor rather than major and vital issues. Those who follow and promote this "Islam" are patronized by corrupt and despotic rulers. Even the irreligious, secularist rulers bless this form of religiosity, show respect and support to its advocates in order to enable them to lull the deprived masses and induce them to the status quo, and engage the youth in a web of illusions, symbols, terms, and trivialities. In this way, they sabotage their zeal for jihad, their determination to fight against injustice, perversion, and corruption. Perhaps this is what led Marx to claim that "religion is the opiate of the people."

But the authentic original Islam, which is contained in the Quran and the Sunnah-understood and practiced by the companions of the Prophet (SA'AS) as well as the Tabi'un-as the embodiment of truth and power, honor and dignity, sacrifice and jihad, is - as we have mentioned earlier-rejected by those in authority because it kindles the spirit of revolt against injustice and darkness, and teaches its adherents to emulate the practice of " . .those who preach the messages of Allah and ,fear Him, and fear none but Allah".

In this conviction and clarity of vision, they believe that since sustenance and the duration of a person's life are determined by Allah alone, there is no reason to fear or to seek support from anyone except Him. In contemporary Turkey, a Muslim country, which had been the headquarters of the caliphate for several centuries, the leader of a popular party-who was deputy premier at the time-was led from his ministry into prison. He and his followers were brought to court, accused of calling for the application of the Shariah in a country where 98% of the population are Muslims! The prosecution brought fifteen charges against them, all of which centered on their endeavor to change Turkey from an irreligious secular state that opposed Islam (the religion of the Turkish people) to a state that respects its religion and abides by its injunctions, as is consistent with the requirements of iman. The military authority which rules Turkey by force pledges obedience to Ataturk (Mustafa Kamal), the founder of secular Turkey, rather than to Allah (SWT) and His Prophet (SA'AS). Consequently, it regards any call for the application of Shariah or the return to the Islamic way of life as a crime, even if the caller uses legal means which are acknowledged and sanctioned by all "democratic systems," one which the authorities enjoy praising. These devoted Muslims were not prosecuted for using force and violence to topple the government, but simply because they believed in Islam- the faith of their fathers and forefathers-and sought to call to it by wisdom and amicability through legal platforms and constitutional channels. The military prosecutor accused them of raising the following slogans: "Islam is the only course," "Muhammad (SA'AS) is the sole leader:' "Shari'ah and Islam are one and the same," and "The Qur'an is the constitution."

Is it possible for any Muslim-who accepts Allah (SWT) as his Lord, Islam as his din, and Muhammad (SA'AS) as his Prophet-to deny these? What could Muslims who aspire to live in accordance with the teachings of Islam do while kaufr is prescribed and 'iman is rejected; while haram is made lawful and halal unlawful? Are these not unnatural situations the root cause of excessiveness and extremism?

In one of the Afro-Arab countries which is considered part of the Free World, the communists are permitted to establish an official political party which engages in open activities and is protected by the constitution and laws of that country. But the Islamic trend which represents the real conscience of the nation, its beliefs, suffering, and aspirations, is prohibited from having a legal, official existence or platform. Worse, all Islamic leaders and active du 'at in that country are in prison and are being subjected to the most atrocious and heinous punishments. The only charge against them is that they declare that only Allah (SWT) is their Lord, that Truth is their ultimate goal, that Islam is the only course and source of judgment, that the word is their weapon, and that knowledge is their only provision.

Is it logical, therefore, to blame the youth who-despairing of being allowed to call for Islam with wisdom and nice preaching-have resorted to other means through which they can meet force by force and violence by violence This situation should not be allowed to continue. Islam will, in skid b Allah, find followers and supporters and a party of believers who continue to be committed to the Truth, unimpaired and unhampered by those who oppose them or those who let them down. It is in our interest to acknowledge our responsibility to let this party of believers be naturally born and give them a chance to mature and develop in a healthy atmosphere of freedom and a way from oppression or pressure; otherwise, events will take a different course unacceptable to us. Dawah to Islam and to the way of Allah (SWT) will burst forth, and unless it is given the chance to be open, without any restrictions and hinderances, underground covert activities will be attempted, which usually cause confusion and lead to extremism.

The gravest mistake of the authorities is resorting to violence, physical as well as psychological torture in prisons and concentration camps, where humans are treated as animals. In Egypt (both in 1954 as well as 1965), devout Muslims were subjected to nightmarish, frightening, unbelievable torture and punishment at the Military Prison near Cairo: they were lashed, exposed to flames, their flesh burnt with cigarettes; men, and sometimes even women, were hung upside down like slaughtered animals, while the executioners took turns scorching them until their bodies swelled up in heaps of blood and pus. Many were martyred in this beastial way while their executioners showed no feaof Allah (SWT) and showed no mercy or humanity. They not only used all the forms of torture engineered by Nazism, Fascism, and Communism, but also innovated and developed new techniques.

Extremism and the tendency for tukfir were born in this notorious prison. The prisoners began by asking simple questions: Why are we subjected to this torture? What crime have we committed? Have we said anything other than that Allah-(SWT) is our Lord, Islam is our path, and the Qur'an is our constitution? In so doing, we seek nothing but Allah's pleasure. We have not sought any reward or thanks from anybody! Could commitment to the cause of Islam in a Muslim country be regarded as a crime for which we are being tortured in this way? These questions led to others: Who are these beasts who torture us, degrade our humanity, curse our religion, dishonor our sacred beliefs, mock our religious devotions and 'ibadah, and even dare to disrespect our God? One of their high-ranking officials once said: "Bring me your God and I will put him in jail:' Could these be regarded as Muslims? What is kufr if these are Muslims? There is no doubt that these are kuffar who must be expelled from the fold of Islam.

This in turn led to further questions: If this is our judgment of those who torture us to death, what should our judgment of their masters be? What judgment should be made against the leaders and rulers in authority who not only refuse to rule in accordance with Allah's injunctions but also wage war against those who call for the application of His Shariah.

In comparison with the former, the latter are worse in their kufr and more categorical in their riddah as described in the Quran: "If any fail to judge by [the light of what Allah has revealed, they are [no better than] unbelievers. Having come to this conclusion, these oppressed Muslims raised a further question addressed to their fellow inmates: What do you think of the rulers who do not judge in accordance with what Allah (SWT) has revealed, and who torture those who call for the application of His Shariah? Those who agreed with them that such rulers are kuffar were regarded as friends; those who did were considered not as enemies, even as kuffar, claiming that he who holds any doubt about the kufr of a kafir is himself a kafir. But that was not all. Another question was raised about the people who submit to and obey such rulers. The answer was ready: they are also kuffar like their rulers, because-it was claimed-he who submits to a kafir is himself a kafir.

In this way the tendency to label individuals and groups with kufr was born and nurtured. The observable fact is that violence not only breeds violence but also contaminates clear thinking; suppression inevitably causes revolt.