By Inas Younis, New Age Islam
30 December 2015
Headline: Extremist Peace Lovers
Unleash Violent Acts of Kindness on the World. Famous comedian responds, “You could easily
spot any religion of peace. Its extremist members would be extremely peaceful.”
His point of course, is that there is no such thing as moderate or extreme
peace. Peace, like all religious principles does not require hyphenations. It
is what it is. And since religion deals with the infinite part of human
existence, it too should be immune to extremism. Once religion becomes extreme,
it is no longer religion but a secular ideology. It changes nature the minute
it steps out of its own atmosphere. But the restraints imposed by religion are
not the only factor that keeps true men of God from becoming extremists.
Reality also has something to say about the matter.
Extremism is a largely secular phenomenon,
because extremism is actually a necessary condition to the application of
natural law. The laws of physics do not change and one must be extreme and
precise in applying them. A mathematical equation has only one answer, and an
approximation no matter how close is not close enough. One cannot be moderately dead, or moderately
pregnant. And when a tree falls in the forest it does make a sound, even if no
one is there to hear it.
In the secular world our perceptions are
irrelevant. In the secular world logic rules and all of existence is the result
of an extreme commitment to order and precision. Religious extremism is no
exception to this process. Religious extremism is really just the unsuccessful
attempt at applying static laws to fluid timeless principles; an attempt that
is both futile and fatal.
The desire to apply mathematical-like logic
to govern a man’s consciousness stems from the masculine need for
objectivity. Men function best in the
physical realm because it is something they can master as masters of the
material world. Men do not fare well in a world of ambiguity, and so it is
tempting to reduce religion to the black and white formulas of science.
We often get defensive when we are told
that our religion is full of contradictions, forgetting that the built in
contradictions in religion, or what we euphemistically refer to as paradox, are
injected to preserve the integrity of a thinking mind. They are there to
provide us with flexibility. For example, we are called to make peace and make
war. Turn the other cheek, but slap them with the other hand. Say yes to
chastity and oh yes to sex. Choose mercy and choose justice. Accept that good
deeds will save us but ultimately concede that its God’s will and not our
actions that lead to our salvation. We must believe in free will and
predestination. In order for man to negotiate his way through these, the
paradoxes of religious jurisprudence, he must evolve the capacity to think
abstractly. He must be able to integrate
concepts and apply them to various contexts. To be religious is to be
intelligent. To be religious does not mean to have an open mind, because those
can be just as dangerous as closed ones. It means that you must have an active
working gushing moving feeling one. To be religious means to be alive.
Extremism on the other hand, is the negation of all such emotional
considerations in the interest of social order at any cost.
All the various manifestations of extremism
are clearly not driven by God or religion but by a man’s desperate need to
prove that he can control the one thing that refuses to submit to static laws
of nature- human consciousness. Extremists do not desire worldly pleasure, they
desire predictability. Whether it’s a psychiatric condition or a politically
induced one, anxiety and fear is at the root of all forms of extremism.
The tragic irony is that the greatest
antidote to religious extremism is in fact religion itself. And we have made a
terrible mistake in calling a man with a secular ideology, like Hitler, evil.
But we refer to a man with similar designs, as a Muslim extremist. By
associating extremism with religion, we may have neutralized the only power
that can vaccinate men from this proclivity. And although we moderates are not
responsible for the rise in extremism, we are in fact responsible for
solidifying this association even in our own minds. For one thing, we have
remained fixated on the mechanics of religious observance at a time when love
and compassion should have been taking precedence. We have relinquished the
spiritual ambiance of a religion that promises infinite possibilities to the
daily drum rolls of religious limitations and opportunistic politicking. But even worse, we have made the mistake of
equating moderation with social liberalism and relaxed religious observance,
which has made some buy into the conservative smear campaigns against us.
A moderate is not a person for whom
anything goes. A moderate is a person who honours pluralism and creative
tension as a precondition to our social and spiritual evolution. A moderate
person is uncomfortable with the status quo because he has surrendered himself
to God, and does not feel the impulse to accrue social capital or achieve
status by association. To be moderate does not mean being washy washy. On the contrary, it means being very firm in
the belief that freedom of conscience cannot co exist with any institutionalized
forms of coercion or psychological intimidation of any kind. Where moderates
have failed, is in not appropriating enough juridical authority to officially
make this case.
So until we iron things out to the extent
that we have an identity that is impervious to the emotional blackmail of some
of our co religionists, we should not be peaceful, but always struggling,
always negotiating, always growing. We
should never be peaceful but we should always be at peace, with one another and
with ourselves. And peace be with you.
Inas Younis is a freelance writer residing in Kansas. She has written for
Muslim Girl Magazine and her work was featured in the anthology Living Islam
Out Loud. She contributed this article to New Age Islam.
He further says: "rationality requires that we do not start with a pre-conceived notion"
I am afraid that his views on religion shows a lack of rationality and pre-conceived notions about religion. He may read:
as a Civilizing Influence
There A Rational Basis For The Atheists To Oppose Religion?
I however agree that the followers of Muhammad (pbuh) have claimed sole rights to the religion of Islam and on being called Muslims but it must be recognized that this runs counter to the message of the Quran and to the Prophet's teachings.