Islam’s Reply to Extremism: By : Deana Nassar Freelance Writer

According to Islam, one of the signs of the end of times is the inversion of reality, in other words, things being upside-down and failing to appear as they should.EXtremism

For Muslims, there is nothing that more obviously illustrates this than Islam being made to appear bad to the world.

For the first time in the history of our faith, an extremist fringe has hijacked the religion and is dominating the headlines, causing havoc and creating a global crisis.

Sadly, this extremism which, in reality, does not represent Islam is on the rise throughout the world and is, beyond doubt, a crisis both for us Muslims, who constitute nearly 20% of today's world population, as well as for the rest of humanity.

There are important truths that we need to learn about God and Islam. These truths will help us throughout our lives, particularly when the chips are down and the world looks like an ugly place.

There are times when we may feel alone with the widespread of negativity. We may be pushed to question a lot of what we have been taught, but understanding and knowing the truth remains within us as something we can later count on. So how should we deal with Islamic extremism and negativity?

Through love, faith and example, we can influence others to become better people. Parents, teachers, leaders, relatives and friends can aid each other toward progression.

Rather than adding to the darkness of the world, we should use these gifts and talents to lift and inspire others. Our words, deeds and attitudes can be contagious examples for others to emulate. After all, actions speak louder than words.

We should endeavor to seek out ways to help others. Since this is hard during this time, we need to ask God through prayer. God needs us to be willing servants to act in His behalf. As we do this, others will be filled with hope to make changes in their life and heart.

It is without doubt that at the root of the extremists' actions is a poisonous political ideology that feeds, supports and sanctions extremism. This is far removed from the peaceful views held by Muslims worldwide and taught by our beloved Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Quran reads:

{Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.} (Quran, 5:32)

In reality, there are many hadiths which have been transmitted in which we are warned against extremism in religion. In one highly significant hadith, the Prophet is reported to have said:

“Towards the latter times a people will come who have little knowledge; are deficient in intellect; will speak quoting the best of people; have thick beards; wearing shortened garments; have shaved heads; have good speech but foul actions; claiming to act upon the Book of God but have no relation to it; they recite the Quran but it doesn't pass their throats; and they exit from Islam as an arrow exits from its bow.” (Ibn Majah, 170)

In fact 'Islamic terrorists, Muslim fundamentalists, extremists, and radical Islamists' are just labels that have been wrongly applied to Muslims and certain Muslim groups in recent years more so these last few months. The media’s portrayal of Islam often misleads those whose knowledge of the religion is limited, into making negative assumptions about our very peaceful and tolerant way of life.

In the face of such negative headlines, it’s understandable we may become increasingly difficult to feel comfortable belonging to the Muslim community especially in non-Muslim countries.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had forewarned the difficulty of these times, and is reported to have said that holding on to your religion would be like holding onto “burning embers".

By condemning violence, extremism and revenge, we create a safe and secure society and it must be a fundamental aim of every Muslim. In fact those who choose to use violence and terror cause anxiety and fear must be fought against and prosecuted. We have a responsibility to take a precautionary approach. Bear in mind providing protection is also about prevention.

In Islam, we are taught that the act of inciting terror in the hearts of defenseless civilians, the wholesale destruction of buildings and properties, the bombing and maiming of innocent men, women and children are all forbidden and detestable acts according to Islam and us as practicing Muslims. This includes any type of terrorism, including what is described as western state-sponsored terrorism which has killed, injured and displaced infinitely more people than all other types of terrorism.

We are taught if an individual Muslim were to commit an act of terrorism, this person would be guilty of violating the laws of the very religion we claim to follow.

We follow a religion of submission to God, peace, mercy, and forgiveness. The vast majority has nothing to do with the violent events which the media has associated with Muslims. Islam by no means is a religion of extremism.

I read once that the current state of Muslims-gone-extreme is a version of Islam being perverted something which Muhammad (peace be upon him) directly warned against.

The ability to quote verses from the Quran isolated from the context of passages and without providing the contextual background for which those verses came about has always been recognized by Muslims to be a clumsy handling of Scripture. This needs to change.

To achieve the needed change, we need to properly educate ourselves, as Muslims, about what Islam is actually about, speak out against violence and make our views known.

Islam has nothing to do with extremism, and what in fact has happened is that a few bad apples have hijacked a religion while sadly a majority has kept quiet.

Based on religion, common sense, the golden rule, proper research or from experience, we as Muslims can know the difference between right and wrong. In religion, for instance, right is right and wrong is wrong. However, some extremists in the world are blurring the lines of right and wrong, making a clear choice for some difficult.

Justifying and rationalizing are common culprits of making right seem wrong and wrong seem right. By relying on faith and having courage to do what you know is right, that includes speaking up regardless of the consequences, God will support and sustain you.

Your faith will increase and you will have the approval of God, which is ultimately the most important reward.

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