”Islam is the religion of rational and critical minds. This is why one of its fundamental goals is to make man aware of the paramount significance of gradation, fortitude, and maturity. Haste is an inherent characteristic of man in general, and of the young in particular. Indeed, haste is an outstanding characteristic of our own age. It has made our youth eager to saw the seeds today and to harvest the next day. But Allah's will in His own creation does not allow that.” Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

This online-text is based on the second revised edition of "Islamic Awakening Between Rejection And Extremism," (1991) by Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Extracts … quotes… Some parts of the text here has been updated with the help of the latest, the Third Edition (2006). This updated Second Edition is the pdf below.

For the chapter "The Causes of Extremism" some quotes will be presented, which should be seen as an introduction into his way of dealing with the all-important problem of extremism in Islam, and which - at the same time - is an eminent proof of traditional Islam always being far from any extremist tendency.

Concerning the Shaykh, we take from the learned and the scholars what we find to be true and what corresponds to the teachings of Islam and we leave what does not, applying to the rule “take what you are sure of and leave what causes doubt.”

The whole pdf-text of the Second Edition_B is here for [ download ].

Other webtexts by Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi are:
- Characteristics of Extremism (part 1)
- Main Causes of Extremism (part 2, below)
- Toward a Remedy for Extremism (part 3)
- Duties Of Young Muslims (part 4)

Quotes From:

Islamic Awakening between Rejection and Extremism

Main Causes of Extremism

by Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Edited by OmarKN

Part 2

”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 difficult - when causes are not known. With this in mind, we endeavor to examine the causes and the motives which have generated extremism, a term which has become synonymous with ghuluw, i.e. excessiveness in religion.

greenstar2sat(1) Introduction

Undoubtedly, one of the main causes of extremism is a lack of knowledge of - and insight into - the purposes, spirit, and essence of dīn [i.e. and essence of the religion of Islam]. However, such a lack… does not lead to extremism or excessiveness, but rather to their opposites, i.e. degeneration and laxity. It implies, however, semi-knowledge. A person may 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 … or between the categorical and fundamental texts vis-a-vis the allegorical ones. …
Aware of the danger of such semi-knowledge … [it is] that self-presumption 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. …In the following hadith, the Prophet (sa`as) warned against a person [who unduly presumes himself or is presumed to be knowledgeable in religious matters and capable of exercising ijtihad]:

”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 genuine '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 semi-knowledge, 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.…

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, (i.e. to analyse their bases and purposes.)

However, the teachings which are aimed to regulate our lives can be, and must be, analyzed. ...
It is [for example] 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, Salah is rarely ever mentioned in the Quran 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 texts: (a) It is related in an authentic hadith that a Muslim should not carry a copy of the Quran 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 kuffar 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. … [also through distributing] translations of the meanings of the Qur'an to non-Arabic speakers.

(b) Another authentic hadith prohibits a Muslim woman from traveling 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 final 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).

(c) 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.

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.

greenstar2sat(2) Preoccupation 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 time-wasting 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 argument-stricken."

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 full-throathed 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.

p.45 Such contradictory behavior of some Muslims once outraged 'Abd Allah ibn 'Umar (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 'Ali (ra`a). I heard the Prophet (sa`as) saying: they (al Hasan and al Husayn) are my two sweetest-smelling flowers of this world.

greenstar2sat(3) Excessive Prohibitions

One of the indications of this shallowness, of the lack of a thotough 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 not for 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 well-meaning, 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 makruh 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 'Abbas' facilitations. This tendency is largely due to their ignorance of the point of view which avails facilitation. a.-




b. Similarly, many young people today engage in speculations about 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 above-the-ankle garments and also seek to impose a similar style on people atound them. Such pressure on others engenders ill-will 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. b.-

-a.) 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 toughly 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 hadith which categorically forbid it, and require "whoever absentmindedly does so to induce vomiting."

My reply was: "But the ahadith 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 ahadith which forbade it. Furthermore, al Tirmidhi as well as others, reported several ahadith 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 ‘Ali 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 Tirmidhi, 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 ahadith which encourage the former were revoked by other ahadith,
and that this was confirmed by the practice by Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman and 'Ali (ra'a). Therefore, in such an entangled issue, it would be totally wrong to forbid a person to drink water while standing.

-b.) Below-the-ankle 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 (ra`a) once said to the Prophet (sa`as): "My izar hangs low 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 Muslim scholars contend that wearing such a garment is makruh but a makruh can become mubah when there is a compelling reason.

greenstar2sat(4) Misconceptions

Such aforementioned examples of confused 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 non-experts. 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 non-lslam 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 His Apostle, 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 hadith:
”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 iman 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:

quote: 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.

quote: 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.

quote: 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 kafir 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.


greenstar2sat(5) Emphasis on Allegorical Texts At The Expense of Definitive Ones

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 allegorical texts and disregard of the categorical ones: the allegorical 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.} 3-7

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 comparison (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 (kaw), although they were among his followers and soldiers. The main reason for their disagreement with 'Ali (kaw) was his decision to accept arbitration to settle his differences with Mu'awiyah ibn Abi 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 'Ali (kaw), one of the first Muslims to give the cause of Islam his essential support, of deviation. Ali replied to their citing of the above verse with his famous saying: "A word of truth twisted to serve batil (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 and referring 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.

greenstar2sat(6) Beware of Getting Your Facts From The Unqualified

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 semi-knowledge 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.

greenstar2sat(7) Why Muslim Youth Have Turned Away From 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 present-day 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 this 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 so-called "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 well-known Muslim scholar, asked - to 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. …

greenstar2sat(8) Lack of Insight Into History And God’s Ways In The Universe

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, daring 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 surtounded 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 Allah (swt) granted them to enter 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 falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish.}
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. … 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 (God’s ways), however, are characterized by consistency - they never change or alter (Sura 35-42/3).

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 (Sura 3-165).

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 ptofligate, 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 verse (Sura 3-165).

This is also the essence of the following saying by 'Umar ibn al Khattab (ra`a): "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)." …

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.

greenstar2sat(9) Two Important Divine Sunan

Hasty enthusiastic Muslims usually overlook two important sunan (divine laws), i.e. gradation and that achieving goals requires the allowance of due time (Everything in its 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 the minds 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 Makkan and Madinan texts… 1a.

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. …1b.

Second: The second of these sunan is complementary to the first, namely that everything has an appointed term during which it reaches ripeness and maturity. This applies to the material realm as well as the moral.

Nothing should be harvested before its appointed time; ctops cannot be harvested before they have ripened. Rather than being useful, unripe fruit and vegetables can cause harm. And just as ctops 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. …2a.

-1a. 'A'ishah (ra`a), describes the process of gradation in the introduction of Shariah and the revelation of the Qur'an, saying: "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."

-1b. 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 more 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 that fear if I forced all the truth on people (at once) they would reject it entirely, in which case I would have been the cause of even greater evil."

-2a. 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!} ...

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 bliss) 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.”

greenstar2sat(10) Islam: A Stranger in Its Own Land

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 infiltrate everywhere without fear. The media, in addition to clubs and theaters, 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 transgress them - endorses 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 abtoad 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 are deeply 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 dīn without Shariah, a religion without a state, a Quran without authority.

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 dīn and his society.

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 Ethiopia though 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 in both East or West? 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.

greenstar2sat(11) 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 Muslim:

{ Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord.}

Furthermore, every follower of the Prophet (sa`as) is a da’yah, 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,' and also: "Believers are, one to another, like bricks in an edifice that cause it to stand strong."

Cooperation in kindness and in commanding righteousness is 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 dīn 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 philosophies 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 dīn and a way o life, faces censorship and suppression in many Muslim countries….

greenstar2sat(12) Resorting To Violence And Torture Does Not Eliminate Extremism - It Creates It

The gravest mistake of the authorities is resorting to violence, physical as well as psychological torture in prisons and detention 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 fear of 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 takfir 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.

”Extremism may also be initiated 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.”

Go to part 3: Toward A Remedy For Extremism