The Source of Muslim Extremism is a chapter from the book American Muslim Agenda available at Amazon and Kindle
Contemporary Muslim scholar Hamza Yusuf writes, “This insidious disease [extremism] has a source, and that source must be identified so we can begin to inoculate our communities against it.”
Indeed, that source is apparent. Hamza Yusuf knows it, and Muslims know it. We just did not want to deal with it and, instead, placed the blame on others. Let’s face it. It is the rogue interpretations and mistranslations of the Quran that have created this mess.
These men are not the ones whom we conveniently portray as Islamophobes, but they are our own scholars, namely Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Kathir, Maududi, Banna, and Qaradawi. There is no doubt that much of what they have written is good stuff, but all that so-called good gets wiped out with some of their bad write-ups.
If we want Islam to be Islam, a religion of peace, we need to muster the courage to stand up and reject those interpretations that are anathema to the pluralistic nature of Islam. Those secondary books are mistakenly elevated to be divine by a few Muslims. Bold actions are required.
Allah is not the enemy of Shias, Sunnis, Ahmadiyyas, Jews, Christians, Hindus, gays, lesbians, Buddhists, atheists, pagans, Native Americans, Zoroastrians, and others as many Muslims wrongly make him out to be. They have reduced the universal god (Rabbul Aalameen) to a private god owned by them and acted for them. This is not acceptable.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is a mercy to mankind. He is indeed a blessing to the humanity and is rightfully known as Rahmutul Aalameen. There are innumerable examples of forbearance, forgiveness, and kindness of the Prophet (PBUH) toward those who insulted and even tried to harm him. In all his acts and words, the Prophet was a model of kindness to fellow humans. Muslims frequently recite this verse, and yet a few of them understand its implications.
If you ask Asia Bibi (Pakistan), Nadarkhani (Iran), Lina Joy (Malaysia), Abdur Rahman (Afghanistan), and a host of others charged with blasphemy or apostasy laws, they have difficulty in seeing the Prophet as a mercy to mankind. How can they see it if the radicals among Muslims harass them in the name of the Prophet? If Muslims who cause others to curse the Prophet are penalized, things will change. The whole Joseph Colony was burned down in Pakistan as someone falsely reported that a Christian desecrated the Quran. It was a lie, but it was too late.
Most Muslims know that the apostasy and blasphemy laws are not rooted in Islam. They are tools of oppression introduced by dictators and monarchs, yet Muslims at large have not rejected it, while a few of them believe in it. In fact, in some of the Muslim-majority nations, death is the penalty for anyone who insults the Prophet.
Did you know what the Prophet did when he was insulted and bodily harmed? He did what Jesus did—he forgave them and prayed for their well-being. Every Muslim proudly tells this story. It happened when the Prophet was heading to a town called Aţ Ţā’if. But do Muslims get it? If they did, they would not have killed Van Gogh of Jyllands-Posten cartoons or would not waste their time demonstrating against Pamela Geller or other hate mongers. Instead, they should go and pray for them for God to give them guidance to be the peacemakers. If we get the funding, we have a beautiful documentary to make on this issue with a real story.
All this venom in the name of Islam is coming from a single source—the subsequent books. These books were written by individuals who reacted to situations such as crusades and massacres. Shamefully, Muslims have given full value to their words as though they were equal to the Quran. No one has questioned these books and fables. Until we replace these secondary books with the right books, we will be struggling with extremism.
For Muslims, the Quran is the only authentic book, the book of guidance, to build cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear. If we follow this book, we cannot go wrong.
Sharia, as practiced everywhere, is not divine. It is “man-made.” Divine, by definition, should be flawless and timeless. Sharia laws cannot be religious by any stretch of the imagination. It is a body of law created by men with the intent of serving justice to fellow beings. Sharia laws desperately need amendments. Our own constitution has been amended twenty-seven times to be in tune with the times and timelessness. God’s law cannot be anything but justice, fairness, kindness, and mercy.
We cannot pass the buck and discount our critics as Islamophobes. The criminal Al-Baghdadi quoted Ibn Hisham’s biography of the Prophet for his evil acts of sex with the Yazidi captives and Christian women. I talked to a few imams; they said that his biography was not considered 100 percent authentic. Then why do Muslims recommend one to read that biography? I would instead recommend Karen Armstrong’s journal where the Prophet is a human like you and me and we can relate with him.
There are two types of Islamic literature: the Quran and all other books. What needs to be done is put a warning label on the “other books,” that their authenticity is subject to verification as the Quran is the only book guaranteed to be authentic.
Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Brigitte Gabriel are not cooking up things. They are merely quoting what is written up in hadith, tafsir, and seerah (secondary books). Even though they know it is wrong, it suits them to malign Islam for bucks.
The good news is 99.99 percent of Muslims live their lives and let others live theirs. But that one-tenth of 1 percent is enough to create a mess. Why should they listen to you when they have those books to give them their legitimacy?
Extremism in Islam and all religions will continue until the subsequent primitive books are replaced with the correct ones. We cannot force anyone to believe.
We have to work with those who are diametrically opposed to us and plan on bringing basic goodness to all in two or three generations. It has to be a gradual process of reason and logic involving everyone. Any attempt to quick fix will backfire and worsen the situation. Believe me, they’ll hold on to their beloved books.
Let’s stick to the Quran. We just cannot go wrong. I know this frightens many Muslims; it is as if pulling the rug from under their feet. In reality, you can live a moral and conscious life by only following the Quran. Rejecting those other so-called Islamic books will not disorient you at all.
As a first step toward fixing our problems, we need to rehabilitate the hadith. A new compilation of hadiths is the need of the day; it will have two sections. The first section will reflect those hadiths that are compatible with the attributes of God (just and merciful) and Prophet Muhammad’s nature (a merciful and kind to fellow beings). The second section will include all the questionable hadiths for the scholars to prove their authenticity.
You and I will ignore the following, but religious clergy out there latches on to these. Because it is in the books, it must be authentic. As they use to say, if it is in the newspaper, it must be true.
Our problems are the following:
- We are afraid of questioning the old-time scholars, many of whom are insensitive to fellow humans who are not Muslims as they are not raised in the pluralistic environment that Prophet Muhammad lived through.
- The man who writes the biggest check for the mosque can shut others up. They don’t even try to see another point of view and abandon good ideas.
- Most Muslim leaders follow the idiom “Monkey see, monkey do,” that is, we will do if others are doing it. They lack conviction and don’t dare to be the first.
- Leadership is not appeasing friends and members of the mosque but leading the community through the Pul-e-Siraat, that is, the steep road.
God has blessed us in America; we are free and brave people. If we cannot take the responsibility to fix the problems and boldly take out the germs that have infected the way Muslim have understood Islam, I think no one else in the world can do it.
It is time to take back our religion. I will be happy to boldly stand with all Muslims who want to see Islam as a religion of peace, not only in words but also in deeds. Here are a few pieces.
For the heck of it, please check at least five translations of Quran 3:85 and see how messed up they are. Meanwhile, I will finish writing an article on Quran 3:85. Of course, everything written above applies to all faiths, but that does not abdicate our responsibility to fix our own problems.
There is a big list of these hadiths from the subsequent books, and a few are listed here with references. You will find similar nonsense in the Manusmriti, that is, the Hindu sharia.
- A man will not be asked in the hereafter as to why he beat his wife. (Sunan Abu Dawud 11.2142)
- Women can visit mosques but must not wear perfume. (Sunan Abu Dawud 2.0565)
- A divorced woman must marry another man and must have intercourse before she can remarry her former husband. (Malik’s Muwatta 28.7.18)
- One must seek Allah’s refuge from women, slaves, and camels. (Sunan Abu Dawud 11.2155)
- A woman enters slavery of her husband in marriage. (Imam Ghazali, volume 2, page XX)
- The house, the wife and the horse are lousy luck. (Sahih Muslim 26.5523)
- Marriage gives the man the right to enjoy a woman’s “private parts.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 7.62.81)
- Some jihadists had sex with the captive women in the presence of their husbands, and some were reluctant to do so. (Sunan Abu Dawud 11.2150)
- A woman can’t travel a day’s journey without her mahram. (Sahih Muslim 7.3105)
- People ruled by a woman will never be successful. (Sahih al-Bukhari 5.59.709)
- Menstruation is a defect in women for they cannot fast and pray during their periods. (Sahih al-Bukhari 3.31.172)