Life, Instinct or Habit? Varieties of Extremism

Issue 865 » October 23, 2015 - Muharram 10, 1437

Living The Quran

Al-Waqiyah (The Indisputable Event) - Chapter 56: Verses 82-87

"And do you render due thanks to God for your provision by belying His promise of Resurrection? If that is so, then why do you not hold back the soul of the dying when it reaches the throat? Yet all the while you are helplessly looking on. Rather it is We alone who are, most surely, nearer to the one dying than you. But you do not see. Then why is it—if you are not to be summoned to Judgment as you allege—that you do not bring the soul back, if indeed you are truthful?"

Man has life. From where did it come? Then he dies. Who took it, and where does life go? If man is not to be brought back in a new life, as the bliers of God and Judgment in the Hereafter contend, then why are human beings unable to retrieve these souls from death? We still have possession of their physical likeness. It can only be that life come into our bodies from a Giver who withdraws it whenever He deems fit—and we are helpless to stop Him, even if we are present when a soul escapes its human housing—rather, when its Maker summons it from a place so near we cannot even see it. Surely, the One who makes and takes life can replace it, put it into a new form, or restore it in its old form, remade anew.

Compiled From:
"The Gracious Quran" - Ahmad Zaki Hammad, p. 266

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Instinct or Habit?

Is love born from friendship or is it just an instinctive reaction?

Love is a natural instinct, while cultivation and sustaining love is an emotional habit. It is not impossible to get the heart to obey.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "None of you truly believes until I have become more beloved to him than his child, his parents, and all humanity."

Upon hearing this, Umar said: "Messenger of Allah, you are more beloved to me than everything but my own self."

The Prophet said: "Nay, I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, until I am more beloved to him than his own self."

Then Umar said: "Then, by Allah, you are more beloved to me than my own self."

The Prophet said: "Now you have it, O Umar." [Bukhari]

Compiled From:
"Selfless Love" - Salman al-Oadah


Varieties of Extremism

Reflecting on Islamic history, three varieties of extremist activities are distinguishable: theological, political, and practical—even though they are not always mutually exclusive of one another.

Theological extremism (al-tatarruf al-itiqadi) is noticeable when the extremist subscribes to particular beliefs that stand in conflict with the clear text of the Quran, authentic hadith, and general consensus (ijma) of Muslims. A reference is made in this connection to early theological movements that arose in the first two centuries of Islam, such as the Qadariyyah, the Jahmiyyah, the Murjiah, and Batiniyyah as explained below.

The Qadariyyah (advocates of free will or qadar) subscribed to the view that man is the sole creator of his own conduct. The Jahmiyyah (followers of Jahm bin Safwan) subscribed to total predestination; the Murjiah (suspenders of judgment and upholders permanently of hope or rija) suspended passing any judgment on sinners, including those who held extremist views concerning Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, such as, for instance, those who charged prominent Companions with infidelity and kufr. The Batiniyyah (esotericists—also known as Ismailiyyah, a Shiite sub-sect) held that every overt speech and word of God in the Quran had a hidden meaning known only to their imam. To these may be added perhaps the ghulat (extremists) of Shia as well as some of the contemporary movements that include the Takfir and Hijrah Association (Jamaat al-takfir wal-hijrah) of Egypt, which charged the Egyptian state with infidelity that had allegedly turned into Dar al-Kufr (abode of unbelief). It was a duty, therefore, of Muslims to leave that country and emigrate.

Political extremism (al-tatarruf al-siyasi) is marked by confrontation and challenge of the authority of a lawful government. Noted in this category are the Kharijites (lit. outsiders) who emerged in Iraq and boycotted the authority of the fourth caliph Ali Ibn Abu Talib, as well as declaring permissible the killing of all Muslims except for their own followers. The Kharijites held the extremist view that committing a major sin amounts to renunciation of Islam. One of the Kharijites' factions, namely the Azariqah, further added that a person renounces Islam even if he committed a major sin by error or personal interpretation and ijtihad, which is why they charged the caliph Ali with infidelity over the issue of arbitration (tahkim). For the caliph had exercised his own ijtihad in that matter. The caliph was charged with infidelity for the mere fact of his agreeing to arbitration between him and his challenger, Muawiyah b. Abu Sufyan.

Lastly, practical extremism (al-tatarruf al-amali) consists of extremist conduct, such as self-immolation, excessive fasting and all-night vigil, renouncing marriage, and acts that depart from sound human nature (fitrah), valid Sunnah, and precedent of the Prophet. One may add to these such other instances of practical extremism as excessive dieting to keep slim, excessively disciplinarian practices with one's children, and other practices that are injurious and harmful.

Terrorism is also practical extremism, be it local, national, or international, in peacetime or war, consisting mainly of acts of terror and violence—including bombing and use of explosive devices—that kill innocent people and cause destruction. Such activities may even occur in the course of a legitimate war that may have been duly declared by the lawful leader. The basic position of such acts of terror is the same in Shariah whether its victims are Muslim or otherwise, and whether it is against a weak or a more powerful party or state. Terrorism may have different causes that may, on that basis, be classified under one or the other variety of extremism mentioned above.

Compiled From:
"The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam: The Qur'anic Principle of Wasatiyyah" - Hashim Kamali, pp. 39, 40