I use to always tell many Muslims and non-Muslims alike when they would bring up the discussion of Islam and terrorism that “these extremist Muslims are only a few and that you can’t blame an entire religion for a small minute group’s actions” and so on. You know it and I know it. We always hear it and probably say it. These Muslim extremists make up a small percentage of the ummah, but do they really?
I mean seriously. Let’s be real and think about this. Who defines them “extremist” Muslims? What does “extremist” entail?
What made me think about this was Shaykh Tawfique Chowdhury’s article on how Muslim scholars can be used to fight terrorism. The general idea seems worthy of pursuing and browsing through the comments Sh. Suhaib Webb and Sh. Yasir Qadhi have responded with positive questions in which they were answered by Sh. Tawfique in the comments section.
For the first time though, I have to disagree strongly with a post on MuslimMatters. Looking at my post on the “religiosity” of the entire world it is clear that many of the major countries fighting the “war on terrorism” are becoming more and more atheist or agnostic. If you look at the younger generations of America or Canada you’ll see tons of unbelievers who quite frankly just don’t give a damn about religion. The religious generation is dying in the West. What makes us think that they will be willing to be supportive of Islam. All religions, including the ones that are fastly growing are not even close to catching up to the ideologies of Atheism and Materialism. These two simply have the most followers in the entire world.
Now going back to the main topic and title of the post, where do these so called “extremist” Muslims come in to play? What exactly is an extremist Muslim? Well basically it’s Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hamas, Hezbullah, Al-Shabab (in Somalia), and all the other jamaats I fail to mention or remember. What do they all have in common? They are fighting occupying forces with violent methods that include terror. The reality is, they use suicide bombing and kill Muslims and innocent people when fighting this war.
Are these Muslims really extreme? Are there supporters such as Imam Anwar al Awlaki really extreme? In fact, Imam Anwar is a perfect example of an American born Scholar who’s first language is English and who is probably the most popular and loved “extremist” Muslim. I myself I’m a huge fan of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki. Who wouldn’t after his lectures on the seerah of the Prophet (saas), the Hereafter lectures and other ones (you can listen to many here)? He is good at giving talks and motivating oneself to become closer to Allah and his beloved messenger Muhammad (saas).
Recently Imam Anwar’s blog has sparked some very sensitive topics. He tends to hit topics on Jihad, Muslims, Islam and terrorism head on. No “beating around the bush” if you know what I mean. I respect his staunch support of defending Islam and Muslims against oppression and invasion, but I humbly disagree with his articles. If you talk to many observant Muslims in North America (and generally in the West), Imam Anwar is probably the most popular and widely listened to across all ideologies. Let me paint you an easier picture, I know people that participated in Sufi Hadras or that attended 10+ AlMaghrib seminars or been clubbin’ that have listened to almost all of his famous CD sets and been personally effected by them and has been a major factor in drawing them closer to Islam. I myself become more aware of this deen due to Imam Anwar’s lecture.
So how can Imam Anwar be an “extermist” Muslim? Well if you listen to his lecture series on Jihad or just read some of his articles on his blog, you will easily see why, but then again, why?
I can honestly say that at least 10% to 15% of the Muslim popluation in the World are (or would be) in agreement with Imam Anwar Awlaki. That is a good percentage of “extremist” Muslims. This is why I don’t think we should use this word anymore. We have to accept the fact that there is a strong growing population in the Muslim world that is taking an alternative position on the role of Jihad in the ummah. They have their sources which are the same sources for the rest of the entire ummah: the Qur’an and Sunnah.
So who really are the “extremist” Muslims? Should we even call them that anymore? Maybe we should work with them and have dialogue with our brothers and sisters before we have dialogue with the non-Muslims and the West? I’m talking about having people like Sh. Hamza Yusuf or Sh. Suhaib Webb or Sh. Yasir Qadhi having discussions with Imam Anwar Awlaki or other scholars of similar thought.
Allah knows best.