Ã¢??exÃ‚Â·tremÃ‚Â·ist Pronunciation Key (k-strmst)
One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics.Ã¢?Â
The following is a rant…
The word “extremist” in my opinion has become exclusive with the religion of Islam these days, partly because of Uncle Bin Laden and partly because of Uncle Sam. But forget about the media, forget about the ideological rantings of the spin doctors, even society has soaked up this word.
My interest, for the sake of this post, is to take a look at how the word has been employed in the Islamic context recently.
Remember, the following is a rant…
In the Arab world now to be an “extremist” you do not necessarily have to be aligned with the politics or religious interpretations of Bin Laden. On the contrary, simply being a Muslim makes you an extremist. But Naseem, you must be exaggerating just a tiny bit? Truth be told the word is being thrown around so casually these days that almost everyone who I consider an average everyday Muslim is considered an extremist or even, dare I say it, a fundamentalist to others.
Look at the very simplistic tenants of the religion, be they fasting or praying or paying charity, being involved in any of the above makes you an extremist. Although these acts of worship are relatively low key, they are internalized; you don’t generally practice them in the light of day. If you talk about them though, it makes you an extremist.
The externalized world of Islam is just as worse now. A woman with her hijab is an extremist; a man with his beard is an extremist. Never mind the underlying principles of our religion, ignore it. These symbols are important to us because they are a measure of our religion, a measure of our devotion, and they say with such brilliant clarity that this person can be considered “devout” and therefore he practices Islam and therefore he is an extremist. What the hell?
You see what worries me is not what the non-Muslim world thinks (including non-Muslim Arabs); I really could care less in fact. What worries me is about the Muslim community or typically (for my sake) the Arab Muslim community.
And that, you could say, is the point of this post. We pass judgment on each other so casually; throw around this word “extremism” so casually, whether vocally expressed or mentally decided, it is there. And the negative impact is also there.
What the Arab world is going through, or let me be specific, the educated Arab elitists are going through, is a transition of thought. The educated look down on everyone who is not aligned with their type of thinking, the same way Zarqawi and Bin Laden condone the killing of any Muslim who doesn’t agree with them either. To be civilized in the Arab world, to be considered a progressive thinker, a progressive Muslim, a progressive anything, a modern just about everything, you must abandon your ancient ways. This is what we’ve been told and this is what many have followed. To hear the cheers of Americans and Europeans and first worlders, to feel their sweet embrace which says “welcome to our modern world, here’s your membership card” we must be inclined to think like them. You can retain your Islamic citizenship as long as you shun all that is Islam, and omit everything that might clash with western civilization. Disagree with it by default because you’re not prepared to defend it (or rather do not desire to defend it).
When I read more liberal blogs on Islam I’m thinking to myself, wait a minute, this isn’t Islam. In fact it has as much to do with Islam as the more radical blogs do. (this is just an example) ItÃ¢??s become that in order for us to be deemed liberal Muslims, and therefore forward thinking and progressive we are abandoning everything we don’t like, and if you think about it this is the exact same thing that the other side of the spectrum does! And God forbid you disagree with them or you’re labeled as an extremist, the same way the other side calls you a kafir: an apostate.
I think a great deal of this stems from the lack of understanding of our own religion. No one puts the effort in it anymore. Because all of a sudden if we start going to mosques and talking about religion instead of pop videos, if we put on the hijab or grow beards, we are all of a sudden living a re-run of the Flinstones; we are all of a sudden backwards people. And it’s funny because everyone tells us Islam is terrible because it’s not progressive enough, but in truth there is no one there willing to move ahead into a brighter future with Islam as their companion. It’s sad because most of these people feel the only way to progress is to leave it behind, like useless 5th grade math. And now we live amongst a generation of tech-savvy suit sporting Muslims, none of which can count, if you know what I mean.
A beard or the hijab for that matter are not trademarks of extremism. Heck in many cases they are not trademarks of one’s religious devoutness either, some use it as a mask. But either way they are not symbols which demand that other Muslims, or even non-Muslims, mock or judge.
And even religion aside for a bit, if a person believes in armed resistance in
Now everything I just said, flip it around and apply it to the hardliners who pass judgment on women who don’t wear the hijab and men who don’t grow beards. I just don’t have enough time and energy to rant about both; I’ve chosen the former because it seems to be the most prevalent in the Arabian blogosphere and in the industrial cities of the Arab world today.
Anyways I have to draw a final conclusion here to end this rant and it is quite simple, in a message to my fellow brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith please don’t pass judgment on people as being Extremists simply because they differ in thought from you. Being progressive does not mean you have to abandon your principles, or your religion, or your culture for that matter. Being progressive means you take all of those things and you push them forward on your own journey of progress; as opposed to leaving them behind. These things are not easy to defend, especially in the world we live in when we are bombarded by those who wish to destroy it, insult it, or twist it, but it’s a worthy fight. Being a real progressive Muslim does not come without a fight and a few scars to say the least.