Shaikh bin Bayyah on extremism
Shaikh Abdullah bin Bayyah spoke yesterday at the RIS Conference on Extremism in deen and the importance of taking the middle path. The speech was in Arabic and was ably translated by Shaikh Muhammad ash-Shareef. Following are some points I found interesting and noted down. I have tried my best to ensure that the meaning of what was said stays intact, but there is every possibility that I misunderstood what was said. Also, these are just points of interest and not necessarily the full speech. Importantly, I did not note down all the Ayaat and the Ahadeeth given as evidence by the respected Shaikh, hafidullah.
Islam on extremism
The Shaikh said that extremism stems from lack of knowledge, which is ignorance. Islam is based on knowledge and combats ignorance, therefore extremism is not from Islam. This is known from many ayaat and ahadeeth in which we are warned against ghuloo, tanattu, tashadud.
Lack of knowledge is a cause of extremist behaviour
Lack of knowledge is the single biggest cause of extremism. The Shaikh pointed that the Muslim families in North America are cut-off from the sources of knowledge. The youth grow up not learning the fiqh of ibadaat (worship) and the fiqh of muamlaat (inter-personal dealings), both of which are basic and necessary for every Muslim. The youth grow up not knowing what Islam teaches them about living their life.
And then, they get mesmerized easily by anyone and everyone. Their knowledge starts coming from sources that are sometimes extreme (JM: implication being that they can't distinguish between the extreme and the balanced due to their lack of knowledge).
As Hasan al-Basri said, "Islam is between extremism and laxity." The youth does not recognize the truth and gathers at polar opposites instead of the middle path.
Allah calls Muslims the justly balanced Ummah - Ummatan Wasataa. That is not just being in the middle in Shariah. It also means being in the middle when it comes to muamlaat and ibadaat. (It goes as far as to tell us that) we should not be a person who is always happy and we should not be a person who is always sad, rather Islam suggests the middle path even in matters that are deeply personal (and related to feelings and emotions).
Even when an injustice is committed against us, Islam encourages us to be just, as it is closer to taqwa.
Muslims are required to be Ummatan Wasata in minhaj (methdology), ibadaat (worship), iqtisad (economy), etc.
The middle path requires knowledge and understanding of maqasid as well as the sources
The middle path requires knowledge and understanding of the Qur'an and the Sunnah as well as the knowledge and understanding of maqasid of Shariah - the higher principles of Shariah.
Extremism comes from ignorance upon ignorance, where the ignorant is ignorant of his ignorance. This is like the Khawarij who used an Ayah of the Qur'an to say "no hukm other than Allah". Ali bin Abi Talib (RA) said about them that it is kalamat al-haq (the word of truth) but used for fasad (tyranny) and baatil (falsehood). The Shaikh said that this is because the Khawarij understood the Quran, but they failed to understand the Maqasid.
The Shaikh pointed to Umar bin al-Khattab's times when due to famine he lifted the punishment for stealing. This was from the understanding of the Qur'an and the Sunnah applied to his context with understanding of the maqasid of the Shariah. Similarly, the Shaikh also pointed to the example of Ali bin Abi Talib not enforcing Qisaas on the killers of Uthman when more important issues were at hand and uniting the Ummah under one leadership was priority. Ali bin Abi Talib used the maqasib of Shariah here.
Some people want hudood in North America. The Shaikh said that there is no Sultan and there is no Islamic governing body in North America. Those who want hudood established in North America fail to understand the maqasid of Shariah.
Two areas where extremism plays a part
Muslims nowadays have taken to extremist behaviour with respect to two.
al Walaa wal baraa (loving and hating for Allah, aka allegiance)
al Walaa wal baraa
There are three levels of loving and hating / allegiance.
To have allegiance to non-Muslims against Muslims. This is haraam.
To have allegiance to non-Muslims in Haraam. This is haraam.
To love and deal with kindly with non-Muslims on a daily basis, in muamlaat. This is not only permissible, it is required from a Muslim to do so. We are required to treat, for example, our kins with kindness even if they are not Muslims.
(We take our example from Ibrahim when) Ibrahim said to his people, as mentioned in the Quraan -- I free myself of what you do. Note, that Ibrahim did not say I free myself, or hate, you. Rather, he mentioned the acts.
This is greatly misunderstood, the Shaikh said. Allah orders us to fight but not to exceed limits when we fight. Muslims were given permission to fight because transgression was done to them. To understand the hukm on Jihaad one must understand all the verses on the topic in their proper context. To take one verse and apply it will surely result in extremism.
The Shaikh defined Jihad as al-harb bain ad-dawalatain wa lais-a bain al-hizbain (JM: I hope I got the Arabic right). Jihad is that war which is between two nations and not between two groups of people.
Vigilantes fighting for their own agendas is not Jihad. You cannot call Jihad fighting of a group of people taking matters into their own hands.
Participation in elections
The Shaikh then talk about the issue of participating in the elections. He said that he understands some people have reservations against participating in the elections in North America which is not from Islam.
The land belongs to Allah and wherever a Muslim finds an opportunity to spread goodness, he must. The Shaikh gave the example of Yousuf (AS), who asked for the king of Egypt, who was not on the religion of Yousuf, for the position of treasury or minister of finance. This is because Yousuf (AS) believed he is able to do good in that position. When people see him doing a good job at that level of prominence, what could be a greater da'wah than that, the Shaikh pointed.
Back to the understanding of maqasid and the sources
The Shaikh said that there are three groups of people:
Those who take the verses literally and don't know the maqasid. These are on falsehood.
Those who base their decisions on maqasid without the sources. These people make-up things that are not from Islam. They change the basics of Islam. They even change prayer. These are on falsehood as well.
Those who unite the sources and the maqasid and these are the people of true knowledge.
The Shaikh pointed to the story of the companions when a companion was ill and required a bath in a situation where bathing would have killed him. He was told by the companions to take a bath even though it would have surely killed him and it did. When the Prophet heard of it, he was extremely upset and uttered some of the harshest words when he said, "You killed him, may Allah kill you." Then the Prophet went on to say, "do you now know that cure of ignorance is asking the question."
Establishment of Islamic schools
The Shaikh emphasized the importance of establishing Islamic schools as THE way to combat extremism. By doing so, you will develop the foundation of true Islamic knowledge from which the Islamic civilization will spring forth...
Concluding Advice to the Audience
The Shaikh ended with giving the following advice:
An advice from the Qur'an: wassayna allatheena ootoo alkitaba min qablikum wa-iyyakum ani ittaqoo Allaha -- Verily we have directed the People of the Book before you, and you (o Muslims) to fear Allah.
An advice from a Hadith: "Establish the Salaat, pay the zakaat and stay away from evil and then stay wherever you want." So to live in a non-Muslim country, we must do these three.
Educate yourself. Educate yourself. Educate yourself.
Canada's issues must become your issues. Muslims must become dynamic contributors to the society.
Accept our mutual differences of opinion. Having differences of opinion in Islam is not as big a matter as we have made it. Have differences, but agree to have differences. And then work together for the deen of Allah.
Some more concluding advice
The Shaikh pointed to Muhammad ash-Shareef and said here is a young man who memorized the Qur'an living in Canada, without going out. Follow his example and establish institutes where Muslim youth get the opportunity to get pure knowledge