Countering Violent Extremism: The Long and Hard Way

Human progress over the time, did not always bear sweet fruits. The 21st Century despite every innovation that makes our lives easier has also brought something despicable and fearsome: Terrorism. Human beings killing other human beings that they never met. It reminds one the following hadith:

Allah’s Messenger (saas) said: “The Harj (will increase).” They asked, “What is the Harj?” He replied, “(It is) killing (murdering), (it is) murdering (killing).”[1]

 The Hour will come when violence, bloodshed, and anarchy become common. (Al-Muttaqi Al-Hindi, Muntakhab Kanzul Ummaal)

The world will not come to an end until a day would come to the people on which there will be general massacre and bloodshed. (Muslim)

More unfortunate is the killings committed in the name of prophet who foretold them and condemned such violence with his actions and words. Yet today much of the disorder, chaos and mayhem is located in the Muslim lands.

Fethullah Gulen touched upon this issue in his recent op-ed in the French Le Monde. He begins by expressing his sorrow followed by identifying the underlying problems and offering solutions. The first thing he says is the importance of our actions that represent our core values. Not how we dress or what we say. The Islamic State has a powerful propaganda machine. They talk from Quran and they dress in supposedly Islamic garbs. But what they do is not what they claim to be. In fact, Prophet Muhammad foretold this group as well:

There will come a people from the east who recite the Quran but it will not go beyond their throats. They will pass through the religion just as an arrow pierces its target and they will not return to it just as the arrow does not return to the bow.[2]

Many interpreters and historians thought the people mentioned to be the Khawarij who rebelled against Ali, the fourth Caliph after Prophet Muhammad (Aleyhisselam). They were a diverse group of people known to engage in violence especially against fellow Muslims who don’t agree with them. To them killing the shedding the blood of “infidel” and taking his possessions is halal (lawful). This is exactly what terrorists are doing in Iraq and Syria. Allah bless his soul; the prophet was pointing out to all such violent groups till the end of time.

Fethullah Gulen encourages us to categorically condemn violence.  This is the first step in solving the problem. Having legitimate Islamic voices speaking against it will discredit ISIS propaganda machine. The longer term solution he offers is to turn the magnifying glass on Muslim societies. No one other than the Muslims will be able to solve this problem. Our intellectuals should stop blaming the colonialists and the West but to should understand the political and social trends in the world well and develop a response. Educating people and creating jobs to combat poverty is a must to combat the extremist cancer, asFethullah Gulen calls it. But to do that we need a greater number of people sincerely caring about this issue and devote their time like the Gulen Movement. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi talks about foregoing even your spiritual rewards to dedicate yourself to the service of humanity. This is what it is needed in Muslimsocieties

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