Saturday, April 19, 2008

How to Defeat Extremism

“Syria has a long history as a cosmopolitan and commercial place; its traditions are tolerant and diverse,” he said. “This is what prevented the victory of the Islamists in the 1980s.”

The violence of that period eroded those traditions, he said, tincturing the whole society with intolerance and brutality. “We haven’t had a setback like this in 1,000 years,” he added. And though the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that led the armed rebellion in the 80s, is banned, Islamic fundamentalism “has grown and penetrated our society, especially among the young.”

“All this has harmed Syrian society so much,” he said sadly. “If what happened in the 1980s were to happen again, I think the Islamists would win.”

A Bloody Era of Syrias History Informs a Writers Banned Novel - New York Times.


Those were the words of Syrian author Khaled Khalifa. His latest novel “In Praise of Hatred” is a finalist for International Prize for Arabic Fiction, even though banned in Syria. His comments above show that the path to defeat extremism is not brute force, but tolerance and diversity. This explains why extremists wish to turn back the clock and impose an intolerant and single minded society.

4 comments:

NBQ said...

There are extremes at both ends. You can be an extremist in tolerating and diversifying if you do not have a moral reference that regulates it for the benefit of the whole society taking into account there is a hereafter.
Of course, sometimes if the hereafter is dismissed (wether explicitly or implicitly) there can be no reasoning or at least it will be difficult and wastes a lot of valuable time; many humans can be far from rational, depending on the Creators Will for them.
Therefore, there are still situations warranting methods that are labeled "extreme" by those opposing it.
Otherwise, Islam would have never resorted to the sword and physical struggle if rational dialouge was always enough.
Certain verses from the Quran highlight this:
"Wert thou to follow the common run of those on earth, they will lead thee away from the Way of Allah. They follow nothing but conjecture: they do nothing but lie" (6:16)
"To such as Allah rejects from His guidance, there can be no guide: He will leave them in their trespasses, wandering in distraction" (7:186)

bu ziyad said...

nbq: you draw the line with the laws of the land (Islam or other..) as long as that is observed I don't think you can have too much tolerance or diversity..

NBQ said...

Exactly. The laws of the land. The problem that I see here though is that in the case of Islam, the law that is supposed to be applied has been diluted/supressed in the beginning when the countries forming shortly after the destruction of the Islamic state (Khilafa) were created and the modern constitutions written. This, in my opinion, is what is causing a lot of grief around us with what is termed as "extremism"/fundamentalism, when all that is being called for is a return to the original law of the land. Unfortunately, the long period of disconnect has allowed infilterations from other "laws of the lands"/standards/ideals/cultures that are in conflict with the original law of the land in the most conniving ways. If I may give an example (it may seem silly or not related, but may clarify what I mean), take the issue of the female dress code in the original Law of the land. Then trace in our history or just in Kuwait's history for example, how was it that there was such a drastic change in what is acceptable and what is not and the methods/campaigns that were instigated (public burning of 3abaya,etc...). Thus, the "fundamentalist" are faced with a situation where they want to free the original Law of the land back which was invaded by foreign laws of the lands and this is conflicting with the agenda of the invaders and their "collaborators"! :)
Lol... I can't believe I wrote it like that; but I think it describes the situation we see in many countries albeit a bit crudely. I know it has a flavour of "conspiracy theory", but if we were to read in the Qur'an Satan's vows then we can't help but believe in some conspiracy/agenda:
"[76] (Iblis) said: "I am better than he: Thou createdst me from fire, and him thou createdst from clay." [77] (Allah) said: "Then get thee out from here: for thou art rejected, accursed. [78] "And My Curse shall be on thee till the Day of Judgment." [79] (Iblis) said: "O my Lord! give me then respite till the Day the (dead) are raised." [80] (Allah) said: "Respite then is granted thee; [81] "Till the Day of the Time Appointed." [82] (Iblis) said: "Then by Thy Power, I will put them all in the wrong, [83] "Except Thy Servants amongst them, sincere and purified (by Thy grace)." [84] (Allah) said: "Then it is just and fitting, and I say what is just and fitting; [85] "That I will certainly fill Hell with thee and those who follow thee, every one." "(v38:76-85)

Thus, the consequence of what is on stake in the "extremists'" view is dire indeed, explaining, perhaps, their stances and willingness to go all the way (to the "extremes" sometimes! ;p) while others try their hand at methods provided by the current ("invading" in their eyes) law of the land (e.g. Parliament participation and attempts to rectify the constitution "Islam is a source of legislation" to "the source", etc...)

May Allah help us please Him best as He wishes.

bu ziyad said...

nbq: I appreciate and respect your point of view.. Not necessarily agree with it.. While you assume that Islam is/should be the default law of the land, many will disagree with this.. That's why you have democracy that will shape the law of the land by what the majority desires and at the same time respect the rights of minorities..