Islam's Rulings regarding Fanaticism and Terrorism
Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Hamdy Zaqzouq
Dr. Kamal Boraiqa Abdelsalam Hassan
Al-Azhar Magazine (Safar, 1442 A.H. September, 2020.)
1- Islam is against any form of bigotry and accordingly does not urge its followers to dogmatism. Furthermore, there is no evidence of any kind in the sources of Islam, namely the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet, to that effect. The call to embrace Islam is stated in the Qur'an is based on a wise and eloquent invitation, and such conduct can never be considered a manifestation of bigotry: “[Prophet], call [people] to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching. Argue with them in the most courteous way, for your Lord knows best who has strayed from His way and who is rightly guided” (An-Nahl:125) The Prophet himself said to the Pagans of Makkah who refused to believe the Faith of Islam: “you have your religion and I have mine” (al-Kafirun: 6)
2- As regards the divine religions which were revealed before Islam, Muslims are instructed to believe in Prophets that preceded Muhammad. And this belief in them is an essential element in the Faith of Islam. This is stated in the following Qur'anic verse: “So [you believers], say, ‘We believe in God and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we devote ourselves to Him’” (Al- Baqarah: 136). This verse states that there is to be no discrimination between any prophets and this tolerance has no parallel in any other religion. How can such a religion be accused of bigotry and fanaticism?
3- Islam calls upon all people to become united and to live together in friendship and affection despite the differences between them: “People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware” (Al-Hujurat 49:13 ). Similarly, Islam invites its followers in explicit terms to live in peace with Non-Muslims as is clear from the following Qur'anic verse: “and He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just” (Al-Mumtahinah: 8).
4-Islam urges Muslims to forgive and pardon those who wrong them: “Waiving [your right] is nearer to godliness” (Al-Baqarah: 237) Furthermore, Islam urges Muslims to meet any wrong with kindness in the hope that an enemy may become a friend: “Good and evil cannot be equal. [Prophet], repel evil with what is better and your enemy will become as close as an old and valued friend” (Fussilat: 34)
5-The Prophet said in one of his sayings: Announce good news and glad tidings and do not repel or alienate people". This is clearly a call to reject bigotry, which breeds hatred, whereas the announcement of good news and glad tidings is a sign of tolerance and leniency. Since Islam condemns fanaticism and extremism it consequently condemns terrorizing and killing people. In fact Islam considers an attack on one single person an attack on all mankind: “if anyone kills a personunless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land- it is as if he kills all mankind” (Al-Ma`idah: 32)
6- Accordingly accusing Islam of terrorism is an absolutely unfounded allegation. If some Muslims are fanatics or even terrorists that does not mean that Islam should be held responsible for their actions. It is essential to differentiate between the tolerant teachings and just principles of Islam and the irresponsible and bigoted behaviour of some Muslims. We must all keep in mind that bigotry and fanaticism are not limited to the followers of any one religion and that terrorism has become an international phenomenon and problem, and this is a fact which is witnessed by our contemporary world. How then can the Faith of Islam be blamed for the universal phenomenon of terrorism, which exists among the followers of all faiths?