Countering Extremism through Education

What is the solution for countering extremism in religion?

Religious extremism is warned both in the Qur'an and Sunnah. While practicing Islam, we have to be careful not to fall into any of the extremes whether we try to overdo it in acts which go beyond what Prophet (ﷺ) has shown us or we become deprived and don’t do what we should have been doing. Both sides are the extremes that take us away from being ummat-ul-wasat (middle nation). Allah has described us that middle nation that can be an example for the human society and this is what we have to offer the world today. We don’t have technology to offer although we were the leaders of technology and space in Baghdad and Muscat earlier. But today we turn to New York and London to gain knowledge. We can offer morality, for, the moral heart of civilization lies within us as Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has said:

“I was only sent to perfect for you the highest of moral characteristics.[1]

And this is the essential message of Islam, the moral message that we have to offer to the world. So we have to be conscious of Islam and gain knowledge to be able to understand how to live efficiently and be able to live following that middle path.

 And Alhamdulillah we have easy access to knowledge today, through Islamic Online University which I set up in 2007 as an attempt to make Islamic knowledge available to the world. Islamic online university and its diploma courses are absolutely free and anyone can register anytime, study at any time, any place without any pre-requisite to join regardless of one's age or academic qualifications and is open to all. You can study at home, as long as you have an internet connection. So we have this product by the will of Allah, who made it available in our time when knowledge is easily accessible. The Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) has also stressed,

“Seeking knowledge is made compulsory for every Muslim.[2]

This is the knowledge primarily of deen and we must know Allah, His commands, the messenger of Allah and his teachings to guide us in our day-to-day life. So Internet made this accessible and since last year we have began to offer the degree of BA in Islamic studies online, which is accredited to have universities from Philippines, Indonesia which issues the degree while their cost is virtually nothing. Insha’Allah, we hope that you would participate and support it in as many ways as possible, whether offering help as volunteers in the university's project or giving financial help since it has been running on individual efforts and contributions. So Insha’Allah we have this opportunity to know the middle path to be followed and must not excuse ourselves despite having the internet access in our homes. Instead of wasting our time in gaming and chatting, we may benefit from the effort of knowing our religion. Insha’Allah in future, we can make it with the aid of Islamic online university with the noble aim to “change the nation through education”.

To conclude, the most dangerous area of extremism can make one worship others instead of Allah, or worship Allah through others or perform extremist acts like different practices, customs, traditions which are in fact away from the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ). When there is mawlid, it becomes a holiday in most Muslim countries but we have to know that this is an act which is not done by the Prophet (ﷺ). His companions who best knew his teachings and were best followers never did it. So we have to know that this is a sort of innovation by people as the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “every innovation in religion is misguidance[3] and it is a source of misguidance.

References:

[1] [Al Albani in Silsila As’Saheeha (45)]

[2] [Ibn Maaja (224).]

[3] [An’nawawi  (198)]

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