By: Dr. Sultan Ahmad (Author is former Professor, Chittagong University and East West University, Bangladesh)
Fundamentalism refers to the state or fact of being an adherent of one’s own belief, it has been misused, misinterpreted and malpracticed throughout the history of mankind. As far as Muslims are concerned, it is meant to reidentify the major concepts of Islam related to fundamentalism. The general decay of in morals and ethics now is a serious phenomenon all over the world. A new terminology “Islamic Fundamentalism” has been coined by the Western media, the interpretation of which is dubious and derogatory as a new onslaught and malicious propaganda against Islam now . Western understanding of “fundamentalism” is based on the historical and traditional concept of Christian fanaticism (Catholics and Protestants). It is also based on Jewish orthodoxy using military approaches. Non-Muslims are requested to realize that Muslims have already submitted themselves to Allah, are to follow the demands of Allah and His final and last Prophet to all mankind namely Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
While physical violence is harmful to a society, violence by pen is even worse. Physical violence is restricted to a limited area involving individuals in a particular era of history. violence by the pen drags nations and future generations into major conflicts. Violence by the pen is a prerequisite for physical violence . It will be impossible to stop physical violence and the eruption of wars without stopping violence by the pen. By controlling mental violence poured through the tongue or the pen, one may be able to control physical violence in society. A Muslim is one who subjugates his pen for the love of Allah and for the sake of telling the truth and for the sake of humanity.
Islam is not to be judged by individual incidents committed by individuals throughout the history. The crusaders invaded the Middle East and occupied it for about 200 years in the name of Jesus. The Spanish Inquisition was also carried out in the name of Christianity. Do these reflect Christian values or is the Christian religion is to be blamed? The Roman Empire and the subsequent European powers continued to be extremely militant in the name of religion, and used brutal force throughout the mediaeval Europe period. Horrific persecution by the Crusaders under the leadership of the Pope is well documented in history as the act of “Christian Fundamentalism”. History records a massive falsified propaganda campaign unprecedented in Christianson. The outbursts of coercion, suppression, and violence by the zealots of Christianity has been ingrained in the personality and mentality of Western people. It is worth mentioning that the Protestants, once a minority and under persecution, started the same viciousness in early American history in the name of Fundamentalism, as a movement had succumbed to the same disease and caused terrorism against Catholics, Jews and Blacks in America. Hundreds and thousands of American Indians were put to death in the name of the Protestant religion. The barbaric character of the Romans never disappeared, and intolerance has become a continuing phenomenon of the Western world in the name of religion, namely Christianity.
In our times, the Nazis rose to power in Germany, and with the approval of Cardinals Catholic Adolph Hitler launched a genocide unequalled in human history. Throughout the history of Christianity, the Pope managed and fostered “fundamentalism”. When the Western world and the Americans hear “Fundamentalism”, their minds are filled with horror because of the barbaric treatment committed by their fellow Christians in the name of religion. So they want to brand this “Fundamentalism” to Islam just to terrorize the world opinion about Islam.
Karl Marx, the founder father of communist revolution proclaimed atheism as fundamental to communist revolution. Das Kapital was published on September 14, 1867, and became the basic gospel of Communists around the world. All religion practices were abolished in order to have a purified atheism for the service of the State. The Communist movement, although started with the great idea of justice and freedom, have succumbed to the doctrines that to this day reflect utter darkness in human civilization. Extreme brutality and denial of human rights has become the icon of the whole Communist movement to consolidate power .
Orhtodoxism in Judaism has existed from time immemorial. In the beginning, orthodoxy contained a driving force of so called ‘special status’ of the Hebrew people in relation to God. The Rabbis played a major role in corrupting the message of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) according to their desires, and invented the principle of Jews being the exclusive or chosen people on the face of earth. Moreover, Judaism was never considered to be for outsiders and the Rabbis practiced and publicized it to remain so. Orthodoxy became synonymous with Zionism. Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Qur`an: “And the Jews and the Christians say: “We are the children of Allah and His loved ones.” Say: “Why then does He punish you for your sins” Nay, you are but human beings of those He has created, He forgives whom He wills and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them; and to Him is the return (of all) (Surah Mai`daa:5,18).
The word fundamentalism means adherence to the literal interpretation of Scriptures. The meaning of the word itself disqualifies it from the Islamic view point. How does Islam is different from other religions? Islam is not theocracy. There is no one person or particular group, who is to represent Allah (God) exclusively on earth. Islam is not a theology or theosophy. Islam is total way of life dealing with social, educational, economic and religious practices. The Qur`an, the holy book of the Muslims, is not a scripture. It is the word of Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through Angel Jibril. There is no divinity in Islam attributable to any human being. In Islam, there is no monarchy. There is no place of fanaticism in Islam, and Islam is against those who are fanatics. In Islam, there is no compulsion in religion. Compulsion necessitates conversion, and the latter necessitates exploitation. The idea of assassination is also totally against the teachings of Islam.
The Western powers, through the process of colonization and imperialism of Muslim lands, have corrupted those societies. They alienated them from the teachings of the Qur`an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and put them in the path of secularism. They marginalized the Muslim population by not providing equal opportunity in education and other social phenomenon. Westerners convinced us by saying that the technological and scientific backwardness of Muslims is embedded in our religion Islam. Muslim nations , unfortunately, listened to this message forgetting the glorious past of its predecessors’ contributions as pioneers of scientific advancements in medicine, chemistry, physics, astronomy, navigation, mathematics, arts and culture. If we look at Turkey, the first country to caught trapped in the course of secularism, she did not become a developed country as the West prophesied, but still today is in the category of underdeveloped country even after a long long time. Moreover Turkey could not become either leader as a Muslim country or as a secular one.
Muslims during the 18th century went through a period of decadence because of : love of this world, involvement in worldly affairs for the sake of this world forgetting for the sake of Allah, listening and depending on the advice of the enemies. Following events took place in the nineteenth century: Colonization and Imperialism grasped the Muslim countries by French, British, Dutch, Italian, Greek, Russian and so no. Muslim leaders were used to commit all types of crimes. Leaders of the Muslim world had nothing to do with Islam except carrying a Muslim name and giving lip services which is continued till today. Monarchies were imposed in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Yemen. In the early twentieth century, Muslims were divided by the British into Arabs and non Arabs. Lawrence of Arabia of Britain played an effective role in this.
It is worth mentioning that Christianity never fitted to the nature of Westerners. Although the missionaries tell that “Christianity condemns fighting”, shamelessly and without any sense of guilt, the Popes were instrumental for shedding human blood for the sake of Jesus. History testifies that no war by the West was fought for self defense and survival. Those, both Muslims and Christians, who proclaim that Islam is outdated and cannot meet the challenges of modern times, are either ignorant about Islam or are simply lying and committing blasphemy. The world and particularly the Muslims will never recover from the deep-rooted sickness unless they turn to the practice of Islam in the true sense.
The phrase “Islamic Fundamentalism” has been used for those who are deviant and took terrorism and killing innocent people in the name of Islam. The Holy book of the Muslims Quran specifically denounced killing of people for any reason whatsoever. The Quran States: “We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed” (Surah Al-Maieeda:5:32). So those who are killing innocent people cannot belong to Islam according to this verse. And about justice, Qur`an ordered, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a better Protector to both. So follow not the lusts, lest you may avoid justice; and if you Talwu (distort) or Tu`ridu (hide or withhold) it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do (Surah Nisaa:4:135).
The question remains, is there anything which can be delineated as “Islamic Fundamentalism”? The answer is yes. Islamic fundamentalism is the application of Islamic laws to all human beings irrespective of caste, color or religion. Or one may say is the practice of Islam as prescribed and proscribed in the Holy Qua`an and the tradition of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taking into consideration specific injunctions against extremism and exaggeration, omissions, additions leading to the interpretations to cause forbidding actions, deeds, foods which have not otherwise specifically been forbidden. Thus those who believe in Allah without any doubt and strictly and truly follow the instruction of the Qur`an and the life style of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) truthfully and faithfully in their life style may be termed as “Islamic Fundamentalists”; unlike the Westerners who consider extremism and radicalism as fundamentalism.
(Views expressed are strictly personal)