A caveat to the radicalism risk

I added that just like "radical Islam," "radical Christianity" and "radical Judaism" pose a threat to world peace.

A caveat to the radicalism risk
By ekrem Dumanlı, Today's Zaman

Last time I mentioned the risk of radicalism and argued that incidents like the cartoon crisis strengthened radical groups' hands. I added that just like "radical Islam," "radical Christianity" and "radical Judaism" pose a threat to world peace.

For that I have been severely criticized. Yet my argument is based on sound logic: all radical groups feed on the discourse of anti-radical groups. Indeed all extremist ideologies are fed on the sharp discourse of counter-ideologies. What is more interesting is that an extremist group cannot be persuaded onto a moderate course by its opponent.

Our old world has suffered from myriad tragic incidents. Lives and freedoms have been lost. Fear has engulfed the world. Violence has degraded human values. Hatred has increased as love has diminished. Compassion and sympathy have been replaced by cruelty. Our world has been saved from ideological polarization; ideological adversities ended with the end of the Cold War. The world had the opportunity for a lasting peace and a more secure environment, until religious tensions started to escalate. In fact the roots of this strife go deeper back in time and are always accompanied by painful memories. The true aim of all religions is to establish relations between man and his Creator and promote love among men. Unfortunately throughout human history the struggle for power has led to wars disguised as religion. Despite the fact that the Almighty who created us all is the same, humanity has suffered tragedies for apparent religious reasons.

Having failed to learn from the past, some groups are going to the fire with gasoline, making religion the scapegoat. It is wrong and utterly pointless. Anything that provokes "the other" helps to widen the divide between the two. Everybody must act with more reason and sensitivity for world peace.

Making repeated references to radical Islam, too, is wrong. In fact Islam prohibits radicalism in the first place. The argument made to tie Islam to radicalism disturbs all Muslims. Radical Islamic groups represent a marginal community in every Islamic country. Seeing Islam as the root of extremism labels all Muslims as criminals or at least suspects. Yet Islam repeatedly calls on all believers to hold to the middle course. For example, a Muslim who performs the prescribed prayers five times a day has to recite Surah Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Holy Koran), which contains the supplication: "Guide us to the Straight Path" -- 40 times a day. The path, advocated by Islam and dubbed the Straight Path, can be construed as the middle course. That is to say that the Holy Koran suggests the path that does not condone extremism, that is forthright and that does not mislead its followers.

In addition to the Holy Koran's emphasis on moderation and avoiding extremism, Islam's Prophet Mohammad emphasized this issue. He told some of his followers who exaggerated their worship not to do so, but to follow his model. He stressed that it would be wrong to neglect family members and relatives by devoting excessive time and efforts to prayers, or fasting excessively. When Islam, a religion that forbids extremism even in worship, is constantly associated with extremism, uneasiness among Muslims is the result. To fight extremist groups that do not abide by the Islamic motto, "Whoever kills an individual it is as if he had killed all of mankind," is one thing -- and to place the blame of some marginal groups that have a skewed perception of Islam on the entire Islamic world is another.

This is my point: Wrong comments made about a religion force the prominent leaders of that religion to respond. Uninformed comments made by the followers of other religions are not helpful in tackling the problems caused by marginal groups; they exacerbate the problems instead. From this perspective, one can argue that radicalism is not a problem specific to Islam. Radicalism is taking a hold among the followers of all religions. Radical groups, receiving strength from each other, are trying to bring the world into chaos again. This is playing with fire! Ironically some people by criticizing radicalism cause radicalism to grow stronger. Yet it is a fact that there are reasonable people among the followers of every religion. It is their historic responsibility to tell their followers to keep to the middle course and emphasize that love for God entails love for fellow man.
Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2007, 10:24
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