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The Extremist Mentality: Debunking the Ideological Flaws

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Terrorist groups have the audacity to interpret from the Quran selectively to suit their own agendas and add an “authoritative” dressing to their views.

By Dr. Shawki Allam

Terrorist groups who flagrantly use religion as a cloak to cover up for their acts of violent extremism fall into some serious ideological flaws which reveal their warped logic and ill-informed and unauthentic sources which they turn to in order to derive their legal justification for their insatiable desire for power, control and bloodshed.
The first ideological flaw is related to the terror groups’ abominable crimes against the Quran and prophetic report as they take the Quranic verses and the Prophet’s words out of context and imbue them with the worst of meanings, violence, and savagery. They are totally ignorant of the tools of comprehending the Quran or Hadith, the rules of inference, the objectives of Islamic law and its principles.
As a result, the words of God in the Quran or the Prophet which should fill hearts of believers with peace and mercy and reverence for religion are replaced with ugly, bloody, distorted words which fill hearts with repulsion and fear. They willfully omit the qualifying parts of Quranic verses they quote and only stick to misquoted verses and hold tight to their deviant interpretations.
These bloody groups have the audacity to dismiss any Quranic verses which do not fit their bloody claims and they flagrantly declare unilateral war against both Muslims and non-Muslims who do not share their sick mentality of bloodshed. They completely disregard the Quranic conception of diversity, human brotherhood and peaceful relation between Muslims and non-Muslims referred to for example in the Quran in which God says, “O Mankind. We created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things” (49:13).
Although the Quranic emphasis on embracing diversities and entertaining differences are well established principles in dealing with people from different religious affiliations, cultural backgrounds and racial origins, the radical groups are adamant on considering anyone who rejects their extremist ideology a legitimate target who may be killed. This unjustifiable idiocy stands in total contrast to the clear Quranic message in which God says, “If anyone kills a person, it is as if he kills all mankind while if anyone saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind” (5:32).
Secondly, they narrow the concept of jihad and restrict it to combat and slaughter with the claim that such distortions represent the jihad legislated by God.
Jihad in essence is the human endeavour of striving to improve the individual and the society and to bring life closer to the divine model.
The violent extremists have made physical jihad an end in itself when in fact it is a means to guidance. Whenever it impedes guidance, jihad deviates from its goal, backfiring to becoming a means of outright harm that repels people from God’s religion. Thus they cannot declare “jihad on behalf of 1.5 billion Muslims. Simply put, the declaration of armed struggle is the prerogative of the ruler of the state or his deputy and these terrorist groups as non- state actors are not allowed to declare it.
Thirdly, the false belief that those terrorists who were killed in line of “duty” are considered martyrs and should be rewarded paradise is another delusional understanding of the concept of martyrdom. The terrorists who get killed are not considered to be martyrs according to Islamic law even if they considered their act to be a form of jihad, had sincere intentions and were acting out of ignorance. Good intentions do not justify illegal acts and it is totally prohibited to kill innocent people from an Islamic perspective. Thus terrorist acts like 9/11, 7/7 or any other similar horrendous acts are sheer acts of terrorism and has nothing to do with jihad.
From these three ideological flaws, we can deduce that these terrorist groups are mixing between the noble and legitimate form of jihad which is waged by legitimate state authorities to fend off aggression and establish justice on one hand and the bloodthirsty ruthless acts of killings indiscriminately against innocent people on the other.
Terrorist groups have the audacity to interpret from the Quran selectively to suit their own agendas and add an “authoritative” dressing to their views. These deviant ideologies need to be fought by intellectual responses which debunk their erroneous ideologies along with the help of the international media as well as academia in publishing and broadcasting the vocal Muslim authentic scholars who deconstruct the false claims and warped understanding of the Quranic exegesis.
(The writer is the Grand Mufti of Egypt)