Text from Shaykh Hamdi’s Talk at Interfaith Gathering in Montreal, November 16, 2015
First I would like to say very clearly: what we saw in Paris is not an issue of religious extremism.
We believe, according to the teaching of the Prophet ﷺ, that these people, Daesh, are the hounds of hell, and completely outside of Islam. We take them as our enemy, since our Prophet and Messenger ﷺ warned us to stay far away from them. These deviants, these criminal thugs have already destroyed graves of Prophets, like Prophet Jonah peace be upon him. They are anti-religion. They murder women and children in cold blood – both Muslim and not Muslim. We have absolutely nothing to do with these dogs of hell except to stand against them.
This group cannot be called an example of religious extremism because they are nowhere on the spectrum of faithfulness or religiosity, rather, they sit outside of that spectrum. According to our beliefs, they are the ‘Khawaarij‘ – which means those who have gone outside the fold of Islam. There is not a single Muslim authority – leader or teacher or Shaykh or scholar – who supports or condones them – all have unanimously condemned them and warned that they are a malediction.
The title of this interfaith talk refers to religious extremism. It’s an important subject because extremism in thought can often be the gateway into total deviation, and eventually even adopting violence. But before we discuss extremism and how it occurs to some adherents of faith, I want to speak for a moment about terrorism specifically – because I am sure many of you want to know why that occurs. This question about why terrorist actions occur belongs with the question of why murders or mass school shootings occur. There is something about them that is much larger than religious beliefs, and it must be said that not all extremists are terrorists, but certainly all terrorists are extremists. As an expression of violence, amongst many expressions in the world today, terrorism arises out of the ability in the human being to commit acts of depraved violence with no concern for his fellow man. As such, this phenomenon is not something new. For a religious person, this evil is a matter related to the whisperings of Satan who is man’s enemy, who caused the very first spilling of blood between the sons of Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, and has only continued to extend his influence from there.
One of the social media posts that went viral in the past few days spoke to this contextualization of the Paris attacks within a much larger view of violence. The author, a French woman, stated she would not be changing her Facebook profile to a French flag, because she stands in solidarity with all those innocents who lose their lives thanks to any type of violence, including poverty, war, and terrorism. She said if she were to change her Facebook profile every time such acts of violence occurred worldwide, she’d be changing it everyday.
While I believe we need to expand this discussion from constantly focusing upon Islam and Muslims as needing to provide explanations, answers and apologies, I also believe we have a role to play in healing humanity and offering spiritual counsel. I believe as human beings on this panel who have faith in the Creator, the Lord of all the Universes, we need to ask how religion – connection to Guidance from God – can answer this problem of violence and injustice around the world as well as all forms of extremism. We as representatives of faith must ask: what is going on that the message of hope, peace, love for one’s fellow human that is the essence of religion is not reaching very far?
The Abrahamic Call
This series of interfaith talks is called “The Heritage of Abraham,” peace be upon him. In our faith, we are taught that Prophet Abraham peace be upon him was commanded by God to build a house of worship of God, and then God ordered him to call out to people to come and worship God at this location, to honor God, to travel in a pilgrimage of the body that would bring about a pilgrimage of the soul.
Prophet Abraham was ordered to simply call out into the desert air: Come to worship God! God reassured him that people would hear that call, as simple and seemingly limited as it was, and come.
In our belief, that call was amplified by the Power of God and carried by God to the hearts of so many, and they heard it and responded, coming in waves to adore God, to submit to God, to be peaceful souls at one with God.
If we want to revive this heritage, we have to ask why this call of Prophet Abraham peace be upon him is no longer being heard, ask why the calls of darkness, ego, and evil are becoming so attractive today. We as heirs of Prophet Abraham peace be upon him, supposedly carrying his heritage – what is it about us that our call is not reaching very far anymore, not reaching into the hearts of the youth, the disenfranchised, those who are seeking ways out of the system they find themselves in and are critical of.
The difference is between us and Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him; I believe we need to become true people of God – like Prophet Abraham was – if our call to goodness is to be heard. The real work has to start within us.
Want to help counter extremism? Shaykh Hamdi and the Team at Sanad Collective are working to provide alternatives to extremism by establishing places from which to share safe teachings on Islam with youth, converts, and people of all backgrounds. Do your part to combat extremism in our community: Support this noble cause today