A Question on Fundamentalism

June 20, 2006 § 2 Comments

In my last post I gave Muslim and more specifically non-Muslim readers of Wa Salaam the opportunity to ask direct questions about Islam. My intention was to allow the Internet community a chance to ask a Muslims questions whether simple or complext; personal or of a global concern.

Unfortunately, the answer to the call was very low. However there were a few good questions that were asked and instead of responding to them in the comment section I decided to make my responses to them feature articles of Wa Salaam.

The first question which was asked was by Chandira… she asked:

“What do you make of fundamentalism, Muslim or Christian or Hindu?” (Chandira)

This is an excellent question and I would like to thank Chandira for addressing this important issue. The first thing that we must understand about fundamentalism and its position in religion is obviously the definition. Whereas the definition states:

fun·da·men·tal·ism (fŭn’də-mĕntl-ĭz’əm)

  1. A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.

I cannot comment on Christian or Hindu fundamentalism as this would begin a much larger discussion beyond the scope of this post. However, I think fundamentalism according to the above definition is a good thing for Islam, in fact this is very good! Fundamentalism according to the above definition is exactly how The Qur’an and Sunnah (Tradition of the Prophet pbuh) were intended to be applied.

Anas (may God be please with him) reported the Prophet (pbuh) saying, “He who turns away from my Sunnah, he has no relation with Me”.

The fundamental principles of The Qur’an some of which include: the belief in One True God; regular and obligatory worship; almsgiving and community service; communal fasting for the sake of The One True God and Pilgrimages to the Holy Land for example should be adhered to without compramise or contradiction with respect to the merciful exceptions.

The problem comes in the color and use of the English language. Fundamentalism depending on the author and the agenda can be colored to imply a religious lunatic if the author and orator wishes. A lead statement about Fundamentalism found in Wikipedia the Internet encyclopedia suggests this when it says,

“fundamentalism has come to refer to several different understandings of religious thought and practice, through literal interpretation of sacred texts such as the Bible or the Qur’an and sometimes also anti-modernist movements in various religions.”

Given the broad use of this terminology (fundamentalism) it is easy for the most contraversial issue labeled fundamentalism to receive criticism and therefore cast a dark cloud over an entire group. Which itself is unethical and the result of ignorance and laziness.

On the other hand, religious-extremists (as it is also termed) committing acts of violence and injustice which violate the fundamental principles of The Qur’an and Sunnah in the name of GOD are greatly misguided, just as those Nationalists who violate the fundamental principles of The Qur’an in the name of Freedom are also misguided.

As Muslims it our responsibility to speak out against these acts of violence and if ignored offer dua’a (supplication & prayer) for them to realize their misguided ways and correct them, inshaallah.


§ 2 Responses to A Question on Fundamentalism

  • Chandira says:

    Thanks, I really appreciate your answer. That’s an interesting definition! Not sure where it puts me.

    I also appreciate anybody who has obvious devotion to God, and in my own religion, Adidam, anybody who is devoted at heart to God in their daily demonstration of life, is on the right path.
    I would be happy to sit besides you in prayer.

    I have a Muslim friend here in Seattle, and the Light just radiates out of his eyes, he is so far gone in love, it really shows. He is a pleasure to talk to. That generally is my personal experience of Islam, the people like him who shine love into the world, and that are obviously only living to love God. That is inspirational.
    There are those all too rare people in all religions, I’ve found. The guy who writes the blog “Mystical Alchemy” is a Christian, and also in that mystical place of real heart-openness.

    That would be my only argument with most religion, that the people rarely have basic tolerance, love and respect, and even an interest in, other people’s religions or points of view, even though all religion preaches love and worship of God.

    As the saying goes, ‘many are called, few are chosen’.

    Personally, I think all religions have a share in the truth, and that share is loving God, not in the details of practice, but in the depth of the heart of the individual.

    My own teacher said once, “What religion owns the Holy Brightness?” We can’t think we own God, none of us.

    Again, thanks for answering my question so well.

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