A Canvas for Hatred – My experience with extremism

February 21, 2012

Community, Self-Empowerment


During the battle of Siffin Amir al-mu’minin heard some of his men abusing the Syrians, then he said:

I dislike you starting to abuse them, but if you describe their deeds and recount their situations that would be a better mode of speaking and a more convincing way of arguing. Instead of abusing them you should say, “O’ Allah! save our blood and their blood, produce reconciliation between us and them, and lead them out of their misguidance so that he who is ignorant of the truth may know it, and he who inclines towards rebellion and revolt may turn away from it.

Sermon 205 – Nahjul Balaga

Islam is widely painted in the mass media as a violent and extreme religion one that does not cater for religious tolerance one that is based on hatred and violence. This of course is completely untrue and is not the matter of discussion in this blog however I wish to touch upon how extremism can cause division within a community and its potential effects. Within Islam itself there exist various sects and with the rise of the online digital age it has led to a plethora of opinions and views that like paint splash across an open canvas.

It was a beautiful summer afternoon in 2006 I had met along with a couple of friends the aim of the meeting was to discuss an exciting new project for the community. I had been told that there was a Sheikh who had arrived from Kuwait who was here with new and exciting ideas that he wanted to share with us. As we waited for him to arrive we caught up on our own lives and discussed the latest footballing stories of the time. When finally he did arrive he walked in, in a manner that commanded respect and authority he sat down and introduced himself we then introduced ourselves and began the meeting.

He was a man with many ideas and immediately set out his thoughts of what he wanted to achieve, he spoke of creating a database of names and numbers and then calling up each person to ask them to join and be part of a movement. He then spoke of the need to establish a publication that would spread the message of Islam and be a light amongst the community. In much more practical terms he then spoke about a project that he had run back in Kuwait it was a children’s comic book by the title of “Tha’er” . Tha’er was the name of the lead character in the comic and it is arabic word which means one who is revolutionary and fights against injustice.

This comic had already been published in Kuwait (in Arabic) and according to the Sheikh it was quite successful with plenty of issues, he then presented to us some of the copies and explained that he wanted to launch the same comic but in the language of english and wanted our help to make this happen. I was cautious from the go as I thought that the concept of the comic was not really suitable for the target audience of children aged 9 to 16ish.

As I randomly picked out an issue of the comic and began reading it I was quite surprised at the style of the comic I had assumed that the comic would instill and teach young kids good manners, etiquettes where the lead character would be a role model to the kids. However what I saw was a character fighting in stories of high political influence. Personally I did not feel this was suitable for the perceived target audience and so I pulled myself out of the project. That meeting was the first and last I would have with this Sheikh as he would then go on to become world renown for all the wrong reasons.

A year after the meeting the “shia” newspaper was launched and spread amongst the London community the publication aimed to speak for the “silenced” voice of the Shia Muslims. The lead image on the front page was that of a boy covered in blood and the headline of the paper was one which was deeply offensive and derogatory towards the 2nd Calipha (leader) of Islam. The paper caused much controversy and outrage amongst the mosques to the extent that one mosque banned the paper from being distributed amongst its people.

A couple of years later the Sheikh would launch Fadak TV which would then host lectures and materials that would be highly offensive to not only Sunni Muslims but also to Shia Muslims. The content would eventually require that leading Shia scholars launch statements to condemn the channel and the Sheikh. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani a prominant lecturer would then eventually say the following about the Sheikh.

It therefore does not take much reasoning to conclude that Sheikhs approach is both highly offensive and considered abuse, in fact I remember tuning into this channel and witnessing a “debate” taking place where the topic was whether or not one of the wifes of the holy Prophet was in hell or not”. Such a vile and disgusting topic title that to me personally sheds light on the level of intellect that extremism can lead to. This is indeed why I started this blog with the beautiful saying from Imam Ali (As) and with simple thought puts into perspective everything the Sheikh has done and make one realise the extremism behind his character.

I remember individuals who would ask me to attend his “lessons” and raise my queries and thoughts with him directly, it is ironic that those individuals no longer hold the Sheikh in high esteem.

There is a common pattern with all forms of extremism and that is that at the head of it is lies a sharp and powerful tongue and that if one is not careful they may be seduced by it leading them to a distasteful path made blind by the conveyor belt of distortion.

I started this blog with a saying by Imam Ali and I shall end it with another beautiful saying to which I shall leave the reader to ponder over in context of this blog.

Imam Ali heard someone abusing and blaming the world and said to him,

O you, who are blaming the world, who have been allured and enticed by it, and have been tempted by its false pretenses. You allowed yourself to be enamored of, to be captivated by it and then you accuse and blame it. Have you any reason or right to accuse it and to call it a sinner and seducer? Or is the world not justified in calling you a wicked knave and a sinning hypocrite? When did it make you lose your intelli- gence and reasoning? And how did it cheat you or snake false pretenses to you? Did it conceal from you the fact of the ultimate end of everything that it holds, the fact of the sway of death, decay and destruction in its domain? Did it keep you in the dark about the fate of your fore- fathers and their final abode under the earth? Did it keep the resting-place of your mothers a secret from you? Do you not know that they have returned to dust? Many a time you must have attended the sick persons and many of them you must have seen beyond the scope of medicine. Neither the science of healing nor could your nursing and attendance nor your prayers and weeping prolonged the span of their lives, and they died. You were anxious for them, you procured the best medical aid, you gathered famous physicians and provided best – medicines for them. Death could not be held back and life could not be pro- longed. In this drama and in this tragedy did the world not present you with a lesson and a moral?

Certainly, this world is a house of truth for those who look into it carefully, an abode of peace and rest for those who understand its ways and moods and it is the best working ground for those who want to procure rewards for life in the Hereafter. It is a place of acquiring knowledge and wisdom for those who want to acquire them, a place of worship for the friends of Allah and for Angels. It is the place where prophets received revelations of Allah. It is the place for virtuous people and saints to do good deeds and to be assigned with rewards for the same. Only in this world they could trade with Allah’s Favors and Blessings and only while living here they could barter their good deeds with His Blessings and Rewards. Where else could all this be done? Who are you to abuse the world when it has openly declared its mortality and mortality of everything connected with it, when it has given everyone of its inha- bitants to understand that all of them are to face death, when through its ways it has given them all an idea of calamities they have to face here, and through the sight of its temporary and fading pleasures it has given them glimpses of eternal pleasures of Paradise and suggested them to wish and work for the same. If you study it properly you will find that simply to warn and frighten you of the consequences of evil deeds and to persuade you towards good actions, every night it raises new hopes of peace and prosperity in you and every morning it places new anxieties and new worries before you. Those who passed such lives are ashamed of and repent the time so passed abuse this world. But there are people who will praise this world on the Day of Judgment that it reminded them of the Hereafter and they took advantage of these reminders. It informed them of the effects of good deeds and they made correct use of the information it advised them and they were benefited by its advice.

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About mohamedridha

Network Systems Engineer with focus on Wireless LAN Infrastructure and Security. Interests in Middle East

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4 Comments on “A Canvas for Hatred – My experience with extremism”

  1. Sanasino Says:

    Well done for highlighting this issue, it really is fundamental (excuse the pun). While I was in Yemen I saw a child no older than 4\5 swooshing his toy plane around the house. When I went to play with him he started shouting Allahu Akbar – or what he could make of it- and crashed the toy plane into a lego building. I was actually shocked by this. I asked his parents who taught him this and they said his aunty! I asked them why they let her infiltrate his beliefs and ideals from such a young age and they basically shrugged it off. It’s an issue we all need to address in the community!

    Reply

  2. Shia&British Says:

    Well done. In Sha Allah you are always a follower of Amir almu’meneen, and you see the rewards of this effort in both worlds.

    Very nice, smooth and gentle but equally powerful.

    Reply

  3. anon Says:

    “I remember tuning into this channel and witnessing a “debate” taking place where the topic was whether or not one of the wifes of the holy Prophet was in hell or not”. Such a vile and disgusting topic title that to me personally sheds light on the level of intellect that extremism can lead to.”

    I am not a supporter of this individual. However, I disagree with your view that debating such a topic is vile and disgusting, my reason being that we find this verse in the qur’an, surat al-tahreem, 66:10

    Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter.”

    The verse clearly shows two prophet’s wives are in Hell, so, why, therefore, is discussing such an issue in an academic manner vile and disgusting? If we accept this view of yours, then should we not also label the qur’an as vile and disgusting?

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Woolwich: A developing Muslim Mind and the path to extremism | mohamedridha - May 25, 2013

    […] current political affairs with aspects of religion that have been taken out of context. In my blog here I mentioned that these characters often posses a powerful tongue. They are good with their speech […]

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