The concept of “Radical Islam,” which is widely used today, especially in the Western world, emerged in the second half of the 20th century as a concept that entirely contradicts the essence of Islam and the Koran. The radical minded people misinterpret the Holy Scriptures ,God sent to people for peace and brotherhood, and through their self-invented superstitions, work to legitimize violence against people from different beliefs and thereby completely violate their faith in the process.
The process, which dates from before the 9/11 attacks to the present day and has recently been imprinted on people’s memories through terrorist acts carried out by ISIS gave rise to concepts like “radical terror” and “Islamic terror.” Hardly a day goes by, we don’t hear new terror attacks in either Afghanistan, Iraq or a European city via the news reports along with the concept “radical Islam.” These terrorist attacks vary from strapping bomb to one’s chest and walking into a crowd before blowing one’s self up, or driving a bomb-laden car/truck right into the middle of a crowd of civilians, or killing people of different faiths while performing religious obligations in Holy places like churches. Therefore, people from any part of the world can never feel safe from these heinous attacks.
Today, as a consequence of this process, certain individuals seek to wrongfully identify the concepts of radicalism and terrorism with Islam and devout Muslims. However, historical and sociological studies reveal that concepts such as “radical” and “radicalism” had emerged long before they were associated with Islam.
The Encyclopedia Britannica writes that the term “radical” was used politically first by the British Whig Party parliamentarian Charles James Fox in 1797. Subsequently, the word “radicalism” was used to describe the mentality that aims to render any political idea, thought system, belief or ideology dominant by overthrowing the existing system through revolution, usually by employing methods of oppression, violence and terror.
As we can see, radicalism arises as a tyrannical ideology that is more concerned with dictating and imposing ideas, thoughts and beliefs, rather than their substance. The attempts to make extreme leftist political views prevalent through bloody communist revolutions instead of democratic means or to impose extreme rightist, nationalist ideas upon people through dictatorial fascist methods, instead of advocating these ideas within the parliamentary system, are all examples of radicalism.
Adopting the path of oppression, violence, terror and war in order to impose a religious belief or way of life, and to realize religious ideals is, likewise, outright radicalism. The essence of the Abrahamic religions preaches common sacred values such as love, peace, brotherhood, altruism, and cooperation. Yet some followers of these religions later on fall into the trap of radicalism.
It is, in fact, an enormous mistake and contradiction for “Islam,” the lexical meaning of which is peace and welfare, to be mentioned side by side with a brutal and horrific mentality such as radicalism. That is because it is impossible to find any basis for radicalism in the Koran, the only valid source of Islam. On the contrary, the verses of the Koran advocate the freedom of belief and thought in a way that is even stronger than some modern societies of today do. The Koran precisely mentions that there is no compulsion in Islam [2:256] and does not in any way allow interference in the other party’s religion [109:4-6].
The Koran’s respect of individual beliefs emphasizes the underlying logic of today’s modern secular thinking while expressing all manners of freedom of belief in the most concise way.
The Koran opposes even the slightest act of forcing towards the beliefs and acts of worship of others, let alone oppression, violence and terrorism. Islam’s Holy Book reminds believers that they are only a reminder, not a compeller [88:21-22; 50:45].
Yet today, in the majority of the Islamic world, albeit unwittingly, people have abandoned the Koran and began to live a model of religion that is bigoted and in total contradiction with the spirit of the Koran and its commandments. They have adopted and practiced the manners, customs and traditions they inherited from their ancient tribal cultures and their ancestors; they have absorbed the wrong interpretations and explanations of the various insincere preachers whom they regard as scholars, and the false narrations and the innumerable superstitions unduly attributed to Prophet Mohammad, mistakenly taking them for Islam.
It is evident for many reasons that these people are used as pawns in the redesigning of the world, not knowing what they are doing, in the hands of those that hold the reins of exploitation.
The only way to pull the masses, who were molded through extremism, out of the muddle they have been stuck in, and to save them – and the entire world – from the clutches of radicalism and terrorism is to lead those people back to the essence of Islam, that is the Koran. Spreading the authentic Islam based on the Koran, cleansed of extremism, is the definitive solution to terrorism. Those who seek solutions by force must come to realize that twisted philosophical and religious interpretations cannot be ended through the force of arms but need to be countered intellectually. Hopefully, the money currently being squandered on weapons will be spent on education instead and the solution-seekers will join forces with illuminated, modern, loving and sensible Muslims.
—The author is a prominent Turkish author. He blogs at: www.harunyahya.com