Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Religious Extremism: Roots, Contexts and Solutions


Religious Extremism: Roots,  Contexts and Solutions

Undoubtedly, the Islamic world including Afghanistan have are facing so many challenges. One of the most prominent challenges is the growth of terrorism and religious extremism. Some believe that religious extremism has roots and origin in our own perspective due to the intellectual distortion of some Islamic sects. Thus, they accuse other sects of deviation from the mainstream of Islam while introducing themselves as a divine cult. The most important feature of this group of people is they have been trained in single-dimension educational centers. They think what they have learned is the ultimate truth and so depriving themselves of research about other sects and other interpretations from religion.  Therefore, the first and most important factors behind extremism are ignorance as the traditional seminaries are confined in narrow and single-dimension of religious narratives.
The second factor behind extremism is the complicated nature of Islam stated in a mysterious language. In the other word, the religion of Islam has so highly exalted nature that does not allow anyone to have a deep and proper understanding about it. For example, the Holy Quran talks about the essence of Allah in an earthly language while it has no similarity to the earthly creature. This point has caused some misunderstandings and mystified the perception of its reality. However, the people who are unaware of this point think that they reached an ultimate perception while it’s the only apparent sense of holy Quran simplified for the worldly audience.  The Holy Quran while preserving its apparent meanings it conveys more complicated and mysterious meaning and messages.
In both above cases, ignorance and misinterpretation are the most major reason behind extremism in Islamic society including Afghanistan. Based on Islamic literature, it seems that ignorance has two meanings: firstly; lack of uses from wisdom and rationality, and secondly, lack of knowledge and awareness.  We should confess that both types of ignorance exist in Islamic countries even among educated and uneducated people.  The educated people are ignorant because they usually do not use wisdom and rationality and blindly follow ethnic, religious, and language criteria. In relation to this type of ignorance, the holy Quran not only denounce those who do not know but denounce those who do not think and not use their wisdom. Based on this definition from ignorance, most of the educated elites are ignorant as they frequently repeat the history with deepening ethnic and religious division while it has never produced any positive outcome in the country.
The next type of ignorance pertained to those who have trained in single-dimensional educational centers restricted in providing one particular and narrow religious narrative. Unfortunately, these narrow narratives are not only in paradox to rationality but also in paradox to Quranic teachings as Quran encourages humans for learning unlimited and multidimensional educational disciplines while it confines itself to a particular interpretation. In fact, the judgment and views of extremist groups about other groups come from their ignorance, not scientific research. They have repeatedly shown irrational behavior because their reason has weakened and even died.  They have always been trapped by intelligent networks but never get awoken. So, to fight against extremists we need to fight against extremism by upgrading traditional seminaries through providing all-dimensional educational programs and secondly, promote rationality through rational disciplines such as logic, philosophy, social science and etc.
In regard to the first solution, it is clear as crystal that the current traditional curriculum which had been devised hundreds and thousands of years ago cannot fulfill the needs and demands of today’s society. 1400 years ago, the society was in its childhood but today’s it has got younger and mature. Undoubtedly, the suits which had been sewed for a newborn baby will not be suitable to be worn by an adult or a mature man. As a consequence, in case of not updating or modernizing the traditional seminaries, either the clothes are destroyed or the body of the mature man would be damaged.
In regard to the second solution, the experience of ancient Greece and Rome, the experience of the medieval era, and also the experience of Islamic civilization shows that whenever the door of rational knowledge such as philosophy, logics, theosophy, social science and etc are closed to human society, the society will enter into darkness and extremism.  If we look at the history of Khorasan civilization, especially Ghazna civilization, there are unanimous consensuses amongst historians that the fall of this civilization was began when the door of educational diversity was closed.  Unhappily, Ghazali was the pioneer of those who fought against diversity of educational activities and changed the scientific centers to darkness and extremism centers with monopolizing seminaries to narrative science. Hence, if we do not put an end to monopolistic approaches in conventional educational centers, we would not be able to get rid of extremism and prejudice.
The last matter that we should not forget in fighting against terrorism and extremism is the typology of extremism and terrorism. The extremism might be religious, ethnic, gender, national, and so forth.  Accordingly, terrorism might be international, regional, and domestic. In Afghanistan, we have faced all forms of extremism and terrorism requiring both national and international combat. It means, in addition to cultural fight using soft power against terrorism and extremism, we need to decisively use hard power, as well.  Unfortunately, we have only been unsuccessful in the cultural fight against terrorism and extremism but unsuccessful in the military fights. As a result, the terrorist group of Taliban eventually has changed to a powerful political rival against a legitimate government.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail com.

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