Since Sept. 11, many in the Unites States and all over the world have discussed the issue of radical Islam without clearly defining it. Failure to do so can be catastrophic as it may lead us to label “radical” Islamic groups as “moderate,” and vice versa. If a radical Islamic group is called “moderate” we will miss the extreme elements within our society that can breed terrorism. Furthermore, we may unknowingly support radical Islamic organizations under the assumption that they are “moderates."
Society can argue at length about relative issues until parameters for measurement are settled. For example, it is difficult to determine if the pyramids of Egypt are big or small without defining in numerical values such as cubic meters what qualifies as “big” or “small.” The same principle has to be applied to define “radical” and “moderate” Islam, otherwise our discussions will result in endless debates.
Currently, we have two opposing views. Some argue that Islam is a religion of peace and that Islamic Shariah law is “peaceful.” Others argue that it is not. This endless argument has caused division within the Western world and will continue to do so until we set clear definitions and parameters for the terms and expressions that we use.
I suggest the simple ABC’s test to resolve the debate. The question is simple: Should we consider those who promote and accept the following teaching as radicals or moderates? Apostate killing. Barbaric treatment of women: Beating women, the practice of polygamy, and the stoning of women until death for adultery. Calling Jews pigs and monkeys. Declaring wars on non-Muslims to spread Islam after offering non-Muslims three options: subjugate to Islam, pay jizia (a humiliating tax), or be killed. Enslavement of other human beings (modern day slavery). Fighting and killing Jews before “end days.” Gay discrimination and hostility.
Once these measurements are applied, it will be much easier to qualify any given Islamic teaching or organization.
If an Islamic organization or a scholar refuses to clearly and unambiguously stand against the above radical teaching, it will not take much calculation to determine if the organization or the scholars involved are truly moderates or radicals.
Lastly, those who believe that Shariah law is peaceful must be able to provide evidence through approved Shariah books that firmly stand against, or at least do not promote, the above “radical” concepts.
The simple ABC’s test for radical Islam can end this seemingly everlasting debate over the peaceful nature of Islamic Shariah law and the moderate to radical leanings of most Muslims.
Applying scientific measures and clear parameters to evaluate radical Islam is fundamental to understanding these questions. It is also a crucial first step in finding suitable solutions.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad." He was a former associate of Dr. al-Zawahiri (second in command of al-Qaida) and currently he is a reformer of Islam. To know more about Dr. Hamid please visit www.tawfikhamid.com. Dr. Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.
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