Extremism: Causes and Cures

Sajid Iqbal

SO, what drives people to carry out acts of terrorism? Why do some people hate America and the West so much that they are prepared to take their own lives as well as others?

You see America, the UN in particular and the world community at large has double standards about Muslim countries such as Kashmir. Bosnia, Chechnya and Palestine.

This causes concern among the Muslims or should I say it pee's them off big time. The issues where the Western interest is involved get an immediate response in terms of concrete action. Whereas issues like Kashmir and Palestine remain unresolved even after the passage of a long time, the UN resolutions not withstanding. Check this out:


For example, the UN adopted resolutions in 1947 regarding the division of land to both Palestine and Israel. But 54 years down the road, these resolutions have not been implemented. In the meantime Israel has illegally occupied Palestinian land...in 1956 and in 1967 it took all of the Palestinian land that was left.

From 1967 to 1970 Israel brutally and illegally occupied the lands of Jordan. Egypt. Syria and Palestine. From 1973 to 1l985 Israel took part in 4 more wars. which virtually crushed the UN Resolutions, but America has done absolutely nothing about it.

Israel has filled a new page of brutality and ethnic cleansing in history with the full support of the US. Leave alone boycotting Israel or placing sanctions on it, America has completely supported the Jewish state in every way.

Israel has been given economic and military aid from America to establish itself as the 4" greatest military power in the world. You see, from America'^ worldwide allotment, it gives 36% of the budget to Israel whilst 64% goes to the rest of the world! Now the situation is that Israel poses a great danger to world peace.


The UN resolutions on Kashmir promised to give the right of self- determination to the oppressed Kashmiris but fifty years have elapsed and not even a single resolution has been translated into reality. 70.000 Kashmiris have perished but the world community has turned a blind eye.


On the other hand. the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait got an immediate response from the world powers due to the oil interests. Two million Iraqi children have died from the economic embargoes, v, hich are starving the country to death.

They also had uranium-coded bombs dropped on them (a form of nuclear warfare) and of course who can forget the bombardment of missiles and bombs which killed one hundred thousand people in Iraq.

These double standards give birth to hatred amongst the Muslims. It seems that America has separate laws for Muslim countries and a new set of principles for its allies and fellow Jew's. It is no surprise then that some Muslims believe that America has began its war against Islam.

US and British troops on Muslim lands To weaken Islam further America has its troops in Muslim lands especially in the Arab Gulf states and in the holy lands. Muslims worldwide are angered by this and want what they call the 'infidel' armies out of their lands.

So, in a nutshell these are the main reasons why Muslims really hate the US and its allies. This is what drives people to extremist activities and carry out acts of terror. Then obviously you get Muslims who want to do something about it and then you get the likes of Mr Ladin, Richard Reid and many other groups and organisations.

Even though the intention of the Muslims is good and you can understand their anger it still does not justify terrorism and suicide attacks because they are totally against Islam.

What Do The Scholars Say?

To sum up, let's see what the Muslim scholars have to say about the reasons for extremism in the world.

Dr Tahir Ul Qadri, a leading Muslim scholar, explains what creates extremism in the Muslim world: '..As a reaction to the injustices done to the Muslims the world over. they took up arms and their targets were naturally the US and the UN as they held them responsible to what they are today. The West branded the claimants of their in-born rights as terrorists.

Various groups joined the same bandwagon due to their unanimity of objectives and thus they defined their activities as Jihad. Irrespective of what is the academic definition of Jihad and what are its limits, one thing is crystal clear that they were oppressed people and as a reaction they transgressed the limits of reason in their extremist activities.'

T J Winters, a lecturer of Islamic Studies. Cambridge University states: 'Certainly, neither Bin Ladin nor his principal associate, Ayman-al-Zawahiri, are graduates of Islamic universities or seminaries. And so their proclamations ignore 14 centuries of Muslim scholarship, and instead take the form of lists of anti-American grievances and of Koranic quotations referring to early Muslim wars against Arab idolaters.

These are followed by the conclusions that all Americans, civilians and military, are to be w iped off the face of the Earth.'

Yusuf Islam, formerly known as the pop star Cat Stevens. stales: '..Some extremists take elements of the sacred scriptures out of context. They act as individuals, and when they can't come together as part of a political structure or consultative process, you find these dissident factions creating their own rules, contrary to the spirit of the Koran- which demands that those recognised as being in charge of Muslims must consult together regarding society's affairs.'

Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the well-known Egyptian scholar, said '..the world must make a distinction between what Islam says and what some misguided individuals do in its name."

Qaradawi recognised though that there was no easy remedy for the problem of terrorism. "Terrorism thrives on oppression and injustice, you can't uproot terrorism if you don't uproot oppression." He added that the terrible tragedy of the twin towers should make the US reconsider its wanton backing of Israeli oppression against the Palestinian people.

Finally Hamza Yusuf sums it up by saying: 'The Prophet Mohammed over fourteen hundred years ago said "beware of extremism, for it is that which destroyed the peoples before you." In the light of the present situation it is indeed wise advice. He also said. "My way is the middle way." Moderation is in fact the way of thinking people everywhere. The vast majority of humanity is not extremist but in key times can easily be driven so.'

So the bottom line is that Islam is a religion of peace and is totally against violence and all forms of terrorism. Therefore any Muslim carrying out violence and acts of terrorism has nothing to do with Islam or the Muslims.

You have to understand, just like every religion, organisation, group etc has extremists and fanatics in the same way there is a minority in the Muslim world who go over the top and carry out the bombings, murders and suicide attacks in the name of Islam. Islam should be judged and assessed by its teachings and not by the actions of a few fanatics.

I'll leave you with the follow ing words of the great American hero Muhammad All: "I am a Muslim. I've been a Muslim for 20years. I want the world to know the truth about Islam. 1 wouldn't b here to represent Islam if it were the way the terrorists make it look... Islam is for PEACE!"

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily of any particular organisation.