Intellect and love will defeat radicalism
Radicalism is a word that first appeared in the 18th century, deriving from the Latin word "radix," meaning root, and connotes "fundamentally" or "at root." This doctrine gradually came to be interpreted philosophically, being defined as a complete criticism and changing of lifestyle in terms of social and political phenomena. Organizations that adopt this philosophical doctrine strive to impose their own ideologies with a total disregard for what their opponents think or advocate. In the public eye, these radical organizations are often regarded as illegal and terrorist groups by many democratic regimes. It is a mistake to regard radicalism as a thought system based on religious beliefs. Above all, acts of terror and murder are never regarded as justified in any divine faith; Islam utterly condemns and prohibits terrorism. However, some groups that misinterpret the faith have given rise to such a perception in the world. In addition to these groups, radical groups espousing extreme right-wing or fascist views have committed many murders in Europe and of course, acts of genocide. In the same way, numerous terror organizations described as extreme left or extreme right have led to serious measures being taken within the scope of the UN and NATO. The Stalinist terror organization PKK, which is active in Turkey, for instance, appears on the list of such terrorist organizations. Many organizations meeting the above description are active in many parts of the world. Leaders of countries frequently emphasize the importance of the struggle against radicalism by drawing attention to the threat. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan drew attention to the danger posed by radical groups on a recent trip to Russia and recommended collaboration against them. Turkish President Abdullah GUl has also emphasized that radical groups are a grave threat to Turkey; they incite strife and division in the Islamic world and are the main cause of conflict between Sunni and Shiite. Criticisms of radicalism are also quite common in Europe. For example, during events taking place in the German city of Hamburg, the political scientist Carsten Koschmieder commented on the "Red Army Faction" (RAF - Rote Armee Fraktion) that engaged in terror activities in the 1970s, referring to it as the "radical left." The world has witnessed many acts of terror committed by radical/fundamentalist groups in the last 50 years, particularly in Asia and the MENA region. Many radical groups emerging supposedly in the name of Islam have used terror to impose their own false beliefs and ideas on the community. Terror organizations such as al-Qaeda, an-Nusra, al-Shabaab and the notorious Boko Haram inflict their policies of hatred and violence in numerous parts of the world. These groups that supposedly act in the name of Islam have grossly misinterpreted Islam and oppose everyone who refuses to adopt their ideas, often with the most appalling results. This fundamentalist mindset has no qualms about committing acts of terror in busy places such as commercial areas, markets, passenger terminals and the like for the same of "wearing society down and making their names heard". To cite a few examples, on January 16, 2013, a group affiliated to al-Qaeda in Algeria took 41 people working for a natural gas company hostage, several of whom lost their lives in the events that followed. This radical group, which cryptically called itself "Those Who Sign Their Names In Blood," claim to be seeking to spread hostility to the West and to establish a system based supposedly on Islam. In the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, the al-Shabaab terror organization used the Kenyan military intervention in Somalia as a pretext in an attack on a shopping mall in which it killed 62 people and injured around 200. Nigeria is one of the countries in which fundamentalist ideas have led to strife. The Boko Haram terror organization, founded in the state of Borno in 2002, has perpetrated prodigious slaughter in the region. Boko Haram means "Western education is sin" in the Hausa language, though they are properly known as "Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad". In an interview with the BBC, one-time Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf expressed his twisted way of thinking - resulting from a fanatical conception of Islam - by saying they did not want "scientific or European-style education." This terror organization commits its attacks on the basis of these outlandish ideas, continuing to spread fear and atrocities. People throughout the world are naturally unnerved in the face of the savagery and lovelessness of radicalism. People with ideas opposed to Islam of course make use of this sinister picture to magnify Islamophobia. In fact, the term should really be a 'phobia' against fundamentalism, not against Islam because the phobia originates, not from Islam, a word meaning peace, but from fundamentalism, a totally different belief system. Let us now see how Islam rejects the thesis of radicalism, which is best defined as "fundamentally and totally interfering with and changing people's lifestyles." Islam gives utmost freedom to people's lifestyles, beliefs and opinions. Indeed, this conception of freedom is stressed in numerous verses of the Qur'an. One of these read as follows: "There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error." (Surat al-Baqara, 256) In addition, Christianity, Judaism and Islam cannot be equated with such an illegal doctrine as radicalism. All the divine faiths counsel love, peace, brotherhood, tolerance and justice in their essence. People are advised to behave in a loving, peaceful and tolerant manner in both the Torah and the Gospel: "Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God..." (1 Peter 2:17) "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. ..." (Leviticus 19:18) As we have seen, all of the divine faiths condemn terror and radicalism. They all recommend love, peace, brotherhood, justice and tolerance to people and forbid violence and extremism. Radicalism in the religious sense emerges through efforts to make mistaken or bigoted teachings part of the religion and to essentially annul the commandments of the Qur'an and many of those who accept these false teachings imagine themselves to be on the true path. Therefore, those who resort to terror within these groups believe, within the morass that is fundamentalism, that they are doing this in the name of Islam. For that reason, telling people that the Qur'an summons all to moral values based on peace, calm, affection and tolerance will eradicate that strife. The false and radical ideas espoused out of a belief that they supposedly belong to Islam will be obliterated when rebutted with the Qur'an, the true source of Islam. It is very important to show everyone that the true moral values of the Qur'an desire peace, love and tranquility across the world and decisively condemn terror, violence and bloodshed and to show the exemplary virtues of Muslims to the entire world. Radicalism will be defeated, not through arms and violence, but through an intellectual struggle and love.
The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He may be followed at @Harun_Yahya and www.harunyahya.com.