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Religion of Friday, 20 December 2019


Extremism is not part of Islam – Dr Zagoon

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Dr Haruna Zagoon-Sayeed, Executive Director, Baraka Policy Institute has said that extremism is not part of the teaching of Islam, as per the Holy Quran, Islam is a moderate religion.

He said Islam promoted moderation in all aspects of the life of Muslims and Muslims followed the teachings of Allah and the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) and are moderates as getting to the extreme caused harm than good.

Dr Zagoon said this at a forum on counter terrorisms, organised by the Ghana Muslim Mission (GMM), on the theme: “Preventing Religious Extremism: The role of the Ghanaian Muslim,” in Accra.

Speaking on the concept of Al-Wasatiyyah as a tool for pre-empting religious extremism among Muslims, Dr Zagoon said Al-Wasatiyyah came from the Quran and simply meant the middle path or being fair.

He said most scholars defined the concept as being far away from the two extreme sides, being fair, moderate, and tolerant, goodness, cooperation, and interreligious appreciation of ethnic diversities.

“If you are a Muslim this virtue teaches you to be moderate and cooperative, appreciative of others, and sensitive to the plight of others. You cannot be a Muslim without practising Al-Wasatiyya since its part of the Islamic values and teachings,” he said.

Dr Zagoon expressed worry about Muslims who engaged in acts of extremism and associated same to the religion.

“Islam is peace, but there are Muslims who are committing crimes and mentioning Islamic names and this is what is making it difficult for us at the moment to sometimes extricate Islam and Muslims from violence,” he said.

He said people committed attacks on their own Muslim brothers and sisters and say they were fighting for Islam. “The only way we can differentiate is to know what Islam stands for.

“Even when the Quran Allah talks about death, it never mentions that one should kill himself or another in the name of Islam. The prophet also condemned such acts. So if you engage in that then you are not practising Islam.

“When Muslims embrace Al -Wasatiyyah and its teaching, it will help them identify among themselves who are extremist and deal with them in terms of strategy. It would also enhance peaceful coexistence among Muslims and non-Muslims and Muslims alike, help appreciate the concept of mutual respect and to give allowance to others,” Dr Zagoon stated.

He cautioned that the concept did not mean lowering the standards of Islam set by Allah and could not be lowered.

Dr Bashiru Shani, Senior Lecturer Accra Technical University, described religious extremism as an unpalatable increase in some acts of religion and defended as if they were right.

He said Islam likened murder to the termination of the whole of mankind and therefore could not be associated with extremism.

“As Muslims, we must be concerned about the act because most times the victims are Muslim, it comes with stigma, it is unpalatable, and distasteful because it leaves in its wake mayhem, confusion, disaster and melancholy,” he said.

He mentioned that statistics generated indicated that in 2016; 52 per cent of all violence associated with extremism in the Middle East, 34 per cent in South Saharan Africa, both highly populated by Muslims, and only 12 per cent occurred in Central and South Africa with few Muslims.

Dr Shani attributed religious extremism to ignorance, regional and global politics, Palestinian dispute, invasions, diversity and urged Muslims to allow moderation to take centre stage in all dialogues and discussions.

He said they were the most affected and called on Imams to identify the vulnerabilities of their congregation and tackle them through their sermons.

“The mosque must not only be a centre of prayer, but a centre to tackle all aspects of the individuals’ life because the religion is a complete religion. Let us make our mosques an active place of worship which goes beyond the five daily prayers,” he said.

Nii Okai Aryee, Chairman GMM, Greater Accra said the forum was to educate members of the Mission and Muslims in general especially the youth on their roles towards national development and coexistence.

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