Don’t make me an extremist!

Don't make me an extremist!

Whilst I was at school and later in the military, I had many friends who were Muslims. I enjoyed hanging with them and we could talk on any subject and still leave as friends. Whilst in Australia, I spent a month working with Middle-eastern Muslims in Sydney. They were very hospitable and peace-loving people and I often had meals in their home and discussed culture, faith and society. These Muslims that I knew held on to the fundamentals of their faith and practiced them diligently. To me they were Islamic fundamentalists who loved their God and were determined to remain true to their religious practices.

September 11 2001 was a turning point in human history. Over the last 12 years we have seen the war on terror escalating around the world. All of a sudden the Islamic faith was thrust into the world’s spotlight by radical Muslims. It is interesting to read in various literature how this has changed people’s perception on Muslim fundamentalists. Acts of hatred against Islam increased. Many Muslims argued against the extreme views these fundamentalists held and chose to remain moderate and faithful to their own interpretation of the Koran. A number of Muslims chose to walk away from their faith because of the radicalisation of Islam. Animosity against Islam grew because of the extreme views of the minority.

Holding the fundamentals of faith is an integral part of our belief system. The fundamentals of faith govern our religious practices. But when these beliefs and religious practices create religious abuse against others or are forced on people, without giving them the opportunity to disbelieve or to hold an alternate interpretation, fundamentalism turns into extremism. A new word has recently entered the English language – “talibinization”. Talibinization is the process of converting society, government or culture into something based on the fundamentalist Islamic teaching of the Taliban. So the goal of the Taliban is to force society to accept or hold on to their interpretation of Islam, whether they like it or not. The outcome of talibanization includes practices like establishing strict regulations for certain groups (mainly women) to follow, banning teachings and activities that goes against the teachings of the Taliban, oppression of other Islamic groups (mainly Shia) to accept their belief system or be killed, and the discrimination of non-Muslims because they choose not to believe.

Am I like the Taliban in the way I impose my faith on others? As I, in my practices, seek the Christianisation of society? I hope not. I do not wish to see the discrimination of anyone because of their beliefs or lack of beliefs. The disciples around Jesus was keen to see Him establish a new political order but Jesus chose not to. The religious leaders wanted Him to be more critical of sin but He chose to hang with sinners and tax collectors. For me I want to be faithful to the fundamentals of the faith I hold on to by loving God and loving others. To do that I want to remain faithful to Micah 6: 8 – to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. That is what God requires of me.

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