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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Being a Fundamentalist Muslim - Is it Okay?

It is common nowadays that the media calls Muslims fundamentalists and the Muslims are apologetic and say that they are in fact, moderate Muslims and not fundamentalists. Even the Oxford dictionary changed the meaning of fundamentalism from strict adherence to traditional religious beliefs or doctrines to strict adherence to traditional religious beliefs or doctrines especially Islam.

Therefore, this post explains the fundamentals of Islam so that Muslims understand what exactly is a Muslim fundamentalist and whether they should apologize for being fundamentalists or not.


According to the Oxford dictionary, a fundamental means of or being a basis or foundation. Therefore, it a fundamental is a basic principle.

It is common knowledge that to know a subject, a person needs to know its basis. For example, a doctor needs to know the basics of medicine and similarly an engineer needs to know the basics of engineering. In other words, a doctor needs to know the fundamentals of medicine and an engineer needs to know the fundamentals of engineering.

This implies that if a doctor knows the basics of medicine and he follows or tries to follow the basics, he may be called a fundamentalist doctor and if an engineer knows the basics of engineering and follows or tries to follow the basics, he may be called a fundamentalist engineer. In this light, someone who knows the basics of Islam and follows or tries to follow them may be called a fundamentalist Muslim.

Now let us take a look at the basics or fundamentals of Islam, which many people claim to reject when they claim that they are not fundamentalist Muslims whether they mean it or not. These fundamentals are, in brief, five and are more commonly known amongst Muslims as the five pillars of Islam.

According to Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Hadith 7, it is narrated by Ibn Umar that

Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):

1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle.

2. To offer the (compulsory) (salat) prayers dutifully and perfectly.

3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity).

4. To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca).

5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

Following is a short description of these fundamentals.

1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle. This is to bear witness that there is no God but Allah (swt) and not to associate any partners with him whether it be by giving the same name or the same attributes etc. Furthermore, bearing witness that Prophet Muhammad (S) was the last and final messenger of Allah (swt).

2. To offer the (compulsory) (salat) prayers dutifully and perfectly. These refer to the compulsory salat which is offered five times in a day, i.e. in 24 hours. By name, these are Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha. They can be offered only between specific times which have been established by the Quran and Sahih Ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad (S). Salat is a form of worship but it should be kept in mind that it is not the only form of worship.

3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity). This is the compulsory tax given by every Muslim whose wealth exceeds a certain amount, in specific 7.5 tolas of gold / 52.5 tolas of silver or an equivalent amount. It is obligatory for that person whose wealth exceeds that amount to pay 2.5% of it as zakat. He may give more if he wants to but the minimum for him will be 2.5% of his amount. Anyone whose wealth is less than this specified amount need not pay it, i.e. zakat is not obligatory on him.

4. To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca). This is the annual pilgrimage that is performed in Saudi Arabia in and around the surroundings of Makkah, the places being visited are namely Makkah, Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat. Other places such as Jamarat are very near to these places. This is obligatory on everyone who can afford to travel to Makkah and perform it.

5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan. This is the obligatory fast that is kept for a month (a period of 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon) by every healthy and able Muslim. Muslims cannot eat or drink from the start of Fajr to the start of Maghrib. However, the fast is only a means to signify that a Muslim will do anything that Allah (swt) has ordered. Actually, this fast reminds the Muslims about those people who do not have anything to eat and that in this case they should turn only to Allah (swt).

These fundamentals of Islam have to be followed completely as partial following would not benefit the person as picking and choosing is actually following one’s own desires. Therefore, every Muslim should be a fundamentalist Muslim. This also implies that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. A Muslim should follow Islam completely and therefore, in other words, be an extremist Muslim.

Being an extremist Muslim should be every Muslim’s priority and I assure every one of you that there is not a single teaching of Islam which is against humanity as a whole. Therefore, no one should object to going to an extreme side of something good. For example, being extremely honest and kind should not trouble other people and as everything that Islam teaches is good, people should not have a problem with someone who is an extremist Muslim.

In short, the conclusion that we come to is that every Muslim should try to be a fundamentalist and extremist Muslim.




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