Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Grip of Extremism in Society

The emergence of different schools of thought, especially secularism and extremism, has made religion a complicated issue .God-fearing individuals face a dilemma. Freedom of expression, guaranteed by the constitution, paves the way for the development of various isms and creeds. At present various principles and ideologies bombard the citizens. Such worldviews inevitably affect one’s ethos and day to day practices.
Both these social patterns need to be examined by thinking individuals. Secularism seeks to remove religion from public life, whereas extremism imposes its own beliefs on religious and social behavior.
In 1851, George Jacob Holyoake, a British writer, coined the term “secularism” to describe his views on promoting a social order separated from religion, but without actively dismissing or criticizing religious beliefs. Holyoake, who was an agnostic, argued, “Secularism is not an argument against Christianity, it is way of thinking independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of Christianity; it advances alternative points of view. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, and act forever. Secular knowledge is manifestly that kind of knowledge which is founded on this life, which relates to the conduct of this life, conducive to the welfare of this life, and is capable of being tested by the experience of this life.”
Secularism favors public life in societywithout the involvement of religions. In this school of thought, religion is totally marginalized and our social norms would be based on the public opinion rather than religious beliefs. In a secular country, religious discrimination does not victimize any citizen.
Secularism is not possible in religious Islamic societies. For instance, in Islamic societies, social norms, cultural values and penal codes are based on religious traditions. In an Islamic society the role of religion is visibly prominent; it is difficult to imagine an Islamic society without religion. It seems that when the matters of God and ethics are removed from schools, courtrooms, and congressional hallways, standards of personal morality fall. An acceptance of situational ethics does away with moral absolutes and advocates relativism, where there are no absolute limits, no absolute values and no hardened standards.  On the other hand, a radical worldview greatly jeopardizes Islamic societies, leading to Talibanism and terrorism. We know that religious extremists impose their beliefs and mindsets on society. Whenever the cultural norms of a society do not match their stereotypical frames of mind, they resort to violence and bloodshed. The deadly actions of Taliban militants are examples for all to see. Taliban carry out acts of terror to persuade a society to accept what they believe. But do their actions bear the desiredfruit?
People refuse to be brainwashed and are left disgusted by their bloody actions and reactionarymentality. Coercion cannot ever guide social conduct. Idea and belief cannot be pushed into the minds of citizens by force. These religious radicals stoop low to make people obey by murdering innocent individuals. Can a barbaric ideology force ordinary people to obey willingly? Fostering religious beliefs through violence and bloodshed is most ridiculous. The choice they offer is between death and blind obedience.
The murderous acts of Taliban militants originate in their dogmatism. Their religious mindset and interpretations are the logic behind their practices. They introduce religion as a set of harsh and violent beliefs, and act accordingly. Moreover, they considerit their religious responsibility to impose obscurantist beliefs at the cost of the lives of fellow citizens.  Unfortunately, Taliban militants have been brought up in a closed religious environment and are brainwashed during religious schooling. Children are trained in those secluded madrasahs from very early age, having no contact with other people. Seclusion is necessary to brainwash them. They are educated to hate the other sects.  Of course, there are many schools of thoughts; and analysts are of the view that a system which removes religion from society or a school of thought, which goes to religious extreme, both, lead their followers astray.  There are many other options. There is freedom of religion; one can choose not only to quench one’s spiritual thirst but also to secure one’s life and ensure prosperity. In other words, absence of religionor an overloaded of it is both perilous for our society. Therefore, both secularism and extremism threaten to bear undesirablefruit.  Unfortunately, our society is stuck in the grip of extremism and, ordinary people lose their lives by the deadly terrorists acts carried out by the religious extremists. Taliban are used to cruelty, killing innocent civilians across the country. They limit the freedom of people, violate their rights and cause insecurity. Moreover, they have destabilized the society and turned out to be themselves, one of the most problematic issues. According to their ideology, those who do not follow them deserve death and they are the only right group in the world; that they alone follow correct religious principles.
This is a social danger which has to be resolved by tolerant broadmindedness.