Confronting Extremism

Tahir Wyatt


Channel: Tahir Wyatt

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hola hola him I start in the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. I want to thank the Newseum for inviting us here today and hosting this event because as Kareem mentioned in the beginning, it is very important that the mic finally be given to Muslims to address

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what other people may seem as being radical. So I mean, not to put myself as an example. But I think that some people, if they saw me walking down the street, may think that that's a bit radical.

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It may be a bit different. But hopefully by the end of this talk, we'll understand what we mean when we say the term radicalization, I do want to begin by saying that I think that we as Muslims in this country, I want this to be understood across across the board, that we are just as if not more concerned about extremism, and radicalism and terrorism, as our fellow Americans.

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And the reason is because

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terrorism does not know a religion, in the sense that if an attack happens, it they're not determining that this is an attack on a particular religion versus another Muslims are killed disproportionately, by terrorists 82 to 95%, of people who have been victims of terrorism in the world, are Muslims, not non Muslims, this is something very important to understand and even in this country. Why is it that we are as concerned if not more concerned, number one is because for non Muslims, the issue is one of safety. We want to be safe, we want to be able to live our lives, unimpeded, and not, you know, and not worry about violence. as Muslims, we worry about a second

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thing, and that is that every time an attack happens,

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our religion is maligned. And this is something that's very important, no non Muslim has to deal with that. So once an attack occurs, first of all, it is assumed, it is assumed that it is a muslim terrorist attack until proven otherwise.

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If it is not a Muslim, there are usually you know, a number of excuses for why this attack occurred. He was isolated as a child, he was abused by his father or whatever the situation may be. There are loads of excuses, nothing to do with religion, though those same excuses may exist amongst the Muslim who carries out an attack that benefit of the doubt is, is never given to us. And so the second reason why we are concerned is because our religion which we hold dear is maligned. The third thing is that and that that's more like an ideological thing. The second number three is that

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oftentimes, there's an uptick in anti muslim, or hate hate crimes against Muslims.

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And even if there is not a crime,

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we are criminalized random searches by the TSA or otherwise, our sisters in Islam are attacked, because they're wearing Hijab and so on. Why is it as a reaction to an attack that was carried out by a Muslim in the name of Islam, so I just wanted to start out with that. So that it is very clear to everyone that we are also concerned about radicalization, and extremism and terrorism.

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to segue into what I wanted to discuss with you all today,

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which is which is our topic is confronting radicalization or confronting extremism.

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As I just mentioned,

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we we view ourselves as Muslims, we view ourselves as facing a degree of persecution.

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In the West, that we we are facing persecution from the media and otherwise.

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A lot of times what happens to a people who are persecuted is that they tend to look to a subset or a minority amongst themselves in order to deflect attention

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To that minority such that the persecution is lifted on the whole. Now, I know that that sound, that was a mouthful, I want you to follow what I'm saying here. A lot of times, what happens is, when there is a group, if we look at the the 60s, for example, you had a non violent movement for civil rights. But there was also a movement that was not non violent in nature, not that it wasn't violent, not that it was violent. But it was a movement that did not subscribe to non violence. So if they attack, they're going to respond and kind not turn the other cheek. Some people use them as the scapegoat, we throw the light on them. These are the bad guys, these are the bad guys. And we

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are the good guys don't oppress all of us. Just take out your ire on this particular group of people.

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This, unfortunately, is happening in the Muslim community. And we need to understand this because there's this narrative that is an international narrative. And that is that all of the extremism that exists that same same as a peaceful religion, and all of the extremism that exists in Islam is because we have this group known as the wahabis, or the Salafis. And because of them, we have extremists in our midst. And that narrative, that narrative is something besides, we're not going to go into the terminology and defining Well, what exactly is the what happy or Salafi? What's the difference? by those who use that terminology. It's it's a very elastic term. And the issue is that

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by using by taking that approach, that is that we have this bad guy, good guy approach, we marginalize a group who adheres to faith based principles which have shown historically, or which have proven historically to be one of the best measures to fight against extremism, and I hope that point is clear.

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Five marginalizing this group, by marginalizing them, we are in fact marginalizing a group who adheres to faith based principles that have historically shown to fight against extremism. And I'll give you an example of that, because when we talk about Salafi or Sofia for example, or Salafism as, as a as an epistemology, that is identifying the sources from which we take our knowledge as Muslims, identifying those sources and being able to interpret them in the broadest valid sense.

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Then we are talking about the companions of the Messenger of Allah, that is Muhammad Salallahu it and suddenly peace be upon him. We're talking about their understanding of the text, as opposed to the way that other people may interpret the text of Islam. And I want to take you on a journey, maybe 1400 some odd years ago, so that we can see this in practice. Are you ready for the journey? All right. So there was a

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great dispute amongst the Muslims

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at the beginning of the caliphate of Ali, while the Allahu anhu or may God's peace and blessings be upon him.

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He he was the fourth caliphate. It was after the Prophet Muhammad died, there was a Khalifa named abubaker. And then after him, Omar, then after him, and then and then there was Addy, who took over approximately 30 years or 25 years after the death of the prophet may peace and blessings be upon him. All right. So now, what happened at that time was there was conflict amongst the Muslims, the Khalifa, who was before him, was was killed. And there was a dispute amongst the Muslims as to how to deal with that.

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A group of them secluded themselves, in an area outside of Kufa

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in Iraq, and this group is what we now know today, they were the they were the beginning of the group that we now know today is the Hawaii cottage, or orange ice, which comes from the root, hydrogen that trilateral route, which means to exit or to leave, so they left off the authority of the Khalifa and effectively rebelled against him. Now, this group was 6000. at that particular time, there was 6000 of them. They declared the rest of the Muslims to not be Muslim, that they are outside

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the fold of Islam now this is extreme right to excommunicate an entire group of Muslims. In fact, not only Muslims, but those who God said in the Quran that he was pleased with that is the companions of God's Messenger.

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And what happened was in order to try to avoid a debate or actually to avoid a war, one of the companions of Mohammed, his name is Ahmed bin at best. He was the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, and he was a great scholar amongst the Muslims at that time. You the term campaigns, are we familiar with this? Because campaigns you could say is similar to the terminology disciple, right, someone who directly took from the Messenger of God, they were considered his companions. All right. So this campaign, you name it, I bet you he went out to debate with them, he wanted to engage them ideologically, to engage with them on a mental level, perhaps they will come back to their senses

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when he got to them, and we need to follow the story, because we need to see and what I want you to see is how the Quran is used by extremists, and how it was understood by those who were with the prophet and those who continue to follow that as a methodology today.

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So what happens is, even our best gets to these people. And as he begins to engage them, some of them call out, don't debate with him. Because God says in the Koran, Balham, komunikasi mode, rather, they are a people who like to argue. Now, this is a verse from the Quran. He's saying, Don't talk with the companions. Why? Because they were from the tribe known as kadesh. Choose the tribe that Prophet Mohammed was from. And when Prophet Mohammed tried to engage his own tribe, when he when he tried to talk to them, some of them would just bring up frivolous arguments. And God revealed this idea about them, he revealed this verse about them, and said that they are people who

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like to debate, they now took this verse, which was revealed about a specific subset of people. And they came and they use this verse, and try to apply it to my best, this great companion. This is a total misrepresentation of the meaning of that verse, but doesn't mean that they don't quote the Quran. Now, it doesn't mean that they're quoting the Quran.

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The problem is, and I'll, I'll I'll divert for a second.

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The problem is, is that they're not recognizing what the pronoun in the verse refers to. Rather, they are a people who are argumentative, Who's they?

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Who's they? It is like one of my professors used to say to us, if you understand the pronouns, that you understand 50% of what you're reading.

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Take, for example, the oft quoted verse from the Quran, they plaster it all over every walk to lose home, hey, for the fifth to move them, kill them, wherever you find them. And then somebody comes and does us a favor, and they put in parentheses the infidels. Okay, so we are we understand from this now that we are supposedly supposed to go out and kill the infidels. I have news for you. Ramadan was what two months ago? Okay. The Muslims in general like all of them, read the Quran every day. And Ramadan. This is like a practice across the world. 1.8 billion Muslims reading the Quran, if they understood from kill them, that is the infidels wherever you find them. Do you think that

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we'd have

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too many non Muslims in the world? I don't think so. I think that there would be a call to action. But that clearly is not what was understood by the court by by those who read the Quran. Now, to backpedal one verse, and put this in context.

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God says in the Quran right before that verse.

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If they fight you, if they fight you then fight them back. But don't transgress. If they fight you, then fight them back. But don't transgress God does not love the transgressors. So what does it mean when it says fight them? It talking about the people who consistently fight you or what does it mean when it says kill them when you find them, those who consistently and persist and fighting you this verse, the previous verse was

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It was a permission from God to fight back, because the Muslims in the beginning did not have permission to fight back, they were not allowed to. And then that permission was given. And on top of that, do your best to repel that. So understanding the pronouns again, to get back to our story. Well, I'm sorry.

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To get back to, I guess I didn't stick to my notes, and I'm sorry about that. But But to get back to our story, what happened is, is that even I best then said to them, I have come to you from the companions of God's Messenger, they witnessed the revelation. This is important because he said they witnessed the revelation and they are more knowledgeable of the Quran than you are. And there is not one of them amongst you, all of these 6000, who have considered the rest of the Omar the Muslim nation to be non Muslim. There's that one companion, who witnessed the revelation, who was with Mohammed and saw his teachings made peace and blessings be upon him. It's not one of them, amongst

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you, to show them that in order to understand this religion properly, you must understand it coupled with that interpretation, that interpretation. So he said to them, with that being said, What grievances do you have against the halifa? Addy, what grievances do you have? They mentioned three grievances. I'm only going to mention one because it's directly related to the Quran and for the sake of time, they said to him, our and this was the first thing that they mentioned our main grievance against him is that he brought other people to arbitrary and to rule in a decision. And that that what he's talking about was when a man was killed the Khalifa that was prior to him.

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There was a dispute between it and while we, Ollie brought forth ever Moosa allegedly, Ollie brought forth, one of his Mario brought forth one of his friends, who was Ahmed bin, alas, and they settled the dispute amongst themselves. All right, so they said, No, God says in the Quran, en el hecho, la la la, that the judgment is only for God, and therefore you can't bring other people to judge. Now look at this interpretation. Therefore, if you bring other people to judge, you have left off the Quran, and therefore you're a disbeliever This was their line of logic. Even I best said to them, Okay, what else do you have? They brought their points he said, As for your first point, as for your

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first point, that it is only for God to judge we don't disagree with you in that however, God has given us other instructions in the Quran.

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Meaning that what we need to understand the Quran in light of other texts in light of the broader principles of the religion. What is that text? He says, and he brought as a proof, the verse is sort of in the chapter called a new set, which is the fourth chapter of the Quran,

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where God is talking about if a man and a woman have a dispute amongst themselves a husband and a wife. He says what February through heck amendment and he will heck amendment earlier, they sent forth a judge from her side, I need someone to arbitrate someone who is representing the wife. Well, heck, amendment, Heckman, Molly Heckman, my idea and a judge from his side to arbitrary if they want reconciliation, then God will bring harmony between them such that there is not marital Discord. So he is showing here, what is greater in terms of bringing arbitrators to keep a family together, or to keep the nation of Muslims together. You understand this interpretation. So

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look, there's so much that can be said I didn't realize five minutes. Oh, great. Is Chief Justice.

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Deputy Chief common. All right, five minutes, I'll try to wrap this up as best as possible. The point of this story is that extremists historically, have used the Koran and not just the Quran, extremists in every religion, have used their scripture to justify whatever positions that they have. It does not mean that the scripture itself is faulty. It means that their interpretation of the Scripture is faulty because they have uncoupled it from its valid exit Jesus and that's something that we need to understand and it's very important that we get that point across. The second point to kind of wrap this up to the best of my ability

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is that when we look

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at addressing extremists, and I'm talking from a Muslim context, because I do not believe that extremism. And I know that radical Islam is not something that is specific to Islam. But since we're dealing with it in this context, I'll restrict my comments to to the Muslim context.

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What we find is that people are not being radicalized in the massage it in the mosques, as Dr. Abraham Baker mentioned, they are being radicalized in other spaces. And therefore, it is counterproductive when we have statutory agencies or government agencies that are surveilling the messages, making people feel uncomfortable, to go to the mosque as if they are criminals, because they attend the mosque frequently. This is counterproductive, it is in the mosques, that people are learning the true teachings of Islam and being prevented from being radicalized. And in other instances, being D radicalized after they have fallen into whatever doubts that they have made that

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they have come across about the religion.

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Therefore, because they are not being radicalized in the mosque, we need to look at it because they are being radicalized people are becoming extremist, where is that happening? Studies show that that is primarily happening online. That this is something that is happening through the internet. And therefore, it is our belief that the most effective approach to dealing with

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radicalization and extremism today, and these days and times, it's not to write an article where we debunk certain myths and put that on the internet, or tweet out some things or or, you know, make a video for you to

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what is going to require

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is that a people 10s maybe hundreds of Muslims are trained, and how to engage with the people in those spaces on the internet.

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The authorities no spaces are, those spaces are monitored, we need to be given access to those spaces so that we can engage with those people who are taking on this extremist ideology. We need to be able to train a number of other people. And what is it that they're using? Yeah, and what what verses from the Quran? What teachings from the Hadith of the Prophet Mohammed are they using in order to convince people that their way is the right way? And I'm gonna say this as a side? We don't believe that most people are radicalized initially, through theological attempts, or through the Quran and the Sunnah. Most of them are radicalized through, you know, political grievances, look at

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what they are doing to the Muslims in this place. Look at what's happening to our brothers and sisters in that place. What about Palestine? What about that none of that is is, then what happens? As we all know, political grievances are temporary, sometimes that you know that that problem may go away. How do we concretize and cement these people, once we've gotten them in our grips, then this is when those who have experience are able to now come and use those initial grievances, flip them around, bring verses from the Quran that now submit this person and give them a permanent, you know, existential threat. And now they believe that, that this is the way that the way forward. This is

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the way we correct things. All right. And this is how they become radicalized and stay radicalized, not just how they become radicalized. So we believe that the best approach to to to deal with that and to address that threat is access to the rooms, the spaces where these people are so that we can engage them one on one, that top down approach that we're going to throw out an article or write a polemical you know, report, though that may appease the our senses and then the masses, that's not going to be the way that we effectively deal with extremism and radicalization and a law truly knows best and I'll stop there. Thank you. Thank you.