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The Narrative of Religious Extremism
Political Issues
Khurshid Ahmad Nadeem
(Tr. by:Nikhat Sattar)

The narrative that has put Muslim youth and societies on the path to religious extremism is based on a few points:  

1. Caliphate is a religious term and the establishment of a caliphate system is a religious responsibility. This means that all Muslims in the world are a single political entity and they have a religious obligation to formulate a collective system with a caliph whom they should all follow. The literature that has been written in support of this ideology treats terms such as “caliphate” and “Islamic State” synonymously. The word “caliphate” was used in the academic world until the times of Allama Rashid Raza. It was then replaced with “Islamic State” and now the usage of caliphate has been adopted again.

2. The only foundation of Muslim unity is religion. All other bases, whether they be colour or race, geography or language are false and anti Islamic. Therefore, if a political system is to be set up among Muslims, it must be on the basis of religion.

3. The nation state is a concept of modern times and is anti Islamic. It accepts geography or race as a principle of collectivity. In the modern age, imperialist powers have encouraged the non Islamic concept of nation states and divided Muslims on the basis of colour and race. As Muslims, we are not under any compulsion to accept this division. We should, therefore, start a movement against this and establish a global caliphate.

4. Democracy is a system of non-believers. It only counts the numbers but does not weigh them. In this system, the opinion of both the common man and the scholar is treated the same. This is an anti Islamic concept. In Islam, the one who knows cannot be the same as the one who does not know. It is a concept that pitches the leadership of the majority against the leadership of God.

5. God Almighty is the true sovereign of this earth. The self-evident result of this is that His rule be established upon human society and the state. Therefore it is the right of Muslims to rule the world because they are the ones who establish God’s real sovereignty in the world. Islam has allowed religious freedom at an individual level only. Non Muslims cannot be allowed to rule the earth. If they do have this power anywhere, we shall destroy this by using force. In case we do not possess the required strength, we shall tolerate this rule unwillingly.

6. The present Muslim rulers are playing the role of barriers to the establishment of Islam and of agents of the enemies of Islam. Rulers have certain responsibilities from the perspective of religion. Some of these are related to the collective, such as jihad or implementation of the boundaries in Islam. Others are related to implementing Islamic injunctions on citizens at an individual level, such as ensuring hijab and keeping of beards. Muslim rulers are abrogating their responsibilities. According to Surah al-Ma’idah (5:44), they have become deniers of faith through their actions, hence they are apostates. Since the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death, their killing is permissible. In other words, they should be put to death. People who work for them and assist them are included in their category and the same punishment for apostasy will be applied to them.

7. Not only the rulers, but ordinary people also commit apostasy, as in ridiculing religious rituals or blaspheming against prophets. It is the responsibility of the government that it should apply the punishment for apostasy upon such people. If the government is not an Islamic one, or employs delaying tactics, it is the demand of the spirit of religious fervour that people themselves punish the perpetrators.

8. Muslim and non Muslim citizens of an Islamic state are not equal. The Islamic state comes into being through an ideology and those people who do not believe in this ideology cannot be proven to be truly loyal to the state. Therefore the civil rights of Muslim and non Muslim citizens cannot be equal. Because of this reason, non Muslims cannot be given pivotal posts in an Islamic state. One argument in support of the punishment for apostasy is that it is rebellion against the ideology of the state and the punishment for rebellion in every religion or law is death.

9. The purpose of jihad is to end disbelief and attain supremacy of Islam. This means that jihad is carried out to put an end to denial of truth and ensure that Islam gains power over all other religions. It is a basic responsibility. Every Muslim is responsible to carry this out.

10.  Rulers proclaim jihad. But if rulers are ignorant, the instruction for jihad is not suspended because it will remain until the Day of Judgement. This responsibility will again need to be fulfilled by Muslims by themselves. Today, organizations that are set up for this purpose are fulfilling this responsibility. Therefore, supporting them is the demand of faith, and opposing them is akin to opposing Islam.


This is the narrative that has sown the seeds of religious extremism and hence of terrorism in the world. Religious arguments are given in support of all the above points. The Qur’an, Hadith and Fiqh are employed to present the bases. The real responsibility of scholars is that they should clarify the reality of this narrative. They should bring forth their points of view on all of these points. The basic question is whether they believe that this narrative is correct from a religious perspective? Each of these points should be addressed clearly and without ambiguity. For example, does Islam accept a foundation for the collective other than religion? Is the nation state permissible by Islam? The answers to these questions are not that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and its constitution prohibits the formulation of any law that goes against the Qur’an or Sunnah. Rather, scholars should explain whether a basis for the collective other than religion is possible according to the point of view of Islam.

The next stage will come after this. If these points are correct, there is no need for a counter narrative. After this, it becomes necessary from a religious view that those people who believe it to be correct should be supported. And if they are wrong, clarifications should be made as to why. Scholars will need to explain the mistakes which have been made in bringing forth arguments from the Qur’an and Hadith in their support. At the end, they should present what the counter narrative would be. How do the Qur’an and Sunnah guide us in this direction?

It is no longer useful to assume that condemning statements are the narratives. Muslim societies and states must move out of this ambiguity. As far as Pakistan is concerned, the matter remains vague at the state and the societal level. The reason is that it has not been addressed from its origins.   



(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)

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