The following is an excerpt from a lecture delivered by Younus AlGohar.
When explaining fanaticism and extremism, you must remember one word: intolerance. When somebody becomes so intolerant that for except himself, his religion and his denomination, he does not recognise any other religion, sect or faith as truthful, then that is extremism and fanaticism.
One doesn’t necessarily have to be practising any religion to be a fanatic or extremist. Even individuals who do not practise any religion at all are intolerant. We get to see such people in the supermarkets, on the roads, at the traffic lights and in different public places. Sometimes, when I am driving on a major road, I see people who expect you to stop on the major road and allow them to go from the minor road into the major road; if you don’t do that, they murmur and they look towards you as if you have committed a mighty crime. This is not because of differences between the religions.
Extremism and fanaticism have to do with your temperament: how cool-headed you are or how easily you become angry.
Some people are so cool-headed that even if you harm them and you apologise, they forgive you and forget about it. Some people don’t give you space to breathe in; they are so short-tempered that you don’t have to do anything wrong to upset them. You can’t even breathe in front of them or open your mouth. This is not because you believe in one religion and he believes in another religion. You may practise or believe in any religion; you may practice the same faith as they do. Even then, they can’t really be patient with anybody else’s presence.
I have come up with this conclusion that extremism and fanaticism have to do with the incapacity and inability to appreciate somebody else’s goodness. It has to do with Ego.
There is a sect in Islam: Wahhabism. They think only Wahhabis are Muslims and all non-Wahhabi sects are infidels. This understanding is not confined to religiosity. I have seen such characters among individuals also who hate religions. They love money, sex and all the rest and yet you see their temperament and you say, ‘He is another King Fahad from Saudi Arabia or another Saddam Hussein.’ This has to do with Ego. When you see somebody saying, ‘They’re all bad; only I am good,’ then this is extremism.
I am sorry to say it, but a lot of extremism comes from the Muslim world, especially from those who do not love the Prophet of their religion.
Now, I am going to say something really terrible but I hope you understand it well. I’m going to say something really explosive, but at this platform I hope you think nothing will come false; nothing will come stained in hatred. I see terrorism, extremism and fanaticism with two different shadows of meaning: academic terrorism, extremism and fanaticism, and practical extremism and fanaticism. Muslims are more prone to be practical extremists: they are those who have taken it to the weapon and have started destroying the human populace. However, Muslims are not the only religious group who exhibit their extreme behaviour towards religions. When it comes to academic belief, when it comes to portraying it to the world, then Jews are more extremists. They may not take it to the weapon, however many of them think that nobody is better than a Jew. Although they are not killing people, they have segregated themselves from the rest of the human society. But like I said, Muslims have taken it to a higher level by killing everybody.
However, academically speaking, there are certain fractions within Islam who are very friendly; for example, Sufi Islam. There have never been radical elements within Sufi Islam. Sufis have always shown to be more tolerable, accepting, lovable and friendlier to all human beings regardless of the nature of their religious background. However, I have not come to know of a fraction within Judaism which has shown to be open and welcoming to individuals of other faiths and other religions.
When you have this notion nurtured for so many years in your mind that you are the best, then there is nobody more of an extremist than you are. Whether you think you are the best because of your religion or you think you are the best simply because you are the best, in both forms it is extremism.
Either you are a businessman or a religious scholar, thinking, ‘I am the best,’ is the principle requirement of extremism.
A revolutionary message from His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi to the entire humanity: a Jew thinks he is the best, a Muslim thinks he is the best and a Christian thinks he is the best. However, HDE Gohar Shahi says, ‘One who loves God in his heart is the best, even if he does not practise or follow any religion at all.’
Interestingly enough, those who love God are the best, but they never say that they are the best. They are always so humble and down to earth.
HDE Gohar Shahi has actually given the solution to the problem. And not just that, but He is also giving the medicine to cure the incurable hearts, stained souls and stalled minds.
Don’t forget that there is religious extremism and there is secular extremism. In both ways, extremism is extremism. When a religious person becomes an extremist, he hates all other religions. When a rich man becomes an extremist, what does he do? He becomes an oppressor and he deprives the fundamental rights of the poor people. He becomes a tyrant. In both ways, extremism and fanaticism are evil traits; it is highly negative behaviour and intolerant to society. It is the most hateful, anti-social behaviour.
We should say no to all forms of fanaticism and all forms of extremism. But we shouldn’t just be vocal about saying no. We should say no by our actions: by not being extremists, by not being fanatics, by giving people love, by being more tolerant to all religions, faiths — to everybody. Live and let live!
Let people practise what they believe, even if you think it is wrong. You are not the judge. God will decide who is right and who is wrong on the Day of Judgment.