Radical without apology

Category: Europe, World Affairs Topics: Kuala Lumpur, Southeast Asia Views: 7727

... and a truly brave and noble world.

Hopping across the capitals of Southeast Asia, stopping at Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta and Manila one gets the same impression: "Radicalism is a dirty word."

This veritable fatwa from the high priests of Washington has managed to intimidate millions of Muslims the world over, and cast a spell on many a collective conscience. Unwittingly, some of the brightest and sharpest minds that the Muslim world has produced have also begun parroting the litany of nonsense that now has become the stuff of international political discourse.

Even prominent Muslim leaders in Indonesia, including intellectuals from the Muhammadiyah, Nahdatul Ulama, PPP (Islamic Party), PKB (Nahdatul Ulama's political wing) and the PKS (Justice Party), have begun to speak the same language of shallow apologia: 'We are not radical Muslims,' they plead, 'we are moderates, the good Muslims you can talk to.'  Never mind that the so-called 'battle for the hearts and minds' of Muslims is a prehistoric relic of the cold war, and that such phrases were used during the Vietnam conflict.

The real danger now is that the very discursive terrain of Muslim politics and society is being altered and redesigned. The redesigning of the Muslim mind and political conscience will be next, to the point where Muslims cannot even be critical and confrontational, for fear of being labeled a radical.

The semantic acrobatics is as neat as it is sophisticated: a chain of equivalencies has been drawn, linking Islam to terror and violence, linking militancy to radicalism. By doing so one who is 'guilty' of one is immediately assumed of being 'guilty' of the other. To call oneself a radical activist in Southeast Asia immediately earns oneself the dubious title of 'militant' as well; the next thing you know, the security forces will be knocking on your door - if not breaking it down in the early hours of the morning.

While Islam clearly prohibits indiscriminate violence against civilians and acts of terror, terrorism and radicalism are two completely different things. Muslims denounce all forms of terrorism as fundamentally un-Islamic for they know it only too well as having themselves being victims of terrorism - in Palestine, Jammu & Kashmir, Bosnia, Kosova, Chechnya, South Philippines, and elsewhere. But does this mean that we should abandon a radical approach to politics?

One can only answer this question if one goes back to the etymological roots of the word 'radical' itself. To be a radical does not necessarily mean being a bomb-wielding fanatic devoid of reason and compassion. Indeed, until recently being a radical was seen as a good thing.

One famous 'radical' who upset the status quo was Nelson Mandela. He was a radical because he defied and challenged the racist and abusive regime in South Africa that systematically oppressed black Africans for centuries.

When Mandela was dubbed a radical, the world rejoiced, not just his supporters: it underlined the just principles upon which his whole political project was based. Was 'radicalism' a dirty word then? Surely not!

Then there were the rights activists in the US,  including Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. They too were dubbed radicals because they sought to subvert and overturn the racist political culture that had been institutionalized in America for so long. They were indeed radicals because they challenged the status quo and worked to overturn the violent hierarchies of power, race and class in racist America. Were they wrong?

Looking further back Buddha too was radical as he challenged the repressive hegemony of Brahminism in India. 

Jesus, peace be upon him, was likewise a radical who challenged and opposed the hegemonic power of the rabbinical class then, condemning the rabbis for their monopolization of authority and their collusion with the Roman invaders. He too was accused of being 'subversive' and convicted as a radical.

The best and living example of progressive, emancipatory radicalism can be found in the life and teachings of Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him.

But do we reject such radicalism? The divine message of Islam is indeed radical, disruptive and subversive insofar as it seeks to challenge the institutionalized injustices, inhumanity and evil in the world by bringing about a new social order built on bonds of ethics, justice and trust. Islam rejects unreservedly all forms of caste, racism, class oppression, usury, exploitation, abuse of the law and dehumanization of Man, the best creation of God.

Do we then dilute the message of Islam and rob it of its radical transformative potential? But today in our growingly unjust world, things need a radical overhaul - Islam in its radical best!

The international financial order is in chaos ruled over by robber barons and mercenary corporates who exploit and abuse at will. International law and norms of diplomacy have been trampled by an increasingly militarist, fascist, xenophobic hyperpower that is bent on projecting its might and prowess to every corner of the world. The global media are increasingly coming under the command of a small coterie of bigots. Their Islamophobia is becoming every more blatant. Ethno centricism, exploitation of the poor, abuse of human rights, oppression of the weak is the order of the day. 

In the midst of this Islam stands alone as a system of ideas and values that can serve as a counter hegemonic force, if only Muslim economists, social scientists, politicians and intellectuals can get their act together, and cease mouthing platitudes.

However, despite the decrepitude of the Muslim regimes, Islam continues to inspire and lead millions worldwide, from the landless peasant in Morocco to the urban slum dweller in Jakarta. The world needs justice; Muslims need justice. But justice does not come without effort, both intellectual and physical. It will involve challenging the hegemony of the capitalist barons, who do see Islam as a 'radical' threat to their political, economic and cultural domination.

In the face of this, the world needs intellectuals and leaders who can confront the violent and exploitative hierarchies and put forward a just and balanced model for society, government and economics.

Therefore, instead of shying away from being branded as radical or offer plaintive apologia for simply being Muslims, they can and must show the way for a truly brave and noble world. What the world needs now is a 'radicalism' without apologies.

Written by Dr. Badrol Hisham for Impact International, Vol. 33, Issue 10, October 2003.

  Category: Europe, World Affairs
  Topics: Kuala Lumpur, Southeast Asia
Views: 7727

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Older Comments:
SO the world is Full of MODERATE JEWS AND CHRISTIANS...and they are called ZINOISTS and Evangelists and
SO it's the Muslims who
1. STARTED CRUSADE I and killed 40,000 Muslims and non-Musilms
2. ENSLAVED, LYNCHED, SOLD, and SEPARATED women and children from HUSBANDS
3. KILLED 8 million Jews with the SUPPORT OF YOUR DEAR POPE
4. KILLED 700,000 innocent Japanes civilians by dropping Atomic bombs
5. Support all the dictators in the world and when dictators EYE the same oil-field as you do , YOU LIE and START WAR, kill innocent civilians and occupy lands.

6. supported AL-QAIDA in WAR against USSR and they were called Freedom Fighers then but now they are kicking your ____ and they are called terrorists.

Idiots like you need to visit mosque every Friday and learn about Islam. Don't learn Islam from Jerry Falwell and Zionists. Be smart and Grow up!!!

Moderate Islam doesn't exist. One either is or isn't a Muslim and a believer in its demands being divinely ordained. Jihad to conquer nonbelievers in order to get them to jeziya tax is clearly outlined as one of those demands.The quran renders those who take this upon themselves as better than those who merely stay at home. This is an either or position. Moderation means halfway. Moderate Islam is like halfway Islam, or halfway pregnant. A theological impossibility. Well written article though.

Thank you for an excellent, insightful article.
jazak Alla khair

J. Schumann...if you want to convey a message, make sure it is in proper sentence structure so those who speak english can comprehend what you're saying! DUDE!!

I will simply say this.

1 + 1 + 1 does not equal 1....if that's the way you look at life, and if that's what you think, that's what you'll do...to you your way and to me mine.

But I can't help but challenge you as I read the bible too...so what do you make of this? Jesus says in the bible:

"I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him." [John 13:16]

"Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord,
but he sent me." [ John 8:42]

"Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His
who sent Me." [John 7:16]

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (Exodus 20:4-6)

"Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee." (Deuteronomy 4:23)


"And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." Matthew 21:11

"But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet." Matthew 21:46

"And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:" Luke 24:19

"The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." John 4:19

So Schumann...I suggest the next time you ..yap on about this and that about evil spirits...maybe you should apol

This article pinpoints the atmosphere of fear within our Islamic communities as well as hints at the 'radical' changes that some of our community hierarchies have begun to cave into amongst pressure to be subdued politically-for fear of being branded a radical.

The difference betwen the TRUTH that is YESHUA ,the SON of GOD ,the TRUTH [John 14.1-6 ]and a pretender who is in TRUTH ,Satan [John 8.44],whom YESHUA called a Liar and the father of it. Islam is far from peaceful for its founder has through the Koran and the hadith demonstrated that he none of such quality.Muhammad because he disowns ye denies the very HOLY SCRIPTURE of TRUTH [1 John 1.1-2.28 etc.].YESHUA said ;Heaven and eath shall pass away but my WORDS shall not pass away. Islam is a tool of deception used first by Mohammed with his feign evil intent to trap the tribe with a peace treaty that he made for ten years yet broke as soon as possible to subjugate others to his idol whom YESHUA will desroy at his second coming as the HOLY ONE of Israel [Zechariah 12-14, Acts 1.1-12,Revelation 19-22];who is the KING of Israel,CREATOR of the Universe,SAVIOR and only SON of GOD,born of a virgin [Isaiah 9.6-7,45.15-25, John 1.1-8.58,14-17,Romans 9.1-9,10-1-16,1 Timothy 9.13-16,Hebrews 1.1-12 ,2 Peter 1.16-21,Revelation 1.1-18,2-3].Islam leads to eternal ruin for its author is not telling the truth about himself [Matthew 25.41, John ,Galatians 1.6-8,2 Corinthians 11.1-15,Hebrews 1-10,Revelation 20] as the WORD of GOD warns all who follow the spirit of anti-christ ,who denies the SON of the only true and living GOD who revealed his FATHER as the SON became flesh at his fist coming to earh ,was born of the seed of a woman [Genesis 3.16] of the ribe of Judah ,a child of promise to Abraham,Issac and Jacob and David.YESHUA has been exalted and every knee must bow and acknowledge YESHUA [Romans 10].Salvation is of the LORD,the GOD of Israel.Allah is not god by nature ,but a lying spirit ,a deceiver [Isaiah 14.12-18,Ezekiel 28.3-16,1 Corinthians 11.1-16, Galatians 1.6-8,Revelation 20]. GOD so loved the world that he gave his SON YESHUA of Nazareth . The HOLY SCRIPTURE of TRUTH [Bible], Genesis - Revelation.Repent and receive the LOVE of TRUTH [2 Thessalonians 2.10].J.

Asalaam-Alaikum all!

This is a great article. We should stop apologizing for who we are. It's time to get busy.
Remember, there is a much HIGHER authority we need to please!!

TO ALLEN EDMONDS FROM H.A. FROM ............................ said:
Here is another son of Adam who has gone far far astray... I GREATLY THANK THE EDITORS FOR GIVING HIM THE FACTS.

I advise him to hang out with Muslims who knows about Islam , not those Muslims who behave like infidels (drinking, dancing, having sex w/ multiple partners) outside and when inside the home try act like Muslims simply for assimilation into the family.

Sir Edmonds must educate himself about Islam and Muslims. That's only way he could get rid of his misconceptions. Nobody is going to do the learning for him, NOT EVEN Jesus (PBUH), the SON OF Mary. He gotta do it himself.

I wish him a hatred free journey while on the 3rd Rock from the Sun and beyond....

As'Salaamu alaikum,

he article definitely relate to society presumption that in being radical one must be a radical of negative motives. Indeed society has inded stamped radical alongside the shinning banner of Islam, and with one deah or two is allocated as the behvior of Muslims. Unfortunately society has srayed from the intellectual prospective of distinguishing behavior from ideological motives, as if religion is the ultimate motive towardsbehavior. but one thing the Mr. Hisham missed was that theclarity of what Muslims are being labeled must come fom the unrelenting leaders of the Islamic community to create a bridge over the intllectual gap that society has created. Rather calling other Muslms who are trying to clarify this obvious miunderstanding as "apologetics" we must be the intellectual leaders and promoters of peace by upholding Quranic value. But unfortunately for entertainment purposes the media rather be more intersted in the latter.

Assalamu alaikum to all sisters and brothers in Islam - and welcome to Nathan Jackman! Personally, in that Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) appears to use one group of faithful to check another, my current thinking is that radical political thinking is not necessarily incorrect.

Peace be with you, Joshua. God willing, all Muslims would hope to assist all to seek refuge in God from wickedness.

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan.

[Quran 22:39-41] Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allah is well able to assist them. Those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And had there not been Allah's repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah's name is much remembered; and surely Allah will help him who helps His cause; most surely Allah is Strong, Mighty. Those who, should We establish them in the land, will keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and enjoin good and forbid evil; and Allah's is the end of affairs.

I'm with you Joshua! I firmly believe in Muslims taking an active part in speaking and spreading the Oneness an Supremity of God Almighty over all things. And we will fight for Al-Islam (Submission to Allah)! Your comments are very much appreciated and welcomed. May Allah (Elohim) be pleased with you.

I am not a muslim, but I sincerely beleive that muslims should advocate their Godly beleifs publically. Whilst Christians like myself are looked down upon consistently for countering ungodly legislation and immoral acts projected throughout the nation, I beleive muslims should stand up for what they beleive in as well. I am not saying they don't, but it would be nice for us to fight injustice, promiscuity and ungodly acts openly to save our doomed western civilization from deeper corruption. We must radically project our beleifs at a deeper level to save our nation from its own peril. This world is overrun by the wealthy and the wicked, but God is control, and soon enough, the tremendous level of laciviousness and evil will perish when Jesus the messiah will return to put an end to Satan and his cohorts and those who walk with him in the dark.

As salaamu alaikum.
I am in total agreement with Dr Hisham.
As a youth growing up in Detroit, Michigan,
there were radicals like Nelson Mandela,
Huey P. Newton, Malcolm X and even Jerry
Rubin and Ken Kesey~these "radicals" were
thrust upon us by society and government as
a threat to our "great nation" of the Americas.
Now after all of these years, and reading this
article, we need to reinforce ourselves as
muslims and excercise our radical-ness.
Radicals are created by the government that
tries to control them.
May Allah be pleased with our radicalisms.
Peace and Blessings

As a new convert to Islam, and one who is still learning the true meaning of its ways, I am both impressed and a bit offed by this article. I feel it remains representative of current Islamic culture as a whole. In my visits (during my studies) with other muslims, I heard constantly how the "old" manners of challenging current thinking need to arise. However, I believe this challenge needs to be made within Islam.

The author of this article has stated this wonderfully, yet lapses (admittedly very little) into the same blame game. As an US citizen, I am shocked by much of the injustice done in the name of my grandfathers who fought for our freedom. However, as I stated before, many of my discussions with brothers seemed to deteriorate into a seeming childlike bitterness.

Yes, things are not easy...yes, there is much to conquer....and yes, there are those in this country especially who seek to taint our image. But, quite simply, we need to get over it - no amount of worrying and anger will accomplish what we all seek.

Anway, I wander - but overall a very excellent article!!

1. And I quote "Islam rejects unreservedly all forms of caste, racism, class oppression, usury, exploitation, abuse of the law and dehumanization of Man..." The Quran offers your Prophet Muhammed as an excellent example of a muslim. This seems contradictory as one cannot rape a 9 year old girl and be a good example. While the ages of marriage have varied through the years, there has never been a good reason for a man greater than 50 years old to marry a 6 year old girl and then quickly molest her after her first menses. As if the fact that she might be able to concieve means she is emotionally able to. This man should have taken a wife nearer his own age (and really stuck to one as we all know polygamy is always about male domination regardless of how Muhammed tried to reason it out). It is inconsistencies like these that lead the radical to violence. I had a Muslim friend tell me once that almost nothing is really forbidden by Islam because there are many interpretations. This is precisely the problem. I eagerly look forward to your apologetic answers.

Absolutely correct Dr Hisham,

Your article reminds me of situations where some non Muslims & Muslims alike assume that I am totally westernised when they see that I am clean shaven & they notice that my dress code is not the traditional desert dress code. But when they see me praying, they start asking bizzare questions & one striking question is: "Are you a Muslim fondamentalist?" I always answer this question in the affirmative: -Yes I am... Some Muslims & non-Muslims start feeling suspicious & assume that I am an extremist. Few go as far as asking if I am an extremist too? I always answer this way: -Extremism is in the eyes of the beholder & no thank you I am not an extremist if you put this terminology in an islamic perspective.
What makes me laugh without being arrogant are two things: first does it make any sense that a person can believe in the fondamentals of their religion & still not be a fondamentalist? No it doesnt..! Does it make any sense that a Muslim declares the Shahada, prays five times a day, fasts Ramadan, pays Zakat & goes to Hajj & still thinks that he is not a Muslim fondamentalist?
No it still doesn't!!!
As far as extremism is concerned I believe that Allah has made it clear that he asked us not be extremist: "We made you a nation in the middle way..." "Dont go to extremes in your religion.." Read the Qur'an people before you jump into conclusions.
Oh Allah bear witness that I am proud to be a Muslim fondamentalist & proud to be radical in my love & obediance to your commands & disobediance to all forms of evil. I stick by the word La ilaha illa Allah & what it really means no matter what the orientalists & their puppets say. If the whole world thinks I am an extremist because I support the oppressed against the oppressors but You think I am a follower of the middle way then I dont really care what the progressist to Hell think & let them call me an extremist if that is the cost of Your love!!!

There is just one word for this article: G R E A T
Stand up and be counted as a "radical" Muslim with a radical agenda for the oppressed, brutalized and dehumanized masses of the world, rather than earn cheap applause for the services rendered to the "brutal master".

AllahuAkbar! What an excellent article! I agree with it 100%, MashAllah! How can I get in contact with this writer, Dr. Badrol Hisham? I'd like to talk to him, one on one. Does anyone know if he's part of any revolutionary ('radical') movement? If you know, please let me know. Jazakullah Khair.

True, but one should not fall for the rheotrics of the neocons of White House. Muslims must become strong enough, progress and keep abreast the fundemantals of Islam. We should not allow ourselves to be cowed down. If indeed the neocons of the world try to pressure us in to something we should be able to counter it to their disadvantage. No one should start dictating us frontiers and norms of the world. We should stand up on our own, we must build strength and we should be bold enough.

Muslims need to sure of what they believe and stand for. Else the "acrobatics" being performed the people who want to control the world for their own good will serve to hurt Muslims.

I agree with the writer that Muslims need not be apologetic, but must understand well what they believe and should stand by it. They must not allow themselves to be confused or used to confuse others.

Assalam Aklakuim,
I agree we (muslims) are to afraid to tell the truth like commanded in the Holy Quran. All the prophets (pbut) were radical cause they told the truth and came to make life better for humankind. I'm even surprised they published an article like this, because the site usually has articles by authors that are weak and apologetic about Islam. Muslims like myself who believe in and follow the Holy Quran and Sunnah are a minority within the ummah. If you want to call me an radical, extremist, islamist, fundemental, then so be it.