EXTREMISM refers to an attitude of exceeding the limits of the golden mean. As to how to determine the right and golden mean in any situation, the answer is that the mean must be ascertained through religion and sound reason.
Without the aid of religion and reason as two inseparable civilising forces, one tends to be presumptuous, passing beyond the proper bounds of one’s sphere in intellectual and social lives, and therefore to act wrongfully.
We have identified two basic types of theological extremism (The Star, July 19).
We have also implied another sort of extremism, which manifests as “state terrorism” and “state-sponsored terrorism”, perpetrated by the rulers and political leaders who are haughty, insolent and tyrannical.
In the Quran, God said among such leaders was the Pharaoh, the Amalekite king of ancient Egypt.
Another personification of this extreme evil is Nimrod, historically the first man to claim he was God, having absolute power and hence tyrannising the Mesopotamian people.
Their reign and rule means society’s tragic departure from moral and religious truths, resulting in social disintegration, mutual discord, fear and violence. They embroiled their countries in endless warfare or struggle destructive to all.
Being intoxicated with their worldly power, such leaders tend to be domineering over their subjects in all affairs, and desire to wield an unlimited tyrannical power over them.
Whenever they exert their political power on others, they do it cruelly, with neither moral restraint nor religious consideration.
They allow nothing to stop them and have unbounded confidence in their own earthly powers.
Once, in 12th-century Andalusia, the then Sultan asked Shaikh Abu Muhammad Abdallah al-Qattan what the latter thought of the former’s reign and rule, at which the Shaikh laughed out loud.
On being asked the reason for his laughter the Shaikh said, “You call this mad folly you are in a dominion and you call yourself a king.
“You are more like he of whom God said, ‘There was a certain (unjust) king coming after them (the needy people) plundering every boat he could get by brute force,’ (18:79) which king now suffers punishment and burns in the hellfire” (R. W. J. Austin, 1971).
God recorded the regal statement of the Queen of Sheba thus: “Indeed, whenever kings enter a country forcibly (by armed invasion or wrongful usurpation of power), they cause destruction and corruption in it, and make the noble ones of its people abased.
“And this is the way they always behave.” (27:34).
They act unjustly against others out of an excess of self-conceit.
Throughout the Quran, God condemns all political power obtained through war of aggression or criminal violence, as it is bound to give rise to oppression, suffering and moral corruption in society.
The prophet Moses went to the Pharaoh and made him aware of the great wonder of God’s Grace. But the Pharaoh, who was too puffed up with pride to accept the Truth, committed open hostility against the prophet and the believers.
He lied to the prophet, and rebelliously rejected revealed guidance and divine command.
He quarrelled concerning God’s messages, without having any evidence for that. “Thus does God put a seal on every heart of insolent and arrogant transgressors.” (40:35).
Exulting excessively in their power, wanton wealth and ease of life, leaders of the Pharaoh’s ilk come to behave insolently with boastfulness.
Turning his back on the prophet Moses, he gathered his people and proclaimed, “I am your Lord all-Highest” (79:20). The Pharaoh said, “Council! I did not know that you could have any deity other than myself!” (28:38).
He claimed himself to be God and committed crimes against the Egyptian people.
Against the believers, his policy was to inflict terrible persecution: “We will kill their sons, and spare only their women. We have absolute power over them.” (7:127).
“Indeed, Pharaoh tyrannised over the land and divided the people thereof into different classes; he oppressed one class of them, slaughtering their sons and sparing only their women, for he was one of those who spread corruption on earth.” (28:4).
It is such a Pharaonic claim to absolute power that is the overriding destructive force against human civilisation, whereby “he has transgressed all bounds of what is right” (20:24; 79:16) or the limits of the golden mean confirmed by divine law and sound rationality.
God commands through the Prophet Muhammad, “O My servants! I have forbidden Myself from oppressing anyone, and have made it (oppression) unlawful for you, too.
“Thus, you must not oppress each other.” (related on the authority of Imam Muslim and Ibn Hanbal).
Dr Mohd Sani Badron is principal fellow/director of Ikim’s Centre for Economics and Social Studies. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.