By Muhamad Rofiq
May 16, 2018
Terrorism is a multifaceted issue,
triggered by both radical understanding of Islamic teachings and structural
determinants. Those two factors are inseparable. We cannot just blame extreme
religious paradigms while neglecting structural factors, or vice versa.
First, terrorism stems from erroneous
methods of reading the Islamic sacred texts. Terrorists mainly embrace three
common fallacious methods.
The first one is a partial or atomistic
approach. The Quran, like other canonical texts from other religions, has
certain passages often used to sanctify terrorism. Readers should not stop at one of a few
scattered verses. Instead, they have to strive to get the comprehensive message
of the Quran to avoid the wrong conclusion.
About a dozen Quranic passages strongly
denounce the killing of innocent people. Terrorists, unfortunately, embrace the
notion that the Quranic verses, as well as the Hadith or Prophet’s sayings, can
be read partially, ignoring the complete picture of the Islamic message.
The second method of reading religious
common among extremists is adhering to a literal understanding of Islamic
canonical texts and neglecting general objectives of Islamic rulings.
Muslims scholars have agreed there are five
objectives of Islam, namely preservation of the soul, religion, intellect,
offspring and wealth. Moreover, they also agreed upon a notion that every
single passage in the Quran has a ratio legis, a realization of human interest.
This notion implies everything that contradicts the achievement of common good
should be discarded and considered un-Islamic.
Regrettably, those terrorists lack or
dismiss knowledge about the general purpose of Islam and instead rely only upon
literal reading. For them killing people is an order from the holy book and
thus acceptable -- ignoring the fact that this kind of verse should be
understood within its historical context and should be subsumed under the
general objective of Islam.
The third misleading method that underpins
acts of terror is reading the legal verses of the Quran without consulting any
traditionally recognized established authorities. Many terrorists who typically
graduated from secular institutions instead of Islamic seminaries formulated
discourses entirely foreign to Islamic tradition. In other words, their
discourses have no intellectual precedent in Islamic traditions. For instance,
the idea that killing innocent people can be justified or that the aims of a state
should include establishing an Islamic caliphate -- neither have any grounding
in Islamic classical intellectual legacy.
Regrettably, leaders of terrorists reject
academic authorities and the sophistication of the legal tradition in Islam,
asserting their interpretations have equal or greater authority than those of
prominent classical Muslim scholars.
The second factor is structural. In other
words, the above misguided paradigms work in tandem with objective
The structural factors are also quite
complex phenomena. A first major structural factor behind terrorism, although
not overtly uttered, is reflected in people’s dissatisfaction with the
government. Those terrorists exploit disappointment with government failure to
eradicate poverty and economic inequality. This frustration and anger make
ordinary people vulnerable to terrorist recruiters and their interpretation of
Secondly, terrorism also stems from
feelings of victimization within an unjust global system. Every day they hear about
terrible global facts such as the United States’ military intervention in
several Muslim countries, about autocracy and the absence of freedom in the
Middle East, and sectarian conflicts in some Arab countries. These problems
summon their empathy and awaken their fury. They feel that they share
responsibility as members of the global Ummah or Islamic community to overcome
How Can We Get Rid Of Terrorism In
In early May, the Office of the Special
Presidential Envoy for Interfaith Dialog and Civilization Affairs successfully
held the international Muslim Scholars’ Summit.
One of the conclusions was that Indonesia
should strive to disseminate the concept of Wasatiyyah Islam (middle-path
Islam). The Summit also suggested this concept is the platform that every
Muslim, regardless of their affiliation and stream, should promote.
The concept of Wasatiyyah Islam is well
entrenched in the Quran. In Surah Al Baqarah (The Cow) verse 143, the Quran
characterizes Muslims as a middle community (Ummatanwashatan).
What Does Wasatiyyah In This Verse Refer
The Summit determined seven virtues that
this term entails. Those virtues are:
(centring position among various extremist tendencies), I’tidal (proportional
and just behaviour), Tasamuh (tolerance to differences), Shura (consultation to
achieve consensus), Islah (constructive behaviour for common interest), Qudwah
(good initiation in leading humankind into kindness) and Muwathanah (admitting
nation-state and respecting citizenship)
These seven virtues have been applied in
Indonesian Muslim communities since the early arrival of Islam until the modern
period, and are familiar to most Muslims in Indonesia. They need to be revived
and disseminated more massively among Indonesian Muslims to lessen the radical
voice of those terrorists.
Propagating this concept would have a
serious impact on eradicating extremism and terrorism in Indonesia. The
government should change their discourse of deradicalisation into Wasatiyyah
Islam to more effectively reduce extremist beliefs.
But more importantly, the government
definitely should work very hard to address the structural factors that fuels