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Countering Extremism

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Some of the realities and concerns surrounding the alarming problem of so-called 'islamist terrorism' were highlighted by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the European Parliament (Strasbourg, 10 March 2015): 


The rise of terrorism over the past few decades necessitates that effective preventive measures be put in place. Terrorists continue to arise out of 'the muslim world', and this in turn fuels the rise of the far right with their own brand of hatred, aggressive violence, and terrorism. It is important to condemn all forms of terrorism whoever perpetrates it. But it is not enough for muslim religious leaders to nominally satisfy the authorities and the public by outwardly condemning it, and then do nothing to contemplate about how to tackle the root causes of so-called 'islamist terrorism', which should not be hidden from those who have studied Islam from it's sources.  

There is no denying that there are extremist interpretations of Islam, some of them being criminal interpretations. Whilst everyone should undoubtedly be granted their right of freedom of religion and conscience, if such freedoms infringe on the rights of other citizens around the world, it is essential for governments to take appropriate action, as extremism and radicalisation leading to hatred, and the crimes of aggressive violence and terrorism, is a rising global concern. This is discussed in a recent article on criminal law with regards to the subject of incitement: 


The abstract states: 

"This article explores the question of why incitement should incur criminal liability, and the nature of such liability." 

It concludes by stating: 

"Modern ease of communication, both nationally and internationally, has vastly increased the potential audience for messages of incitement and made ever-shorter the period in which exposure to them may evoke a criminal response. Of greater importance is the fact that two of the scourges of the modern world -genocide and terrorism - have been met by legal responses in which the role played by incitement has been recognised as being of special significance." 

My study of this issue so far shows that the main cause of 'muslim' extremism and terrorism is the uncritical acceptance of false reports in the books of hadith literature incorrectly labelled as 'sihah al sittah' or 'the six authentic (books)', especially their acceptance by the ill-informed. Some scholars prefer to refer to them as the 'kutub as sittah' (the six books), criticising the misleading label of 'sihah' as 'a lenient generalisation:


These were orally transmitted news reports about the events that occurred in Arabia at the time of the Prophet Muhammad s.a. which were compiled in the 3rd century after the Prophet Muhammad s.a., and the authenticity of a large number of them remains dubious, even after ahadith within these books are labelled by fallible humans as 'sahih' mainly on the basis of their 'isnad' or the chain of narrators. It took some time before the compilation of the likes of Bukhari was accepted after it was written, but it was in the 5th century of Islam that six books of ahadith were as a whole given the incorrect label of 'sihah al sittah' by a zahiri (the ahlul-hadith claim an association with them) scholar by the name of Ibn Al Qaisarani. Misleading or 'false labelling' of products is a crime in some nations. 

The ahlul-hadith scholars have argued that the incorrectly labelled 'sahih books' containing ahadith of the Prophet s.a. constitute divine revelation, and insist that they have to be accepted by everyone claiming to be a Muslim, without which the faith of a Muslim is incomplete, and becomes labelled as a heretic, disbeliever, or apostate, and is liable to be murdered for the alleged apostasy on the basis of those very ahadith. Such muslims have been, and still do get persecuted and even murdered in real life. The added problem is that contained within these incorrectly labelled 'six sahih books', as well as in the so-called 'sahihain' (i.e. bukhari and muslim), are ahadith directly inciting to criminal acts such as aggressive violence, and murder, for apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and homosexuality. 

None of these 'sins' carry the death penalty in the Qur'an, which was the 'go-to Book' (i.e. the reliable and dependable Book) for the first few generations of Muslims up to 3 centuries after the Prophet s.a. Those who uphold the Qur'an as their primary and supreme source of Islam, and only accept ahadith cautiously, even if falsely labelled as 'sahih', on the strict condition of their compliance with the Qur'an, such as Ahmadi Muslims, are far removed from being inclined to aggressive violence and other criminal acts, this also being the case with the 'Qur'anists' who pay little or no attention to hadith literature for their religious guidance (I'm not a 'Qur'anist' myself, but one should not be unjust to people, and ought to give credit where it is due). This is something to ponder over, for it shows us that the Qur'an itself is a Book inculcating peaceful relations with other people, contrary to what some polemicists allege. 

Peaceful Muslims remain at risk of expressions of hate in one form or another, persecution, violence, and even murder at the hands of those who uncritically accept and continue to uphold falsely labelled hadith books as another form of divine revelation other than the Qur'an, despite continued protests by reasonable Muslims over the centuries. Experience will show that those Muslims who emphasise the prime important of the Qur'an and are close to it, and those who insist on the Qur'an as the sole source of Islamic guidance, tend not to engage in criminal or terrorist activities, whereas those who emphasise the authenticity of the hadith literature as another source of divine revelation, tend to have the worst criminal and human right violations record. 

Many ahlul-hadith children grow up to have a 'blind faith' in Bukhari etc., whereas true faith is supposed to be, or at least claimed to be, sight-giving, never blind. Arguing with those who have a rigid 'blind faith' in the label of 'sahih' on books of hadith is extremely difficult when moderate and sensible Muslims, whether Ahmadis or otherwise, present valid reasons from the Qur'an and/or elsewhere, to reject and not foolishly act on such criminal ahadith.  In addition to the problems of criminal hadiths in the hadith books labelled as 'sahih', the scholars who began to accept the hadith books as sahih, whether of their own free will or not, but possibly under pressure or coercion at least initially, also appear to have begun to interpret verses of the Qur'an to suit those criminal hadiths, and to ignore verses which didn't suit those dubious ahadith, even considering those verses as abrogated. These include verses emphasising absolute freedom of belief [2:256], and forbidding all forms of aggression [2:190], only permitting physical action in line with the 'universally' accepted human right of self-defence, or to protect other oppressed people who can't defend themselves due to being weak in comparison with the aggressors. 

An example to illustrate my point about those who give precedence to the Qur'an being peaceful and moderate, is the views and attitudes of the learned muslim scholar Dr Shabir Ally, whose views on the relative merits of the Qur'an and ahadith were articulated in a recent debate (which I saw and watched on 19/20th January 2019): 


The relevant explanation starts from 29-34 mins into the video and is also stated at 1hr 43-44 mins. My views are the same as his, as it is a clear requirement of purely Monotheist Islamic faith, the Holy Qur'an being the only infallible Book [2:2; 4:82]. It is infact the standard Ahmadi Muslim view which the Promised Messiah a.s. argued in favour of over a century ago. I go a little further by calling for the widespread 'removal' of the misleading label of 'sahih' from books of hadith due to the evident confusion it causes, and the corruption in the faith and practices of 'muslims' in general, even more so in the case of ill-informed ahlul-hadith, who become prone to radicalisation and criminal acts such as terrorism. 

In addition, there are hadiths which clearly promote misogyny, with the result that verses of the Qur'an are misinterpreted as a result of the influence of those false ahadith. Humans are certainly influenced by others, and the uncritical acceptance of unjust and false ahadith, misguided and/or mistaken scholars, elders and peers creates the mindset which results in erroneous and perverse interpretations of the Qur'an, as mentioned in [3:7]. Thus when the likes of ISIS quote verses of the Qur'an to try to excuse or justify their atrocities, what is not immediately obvious to the masses is that they were influenced towards such a perverse frame of mind by the uncritical acceptance of criminal ahadith, either themselves, and/or by those who influenced them.

The Qur'an itself grants women similar rights to men, and does not even require wives to obey their husbands, whereas near absolute obedience to the husband is emphasised by male religious leaders and scholars, on the basis of their chauvinism and/or an uncritical acceptance of hadith literature. Likewise, there is no verse in the Qur'an instructing children to obey their parents, but this is also emphasised in muslim circles as a religious requirement, along with obedience to husbands. All of this is due to the blind acceptance of questionable ahadith by many on the assumption that the label of 'sahih' is (generally) correct. 

'False labelling' of products is a crime in many nations, and for responsible governments not to legislate against criminal interpretations of the Qur'an and against the misleading label of 'sahih' on hadith books, which forms the mental and moral diet of many muslims, and which confuses both the untrained as well as trained scholars, making them inclined to accept ahadith which contradict the verses of the Qur'an inculcating kindness, love, mercy and justice, and which does not contain any verse inciting to criminal acts, could be seen as such governments being complicit in criminal acts of hatred, violence and terrorism. 

There is an urgent need for world governments, whether muslim or non-muslim, to consider this recommendation, and perform their duty of acting wisely to ensure the safety and security of citizens. The ahlul-hadith scholars of our time most probably will cry foul, alleging that their religious freedoms are being curbed, if such measures are adopted. In the interests of public safety, it is absolutely essential to take such measures to ensure the safety of all the people of the world, whether muslims or non-muslims. 

I hope to be able to add more detail to this topic in the days and weeks ahead as I research this issue further, InshaAllah, and will illustrate my point by showing some examples of criminal interpretations of verses, and ahadith in books incorrectly labelled as 'sahih', which are contrary to the Qur'an, but still upheld by muslim scholars and others, and remain in wide circulation globally, in books and on websites, including ahadith inciting to hatred and glaring acts of criminal violence. 

Rather than it being a case of having to prove a hadith false before rejecting it, it ought to be a case of being deemed 'doubtful' until it passed all the verification checks before accepting it. No matter how urgent the need for broadcasting breaking news before the competition releases it, a media outlet may be sued for broadcasting unverified news reports, and hence needs to properly verify reports before broadcasting them. 

Many 'muslim scholars', leaders, and others are quick to blame bias in the media for reporting news about muslim acts of terrorism etc. There is of course some bias in different media organisations, especially the tabloids, but even muslim news channels report events related to terrorism. Rather than point to the actual cause of the problem, which is that muslims are first deliberately provoked, such as the Iraq War of 2003, then the finger is pointed at 'violent islam', they vent their frustration at the media for informing the public about acts of terrorism by so-called muslims.

It is the incorrectly labelled books containing uncertain reports transmitted by word of mouth over the course of 2-3 centuries as 'sahih' which is not in any way responsible, nor are the Qur'an commentaries relying on such unreliable criminal ahadith, nor are they restrained or responsible in stating how to deal with disbelievers, apostates, blasphemers, homosexuals etc. 

'Muslim scholars' of our time do not seem to have put their minds together to resolve the root cause of the problem, which they should be fully aware of if they are indeed 'scholars' as they claim, i.e. an abundance of fake news in hadith books having the criminal false label of 'sahih', i.e. authentic or genuine, and criminal commentaries of the Qur'an which are skewed due to false ahadith, along with a large number of books promoting such criminal notions which also should be withdrawn. Such muslim scholars and other community leaders are acting irresponsibly in denying this reality and refusing to address the root cause of the growing global horror of terrorism. The fact is that their incorrect labelling and criminal commentaries and other such criminal writings and speeches are the root cause of the problem of this 'fitnah of terrorism', which has arisen from hadith-following scholars who apparently suffer from an inability to properly discern truth from falsehood, and might benefit from better education in this regard. 

Some of them apparently make unverified claims that Islam is the fastest growing religion even after 9/11, as if to suggest that there is no need for muslims to be concerned about the growth of radicalisation and terrorism over the past 2-3 decades among Muslims, along with other forms of disorder which are increasing in the muslim world. This may also be due to the rise of the internet, where ill-informed muslims with little knowledge about the reality of the misleading label on books of hadith as 'sahih', have access to sites where such incorrectly labelled ahadith as well as criminal mis-interpretations of the Qur'an, which are skewed to suit those false ahadith, are collated, not only on extremist muslim sites, but also on polemical anti-Islamic sites which have an agenda to highlight such criminal notions within the writings of the more extreme muslims, especially but not exclusively the ahlul-hadith such as the so-called 'wahhabis' and 'salafists', and falsely allege that the extremist interpretation of Islam is the real Islam. Ill-informed muslims reading such materal, may begin to believe that what is portrayed there is indeed the real Islam, and act accordingly. I have discussed the issue in more detail in my other article on the 'Sources of Islamic Knowledge'. If this correlation between radicalisation and the internet is correct, as it appears to me to be, then terrorism will increase rather than decrease if steps are not taken to criminalise the false labelling of ahadith and criminal interpretations of the Qur'an, and other religious literature inciting to criminal activity:


https://www.mi5.gov.uk/the-rise-of-the-islamist-terrorist-threat Examples: Let us consider the clear and categorical verse of the Qur'an on absolute freedom of religion: 

[2:256] There is to be absolutely no compulsion in religion whatsoever. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

The grammatical construction of the words 'Laa ikraaha fid deen' (i.e. no compulsion in religion) in the verse [2:256] is an emphatic one, known in Arabic grammar as 'Laa an naafiatu lil jins' i.e. complete and absolute negation. 

The same emphatic grammatical construction is used in the Islamic creed: 'Laa ilaaha ilallaah', i.e. that there is absolutely no deity worthy of worship except Allah, neither apparent idols, nor idols kept within the heart etc. 

Another example of such absolute negation is in the phrase 'Thaalik al Kitaab, Laa rayba feehi' [2:2], i.e. this is a Perfect Book, there is absolutely nothing of doubt within it. 

This means that the scholars and their followers who restrict the verse to a prohibition on coercing of people into Islam, and make room for the punishment of apostates, are guilty of rejecting the verse [2:256], along with several other verses which also indicate a total freedom of religion. There is no scope for punishing those who leave Islam. They do this because of the incorrect label of 'sahih' on Bukhari and other books of ahadith which contain erroneous reports on punishing apostates. One does not even to bother with the academic exercise of establishing those ahadith to be weak on grounds of their chain of narrators. The glaring contradiction with the Qur'an is enough reason to discard them, as this meme illustrates: 


The verse also does not leave any scope for compelling someone within the fold of Islam to do this or that. It is simply easier to give wise reminders in the form of persuasion to do good, and dissuasion from wrongdoing, to people within an organised Muslim Community, so as to encourage them to act on Islamic instructions and guidelines. Beyond this, it would become a violation of [2:256]. Threatening people who do not immediately act on one's advice and instruction is contrary to the letter and spirit of true Islam. When the Companions r.a. of the Prophet s.a. did not immediately act on his instructions at the time of the peace treaty of Hudaibiyyah, he wisely chose the option to carry out the instruction himself, as suggested by one of his wives, and they were thus motivated to follow his example. 

However, those who blindly follow ahadith incorrectly labelled as 'sahih', do call for the murder of apostates, and even if they are unable to carry out the threat of murder which hangs like a sword of democles over their heads, they live their lives in constant fear. This is unacceptable, so it is essential that the misleading label of 'sahih' be removed from Bukhari et al, so that apostates can begin to breathe a sigh of relief, without fear of criminals acting on criminal ahadith and criminal interpretations of the Qur'an, and criminal literature and speeches etc., and instead, begin to hope to be treated with kindness by Muslims in their circle of family and friends, with whom they have had an association with, at least on the basis of these verses, among others: 

[60:8] Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not (physically) fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable.

One may wish to apply the principles contained in the verse as also referring to an apostate who wages war in a metaphorical sense, vehemently attacking the religion of Islam by means of mockery and blasphemy, even though the context of the verse was actually about the physical persecution and fighting initiated by  idolators. Whilst one's heart may become less inclined to deal kindly with blasphemous individuals, we are also instructed not to let the enmity of a people incite us to injustice against them [5:8]. One may also wish to consider overtly blasphemous apostates who lash out wildly using their tongue, as lacking adequate sanity, and thus still deal kindly with them, as some muslim authorities have apparently done in the past. 

[42:23] This it is whereof Allah gives the glad tidings to His servants who believe and do good works. Say: ‘I ask of you no reward for it, except love of kinship.’ And whoso earns a good deed, We give him increase of good therein. Surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Appreciating.

There is a difference between the human right to freedom of religion, and the freedom to promote and commit crime. If they wish to interpret those ahadith as applying to combatant apostates, as some muslim scholars have done, then this should be clearly stated whenever such a hadith is cited, and a warning issued that it is a criminal violation of the Qur'an as well as the law of the land, to understand it otherwise. Without such safeguards, there will remain a risk of radicalisation, and terrorism, for the corpus of hadith literature can be likened to a mine-field, navigating which, without proper knowledge of the Qur'an and Sunnah, is a risky endeavour. 

Now let us consider what the so-called 'Imam al Bukhari' included in his compilation of ahadith which he labelled as 'sahih': 

Narrated `Ikrima: `Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn `Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet (ﷺ) said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet (ﷺ) said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.' 

Source: https://quranx.com/Hadith/Bukhari/USC-MSA/Volume-4/Book-52/Hadith-260/

Narrated `Abdullah: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims."

Source: https://quranx.com/Hadith/Bukhari/USC-MSA/Volume-9/Book-83/Hadith-17/

There are many reasons why these hadith are unacceptable, but the emphatic grammatical structure of the verse mentioned about [2:256] is more than enough for a true believer to reject it. However, those who reject the Qur'an, and/or distort it to make room for such criminal ahadith, are not merely disbelievers in Islam, they ought to be held responsible for their aiding and abetting of crimes. Can there be any real doubt that the so-called Imam Bukhari didn't study (and ponder sufficiently over) the Qur'an? And if anyone claims that the verse [2:256] was abrogated, this in itself shows his/her own weakness in knowledge of the Qur'an, [2:85]: "Do you believe in part of the scripture and reject it in part?" 



Further research remains ongoing. However, the recommendations that come to mind so far are as follows:

[1] Interviewing the radicalised and suspected/convicted terrorists, as well as the source/s of their radicalisation (influences, such as relatives, scholars etc.), as regards their view/s on the status of hadith literature, is probably a good place to start. Such research may help confirm the root cause of the problem/s, and justify the need for states (including the OIC countries) and/or 'the international community' to legislate against the 'false labelling' of entire books of hadith, as well as of 'criminal ahadith' themselves. 

[2] There is a need for proper education of muslims as regards the reality of the label of 'sahih' being placed on books of ahadith in the 5th century of Islam, and on Bukhari and Muslim in the 3rd century, with relevant quotes and references from sunni, preferably ahlul-hadith sources, which, interestingly, do not appear to say anything on the study of the Qur'an by Bukhari or Muslim, which is alarming, yet not surprising, given the violation of the Qur'an evident in some of the ahadith compiled by them.

[3] Providing quotes with references from ahlul-hadith and other sunni sources pointing to weak ahadith in Bukhari etc. 

[4] Once proper education has been achieved, the more extreme ahlul-hadith may start to become less rigid about them, and it will also become more difficult for them to radicalise other sunnis on the basis of questionable ahadith. 

[5] After some time, one may publicly push for the removal of the false label of 'sahih' on Bukhari and Muslim, as well as the so-called 'sihah sittah' (6 authentic books) entirely. 

[6] Wholesale public refutation of criminal translations and interpretations of the Qur'an, and calling for their withdrawal from circulation, or at least legislating the addition of effective warnings where the risk of criminal incitement is deemed possible. 

[7] It may be considered better by some to use the term 'incorrect labelling' when raising the issue with those who have more entrenched views on the status of ahadith literature. However, it is also quite correct and accurate to use the term 'false labelling', and given the damage it has done over the centuries, and continues to do, to the faith and practices of muslims, one shoud be frank and straight-forward (qawl sadeed), and not incline towards being equivocal about it due to the fear of a reaction from extremists (who might idolise fallible scholars of the past and/or present). 

It is incorrect because it is false. The incorrect labelling, which was due to mistakes and erroneous assumptions made by Bukhari and Muslim at the time, for which some may want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but we know better now. It ought to at the very least be accepted that bukhari sahib and muslim sahib were not 'Qur'an scholars', and did include ahadith which do contradict the Qur'an as well as the reasoning that Allah s.w.t. commands use to use in several verses. Please do not get the mistaken impression that I am suggesting that the entire books by bukhari and muslim be completely discarded. I am simply recommending that the label be dropped by muslims widely, and cogent reasons given for this downgrading to (sunni/ahmadi) muslims everywhere. 

Shi'ite ahadith were compiled in the 4th-5th century of Islam, their Imams all passing away by the end of the 3rd century of Islam, to the best of our knowledge. Even though the shi'ites hold the belief that their 12 Imams were infallible, the question of authenticity does arise due to the time gap before they were compiled. They are not labelled as 'sahih', which is more sensible than claiming a sort of infallibility in one's personal endeavour to compile only those ahadith deemed sahih in terms of isnad (chain of narrators). It is interesting to note that shi'ites have a lesser problem with terrorism than sunnis do, which reinforces the recommendation that the misleading label of 'sahih' should be thoroughly investigated and changes made, either voluntarily, or through laws. 

Of course, shi'ites also have major issues with their version of man-made shari'ah, such as death for blasphemers, apostates, homosexuals and adulterers, the enforcement of the jilbaab contrary to what the Qur'an teaches, imposing misogynistic man-made rules, and their acceptance of the erroneous notions of abrogation within the Qur'an, as well as 'offensive jihad', with Iran being similar to Saudi Arabia in the extremism and heavy-handedness of their regimes, thereby raising several human rights concerns, all due to the lack of emphasis on pondering and acting on the Noble Qur'an.

They also do not accord the Word of Allah the respect it is due from those who claim to believe in it, 'blindly' following extra-Qur'anic sources, the word of men being given undue importance, thereby forsaking the Holy Qur'an in practice [25:30], all of which is due to various forms of idolatry. So, it is not just a matter of legislating against criminal ahadith and criminal interpretations of the Qur'an, but also against fiqh or jurisprudence which is criminal or incites to criminal conduct. 

If someone thinks extremism and terrorism are not things to be so concerned about, here's some truth from an Egyptian TV host, Youssef Al-Husseini: 

https://www.memri.org/tv/egyptian-tv-host-following-london-attack-muslims%20contributed-terror At the same time, let us not forget the wise words of Imam Hasan Guillet who described a non-muslim terrorist as a victim before he turned into a killer:

"Before shooting bullets into the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas, more dangerous than the bullets, in his head.” My research so far lends strong support to the view that the notions inculcating terrorism were directly or indirectly planted by the false labelling of books of hadith containing some false reports which incite to criminal violence as 'sahih', just as those who blaspheme are also direct or indirect victims of the same false labelling. 

I came across the following news articles posted on an Ahmadiyya discussion group:


My response was as follows:

"AhmediMuslim1 point·1 day ago

Assalaamu 'alaikum.

It is irresponsible to suggest any country should just take her.

Whether a British jail or a Bangladeshi jail, to call for letting ISIS 'members' loose on the unsuspecting public is indicative of poor insight of realities.

It is foolishness to make a show of sympathy for them at the expense of possible harm to scores of innocent would-be victims of a suicidal or other attack from them and/or any of their children who would be nurtured in the evil and murderous thoughts the sensible people of the world are striving hard to rid themselves and others of.

They need to be 'quarantined' somewhere until the highly dangerous 'ISIS germ' has been overcome within them. If such women can be radicalised, they can be de-radicalised too.

What effective de-radicalisation program has he got to offer at an hour of dire need, and where do his sympathies actually lie?



(this article is being developed) 

[19:76] Allah increases in guidance those who follow the guidance. [20:47] Peace be upon those who follow the guidance.

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