Synopsis of Address presented at the Center for Society & Secularism
Professor Dr. FAROOQ HASSAN 
Mumbai, India, 2005
It is a privilege to address this distinguished gathering of scholars of Islam, multi-religious culture and historiography. Ideas of such intellectual leadership of both theoreticians and activists of these fields would hopefully advance our understanding of the difficult and highly delicate subject of Islam and extremism. In this analysis the doctrinal aspects of Islam’s theology as found in the basic sources and perspectives of the faith will be briefly examined. It would then be seen whether its fundamental norms are per se in character “extremist”?
The difficulties to which I refer should be properly comprehended. There is no a priori norm in Islamic theology making it “extremist” in its doctrines or approaches with respect to its core beliefs. No inherent predilection exits in the Muslim Faith as such to justify such derogatoriness in especially the Western critiques and commentaries. Such critical descriptions of Islam and Muslims aim to clearly denigrate their religious beliefs and personal characteristics. This matter of Islamic defamations has reached such a proportion that it is being put to routine ridicule by those who politically or publicly matter. It is most regrettable that Islam is being equated with a phenomenon of fear by most non-Muslim societies especially those in the Western world. Consequently every negative implication is now freely being ascribed to Muslims by many Western societies.
The root cause of this defamation is said to be “extremism” through which Muslim groups have acted purportedly with great tenacity of aggression against their targets. According to the proponents of this perspective, it is this horrendous phenomenon that has resulted in wide spread acts of terrorism against many, but, mostly, Western targets. According to the adherents of this view the “avenging” by several Muslim groups through such criminal acts is on the foundation of religious interpretation of their holy scriptures.
Given the widespread anti-Islamism unleashed particularly after 9/11, we now have an intricate conflict at hand in which often for various sets of people, Muslims are looked upon as the “enemy”. From barbaric, fanatic, violent and militant to being inhuman, every negative characteristic is now freely being ascribed to Muslims by those whose own status in the field of civilized conduct has been generally considered to be a role model for others to emulate.
This attitude, inter alia, is defiling the sanctity of the Islamic faith which inherently supports temperance and is based on justice and equality for all mankind. It was indeed such a message of equal treatment for all that initially led, and continues to provide, new entrants into Islam. In this context, two perspectives asserted by anti-Islamic defamatory rhetoric dealing with the both causation and consequences deserve mention.