Muslim Voices Against Extremism Panel

Muslim Voices Against Extremism Panel

On Saturday, May 30, Pacifica institute had a Muslim Voices Against Extremism Panel

Discussion. Pacifica Institute panelists were Imam Benjamin Shahbazz from Al-Islam

center of Seattle, Hamdi Abdulle –Executive director for Somali Youth and Family Club

in Seattle, Imam Jamal Rahman- Interfaith Community Sanctuary, Br. Jawad Khaki-

President Emeritus, Iman Center of Kirkland, Imam Mohamed Joban –Muslim

Association of Puget Sound, and Kubra Eskigun, M.E.d. –Pacifica Institute.

The discussion started off with Imam Mohamad Joban talking about what causes

extremism. He mentioned that “the number one reason for extremism is ignorance, and

the main cause of extremism is arrogance. To feel ‘I am better, my iman (faith) my

mathab.” Imam Joban also added, “ignorance and arrogance is caused by oppression in

the extremists.” He summed his words up by pointing out that Muslims in America are

educated and usually extremism is caused by not being educated.

“What was one Islamic teaching to discipline about non-violence social reform” was the

question that was answered by Imam Benjamin Shahbaz. Shahbaz responded to this

question with a verse from the Quran “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as

witness to fair dealing; and let not your hatred of a people, lead you to act unjustly

towards them. Be just: that is next Piety: and fear Allah for Allah is well acquainted with

all that you do.”

“Becoming a Muslim we understand that extremisms, terrorism, and hate are all the tools

of the devil. We can’t pick up the tools of the devil and fight the devil with his own

tools.” Imam Shahbazz makes a clear point with his explanation of the devil and its

tools. Extremism is using those tools of the devil in the name of Allah (God), which is

totally contrary to the rules of Islam, he explains. “God, sent prophet Muhammad, as the

living example of Islam.” He concluded his thoughts by stating “The purpose of Islam is

to improve the society wherever you are at.”

Imam Jamal Rahman’s opinions about violence were getting to know each other. He

stated, “The best way if not the only way to overcome polarization, is to get to know the

other, on a human level, on a personal level. As it is said in Quran, God has created

diversity so that you might truly get to know the other.” Rahman also added, “The getting

to know each other is an act of sharing three cups of tea. Listen, respect, and connect.”

He then referred to Quran and shared a verse from the holly book “God has created some

of you to be a trial for others.”

The following discussion question was – What should we teach the youth to avoid

extremism? Hamdi Abdulle answered by motioning that parents could take action by

getting more involved with their children’s lives, in school, outside of school, mosques,

and etc. She spoke about the Muslim community especially older parents in the South of

Seattle not being familiar with the language or the culture very much, that it makes

especially difficult for them to educate and lead the younger generation in the right

direction. Abdulle encourages parents and the younger generation to be engaged with

talks and lectures to be more aware and knowledgeable.

Kubra Eskigun continued with the discussion and she started her talk by quoting the

Turkish scholar, Fethullah Gulen, “The Purpose of religion is to bring about a peace that

is founded on universal human rights, the rule of law and universal human values.”

None of the true religions advice extremism or terrorism as they are all coming from the

same God. Extremism has nothing to do with Islam. All those extremist acts are actually

on the personal level, so we cannot say that all their acts are guided by their religion.”

Says Eskigun. She brings up Buddhists attacking Muslims and adds, “For this no one can

blame Buddhism because this has nothing to do with it, extremism has no religion and we

all have to fight against it.”

Eskigun continued on talking about her having friends from different religions and

religions don’t interfere or affect their friendships. However, she talks about her

misconceptions when she is out in the public. “People stare me down for the longest time,

it is a very uncomfortable situation for me.” She also shared an incident she encountered

at a parking lot where she got offended from gentleman who shouted near her and that

she felt it was towards her but she ignored it. Eskigun finalized her words by a quote

from Fethullah Gulen referring to 9/11 “I would like to stress that any terrorist activity,

no matter who does it and for what purpose, is the greatest blow to peace, democracy,

humanity, and all religious values. For this reason, no one, and certainly no Muslims can

approve of any terrorist activity. Terror has no place in one’s quest to achieve

independence or salvation. It costs the lives of innocent people”

The panel discussion continued with questions from the audience to the panelists.

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