Imams and Fighting Radicalism in North America

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Zakyi Ibrahim



Indeed God enjoins justice and doing of good (virtue) and giving to kinsfolk,
and He forbids all that is shameful (lewdness), and abomination
(evil), and aggression (wickedness): He admonishes you so that you
might remember. (Qur’an 16:90)
More than 90 percent of practicing Sunni Muslims are likely to hear this
verse recited to signal the end of Friday khutbah. Rightly identified as
embodying God’s specific admonition to Muslims, and as one that is
worth constant pondering, this verse is cited regardless of the khutbah’s
topic partly to imprint its message on the attendees’ minds. In this editorial,
however, I use it specifically within the context of religious radicalism as
regards both its message and historical application.
This very comprehensive verse is loaded with interpersonal values as
well as communal principles. Ibn Mas`ud, the young Companion famous for
his knowledge of the Qur’an, describes it as “the most encompassing verse,
in the entire Qur’an, pertaining to good and evil” (ajma` ayatin fi al-Qur’an
li khayr wa sharr).1 It is as categorical in its admonition of justice and fairness,
kindness and generosity, attention and offerings to relatives as it is
clear in its prohibition of shameful acts and lewdness, abomination and evil,
and aggression and wickedness. According to Ibn Ashur, these are specific
to the Shari`ah’s general principles (usul) of enjoining good and forbidding
evil.2 Were people to lead their entire lives not only cognizant of these elements
but also according to each admonition, they would create a perfectly
harmonious society ...

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