The Two Extremes of Extremism

Al-Humdulillah (all praise due to Allah), to proceed:

Indeed there are many campaigns and denunciations of extremism in the religion. And they are rightful campaigns and denunciations because extremism in the religion is prohibited in Al-Kitaab (the book, i.e., the Quran), the Sunnah (Prophetic way), and Al-Ijmaa’ (consensus [of the scholars]). [Allah] The Most High said,

“Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth.”” — Surah Al-Ma’idah 5 : 77

And in another Ayah (verse),

“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth.” — Surah An-Nisaa 4 : 171

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Beware of extremism! For indeed that what distorted those who were before you was extremism.”

Extremism in the religion is: going past the legislated bounds in a thing. It could be extremism in ‘Ebaadah (worship), as the condition of the three who said: 1- I will pray and not sleep, 2- I will fast consecutively, 3- I will not marry woman. Extremism can [also] be in rulings, where you make something Mustahab (recommended) on the level of Waajib (obligatory). It can be where you rule that the one who commits a major sin (that is free from Shirk (associating partners with Allah)) as a disbeliever and an apostate from the religion. Extremism could be in commanding the good and forbidding the evil, as the Mu’tazilah where they go out against the Muslim ruler using commanding the good and forbidding the evil as a proof. Extremism could be making permissible the impermissible and impermissible the permissible. Therefore, extremism in the religion, with all of its types, is religiously impermissible. It could cause one to leave the religion and be destroyed, as the people who came before us, and no one who has been granted understanding in the religion and guidance doubts that. So we have to put things in their [proper] places.

However, there is something that is opposite to the extremism where you increase in the religion. There are those who are extreme in their religious lenience and tolerance. No doubt our religion is a religion of tolerance, uplifting difficulty, and justice; but this tolerance has to be within the bounties that Allah has legislated from legislated permits when necessary. The whole religion, and Allah we praise, has no stockades nor shakes in it.

“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity” — Surah Al-Baqarah 2 : 286

” He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.” — Surah Al-Hajj 22 : 78

“Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you.” — Surah Al-Ma’idah 5 : 6

But extreme tolerance is leaving from what Allah legislated, and that is not called tolerance; rather, it is actually oppression. Removing the foundation of Al-Walaa wa Al-Baraa (loyalty and disloyalty) in Islam and equalizing the Muslim and the Kaafir (disbeliever) with the proof being tolerance. Also removing the implementation of the nullifiers of Islam from the one who implements all (or some) of them. Equalizing the religions, such as: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Rather between all religions such as Paganism and Atheism. The statement that “La Elaaha Illa Allah” (there is no deity [worthy of worship in truth] other than Allah) does not comprise disbelief of false-gods and does not negate other than Islam from false religion, as some writers in some of our local newspapers, are all examples of extreme leniency and tolerance. It is obligatory to deny it, as it is obligatory to deny extremism in adding to the religion. On the contrary, it is possible that extreme leniency and tolerance are more dangerous than extremism in adding in the religion. That is because extreme lenience and tolerance to the point where the religion of the disbelievers is made equal to the true religion (Islam) is Kufr (disbelief) [in itself] as agreed by all of the Muslims. Where as extremism in adding to the religion, many of the scholars see it as misguidance and it does not reach the point of disbelief. Some of the scholars mention that from the nullifiers of Islam is not making a disbeliever a disbeliever or having doubt in him being a disbeliever.

Thus it is upon whoever has fallen into these dangerous slips to become aware of his affair and return back to that what is correct. For indeed the return to the truth is noble and is better than remaining upon falsehood.

May Allah grant everyone beneficial knowledge and righteous actions. And I send peace and blessings upon our prophet Muhammad, his family, and his companions.

Author: Shaykh Salih bin Fowzan Al-Fowzan (member of the Committee of Major Scholars)

—This article can be found in its original Arabic form on the Shaykh’s website:


About Abdul-Malik Merchant
Muslim. Husband. Father. Associate Imam @ISBCC. UQU grad. Boston resident. DC native. Biker. Goofy. Straight up.

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