Analyzing the Rand Report of Cheryl Bernard’s “Civil Democratic Islam”

[Note: This work is incomplete and we will see that the entire report is analysied]

The central theme of Cheryl Bernard’s report “Civil Democratic Islam” can be divided into a few objectives, the most important of which is

1.       To clearly facilitate an academic platform for the west to manipulate what it sees as a practicable way to be a Muslim fit for current and modern times that Islam should be altered to.

2.       To promote the way of life of democracy and secular values into the Muslim world



In this process stated above, she categorically classifies Muslims into four main categories which consist of

a.        Fundamentalists (whom she refers to as extreme backwardness and ignorant of what she defines as “true orthodox Islam”

b.       Traditionalists (she incorrectly highlights and refers to the ash’aris and other philosophical groups and the esoteric sufi sects as “traditionalists”

c.        Modernist

d.       Secularist

The purpose of this section is to give a broader framework for the academic community to work with in bridging the gaps while at the same rate undermine certain conceptions that such academics might be alluded to in her report and whoever may use them among tabloid journalist as a strategy.

The beginning of her report begins as an outright slant (of bias) to begin with. As a default strategy she renders the heresiological groups as “traditionalists”. Adding to this, she corrupts the nature of orthodox Islam by insinuating a negative western view of it called “fundamentalism” and then adds the extreme groups of the khawaarij as “among the fundamentalist” thus casting fundamentalism as contrary to Islam. Adding to this she renders the invented religions of modernism and secularism as Islamic and the way to go. In essence the author by default regards the western view of societal behavior and ethics, politics, and morality as the absolute and correct path for world civilization and this view has been dissected in other part of this work discussing the essence and basis of this view.


Correction of the Categorizations of Muslims

The western think tank classification

Under the think tank schools like Rand, Muslims are divided as explained by Cheryl Bernard into fundamentalists, traditionalists, modernists, and secularists.

The Islamic classification

In the language of the classical jurisprudents and the muhadithoon (hadeeth scholars) Muslims fall into two categories

1.       They are those who stuck to the orthodoxy of the companions and their students in their practice, understanding, and implementation of religious guidance of Islam. They are called the “ahlu-sunnah wal-Jama’ah” and many of the jurists have refered to this as the “madhaab of the salaf” or “the school of thought of the righteous predecessors”.

2.       They are those who do not conform to the path taken by the righteous predecessors in religious belief (aqidah), practice (manhaj), or understanding (fiqh)

The early and renown jurisprudent Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 241 AH), of which the hanbali madhaab (school of thought) is attributed to, stated that

“The sunnah with us is whatever the companions were upon”

In the world of the Muslims of that time and throughout the ages, the legal jurists and scholars understood that Islam is not only synonymous with the sunnah (the prophetic traditions) but is the essence of Islam. This reality made another jurisprudent al-Barbaharee to say

“Know (command) that Islam is the sunnah and the sunnah is Islam and one cannot be established without the other”

Another renown Jurist of Medina, one of the most famous of the Islamic world held in esteem by all, Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, of which the Maaliki madhaab (school of thought) is attributed to, stated

“Whatever was not part of the religion in their time (the companions) cannot be a part of the religion at any time”

In the world of orthodox Islamic scholars either a Muslim was upon the understanding, the practice, and the beliefs of the companions, which equaled their accordance to Islam, or they did not. If they did not, it meant that at the very least, this person was a stray and misguided person. The general norm was that this person was a heretic and an innovator (of trying to alter the religion according to their own desires and understanding).

So in a nutshell, the Muslim sects are divided into two factions

1.       Those who follow the path of the companions and their students. They do not have affiliations with other groups be they theological, political, or otherwise except if it is in concordance to their view.

2.       Every other sect whose names were derived from their founder, thus expressing the reality that the founder invented new concepts into Islam that was not from it originally. These sects range from theological sects, to practical sects and they span from a broad spectrum in different fields. In theology they span into scores of groups. Examples such as maturidiyyah, ashaa’irah, jabariyya, qadariyya, jahmiyyah, mutazilah, khawaarij, etc. In political approaches, they range from basically from khawaarij to murjia which has been explained elsewhere in this work.




Now with regards to the second category of Muslims, they are classified by the jurisprudents as “ahlul-bida wal ahwaa” i.e. “the people of innovations and desires”. In other words the people who define themselves as Muslims who do not follow the path of the original believers i.e. the companions, are those who follow deviated ideologies and innovated beliefs or they follow their own desires and reasoning that run contrary to the intent of Allah’s guidance for them through the path of the prophetic way which was best exemplified by the way of the companions.

So the group “ahlul-bida” is many sects, hundreds of them throughout the age of Islam. The ahlul-bida are divided into two main groups

1.       The people of innovations who’s beliefs or practice actually nullify Islam

2.       The people of innovations who’s beliefs or practice do not nullify Islam

In other words, there are two sets of innovated concepts in Islam, those that negate Islam and those that do not.

Some examples that do not negate Islam are

1.       The innovated practice of celebrating birthdays

2.       The innovated belief of consigning the Attributes of God into the realm of philosophical theories e.g. accidents/ substance

3.       To partake in homosexuality

Some examples of bida (innovated practices or beliefs) that negate Islam and make a person not a Muslim are

1.       The adoption of secularism as a methodology

2.       To negate the Divine Attributes of God

3.       To nullify the commands of the Quran and institute the commands of a person or group as the supreme criterion

4.       To negate the second form of revelation i.e. given to us in the hadeeth tradition as a source of prophetically Divine guidance. In other words the concept that people are satisfied with the Qur’an to the exclusion of hadeeth is a belief of apostasy and negates such a one from the realm of Islam

5.       To believe that homosexuality is permissible in Islam (which is kufr istihlaal or the disbelief of making permissible what was made impermissible and vice versa)


Dissecting the “fundamentalists” in the view of Cheryl Bernard

I noticed after entangling myself in the mist of her speech regarding the “fundamentalist” is the fact that she incorporated a whole host of varying ideologies without knowledge to her pre-conceived western notion of “fundamentalists”

Therefore, it becomes mandatory upon me to properly identify her errors which I was able to deduce into the following

1.       The error with regards to a clear lack of acknowledgement of the group (or sect) known in Islam as the “khawaarij”

2.       The incorporation of the western outlook of fundamentalism into Islam thus viewing Islam under a western Christian basis.

3.       The error of her belief that her view of “fundamentalism” is the absolute anti thesis of ALL western ideals and customs.

Therefore it is upon me that I clarify all three aspects in a systematic way as a way of bringing cognizance to the western community and its political analysts.


The Khawaarij

Taken form the book “al-Masaa’ilul-Muntaqaat min Sifaat al-Khawaarij al-Ghulaat” or “Selected Examples of the Characteristics of the Extremists Khawaarij”


The word “khawaarij” comes from the Arabic verb “Kharaja” which linguistically means to leave off, to separate from, disassociate or to go out. So this was attributed to the group of Muslims that were with Ali radhiyallahu anhu who were responsible for the death of Uthmaan ibn Affan radhiyallahu anhu. So after their lack of satisfaction with Ali radhiyallahu anhu, then they left him. They separated themselves from the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (alaihi salatu wa salaam)


The Definition of the Khawaarij

The word “khawaarij” is the plural of the singular “kharijee” and that refers to a person that removes himself from the obedience of the true ruler, outwardly proclaims opposition to him and incites the people against him.

They are also defined as “those who declare other Muslims as disbelievers because of their committing of major sins; and those who rebel from the Muslim leaders and who withdraw from the unified body of Muslims. Anyone that adheres to their principles and follows their path is considered to be from amongst them.

The Old Khawaarij

The khawaarij of Old stem from differing sects arranging from the haruriyyah, qadiyyah, saba’iyyah, naasibah, muhaakimah, etc. The khawaarij of old were more extreme with regards to deviated beliefs for there was a myriad of beliefs that accompanied the khawaarij of old. It is for this reason that a portion of the jurist viewed the khawaarij to be outside the fold of Islam, whereas others viewed them within the fold of Islam and merely a deviant sect or a heresy in Islam. The truth of them is that there are certain sects o them tof which their extremism took them out the fold of Islam and others which did not take them out the fold of Islam since there is a spectrum within kharijism itself an the most extreme of them being the qadiyyah.

The Khawaarij have two categories to them

They either are

1.       A wing that carries actual weapons

2.       A wing that actually carries ideological weapons

The Khawaarij were the first sect to appear in the history of Islaam, splitting up into more than 20 different sub-sects. However, it is said that the major sub-sects of the Khawaarij are seven:
1) al-Mahkamah al-Oolaa;
2) al-Azaariqah;
3) an-Najdaat;
4) ath-Thu’aalabah;
5) al-‘Ajaaridah;
6) al-Abaadhiyyah;
7) as-Safriyyah.

 Some of the other sub-sects include:
1) al-Ibaathiyyah;
2) ash-Shamraakhiyyah;
3) as-Salaydiyyah;
4) as-Sirriyyah;
5) al-‘Azriyyah;
6) al-‘Ajradiyyah;
7) ash-Shakkiyyah;
8) al-Fadhaliyyah;
9) al-Bayhasiyyah;
10) al-‘Atwiyyah;
11) al-Fadeekiyyah;
12) al-Ja’diyyah;
13) ash-Shaybiyyah;
14) al-Hurooriyyah;
15) al-Khamariyyah;
16) ash-Sharaah.



Their Origins

The first inception of this ideology stems from a hadeeth narration that took place between a man named Dhul-Quwayara and Prophet Muhammad (alaihi salatu wa salam).

Imaam `Ali ibn Abi Taalib sent a piece of gold not yet taken out of its’ ore, in a tanned leather container to the Messenger of Allah. The Messenger of Allah distributed that amongst four persons, `Uyaina bidn Bar, Aqra bin Habi, Zaid al-Khail and the fourth was either `Alqama or `Amir ibn at-Tufail. On that, one of his companions said, ‘We are more deserving of this gold than these people are.’ When that news reached the Prophet SAW he said, ‘Don’t you trust me though I am the trustworthy man of the One above the sky and I receive the news of Heaven both in the morning and in the evening?’

Then there arose a man with sunken eyes, raised cheek bones, raised forehead, a thick beard, a shaven head and an izaar (waist sheet) that was tucked up, and he said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Fear Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Woe be to you! Am I not of all the people of the Earth the most entitled to fear Allah? Then the man went away. Khaalid ibn al-Walid said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Allow me to kill him.’ The Prophet SAW said, ‘No, for he may offer prayers.’ Khaalid said, ‘There are many of those who offer prayers and say by their tongues what is not present in their hearts.’

The Messenger of Allah SAW said, ‘I have not been ordered by Allah to search the hearts of the people or to cut open their bellies.’ Then the Prophet looked at him while the man was going away and said, ‘From the offspring of this man will come a people who will recite the Qur’an continuously and beautifully but it will not go past their throats. Then they will exit from the religion just as the arrow exits the body of the game. ’ If I should be present in their time, I would kill them just as the nation of Thamud were killed.’ [1]

Regarding this man, Dhul Quwaysara, it was asked


Is the one [Dhul Khuwaysirah at-Tamimee] who said to Messenger (sallallaahualaihi wasallam), “Be just!” to be regarded from the Companions? Or is he regarded to be a Khaarijee? Noting the fact that he did not rebel against the Prophet (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) and he did not commit a deed that expelled him from the fold of Islaam.


The one who said to the Messenger “you are not just”, then this was the precursor of rebellion. He rebelled against the Prophet (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) in the sense that accused him of treachery. And it is not from the conditions of being from the Khawaarij that one carries weapons, rather when a person believes in takfeer of the Muslims because of major sins then he becomes a Khaarijee and upon their madhab. And if he incites the people against the ruler of the muslims by his sermons and writings, even if he didn’t raise his sword, then this is the madhab of the Khawaarij. And the Khawaarij are of many types. Amongst them are those carry weapons, those who speak with the like of what this man said to the Prophet (sallallaahualaihi wasallam), and amongst them are those who write, and those who believe with their hearts and do not speak or do anything, but in his aqeedah (belief) and in his heart is the aqeedah of the Khawaarij. However some of them are more severe than others

Answered by Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan member of the Council of Senior Scholars of Saudi Arabia in Al-Ijaabaat al-Muhimmah fee Mashaakil il-Mudlahimmah” by Muhammad bin Fahad al-Husayn

The historical period in which they arose in Islamic history is through the fitnah (strife) that took place due to the controversy of the death of the Muslim Caliph Uthman ibn Affaan radhiyallanu anhu.

Narrations about the Khawaarij

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar:

Regarding Al-Harauriyya: The Prophet said, “They will go out of Islam as an arrow darts out of the game’s body.’ [2]

Narrated Yusair bin ‘Amr:

I asked Sahl bin Hunaif, “Did you hear the Prophet saying anything about Al-Khawarij?” He said, “I heard him saying while pointing his hand towards Iraq. “There will appear in it (i.e, Iraq) some people who will recite the Quran but it will not go beyond their throats, and they will go out from (leave) Islam as an arrow darts through the game’s body.’ ” [3]

The Messenger of Allah said

The (Khawaarij) are the dogs of Hellfire [4]

He also said: “If I was to reach them, I would slaughter them with the slaughtering of Aad (a nation mentioned by Allaah in the Qur’aan that He destroyed due to their evil)”[5]

And another hadeeth with the same wording it states “like that of Thamood” (another nation mentioned by Allah in the Qur’an that He destroyed due to their disbelief


The Statements of the Scholars on the Khawaarij

Haafidh Ibn Taymiyyah says of them

The khawaarij are those who make the unlawful blood lawful. They declare Muslims to be unbelievers on accounts of sins they commit. They declare all the Muslim rulers to be disbelievers and call for revolution and rebellion and bloodshed.

ash-Shahrastaanee defines them as:

Anyone who walks out against (seeking to overthrow) the true appointed Imaam (leader) upon whose leadership the Jamaa’ah is in agreement is called a Khaarijee. This is the case, despite whether the walking out (against the Imaam) occurred in the days of the Rightly-Guided Khulafaa. or other than them from the Taabi’een.

Imaam Abu Hayyaan al-Andaloosee described the way of the Khawaarij concerning the aayatul hukm when he said:

“So the Khawaarij seek to prove with this aayah that everyone who disobeys Allaah is a disbeliever! They say: ‘It is a text showing that everyone who does not rule by what Allaah revealed is a disbeliever and everyone who sins, indeed he rules by other than what Allaah revealed. So it is incumbent that he be a disbeliever.”[6]

Abu Bakr al-Aajurree ash-Shafi’ee

“It is not fitting for the one who sees the uprising of a khaarijee who has revolted against the Imaam, whether he is just or oppressive – so this person has revolted and gathered a group behind him, has pulled out his sword and has made lawful the killing of Muslims – it is not fitting for the one who sees this, that he becomes deceived by this person’s recitation of the Qur’aan, the length of his standing in the prayer, nor his constant fasting or his good and excellent words in knowledge when (it is clear to him that) this person’s way and methodology (madhhab) is that of the Khawaarij”.[7]

Imaam al-Barbaharee, the author of Sharhu Sunnah said

“Whoever rebels against a Muslim ruler is one of the Khawaarij, has caused dissent within the Muslims, has contradicted the narrations and has died the death of the days of ignorance.”


The Khawaarij in Modern Times

The high point of the Kharijites’ influence was in the years 690-730 around Basra in south Iraq, which was always a center of Sunni theology. Kharijite ideology was a popular creed for rebels against the officially Sunni Caliphate inspiring breakaway states and rebellions (like Maysara’s) throughout the Maghrib (northwest Africa).


Examples of modern day groups who can be fully labelled or partially labeled as among the khawaarij are groups like “تكفير والهجرة” (Takfir wal-Hijrah), “القاعدة “ (al-Qaa’idah), and Jama’at al-Islamiyyah founded by ‘Umar Abdur-Rahmaan popularly known as “the blind sheikh” and other political groups in Algeria and north African countries.


A Popular Correlation

Ironically, after the 9/11 incident, analysts began to equate all of these groups with what they call a “salafi” brand of Islam and blend all of this to be “fundamentalist Islam” or simply given the popular misnomer as “wahhabi” Islam.

To reiterate what my brother Haneef James Oliver stated in his book “The Wahhabi Myth” he states in the chapter “the Unfounded Misnomer” that

Unfortunately, some of the Muslims have been responsible for misleading others by calling anybody who contradicts their local customs, beliefs and innovated superstitions and religious practices as being a “wahhabee”. The term “wahhabee” seems to take on different meanings in different times and places

What I noticed on top of this most truthful statement is that each sect seems to have their own figment of their imagination of what a wahhabi is and the most ironic part of this reality is that no single human being before or after 9/11, no single person, scholar or otherwise, is able to bring forth what is the creedal aspects of the “wahhabi” creed. In other words, when people whom I questioned or anyone else for that matter, are questioned and demanded that they bring forth what are the tenants or fundamentals of the “wahhabi” creed, they remain silent and unable to bring forth an answer. Likewise it is no surprise that there is no single work that exists that is geared to explain the “wahhabi creed” which only leads many of the normal people of the world to question the very motives of people who use the term “wahhabi” for theological or political posturing. What further proves this political and or theological maneuvering is the canotations the word it has with people. When it was first initiated by the British, this term was used for anyone who tried to defend their rights from being conquered by the colonial power of that time i.e. Britain. Thus even sufis and any other sect who did not appreciate the aggression of the British colonization were all called “wahhabis”. Yet among the deviant heretical sect known as “Ash’aris” they refer everyone who calls themselves to be a “wahhabi”. Yet among the khawaarij, they make a distinction between the “wahhabis” and the salafis by calling “salafis” a made up religion which is a by-product of the neo-con agenda. Yet with the sufis, everyone who deems their strange esoteric practices as contrary to Islam is called a “wahhabi” even among other sufis who may disagree with their practice of a ritual. However, the group that correctly defines the actuality of a wahhabi are none other than those who call themselves salafi, an they do not define a wahhabi to be anything that these heretical sects mention. Infact, to them, there does not exist something called a “wahhabi” and after careful investigation of the source texts of Islam, one cannot come out but to this conclusion (that they do not exist).


This is not the place to discuss the actuality of what is a wahhabi as this has been discussed elsewhere, the point I wish to factor in is that the Rand report that was authored by Cheryl Bernard paints a picture that actual terrorist are considered as being “fundamentalists” and that actual fundamentalists are in line with these renegade sects and that fundamentalism is itself a repugnant and unorthodox interpretation of Islam. While the very basis of this premise has been dissected elsewhere in this work, what becomes mandatory on me is to clarify the second issue, that of fundamentalism.


The Origins of the Western View of Fundamentalism

The view of fundamentalism has been discussed in another section of this work. However to directly speak of her view of fundamentalism I quote Haneef James Oliver

Because of the historical difficulties Christians have experienced in their dealings with the church, many Christians hold a deep sense of animosity towards the interference of religion in their lives. However, it is important to understand that Westerners have arrived at their present state due to their encounters with their own religious authorities. As such, deductions made from Western historical experience cannot always be applied on a universal basis, especially when considering that Muslim’s material progress went hand in hand with their adherence to religion. Therefore, it should not be thought that Christian society came to these contemporary secularist conclusions through a truly objective process”[8]

Linguistically, fundamentalism from its basis is to adhere to a core set of principles or fundamentals of a particular set of beliefs or methodologies. The term fundamentalist has been generalized to mean strong adherence to any set of beliefs in the face of criticism or unpopularity, but has by and large retained religious connotations, even though it is not limited to religious connotations.

Fundamentalists believe their cause to have grave and even cosmic importance. They see themselves as protecting not only a distinctive doctrine, but also a vital principle, and a way of life and of salvation. Community, comprehensively centered upon a clearly defined religious way of life in all of its aspects, is the promise of fundamentalist movements, and it therefore appeals to those adherents of religion who find little that is distinctive, or authentically vital in their previous religious identity.

Fundamentalism in a nutshell is the strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles

Therefore, every person that exists on this planet is by definition a fundamentalists. The liberal is a fundamentalist because they believe that everyone should view the world in light of liberal notions and any view other than theirs is an extremist and incoherent view. The conservative is a fundamentalist because they are not concerned with making concessions about their principles, rather they are bent on nullifying liberal views and talking points. The same can be said for every other person who is an adherent to any particular ideology or viewpoint. Thus the author of this report, Cheryl Bernard is deeming a people to be radical based on their view or stance of holding to fundamental principles which she calls “fundamentalism” while at the same time being fundamental in her approach that the western paradigm of life and the interpretation of methodological affairs in political implementation is the orthodox and absolute truth and criterion to be followed for the future of this world. This hypocrisy that is rampant in the field of ideological content and analysis in the western world is not only mind boggling, it is as well the very fuse which sparks terrorism, along with American foreign policy.

However in the view of those who agree with her in the appellation of fundamentalism, was best expressed by Richard Dawkins who used the term to characterize religious advocates as clinging to a stubborn, entrenched position that defies reasoned argument or contradictory evidence.[9]

And this best exemplifies the western platform on which fundamentalism is viewed. That is because in the wake of western history, holding firmly to the principles laid out in Christian theology equals backwardness, regression, and repressive to advancement. For Muslims, our platform operated on a completely different basis, in which the clinging to fundamentals sparked our intellectual heritage, progress in the sciences, and advancement of inventions and our history is replete with this. What it also bears witness to is that the abandonment of our ideals (by being liberal and not fundamental) leads to our demise and regression and it lands us in a state of grief and turmoil, and our history is replete with this.

Therefore, fundamentalism in Islam is the antidote to helping our situation and fundamentalism in the Christian world is the reason for backwardness and intellectual ineptitude. likewise secular values and modernist ideals geared the western world to a more palatable life for the rest of the known world and secular values and modernists ideals in the Islamic world fosters not only grief, but ignorance, oppression, and ultimately, it leads to terrorism and violence. Islam and its history is the anti thesis of western lifestyle and its history with religion. However, unfortunately speaking, for Cheryl Bernard and the entire world of western analysts and self deemed experts of Islam, this fact is kept out of the equation and the lack of factoring this reality in is nothing more than journalistic malpractice. Therefore, due to this malpractice, they present their thesis or analysis of Islam on the basis of their preconceived notions regarding their own historical account between them and their break away from their religion into political, social, and scientific advancement.


Fundamentalism as an Anti-thesis to Western Ideals

This is the basic supposition of her report. The proof for this claim is in her statement on page 4 of her report where she says

Fundamentalism as a whole is incompatible with the values of civil society and the Western vision of civilization, political order, and society.


 However a closer look into the actuality of being fundamental to the Qur’anic principles and principles laid out in the collections of Hadeeth only points to the fact that this absolution is incorrect. Rather there are issues in which Islam (the Qur’an and Sunnah) sanction and there are issues in which Islam does not sanction and it is not to be glossed over with such a wide brush of absolution.

The reason for her invalid deducton is based on



Correction of a Modern Understanding

Another basic supposition of her report is the fact that she intertwines the extremists khawaarij groups along with the ahlu-sunnah/salafi based group as one and deems them all as “fundamentalists”

The question is “are these political groups fundamental”

The simple and concrete answer to this question is no, no matter how implausible this may seem to the western analyst.

Here is a practical example of the non-fundamentalist nature of the deemed “fundamentalists”.

Allah says in the Quraan

“Do not kill yourselves”[10]

Yet these radical groups declare otherwise then the question is “are they being fundamental”

If the answer is no, then the question becomes “then why is the western world intent on labeling the practices and beliefs of these people as “fundamentalists?”

Likewise when the Prophet Muhammad alaihi salatu salam stated

“Do not kill women in children in war” which was collected by two of the most authentic hadeeth sources al-Bukharee and Muslim

The only condition stated by the legal jurist about the abolishment of this rule is in a specific case where a fighter comes across a women or a child who happens to be a combatant, which logically would make such a one a combatant and not a simple innocent women or child.

However in the interpretation of the radical khawaarij, they declare that it is okay to kill women and children to fulfill an objection which sounds more like the western declaration of collateral damage and seems to be in line with western methodological practice regarding the rules of war in spite of the Geneva Conventions.

Therefore the question is “are these radicals being fundamental?” If the answer is no, then the question needs to be ask again “on what basis does the western analyst have to declare their contradictory actions to Islam as being “fundamental Islam?” The insinuation by these people which label these renegade groups as “fundamentalists” is silently dictating that the Qur’an and the prophetic traditions mentioned in the hadeeth is actually advocating what these radicals are calling to.

In the view of the Muslims, both whom Bernard deems fundamentalists and traditionalists, and even modernist, the actions of the renegade political groups is not Islam at all and therefore cannot be called Islam or defined as a part of Islam or even a product of Islam.

The religion of Muhammad (Islam) dictates that suicide is not only prohibited, but a crime against Allah and some jurists considered it an act of apostasy thus removing the perpetrator of this act from Islam. Vandalism and banditry is likewise prohibited in Islam. Yet with regards to kharijism, it is. So it is more than clear that Islam is in one realm, and Kharijism and the khawaarij is in another realm, both having nothing to do with each other except for the underlying clause of the fact that all identify themselves as Muslims and agree to the divine authority of the Qur’an and sunnah.

The gross inaccuracy of the western deduction of the theory of “fundamentalism” under the view of Bernard is best understood when on one hand, she brings forth the premise that the khawaarij (terrorists, radicals, etc) are fundamentalists and at the same time links “wahhabis” as fundamentalists as well. Yet the deemed “wahhabi clerics” are diametrically opposed to the deemed “fundamentalist” radicals who agree and concede to what is defined in modern times as terrorists acts. This reality makes one matter quite clear. That is that many, if not all, western analyst on Islam absolutely have no clue on what it is they are talking about, or they do, but there is a more sinister agenda infused within the ranks of the media to employ an image in order to sway public opinion.


Deconstructing Traditionalism in the Light of Bernard and Constructing it in the Light of Islam

She remarks regarding traditionalism with the following

The traditionalists are also divided into two distinct groups: conservative traditionalists and reformist traditionalists. The distinction is significant.

Conservative traditionalists believe that Islamic law and tradition ought to be rigorously and literally followed, and they see a role for the state and for the political authorities in encouraging or at least facilitating this. However, they do not generally favor violence and terrorism.

Historically, they have grown accustomed to operating under changing political circumstances, and this has led them to concentrate their efforts on the daily life of the society, where they try to have as much influence and control as they can, even when the government is not Islamic. In the social realm, their goal is to preserve orthodox norms and values and conservative behavior to the fullest extent possible. The temptations and the pace of modern life are seen as posing a major threat to this. Their posture is one of resistance to change.


Additionally, there are often important differences between conservative traditionalists who live in the Islamic world or in the Third World generally and those who live in the West. Being an essentially moderate position, traditionalism tends to be adaptive to its environment. Thus, conservative traditionalists who live in traditional societies are likely to accept practices that are prevalent in such societies, such as child marriage, and to be less educated and less able to distinguish local traditions and customs from actual Islamic doctrine. Those who live in the West have absorbed more-modern views on these issues and tend to be better educated and more linked to the transnational discourse on issues of orthodoxy.

Reformist traditionalists think that, to remain viable and attractive throughout the ages, Islam has to be prepared to make some concessions in the literal application of orthodoxy. They are prepared to discuss reforms and reinterpretations.

Their posture is one of cautious adaptation to change, being flexible on the letter of the law to conserve the spirit of the law.


The number of inaccurate deductions in this excerpt is perplexing. Before I begin expanding on these errors and thereby doing my best to correct them I wish to clarify the following.

The Islamic view of Traditionalism

All Muslims are agreed to the fact that Islam came to change the format of life man was upon prior to its being revealed. It released man from the yoke of ignorance and the depths of paganism, superstition, and the oppression and slavery of the obedience to man and his opinions and raises the ruling of Allah as uppermost and above all. It freed man from the slavery of men and into ‘uboodiyyah (servant hood to God) as well as to reform the character of man to its most fullest capacity which was never emulated by any nation before nor has it been matched ever since which is one of the fundamental reasons why the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) stated in an authentic hadeeth with many different narrations from different routes that

“the best of generations is my generation, then those who follow them, then those who follow them”

And there are numerous ahadeeth that clearly and explicitly concede to the fact that the first three generations of Muslims were the greatest adherents to Islam and all partisans or groups who has a sense of respect for Islam knows this, including the modernist that Bernard wishes to aid.

With that being said, tradition according to the first three generations of Muslims are those sayings, wisdoms, practices, and beliefs that Islam came to reinforce or institute or remove and any other source of ethics or customs was not viewed as tradition for them. In other words traditionalism in Islam is the steadfastness and the adherence to the Sunnah (prophetic ways) of the prophet that has been kept intact through rigorous scientific analysis from the Hadeeth experts and preserved in the source texts of Hadeeth compilations. Muslims do not call the practice of a certain country that has been practiced for centuries (e.g. female genital mutilation) as something to be deemed as “tradition, at least certainly not “Islamic” tradition.

Thus the traditionalist that Islam defines is anyone who preserves, calls to, defends, adheres to, improves on, enforces, aids, fights for, dies for, and serves in the cause of the tradition of the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad alaihi salatu wa salaam as was understood by his companions and their students is called a traditionalist and anyone who does not fit this criteria above cannot legally in Islam be called a traditionalist because all who impose a new form of religious guidance into the religion is not conforming to the traditions of Islam but is conforming to the traditions of other than Islam. In other words, in the view of the salaf (first three generations of Muslims or literally translated as the pious predecessors), anyone who is not following the tradition is a heretic at least and a heretical innovator who is misguided or is hell-bent on destroying Islam from within. This reality of traditionalism in Islam morphs into the view of Bernard as “fundamentalism”. So if this is fundamentalism in her view, then what is traditionalism in her view? The following are some of the errors I have encountered and must try to rectify

Deconstructing the Rand view of Traditionalism

1.       Firstly and foremost, there is no such thing as a “conservative traditionalist” and a “reformist traditionalist” because the very methodology of reforming is none other than modernism. Secondly, logically, the attribute of a traditionalist is by default conservative because one who follows tradition is lead to the logical conclusion to “conserve” the essence of the traditions that is pivotal in his/her life. However what is more agitating is how she defines a “conservative traditionalist”

2.       She remarks what a conservative traditionalist is by saying they

believe that Islamic law and tradition ought to be rigorously and literally followed, and they see a role for the state and for the political authorities in encouraging or at least facilitating this. However, they do not generally favor violence and terrorism

Firstly, the idea that Islamic law and tradition ought to be rigorously and literally followed is what makes a Muslim by definition. The word Muslim comes from Islam, a verbal noun indicating submission. Submission to what one might ask? Submission to the dictates of Allah and His messenger. Therefore the belief that opposes this is none other than apostasy for there is no sane Muslim who believes that Islamic law and tradition ought NOT to be followed with vigor and to the best of his ability in a literal fashion.

Secondly, they see that the Muslim state is necessitated by the injunctions of Islam for the promotion of good and the subduing of vices. A Muslim who does not believe that there should exists an Islamic caliphate is not a Muslim at all if the reality of his errors are made clear to him and the proofs have been established upon such a one.

Thirdly, they do not favor violence and terrorism because violence is not accepted in the Qur’an or Sunnah of the prophet nor is terrorism and the acceptance of these two does not make the person a fundamentalists, it makes them a heretic.

3.       She remarks, and I quote in full for context

Historically, they have grown accustomed to operating under changing political circumstances, and this has led them to concentrate their efforts on the daily life of the society, where they try to have as much influence and control as they can, even when the government is not Islamic. In the social realm, their goal is to preserve orthodox norms and values and conservative behavior to the fullest extent possible. The temptations and the pace of modern life are seen as posing a major threat to this. Their posture is one of resistance to change.


Of course they have grown accustomed to under changing political circumstances because they have juristic conclusions and “usool” (fundamentals) to guide them either through textual religious reports or through the gates of ijtihaad (scholastic deduction of source texts).


The most erroneous statement is highlighted in bold. The pace of modernization of life is not seen as a posing threat, major, or otherwise, to the view of traditionalists. What poses a threat to traditionalists are those things which are, or lead to, heresy, apostasy, disbelief, paganism, superstitions and folklore, immorality, injustice, inequity, vices, or strife.


As far as the claim “resistance to change” then what does this mean? This is relative to a nation or group and to categorically render “resistance to change” as something negative and a sign of backwardness is at the very least intellectual ineptitude or deception. Change is relative to what the object is bringing. If the change is for the better, it is accepted and if it is inherently harmful for society, it will be rejected. To better explain this under a western paradigm I will use the current 08 elections in the U.S. as a perfect example. Barrack Obama’s campaign is being ran under the pretext of change and is willing to bring “change” to the American public. However this change is viewed under two lights.

a.        The liberal light

b.       The conservative light

For liberals, this change would be almost a heaven on earth due to the increase of bureaucracy, the promotion of man made global warming to increase government power and control, and more importantly, the redistribution of wealth from those who worked hard to earn their money and to legally take it away from its owners and to redistribute that wealth to those who did not earn it thus transforming the U.S. into a nanny state in the models of other countries.

For conservatives, the simplest characteristic that they best describe his message is none other than Marxists socialism. For them, his campaign signifies the complete altering of what the founding forefathers have come with regards to the establishment of the U.S. and what they stood for and more importantly, what they fought and escaped from.

Therefore resistance to change is relative according to who is affected by this change and what this change fundamentally brings.

4.       A most perplexing blunder on her part is in her statement


Additionally, there are often important differences between conservative traditionalists who live in the Islamic world or in the Third World generally and those who live in the West. Being an essentially moderate position, traditionalism tends to be adaptive to its environment. Thus, conservative traditionalists who live in traditional societies are likely to accept practices that are prevalent in such societies, such as child marriage, and to be less educated and less able to distinguish local traditions and customs from actual Islamic doctrine. Those who live in the West have absorbed more-modern views on these issues and tend to be better educated and more linked to the transnational discourse on issues of orthodoxy.


I have no idea how she made a demarcation between conservative traditionalist in other societies and in western societies. Speaking from first hand experience as a traditionalist fundamentalist Salafi Muslim who grew up in the west and fully aware of western lifestyle and views, I deal with other “traditionalists” “fundamentalists” Salafi Muslims who came from other societies, and quite frankly, the only difference between the two is the immense and praiseworthy characteristics of good character that the non western traditionalist fundamentalist wahhabi salafi Muslim exhibits that the western traditionalist fundamentalists wahhabi salafi Muslim is trying to model.


However, the most humorous statement was highlighted in the underlined. The only thing I will say in reply to this is that this could only be a figment of her imagination. I am unable to comment on a phenomenon that does not exist to begin with.

5.       She then comments on the “reformist traditionalists”

Reformist traditionalists think that, to remain viable and attractive throughout the ages, Islam has to be prepared to make some concessions in the literal application of orthodoxy. They are prepared to discuss reforms and reinterpretations.

Their posture is one of cautious adaptation to change, being flexible on the letter of the law to conserve the spirit of the law.


I can’t help but to express the fact that there are so many issues that can be discussed that link to this small excerpt from her.

a.        The first error is her insinuation that only “reformists” concede to making concessions. This is the stance of all traditionalists. We traditionalists believe that Islam by default was given to us for all time and all places, thus it was made already adaptable to certain changes in the wake of new events and issues, political, social, theological, scientific, or otherwise.

b.       At the same time of being progressive in nature, Islam does not make concessions in the literal application of orthodoxy. Whatever concessions we have been given through the sources texts of Islam or through scholastic deductions is what Islam allows with regards to concession. An example of this is the prohibition of pork. The prohibition is removed specifically upon a specific individual who finds himself or herself under the necessity of having to eat it or else they will starve or die. This and other matters of this nature are allowed under Islam from its basis. In other words Muslims are not allowed to seek concession to try to bend them to the fad or popular belief of a certain time. Not even the extremist radical “jihadist” fundamentalists do not believe that Islam cannot progress which virtually nullifies the common misnomer that “Islamo-fascists” wish to have all of us live in the “seventh century”. Therefore, the issue of concessions in Islam is not a “reformist traditionalist” or modernist thing, it is an Islamic thing of which even the deemed fundamentalists and radicals recognize.

c.        As far as the traditionalist being prepared to discuss reforms and reinterpretations. This is an oversimplification. In logic and common sense, there are constants and variables. Constants are those things which remain untouched and unchanged through annuls of time and events. Variables on the other hand do in fact have the ability to be changed or modified by time and place. One clear example is “jihaad”. Jihad itself does not change from time to time and place to place. It will always be mandatory on the Muslim and the Muslim will always be obligated to yearn for it. If we are talking about the jihaad f fighting it will always be either Jihaad at-Talib (offensive jihaad) or jihaad adh-Dhaff (defensive jihaad)

However, the means to implement this may change and the times may require that it not be practiced or that it may change from one people to another people or that it may be suspended due to a treaty of some sort. Another example is the women’s hijaab. What the hijaab is may change from time to time and place to place. What the hijaab is can be described as a variable. However what it covers is a constant. In Saudi Arabia, it is socially unacceptable for women to go out in green with stitches of design or colorful hijaabs. However in other places it may be socially acceptable. However what the hijaab covers remains the same. The women in Saudi Arabia must cover the same parts o the body as the women in Nigeria or Lebanon or Pakistan or India and the women who cover now must cover the same as the women who covered during he time of the prophet and the subsequent generations after him. And the knowledge of constants and variables has long been analyzed, commented upon, and adopted long before the emergence of the foundations of America began.

d.       The statement “being flexible on the letter of the law to conserve the spirit of the law” does not make sense to anyone except a philosopher. The spirit of the law and the intent of the Lawgiver are within the confines of its literal ordainments. The entire premise of her statement is wrong. It is more correct to say that Islam’s flexibility of the law stems from its literal dictates. Implementing this theory of hers to its most logical conclusion is that flexibility of the law equals the uprooting of the law and the connotation of “conserving the spirit of the law” serves as a deception to entice the follower of this theory to believe that their altering or removal of the law is okay because they are doing so for the sake of the spirit of the law.

[1] [Sahih ul-Bukhaari, V. 9, hadith #527]

[2] Volume 9, Book 84, Number 66 Saheeh al-Bukharee

[3] Volume 9, Book 84, Number 68  Saheeh al-Bukharee

[4] Musnad Ibn Abee Awfaa, Dhilaal ul-Jannah Fee Takhreej Ahaadeeth as-Sunnah

[5] Bukharee and Muslim

[6] [Bahr al-Muheet (3/493)]

[7] ash-Sharee’ah (p. 28),

[8] Sacred Freedom, p.75 by Haneef Oliver

[9] The God Delusion

[10]  An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #29