Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Best Mechanisms to Combat Modern Fundamentalism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Reclaim Australia made sure their message was seen clearly at
the anti-Islam rally. [David Gray/Reuters]

Cairo- The closed-minded fundamentalism is considered among the biggest dangers that threaten the world’s societies. Rigid beliefs and rejection of other identities can hold back solving any problem in the community. But the most dangerous problems are those that exploit religions to justify extremist positions.

According to the common definition, the first challenge in combating modern fundamentalism is the intellect’s allegation that he/she possesses the absolute truth.

The root of fundamentalist extremism can be referred to the Philosopher Immanuel Kant, who created the term “Dogma”, which means the human being’s false belief in his capability of possessing the absolute. According to Kant, people can never achieve that because the nature of the human mind doesn’t allow it.

The lack of tolerance and forgiveness provided fundamentalists with the opportunity to revive religious conflicts so they can justify their desire in excluding others. In this context, Jews have recalled their conflicts with Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula; Muslims have recalled conflicts with Christians during the Crusades campaigns; and some Christians have recalled their conflicts with Ottomans. However, the truth is that these parties aim at justifying their negative behavior against others.

*Developing humanitarian values

Humanitarian values represent a common factor among religions.These values include basic rights like rights of life, distinction, and respect, along with basic humanitarian principles like freedom, justice, equality and mercy. All these rights and principles represent strong foundations of the three religions that can be used to shrink prospects of extremism and fundamentalism.

However, it is imperative that the matter of freedoms be understood properly. People cannot enjoy absolute freedoms and should respect freedoms and rights of others who live in their surroundings.

These aforesaid values can be found in each individual; however they can be destroyed by one’s ego, greediness and snobbism. Egoism can sometime be religious; therefore, religion should not contradict with these values; religions should rather include them in their moral organism and highlight them in front of people and communities.

*Common grounds among religions

Mechanisms to combat fundamentalism also include searching for common grounds among the three religions. Nevertheless, the current state of affairs among Muslims, Jews, and Christian has been negative and marked by endless conflicts. The problem is that new generations can’t be blamed, because they have witnessed growing hatred and conflicts among different civilizations and religions, particularly with the increasing terrorist attacks, suicide bombings, and threats of mass destruction weapons.

Muslims, Christians and Jews have been focused on conflicts; they tend to evoke the past as a period of suffering and oppression caused by others. For instance, Westerners have considered Muslim communities as regressive and violent people who aim at imposing their economic and cultural control.

Unfortunately, religious intolerance does exist as some extremists make every effort to kill people who oppose their point of view.

*Dialogue among different parties

Certainly, dialogue is the best mechanism to combat fundamentalism and extremism because it revolves around stimulating humanitarian emotions and reactions and directing them toward the right path.

Such dialogue requires sound intellectual foundations away from personal interests to succeed in getting warring sides closer.

Dialogue between different religions starts by enhancing communication among moderate parties in each religion who accept others and believe in public freedoms and human rights.

It is worth noting that dialogue should not be limited to the intellectual elite; as it should rather include the public to generalize this culture across the country.

*Global justice

On a different level, global justice in settling conflicts around the world can significantly contribute to combating fundamentalism, especially that different extremist movements take advantage of social injustice to attract supporters and recruit more members.