October 22, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7722

Egyptian Writer Presents Five Steps For Identifying And Handling An Extremist

October 22, 2018
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 7722

In an article published September 11, 2018 in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Maqal, Tareq Abu Al-Sa'd, an independent Egyptian journalist who writes on art and culture, provided "five steps for telling if the person you're speaking to is an extremist." He advises to sound out the other person on Christians, Islamic life and the Islamic caliphate, and determine his attitude towards people with opinions differing from his own and towards his rivals.

The following are translated excerpts from Al-Sa'd's article:[1]

Cartoon accompanying the article: a "moderate" and an "extremist"   

"Walking around in the street we encounter [various] people, some of whom we know but most of whom we don't.  We ride the bus and talk [with strangers] about art, football and politics, and sometimes the debate becomes heated and turns into a kind of quarrel. This may depend on whether your interlocutor carries the gene of extremism. [So] here are five steps for telling if the person you are speaking to is an extremist or not.

"The first step: speak about Christians. If your interlocutor is happy [to talk about] Christians and about the torching of their churches, refuses to greet them on their holidays, and opposes allowing them to build churches in the first place, or opposes a Muslim man marrying a Christian woman because she is an infidel, then he carries the gene of extremism. Speak to him calmly but briefly.

"The second step: talk about contemporary society. If your interlocutor believes that contemporary society is not leading the proper Muslim life, and that the plight we are experiencing is the result of the Muslims' sins, and that we must return to the Islam of the Prophet's Companions, then he is an extremist and you must shock him by saying: 'but the Prophet's Companions [also] fought one another.'

"The third step: speak to him about the Islamic caliphate. If he believes there is need to restore the lost Islamic way of living in order to revive the caliphate, and sees no danger in the existence of Islamic organizations, then he is a member of a clandestine organization and is an extremist in practice.  You must end the conversation with him [by saying] that the downfall of the caliphate was brought about by the Ottomans themselves, and that they received it from the Arabs when it was the pinnacle of civilization so they must return it to us in the same condition.

"The fourth step: [voice] an opinion different from his. If you sense he is reluctant to talk to you because he considers you misguided, or regards talking to you as a waste of time and has therefore ended the conversation in a manner that mocked you and your opinions, then he is a radical extremist and you must stop talking to him, for it is stated [in the Quran, in 49:11]: 'Let not some men among you ridicule others.'

"The fifth and last step: tell your interlocutor about something unfortunate that happened to his rivals. If he rejoices at their plight – be it a death or an illness that befell them or their loved ones – then he is a radical extremist, and you should beware him, for he may hurt you."


[1] Al-Maqal (Egypt), September 11, 2018.

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