Just like trees, radicalism in Islam could only flourish due to three points. First, narrow interpretation on religious issues as the seeds; second, poverty and backwardness of the people as the filed; and third, global injustice as the water and manure. Anybody who doesn’t want this tree to grow should address those three factor simultaneously.
Each factor has its own ‘person in charge’ or, more precisely, ‘person to blame’. Responsibilities for narrow interpretation on religious issues is definitely lavished upon the shoulders of ulama (religious leaders) or Islamic leaders to tackle them; poverty and all its implications is blamed on the Government and decision makers in all Islamic countries; while global injustice should be blamed on Western industrial countries, especially United States and her two loyal accomplices, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Narrow interpretation on religious issues is not exclusively belongs to Islam only. Followers and leaders of every single religion in this world has had unnecessary headaches taking care this nagging “homework” of this latent disease. The base of this problem usually the tendencies of truth claim by small groups of people in front of their holy book, their God and in front of everyone. In Islam, this particular group had grown from early in the beginning. It was them who responsible for the murder of Ali ra. Lately they were also responsible for various deathly violence as happened in US (WTC case), Bali, in several places in Jakarta, Italy, London, etc. These brutal acts claimed life blindly, no matter Christian, Jews, Muslims or others.
They think that religion interpretation in their mind is as absolute as the blue print of their holy book. It’s like they see no difference between their brains and the holy book. Their burning fanaticism makes them forget that their brains are ordinary brains belong to ordinary human beings, their brains are relative, therefore impossible for them to grasp the absoluteness of the content and messages of the divine holy book. They think of themselves as the truth itself. Anyone on the opposite of their faith-formulae means “heathens, musyrik (doing shirk), munafik (hypocrite), or ahli bid’ah (heretics). Anyone with different faith is an infidel, worth only to be thrown to hell. It’s not hard to imagine how their logics work; to someone labeled worthy only to be burned eternally in hell, being hurt, tortured, their home being ransacked and destroyed, even being killed, is just a light thing.
These people see religion as a fire line or a merciless sword cutting border line between friends and foes. Those who share the same belief are mukminin (one who practice real teachings of Islam), a friend worth to love and defend; those who have different beliefs, even though the gap of difference is just one inch wide, are kafirin, heathens, the ultimate enemies that should be fought. Considering their narrow parameter, it is no wonder that the numbers of mukminin worth their love are so thin, while enemies are strewn everywhere.
According to them, only 10% of Muslims in all over the world are genuine things; the rest, 90% of them, are heathens, hypocrites, fasik (wicked) and heretics, real enemy worth to be destroyed. That in fact there are still millions of wicked things left untouched is due to time and chances. Meanwhile, defamation—theologically speaking—against anyone with different standards, is a continuous business for them.
The ulama, with their immense knowledge and wisdom, need to talk, heart to heart, with these people more often, they who claimed to have the right to judge other people’s faith. If not, the peaceful image of Islam (which is correspond to the meaning of the name), and the religion of grace which is correspond with HIS vision, would be refuted. These people need to be reminded that faith is very private, tender and hidden, therefore it is only Allah who may judge it.
“And We have revealed to thee the Book with the truth, verifying that which is before it of the Book and a guardian over it, so judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their low desires, (turning away) from the truth that has come to thee. For everyone of you We appointed a law and a way. And if Allah had pleased He would have made you a single people, but that He might try you in what He gave you. So vie one with another in virtuous deeds. To Allah you will all return, so He will inform you of that wherein you differed;”(The Holy Quraan Chapter 5 Verse 48)
It is not for us ordinary humans to judge faith. Let every individual, using his deepest, pure conscience, conduct a dialogue with the holy verses of the Quraan while constantly appeal for His guidance. What really matters to man is trying to do the best for fellow human beings. While those who really find guidance (muhtadin) in His path and those who strayed and lost (dlallin), are exclusively His to know:
“(…) Surely thy Lord knows best him who strays from His path and He knows best him who goes aright.” (Chapter 53 Verse 30; Chapter 16 Verse 125; Chapter 68 Verse 7)
In accordance to the above verse, in his book “Faishalut Tafriqah baynal Islam waz Zanadiqah”, Imam Al Ghazali affirmed that:
“It is a must for Muslims to guard themselves from judging people with different faith as heretics, and accused fellow Muslims who take different ways, as long as they still cling to the one tauhid faith, and that is “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.”
About poverty, everyone knows who Misno, Salik, Ikbal, Asmar Latin Sani and all other suicidal bombers were. Firstly, they were poor boys, of their poorness came lack of education, they were unemployed, or half-employed, semi-out casted from their society. In the end, they failed to find the “true meaning” of their life. While they thought that they were only caused troubles to themselves and their family, suddenly entered someone with heavenly costumes and angelique tongue offered them—even GUARANTEED for them—an extra ordinary, out-of-this-world self –worth. And this self-worth is not lavished upon their life but upon their deaths, syahid (martyr)!! This promise derived to them while manipulating the concept of “dead in Allah’s way”, as is stated in this verse:
“Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision.” (Quraan Chapter 3 Verse 169)
Meanwhile, Nurdin M. Top and DR. Azahari did not take their celestial path through suicidal bombing to kill fellow human beings, like they offered Misro cum suis. At least due to their high education, they still believed that their self-worth was not lying upon their deaths but on their life, on their skills (indoctrinating people and assembling bombs to be blown up by other person). In Indonesia and in many Muslim countries, ummat (followers) who felt helpless because they are robbed out of their rights and their freedom, are abundant. Years go by and their numbers kept increasing. These people, in this condition, are very susceptible and ready to receive the seeds of radicalism through simple religious indoctrination, full of offerings of shortcuts.
It is true that poverty and deprived feeling is not exclusively Muslims’. But poverty that strike communities who live in rich land full of various natural resources, is a painful fact that is almost exclusively belong to this particular people, Muslims. Anger is a fickle thing, and anger of anyone conscious about this fact would be easily lit. And anybody knows, an angry person is capable of doing anything, even irrational things. How does this fact hurt so much? Because this squalor that strikes Muslims is not entirely the fault of ummat. This global poverty, from the eastern tip of Indonesia to the western end of Cordova, largely caused by mismanagement and corrupt behavior from their leaders and businessmen. If laziness and ignorance also present, those are also the results of the corrupted carrying-capacity.
In general, leaders in Muslim countries are visionless, they climb to the ruling class simply because they want power. The important question of “what to do with this power, where would I bring my people and my country, and with what strategy” are not appealing to them. The obsession is just how to obtain power, and more power, and more. Power for power is something very expensive and fatal to the people, no matter where. This strategy needs money, a lot of money, to buy votes and to maintain the power machine it achieved.
Therefore, corruption becomes a standard strategy for the ruling class in Muslim countries. Try to imagine what would happen if this horrible scheme happened—and in Indonesia you don’t need a super-human power to be able to see that—beginning at the highest rank of power down to the lowest. No matter what—executive, legislative or judicative, all of them.
So let this country’s foreign debt piled up really high, let the richness of natural resources being dredged, poverty would still clutched the people, famine and epidemic disease strike every few years or so, the numbers of school drop-outs and unemployment keep getting larger. Meanwhile, the extravaganza way the ruling class living their life, fueled by the people’s money, is just plainly laid before our eyes. So if the rulers of Muslim countries really serious about blocking radicalism, it is not by diplomacy, but by stop committing corruption, start using the people’s money for their welfare. These two aspects share mutual support. The welfare of the people could not established without eradicating corruption; and corruption could not be stopped unless the ruling class committed to it.
The question is: would or would not all leaders leave their corruption habit for the welfare of their people? Indeed, only leaders with pure consciousness would pay real attentions to this. It is now time to pray to God, each of us in our own unique way, to beg HIM not to let anyone but the ONE with pure heart to lead this country. And those who do not possess such potency, let them be resuscitated, or just blown away in the wind, and fast. Amen.
Concerning injustice, more precisely global ruthlessness, as the nurturing act of watering seeds of radicalism in Islam, I am sure that every single one of us understand it clean and clear. That politically speaking nobody dares to say it openly, or even try to deny is an entirely different matter.
First, the most distinct one, is injustice shown by unity in armed forces, economy and politics of Western countries, led by the US, in Muslim countries like in Turkey, Palestine, Balkan region, Afghanistan, Irak, and very probably, Iran, in no time. We can also name other victims: Libya, Kuwait, Somalia, Leanon, Syiria, and let’s not forget Indonesia.
Of all those devastating show of arbitrariness it’s quite obvious that the standard of truth, in the name of freedom and human rights, is not logic, let alone consciousness, but power (syaukah). Power is truth, no matter how evil you are, when you have power, you are the absolute truth. Whoever it is dare to challenge Power, they will always be the loser, and will constantly be blamed for everything.
Second, economical injustice. Everybody knows that in general Muslim countries have abundant natural resources. But because of the lame human resources, these ultra-rich natural resources of Muslim countries are exploited—or, in most cases, were entrusted to be exploited—by Western countries. Naturally, in the end they will get the most profit out of it.
The fact that profits dredged mercilessly in and from Muslim countries would later be used by Western countries to exploit Muslim nations further is the “plus point”, the exact cause of the deeply burning pain in the hearts of every Third World Muslims. Because, this means that Muslim countries had financed and strengthened nations that in the end would oppress Muslims—again. Speaking of irony! This is a very ruthless scheme coming from the West, but more than that this is a blatant display of endless stupidity in the Muslims side!
Third, soft and stealth, but not less serious, is the “cultural conquest”. It would be no problem at all if the conquest here is about knowledge, technology and language as the media. But when it reaches the limits, and beginning to affect one’s perception about which is bad and which is good, which is improper and which is not, which is progress and which is regress, then we are speaking troubles. We are talking about a nation’s inner, very intimate identity circle. Here is where Muslims were fatally defeated by Westerners, in every single aspects of life. And in this position, where we were the losers, we are also gain the very unfavorable position as the one and the only one to blame. On practically everything. For Power means right, and Losers means wrong. Once a defeated, will always be a loser.
From all the arguments, there comes one and only one conclusion: Muslims need to rise from their dormant state, do a “spring cleaning” thoroughly, both mentally and physically, strengthen themselves in every aspects: human resources, economy, social, politics, culture, knowledge, science and technology, and last but not least, military. It’s useless trying to cover these flaws by blaming and cursing other people. Other people (Western nations) are too strong, too mighty for us to curse. Even if there were hundreds more of Imam Samudera between us—and the fact is there seems no one interested to follow him these days—who could construct a bomb, then a thousand even a million bombs couldn’t match one mediocre nuclear warhead that western nations possess.
Let the fact that the western nations had done grisly deeds towards humanity, crimes that never could be digested by sane mind, as their own problem, it is theirs to worry about. God will pay them in the afterlife, an eye for an eye; or (if one doesn’t believe in God’s afterlife sentence) let history and the pure consciousness of human race chiseled it down. Instead of draining Muslims nations’ energy by releasing curse and wrath that meets no use, it is far better to focus all those potencies to fix where we had done wrong, strengthen our civilization. Not to get revenge to all factions which had done us wrong all these times—NO. Let our mental and physical improvements in all aspects of life stand as a vow not to let such ruthless exploitation happen to anyone, any nations, any countries, EVER again. 
By: K.H. Masdar Farid Mas’udi, Muslim intellectual, syuriah (advisory) in PBNU