In almost every religious group there are certain people who always carry themselves are the bearers of “truth”. The one guy who will go to the ends of the earth to always attack, in his view, anyone who may “mock” his particular group he follows, even tough some may be on the same side as him. These misdirected zealots in their pursuit to put down any view contrary to their supposed understanding of the tareeq or path, stop seeing three-dimensional view of life and become one-dimensional. For them there is only one view and that is the one-dimensional horizontal view that propagates the idea my group, its institutions, its teachings is the absolute. Anyone as to merely indicate or suggest anything else, even if it is of a positive light on how to improve the organisations projects, these hardliners start to point fingers and accusing their co-devotees from within their own circle of “mocking” the noble cause. It is people like these narrow-minded often premature shoot first ask later followers that give a bad name to a particular path or cause. As their voices are often times heard louder, in the metaphorical sense, than the true genuine leaders of the group or its teachings. It goes without saying these people gather silent admirers from within the group, who may be less out spoken, and see them as stars unlike any other. They exist in almost all fractions of the religious debates. Whether Shia, Sunni, Sufi, Salafi, or Whababi they exist. The same traits of these intellectually feeble, incorrect diehard adherents are clear; Quick firing, short-sighted , down your throat folks who see life as a bland mixture of a bitter morsel of food.
Last night I had a quick conversation with one of these type of people, via social media, who think of themselves as the sole supporter and liberator of the cause they are following. The type of people who mentally think they have a monopoly over others who are also on their cause, simply because they have been around longer or experienced something others have not, be that in the spiritual or physical sense. Automatically setting themselves up to be seen as, psychologically, – the untouchable big brother – whose views, ideas and expressions are always to be highly regarded, admired and approved. The simple truth is, these are the unintentional but somewhat obvious signs of Narcissism. The conversation was interesting in that it offered a view into how people in other astray groups, with similar traits, will most likely operate; never suggest, express, contemplate anything that might, in the slightest offset, seem to indicate that the group’s projects need tweaking to improve. I had not suggested anything contrary to what the institution in question is already offering, nor was i “mocking” its approach, philosophy or credentials since I am somewhat aware of the noble work it is doing. All i had suggested was it is a good idea to look at other institutions and learn from the good they do, so that the institution in question can be better at delivering its contents and services. But Lo and behold! Out comes all the clichés of these zealots, the one trump card they keep reserved for such occasions to keep in line others who may differ from their no-trying-to-view-things-differently approach; how dare you question the motives of our mashaykh (teachers)?. This is supposed to be the one line sentence which will make others whimper into line and make them abandon their ideas of improvement and prosperity, in fear they may have over stepped the sacred ground and be forever doomed to the hell fire! When groups begin and then gather momentum after a few years, it is often these people who cause damage to its reputations more than outsiders, be that a Sufi or Salafi group, it is certain people within the organisation full of misdirected anger who paint a picture of, only our way is the one true way! So much so that other people looking from outside in see the group as a cult operating with fear and intimidation. It may be that the group never intended to portray this image of themselves, but because of the zealots within the group, they are labeled as such by outside people. These hellbent tough nut-crackers see people of other groups as inferior and astray from the true revival and way of the pious. To be frank, this is how cults then begin to form; when people stop seeing others like them, who may also be sharing the truth for which they solely claim to be a champion of.
I have always wondered what makes evil men linked to groups and movements, commit unspeakable crimes in which they spare no one from their tyranny. History is full of men that pushed on people the most abhorrent, vile, and inhumane torture techniques, from Hitler’s SS brigade to recent cult ideologies carrying out heinous crimes in the name of religion. Its these zealots which have the loudest voice and make the most attention grabbing negative propaganda. What it actually boils down to is the fact that these groups stop seeing life as it should be seen. A beautiful three-dimensional, multi layered place with varying views, opinions, comments and ideas. A place that says, okay you may be doing good and have a good approach, but there are also other groups from which you can learn and further improve, (vise versa). The subtleties of these people and the effect of their actions in a group they claim to belong to can sometimes have profound impact on the group . Many times sealing the fate of the organisation completely, either as a good or a bad group. This does not mean all zealots are fanatical and bloodthirsty in their obsession of ultimate authority. In righteous group sometimes it is these people who can motivate and direct others to develop spiritually, and paint a good image of the group for non followers of the group’s philosophy. However, this can ONLY be done ‘IF’ these particular people have the right mindset, a right world view one that accepts other opinions and sees there is always room for improvement in anything. Unfortunately, the hard part is though to make them see that other than the Quran (which automatically includes Sunnah & Shariyah) nothing in this world is perfect and everything can be continually improved.
For example the zealots will see people, who may normally not be praying folks, praying in Ramadan as “30 days Muslims who worship Allah in Ramadan since it’s the “worship season”. Whereas others will see them as Muslims, at least they still have love, respect and value of Ramadan in their heart, trying to change their lives.
The conclusion is, the faulty hardliners within a group often end up becoming the unofficial spokesperson and cause untold damage to the group as a whole and on its true followers who are loving, open, intellectually mature, and think on a holistic approach to things.