Abu Dhabi: Extremist groups have attempted to manipulate and misrepresent the Islamic teachings to serve their political and social ends, leading scholars from the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments said on Wednesday.

The scholars examined in a panel discussion held at the majles of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, how extremist groups have misinterpreted sacred religious texts from the Holy Qur'an and the Prophet's Hadiths and used them to serve their own agendas and political goals.

Abdulrahman Saeed Ali Al Shamsi, Director of the Preaching Department, Director of the Preaching Department at the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, and Maria Mohamed Ali Al Hatali, Chief Preacher at the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, affirmed extremists have unfailingly tried using fiery and passionate rhetoric, ignoring the language of reason and logic.

Extremists, they said, have also steered clear of the true scientific approach followed by scholars to protect Islam and its tolerant values from misrepresentation, distortion and ignorant interpretations.

The scholars reiterated extremist groups have attempted to distort Quranic concepts by quoting Sharia texts out of their historical and scientific contexts and by choosing to ignore the context within which the Quranic verses were revealed and the hadiths were said.

The extremists, the scholars said, have confused fundamental verses with abrogated ones, the general with the specific, and the absolute with the restricted, as well as other essential concepts that are key to understanding religious texts on which genuine scholars have based their interpretation.

Al Hatali detailed how the extremists have tried to distort the concept of Hijra (the peaceful migration of Muslims to countries where they would be spared persecution), in the Quranic verse:

She cited the Quranic verse: “He who forsakes his home in the cause of Allah, finds in the earth Many a refuge, wide and spacious: Should he die as a refugee from home for Allah and His Messenger, His reward becomes due and sure with Allah: And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." Verse (4:100)

“These extremists groups have misinterpreted this verse as saying that Muslims should migrate from the house of Kufr (disbelief in Allah) to the house of Islam, claiming that Muslims live in the house of kufr if they have to live and deal with non-Muslims,” Al Hatali said.

“They have incorrectly urged people to head out of their safe homelands and forsake their stable lives to migrate to a place of conflict and unrest. Yet, the migration referred to was specific to the time of the Prophet, when people did not enjoy freedom of belief and religion and their lives and property were under constant threat from the Quraish tribe in Mecca. That is when Almighty Allah ordered them to migrate to Medina, and this migration ended with the Conquest of Mecca. The Prophet's Hadith clearly states: "There is no Hijra after the Conquest," Al Hatali said.

“Instead, extremists have taken this out of context, and distorted the religious texts,” she stressed.

Al Shamsi said extremists have similarly manipulated textual references to jihad, which speak of the necessity of defending the homeland, distorting them to mean that Muslims should fight all those who disagree with their belief at all times and places, by selectively quoting the Quranic verse: “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them.” Verse (9:5)

“In fact, there is nothing to indicate that the Prophet fought Mecca's polytheists because they disagreed with his belief. Even when he led an army against them, it was to make sure that the battle was not fought on his land, with the understanding that hostilities would end the moment Mecca's polytheists ceased their aggression: “And if they incline towards peace, you should also incline towards it.” Verse (8:61),” Al Shamsi said.

He explained clearly, there is nothing to support the extremists’ claim that those whose beliefs disagree with yours should be attacked. “Extremist groups act contrary to the teachings of the Prophet, who received Najran's Christians in his mosque, and died while his armour was pawned to a Jew!”

Al Shamsi said the Prophet (PBUH) would have never fought those who disagree with him in belief for the Quran is full of verses that speak of forgiveness, religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence: “Let there be no compulsion in religion”. "Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just”.