Radicalisationis a complex term which has different meanings and can be used in differentcontexts. To be radicalised does not necessarily mean that one must resort toterrorism. It is not a synonym to extreme religious teachings or activitieseither. Radicalisation can be intolerant behaviour or intolerance towards theviews of other people. It can be intolerance towards homosexuality, ethnicity,race, colour, religion.
Being radical can be intolerance towards the westernculture or Asian immigrants living in Britain as well. Extremism takes place inmany forms the most common and perhaps the most dangerous is the one we are allaware of; the suicide bombing. Aside from that, extremism is, and can be in theform of ethno-national or political or environmental, and ultimately any ideaor belief can become extreme.
As for Islam, the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet,peace be upon him, and the sources of laws, legislations and thus pave the wayto live life. In the following essay, I intend tohighlight some of the more evident reasons for the existence of terrorism inthe name of Islam and explain whether the ideology exists within the religionor has evolved over time. Most importantly I will discuss the effect this hason the society we live in and the type of mind-set this creates in the minds ofour people. There are avarious number of factors which lead to people joining radical groups; all ofthese factors can be combated if the necessary measures are taken by thoseresponsible in particular areas.
The primary reason for the upsurge ofradicalism is the lack of education, both on a religious platform and a secularplatform this issue needs to be addressed if radicalism is to be halted.According to statistics approximately half a million Muslims are students inthe United Kingdom, a western country which has been the target for many youthbecoming radicalized. Countless Muslims within the UK struggle to form anidentity which is ‘British’ and ‘Muslim’, this shows that despite Britainclaiming to promote multiculturalism, it has failed to incorporate Muslim studentswithin its education sector. A potential reason for some Muslims feelinguncomfortable receiving the secular education that Britain has to offer is thatMuslims are prevented from learning in a manner which fulfils the requirementsof Islam. A primarily example of this is sex education, Sarwar (1989) remarks:”the need for sex education is not in doubt. Undoubtedly sex education isrequired in modern times to make people aware of potential dangers; howeverMuslim children generally are less exposed to the world of sex than others sothe British education system in this aspect should cater for Muslims. Teachersin the UK should also be more learned in regards to ethnic and religiousminorities, especially the Muslim minority, shockingly a survey revealed thatin 2005 only 35 percent of newly qualified teachers believed they had receivedgood training regarding teaching pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Thisdepicts that teachers do not have sufficient knowledge of Islam to appreciatethat certain subjects in the curriculum may go against the teaching of Islamand students may not wish to participate in those subjects such as music anddance, this may drive away Muslims who wish to practice their religion andencourage them to take an alternate route in life. Muslims notonly require the curriculum to become more flexible to achieve compatibilitywith their lifestyle and cultural norms but in addition require the ability tofulfil their religious duties within schools and other educational facilities.Islam demands that its followers behave and dress in a modest way, inclusivewithin in this principle is the instruction for Muslim women to wear the Hijab,meaning to cover their bodily features with the exception of their hands andface, with some in addition preferring to cover the face. Some educationalinstitutions refuse to accept women wearing hijab whilst other schools demandwomen conform to their uniform which may not be in accordance with Islamicteachings to be awarded a place; Sarwar believes this may be interpreted as arequirement which compromises her religious convictions. Furthermore otherwomen are subject to abuse for wearing the Hijab or Niqab. To facilitate forMuslim women, a broader dress code should be adopted by all educational institutionsto ensure that Muslims requirements are catered for, if this is not addressedthen Muslim women may be deceived into joining radical groups where they canpractice Islam and potentially become Jihadi brides, a concept discussed above.If education sectors in countries such as the UK assist Muslims more inadjusting to society then perhaps they will feel less marginalized in westernsocieties.
Furthermore,lack of Islamic studies and misinterpretation of verses of the Quran and Hadithhas also led to the increase of extremism of all forms in Islam. We find itbecoming more and more common for some people to misquote verses from theQuran, or narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him),in order to support their false presentation of Islam as a hostile and violentreligion. The majority of these verses are mistranslated, taken out of context,or misunderstood due to lack of basic knowledge. For example, Jihad ismisunderstood by many people today as a “holy war”; hence, wheneverit is praised in the Quran, it is seen in a negative light. Jihad in reality isa positive concept, not a negative one, and for this reason, one must have areal understanding of the concept of Jihad. As we shall see, once understoodproperly, it becomes apparent that Islam teaches nothing but peace, harmony andtolerance for all humanity. An example of such verse is, “Jihad (holyfighting in God’s Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims), though you dislike it.But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and like athing which is bad for you.
But God knows, and you know not.” The first mistake in this translation is thatthis Quranic verse actually does not use the word “Jihad”. This verseactually uses the word “Qital”, which refers to physical fighting.Fighting is ordained for Muslims in order to defend themselves. Figure 1:Lack ofeducation both secular and religious can certainly play a great part in theincrease of religious extremism. The reason for that is many may hold extremeviews and assume a thing to be part of the religion whereas it may not be.
Figure 1 shows the educational statistics of Muslims in comparison to others.Its percentage shows that Muslims are out performed by the remaining populationas well as other religions. This supports the theory that extremism ispartially a result of the lack of education.Similarly,in the UK young people are radicalized through media. They are often made tobelieve that living in a multi-cultural society is against the fundamentals ofIslam so thus there must me an establishment of an Islamic state. Amulticultural society refers to a society in which people of different colour,race, religion, culture and language live together.
It is often perceived thatsomeone who follows Islamic principles is very uptight, due to a lot ofpropagation about establishing an Islamic state. In fact Muslims have, sincethe very dawn of the religion up until now, been living in a multiculturalsociety. How then is this possible, how tolerant does a supposed rigid and veryscriptural religion have to be living amongst people of other religions, andideas? Initially, we must analyse how it was done in the time of the Prophetand then how each individual must perform his duty living in such a society,along with subsequent examples, and issues that arise and how they are tackled.
However,Islam teaches, just as it did in Mecca, that compromises must be made, to anextent, so that people can live amongst each other peacefully. Treaties weremade, between the Jews Christians and Muslims in Medina, similarly, Islam, aslong as it does not shift from its core in terms of belief and freedom ofaction, should be able to act in accordance to the laws of Britain. There aremany examples where Muslims compromise their rules, just so that they can livepeacefully. One of many; in an ideal Islamic state, the call to prayer must becalled out on the loudspeaker, loudly, so that everyone hears.
In Britain, thisis not allowed, however, it does not compromise the core beliefs of Islam, nordoes it completely restrict the freedom of worship. The government of Britainprovides Muslims with basic facilities and amenities. Above all else, thegovernment has granted foreign Muslims permission to reside in this countryindefinitely and utilise its resources. Therefore, Muslims must expressgratitude towards the government. Muslimsbeing abused is perhaps another reason why some Muslims may be incited intojoining terrorist groups. Due to numerous attacks carried out by militants,Muslims are generally the targets of abuse in numerous western countriesbecause of their religion, these new phenomena of targeting Muslims isrecognized in the west as Islamophobia.
Islamophobia recently is emerging as a habitual practice by non-Muslimswho dislike the religion of Islam. Islamophobia is defined as ‘irrationalhostility towards Islam and therefore fear or dislike of Muslims’. One elementof abuse directed towards Muslims is branding them collectively as terrorists.Since 9/11 there has been a heightened vigilance around Muslims who might bedeemed to represent a terrorist threat.
Islamophobia attitudes have commonlybeen adopted by non-Muslims in schools and places of work who target elementsof the Muslim faith, for instance the dress code of women is commonly abusedand sometimes this may lead to physical assault, for instance incidents havebeen recorded of Muslim girls having their head scarves pulled off .Furthermore abuse is hurled at ethnic Muslim minorities, implying Islamophobiain the process, the term ‘Paki’ is commonly utilized for those of Pakistaniorigin but on occasions this kind of ethnic abuse shelters the real agenda ofindividuals who aim to attack Islam. To combat this practice which couldpotentially lead to Muslims being radicalized sanctions must be place on thosewho use Islamophobia language just as there as sanctions for those who usehomophobic language, this would lead Muslims to believe they are protected andvalued in society and could be the initiative for Muslims to begin to embrace aBritish identity. Furthermore those who abuse Muslims should be placed in thesame category as those who display anti-Semitic behaviour; if these measuresare taken Muslims will believe they are equals in society to the rest of itsmembers.In thelesser developed Muslim countries such as Pakistan, India, and Afghanistanthere seems to be a greater threat of extremism. Coupled with lack ofeducation, poverty is one the main reasons why people become radicalized.
Youngchildren are taken advantage of in the sense that they are told that they andtheir family will be given the bare necessities such as food and clothing ifthey join particular groups and organizations. Due to the lack of externalsupport, vulnerable children fall in the pit and thus are nurtured into radicalextremists. However,some argue that poverty as per se is not a direct cause of terrorism. It isseen that terrorism can occur anywhere, but is more common in developingsocieties, rather than in poor or rich countries, and is most likely to emergein societies characterized by rapid modernization. Within countries, the groupsthat support and give rise to terrorist movements usually are relativelydisadvantaged because of class, ethnic, or religious cleavages.
Recruits arealso drawn from among poorer and less-educated youth – those with a lack ofopportunities to complete secondary or higher education, or unable to findreasonable and respectable jobs.Lack ofknowledge and education has and always will be the fundamental cause of concernfor young vulnerable individuals to be drawn into the world of extremism andradicalisation. The programme “Britishschools, Islamic rules” irrationally criticises some of the schools forteaching anti-western views (essentially a construction of opposition betweenIslam and “the west”), when the show itself is guilty of doing exactly the samein its tittle and narrative. Despitealmost all the schools mentioned in the documentary receiving “Good” or”Excellent” classifications by Ofsted, the programme then went on listingtenuous claims of “extremism”. Althoughthis shows emphasis is in presenting the issues of Muslim faith schools, andthe content of their curriculum, the documentary doesn’t accomplish its aim; itrather uses vague terminology and doesn’t moderately explain the influence of faithschools syllabus on the mind-set of individuals regarding both extremism andradicalisations. Documentaries and TV shows such as”Jihadi next door” are intended to teach and raise awareness between individuals.
It is a portrayal of home-grown radicalisation. Though this show doesn’t illustrate the role education plays however itdoes demonstrate that media coverage of terrorism leads to further violence andyoung individuals being exposed to extremist preachers and fundamentalist”Islamic” groups. Remarkably this programme centralises the teaching ofholocaust which again is a hidden/sensitive topic of discussion within society.It focuses on anti-Semiticism (change). Theteaching of holocaust undoubtedly links to terrorism and is therefore vital tobe a part of the academic curriculum, it teaches students the Holocaust occurred because individuals,organizations, and governments made choices that not only legitimateddiscrimination but also allowed prejudice, hatred, and ultimately mass murderto occur which falls back on the education of terrorism and the many reasons itoccurs. Furthermore, it allows them to think about the use and abuse of power and the rolesand responsibilities of individuals, organizations, and nations have whenconfronted with civil rights or any sort of power.
Most importantly, itexpresses the roots of prejudice and stereotyping in society, it almost forms a”culture of fear” but essentially”deterrence” within society to harm others toterrorism or possibly being radicalised by such organisations. As studentsgain insight into the many historical, social, religious factors thatcumulatively resulted in the Holocaust, they gain a perspective on how a numberof factors can contribute to the disintegration of democratic values. Students learn that it is the responsibilityof citizens in any society to learn to identify danger signals and to know howand when to react. Thesensitive topic of history in Germany during the holocaust raises questions offairness, justice, peer pressure and conformity—issues that young peopleconfront in their daily lives.
Students are also affected by and challenged tocomprehend the magnitude of the Holocaust; they are often particularly struckby the fact that so many people allowed this genocide to occur by failingeither to resist or to protest, this in itself could cause hate against thecrime of mass murder and the willingness to help those in today’s society whoface similar experiences yet in the name of “terrorism”.