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Radicalisation
is a complex term which has different meanings and can be used in different
contexts. To be radicalised does not necessarily mean that one must resort to
terrorism. It is not a synonym to extreme religious teachings or activities
either. Radicalisation can be intolerant behaviour or intolerance towards the
views of other people. It can be intolerance towards homosexuality, ethnicity,
race, colour, religion. Being radical can be intolerance towards the western
culture or Asian immigrants living in Britain as well. Extremism takes place in
many forms the most common and perhaps the most dangerous is the one we are all
aware of; the suicide bombing. Aside from that, extremism is, and can be in the
form of ethno-national or political or environmental, and ultimately any idea
or 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 way
to live life. In the following essay,

I intend to
highlight some of the more evident reasons for the existence of terrorism in
the name of Islam and explain whether the ideology exists within the religion
or has evolved over time. Most importantly I will discuss the effect this has
on the society we live in and the type of mind-set this creates in the minds of
our people.

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There are a
various number of factors which lead to people joining radical groups; all of
these factors can be combated if the necessary measures are taken by those
responsible in particular areas. The primary reason for the upsurge of
radicalism is the lack of education, both on a religious platform and a secular
platform this issue needs to be addressed if radicalism is to be halted.
According to statistics approximately half a million Muslims are students in
the United Kingdom, a western country which has been the target for many youth
becoming radicalized. Countless Muslims within the UK struggle to form an
identity which is ‘British’ and ‘Muslim’, this shows that despite Britain
claiming to promote multiculturalism, it has failed to incorporate Muslim students
within its education sector. A potential reason for some Muslims feeling
uncomfortable receiving the secular education that Britain has to offer is that
Muslims are prevented from learning in a manner which fulfils the requirements
of Islam. A primarily example of this is sex education, Sarwar (1989) remarks:
“the need for sex education is not in doubt. Undoubtedly sex education is
required in modern times to make people aware of potential dangers; however
Muslim children generally are less exposed to the world of sex than others so
the British education system in this aspect should cater for Muslims. Teachers
in the UK should also be more learned in regards to ethnic and religious
minorities, especially the Muslim minority, shockingly a survey revealed that
in 2005 only 35 percent of newly qualified teachers believed they had received
good training regarding teaching pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds. This
depicts that teachers do not have sufficient knowledge of Islam to appreciate
that certain subjects in the curriculum may go against the teaching of Islam
and students may not wish to participate in those subjects such as music and
dance, this may drive away Muslims who wish to practice their religion and
encourage them to take an alternate route in life.

 

Muslims not
only require the curriculum to become more flexible to achieve compatibility
with their lifestyle and cultural norms but in addition require the ability to
fulfil their religious duties within schools and other educational facilities.
Islam demands that its followers behave and dress in a modest way, inclusive
within 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 and
face, with some in addition preferring to cover the face. Some educational
institutions refuse to accept women wearing hijab whilst other schools demand
women conform to their uniform which may not be in accordance with Islamic
teachings to be awarded a place; Sarwar believes this may be interpreted as a
requirement which compromises her religious convictions. Furthermore other
women are subject to abuse for wearing the Hijab or Niqab. To facilitate for
Muslim women, a broader dress code should be adopted by all educational institutions
to ensure that Muslims requirements are catered for, if this is not addressed
then Muslim women may be deceived into joining radical groups where they can
practice Islam and potentially become Jihadi brides, a concept discussed above.
If education sectors in countries such as the UK assist Muslims more in
adjusting to society then perhaps they will feel less marginalized in western
societies.

Furthermore,
lack of Islamic studies and misinterpretation of verses of the Quran and Hadith
has also led to the increase of extremism of all forms in Islam. We find it
becoming more and more common for some people to misquote verses from the
Quran, 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 violent
religion. The majority of these verses are mistranslated, taken out of context,
or misunderstood due to lack of basic knowledge. For example, Jihad is
misunderstood by many people today as a “holy war”; hence, whenever
it is praised in the Quran, it is seen in a negative light. Jihad in reality is
a positive concept, not a negative one, and for this reason, one must have a
real understanding of the concept of Jihad. As we shall see, once understood
properly, it becomes apparent that Islam teaches nothing but peace, harmony and
tolerance for all humanity. An example of such verse is, “Jihad (holy
fighting 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 a
thing which is bad for you. But God knows, and you know not.”  The first mistake in this translation is that
this Quranic verse actually does not use the word “Jihad”. This verse
actually uses the word “Qital”, which refers to physical fighting.
Fighting is ordained for Muslims in order to defend themselves.

 

 

 

Figure 1:

Lack of
education both secular and religious can certainly play a great part in the
increase of religious extremism. The reason for that is many may hold extreme
views 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 population
as well as other religions. This supports the theory that extremism is
partially a result of the lack of education.

Similarly,
in the UK young people are radicalized through media. They are often made to
believe that living in a multi-cultural society is against the fundamentals of
Islam so thus there must me an establishment of an Islamic state. A
multicultural society refers to a society in which people of different colour,
race, religion, culture and language live together. It is often perceived that
someone who follows Islamic principles is very uptight, due to a lot of
propagation about establishing an Islamic state. In fact Muslims have, since
the very dawn of the religion up until now, been living in a multicultural
society. How then is this possible, how tolerant does a supposed rigid and very
scriptural religion have to be living amongst people of other religions, and
ideas? Initially, we must analyse how it was done in the time of the Prophet
and 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 an
extent, so that people can live amongst each other peacefully. Treaties were
made, between the Jews Christians and Muslims in Medina, similarly, Islam, as
long as it does not shift from its core in terms of belief and freedom of
action, should be able to act in accordance to the laws of Britain. There are
many examples where Muslims compromise their rules, just so that they can live
peacefully. One of many; in an ideal Islamic state, the call to prayer must be
called out on the loudspeaker, loudly, so that everyone hears. In Britain, this
is not allowed, however, it does not compromise the core beliefs of Islam, nor
does it completely restrict the freedom of worship. The government of Britain
provides Muslims with basic facilities and amenities. Above all else, the
government has granted foreign Muslims permission to reside in this country
indefinitely and utilise its resources. Therefore, Muslims must express
gratitude towards the government.

Muslims
being abused is perhaps another reason why some Muslims may be incited into
joining terrorist groups. Due to numerous attacks carried out by militants,
Muslims are generally the targets of abuse in numerous western countries
because of their religion, these new phenomena of targeting Muslims is
recognized in the west as Islamophobia. 
Islamophobia recently is emerging as a habitual practice by non-Muslims
who dislike the religion of Islam. Islamophobia is defined as ‘irrational
hostility towards Islam and therefore fear or dislike of Muslims’. One element
of abuse directed towards Muslims is branding them collectively as terrorists.
Since 9/11 there has been a heightened vigilance around Muslims who might be
deemed to represent a terrorist threat. Islamophobia attitudes have commonly
been adopted by non-Muslims in schools and places of work who target elements
of the Muslim faith, for instance the dress code of women is commonly abused
and sometimes this may lead to physical assault, for instance incidents have
been recorded of Muslim girls having their head scarves pulled off .
Furthermore abuse is hurled at ethnic Muslim minorities, implying Islamophobia
in the process, the term ‘Paki’ is commonly utilized for those of Pakistani
origin but on occasions this kind of ethnic abuse shelters the real agenda of
individuals who aim to attack Islam. To combat this practice which could
potentially lead to Muslims being radicalized sanctions must be place on those
who use Islamophobia language just as there as sanctions for those who use
homophobic language, this would lead Muslims to believe they are protected and
valued in society and could be the initiative for Muslims to begin to embrace a
British identity. Furthermore those who abuse Muslims should be placed in the
same category as those who display anti-Semitic behaviour; if these measures
are taken Muslims will believe they are equals in society to the rest of its
members.

In the
lesser developed Muslim countries such as Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan
there seems to be a greater threat of extremism. Coupled with lack of
education, poverty is one the main reasons why people become radicalized. Young
children are taken advantage of in the sense that they are told that they and
their family will be given the bare necessities such as food and clothing if
they join particular groups and organizations. Due to the lack of external
support, vulnerable children fall in the pit and thus are nurtured into radical
extremists.   

However,
some argue that poverty as per se is not a direct cause of terrorism. It is
seen that terrorism can occur anywhere, but is more common in developing
societies, rather than in poor or rich countries, and is most likely to emerge
in societies characterized by rapid modernization. Within countries, the groups
that support and give rise to terrorist movements usually are relatively
disadvantaged because of class, ethnic, or religious cleavages. Recruits are
also drawn from among poorer and less-educated youth – those with a lack of
opportunities to complete secondary or higher education, or unable to find
reasonable and respectable jobs.

Lack of
knowledge and education has and always will be the fundamental cause of concern
for young vulnerable individuals to be drawn into the world of extremism and
radicalisation.  The programme “British
schools, Islamic rules” irrationally criticises some of the schools for
teaching anti-western views (essentially a construction of opposition between
Islam and “the west”), when the show itself is guilty of doing exactly the same
in its tittle and narrative.  Despite
almost all the schools mentioned in the documentary receiving “Good” or
“Excellent” classifications by Ofsted, the programme then went on listing
tenuous claims of “extremism”.  Although
this shows emphasis is in presenting the issues of Muslim faith schools, and
the content of their curriculum, the documentary doesn’t accomplish its aim; it
rather uses vague terminology and doesn’t moderately explain the influence of faith
schools syllabus on the mind-set of individuals regarding both extremism and
radicalisations.

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 it
does demonstrate that media coverage of terrorism leads to further violence and
young individuals being exposed to extremist preachers and fundamentalist
“Islamic” groups. Remarkably this programme centralises the teaching of
holocaust which again is a hidden/sensitive topic of discussion within society.
It focuses on anti-Semiticism (change). The
teaching of holocaust undoubtedly links to terrorism and is therefore vital to
be a part of the academic curriculum, it teaches students the Holocaust occurred because individuals,
organizations, and governments made choices that not only legitimated
discrimination but also allowed prejudice, hatred, and ultimately mass murder
to occur which falls back on the education of terrorism and the many reasons it
occurs. Furthermore, it allows them to think about the use and abuse of power and the roles
and responsibilities of individuals, organizations, and nations have when
confronted with civil rights or any sort of power. Most importantly, it
expresses the roots of prejudice and stereotyping in society, it almost forms a
“culture of fear” but essentially”deterrence” within society to harm others to
terrorism or possibly being radicalised by such organisations.

As students
gain insight into the many historical, social, religious factors that
cumulatively resulted in the Holocaust, they gain a perspective on how a number
of factors can contribute to the disintegration of democratic values. Students learn that it is the responsibility
of citizens in any society to learn to identify danger signals and to know how
and when to react.

The
sensitive topic of history in Germany during the holocaust raises questions of
fairness, justice, peer pressure and conformity—issues that young people
confront in their daily lives. Students are also affected by and challenged to
comprehend the magnitude of the Holocaust; they are often particularly struck
by the fact that so many people allowed this genocide to occur by failing
either to resist or to protest, this in itself could cause hate against the
crime of mass murder and the willingness to help those in today’s society who
face similar experiences yet in the name of “terrorism”. 

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