The institution of extremism, radicalization and terrorism today in the name of Islamism seeds a fallacy of judgement amongst its students that they are purveyors of the purity of Islam. Their miseducation results in a sense of guilt. This guilt defines who they are and what they become.
Since the advent of the ideology of violent Islamism today, extremist groups and self-radicalised individuals have succumbed to a single fallacy of judgement. They are led to believe that they are purveyors of the purity of Islam. The circles of influence that these groups and individuals have immersed themselves in, be it through radical preachers, their underground networks, or shared materials online, have moulded them to become claimants to the truth of Islam.
The Brochure of Violent Islamism
While education informs and develops rationality, miseducation develops irrationality. Key to the irrationality of violent Islamist ideology is the development of hatred and intolerance resulting in the volition of indiscriminate violence such as suicide bombings and killings. A miseducated individual succumbing to this ideology fosters a de-sensitivity to crime and violence in the name of claiming the truth of religion.
Tragically, violent Islamism has seeped into the Muslim world through its delusion of representing the truth of what Islam ought to be. This delusion has been propagated and promoted viciously through the advertisement of bravery against, and freedom from, the hypocrisy of today’s other Islamic schools of thought. The oft-repeated concepts such takfir (ex-communication) and bid’ah (innovation) are key values that students of this ideology are conditioned with. A glance of the vocabulary of such an ideology will inevitably shows the frequency of such terms both in their written and oral tradition.
Through time, these values are over-generalized and believed as part of the result of their miseducation. The symbol of the Islamic State (IS) black flag, for example, with the Islamic proclamation of faith (shadatain) embossed on it is successfully projected as the representative of their courage and independence.
With such representation, helped by oblivious policies, inhumane invasions and sufferings, and advancement of social media and news reporting, violent Islamism today continues to attract individuals who donned its values and represented its symbol.
A student who graduated from this school of Islamist ideology sets foot to pursue the goals and values set by their alma mater. Such diligence of violent Islamism has fostered this fallacy of judgement that they are the purveyors of the purity of Islam. This fallacy produces guilt. This guilt is the scroll of the violent institution conferred at the graduate’s convocation before entering into the outside world.
This end product of guilt determines his way of life as an individual. This guilt wrestles him to view the outside world with a myriad paradigm made up of confusion, disgust, incompatibility and hatred. In living the Islamist ideals, the graduate enters a critical stage of disillusionment towards the corrupted reality of the world. A critical question arises in his mind: “How do I live in this world?”
Answering the “How” question
In this critical moment, he weighs the different choices available. The choices might be categorized as follows:
- Choice 1 – Compatibility of Islamism for or against the world.
- Choice 2 – Pursuance of Islamism for or against the world
- Choice 3 – Living Islamism in the world
As human beings are nurtured to uphold the ideals of education, he will unnaturally disown what is taught. The entrenchment of the Islamist Institute is kept alive today due to this guilt, coupled with the conspiracies of injustice, emptiness, disorder, corruption and a sense of ‘lost cause’ seen, heard and googled today.
In his hope of finding an answer, the availability of the network of past graduates, supporters and sympathisers to his alma mater matters. Globalization and technology has made his quest easier. This network is found through the ease of his fingers. Facebook, WhatsApp, and numerous chat rooms, provide the comfort in pursuing his answer. He now enters into the dark realism of the miseducated world of violent Islamism.
Realism of Violent Islamism
The product of Islamist realism is seen today. The continuous survival and emergence of groups boldly declaring their ideology of extremism, radicalism and terrorism indicates the success of the violent Islamist institute. Violent groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda Boko Haram, self-radicalized individuals, and others are its progeny.
The constant reminders of the propagandists of this ideology in news, newspapers, books, magazines, online sites, social media, mass media and others sustain its presence and consciousness. The commonality of suicide attacks, killings, and beheadings is prove to its guilt. These evidences prove that the truth that the institute preached is claimed.
For the majority of people in our world today, the realism of violent Islamist ideology is unreal as it remains external to their private space. To a miseducated individual, Islamism is real as it stays within his private sphere.
The realization of the majority to the realism of this ideology is key. However this realization needs to steer away from advertising their institutes, values and symbols. Key to curtail the further expansion of ideology as well as its institution is to de-construct the realism of this miseducation of the guilt of claiming the truth.
*Dr Mohamed Bin Ali is Assistant Professor and Dr Mohamed Feisal Bin Mohamed Hassan is Associate Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Both are members of Singapore’s Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG).