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City of Banjul
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Radicalisation and the empowerment of the rational faculty

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 This might not be unusual for the person who watches, reads and listens to the news which is already hijacked by the troubling outpouring of extremist violence. However this is an appalling condition and a serious time to live in when you consider how all corners of the globe are being affected by this inhumane and distorted cycle of violence.

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Radicalisation happens on many fronts both religious and secular. The Russian revolution and the various anarchist mutinies in the western world were clear acts of terrorisms which were based on the most fundamental forms of secular and atheistic ideologies. When people rally around an ideology or a belief and are indoctrinated to accept its supreme authority without respect for the authentic other, then what happens ultimately is the institutionalisation of violence as a means of developing a homogeneous, monocultural pattern upon which everyone’s worldview must be based on. With reason taken out of it, the extremist sees only his ideology as truth and fights with his very life to impose it.

 

What we are witnessing with the so called Islamists is not just an obsession over ruling and imposing their will over others, deeper than that is the very existential nature of the Islamist which has been altered by the distorted interpretations of the sacred texts of Islam; it’s an issue of the psyche which is involved. It’s not only non Muslims that are being targeted by groups like ISIL and Boko Haram, the very lives of Muslims who don’t agree with their point of view are being targeted daily. Boko Haram recently killed a famous Sufi scholar in Nigeria, and lest we forget many tombs of Muslim saints that were destroyed by these people in Mali. 

 

Extremism’s cure lies in the simple but complex task of promoting reason and the upholding of rational thought in all discourses regarding ideology and belief. The editorials of The Standard have always emphasised this very important matter when it comes to the actualisation of a world free from violence based on faith and ideology. It’s to inculcate in the minds of both young and old alike the simple need for accepting diversity; for Islam itself spoke and continues to speak through multiple voices and mitigated all sectarian violence based on the prophetic saying that difference of opinion within his followers is a mercy. Unless the world braces up to this and promotes the use of the rational faculty in discerning and not just swallowing up sermons without putting them on the mental balance to scrutinise their validity, there will always be those be justification of such violence.

 

Poverty and need also is a major contributor to the menace of extremism. Power corrupts but powerlessness corrupts too. The rebels in the Niger Delta, having seen the oil industry which amount to millions of dollars and all that comes from their lands while they subsist in abject need, took the challenge upon themselves to fight the corporations. Their approach was extreme because they are faced with need in the face of so much abundance. So while it’s important to teach the values of peace and the employment of reason, we mustn’t forget the need for poverty eradication. 

 

Ultimately when it comes to religious extremism, whether it is Islam or any other religion, what must never be overlooked is the authentication of knowledge. The scholars must work hard to purify and preserve authentic prophetic knowledge and disseminate it amongst the masses that look up to them for guidance. In the end what influences most of these extreme young people is the way knowledge has been imparted upon them and what kind of knowledge. 

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