By Babatunde Jose
In this concluding part of the Echoes of the Apocalypse, we note with concern and trepidation the escalating phenomenon of terrorism; a situation which one commentator has aptly described as the ‘apogee of terrorism’. No doubt there is increasing concern that not all these acts are related to Islam and that most, especially those perpetrated by lone wolfs such as the Nice or Florida cases are sheer acts of mass murder and are in no way based on any ideology or affiliation to any aggrieved group: Hence, we now have a band wagon effect of copy-cats, buccaneers, moonlighters, attention seekers, and notoriety hunters. Terrorism has become a vocation for all-comers. They are actually ominous signs of the end time: The end is near when weapons of mass destruction and annihilation get into the wrong hands as it is likely to be, with the increasing ease with which young people gain access to arms and instructions on the World Wide Web on how to make powerful explosives with materials from their parents’ kitchen. The end is near when radical protests turn to acts of mindless killing and slaughter. The end is near when acts of radicalism are no longer political or religious statements but acts of deranged and psychotic individuals and mass murderers. The era of, ‘do it yourself’ instructions in terror is a spectre that haunts us all. In a recent CNN documentary: When Terrorism is not Terrorism; a former CIA deputy director and senior intelligence adviser at the FBI expressed the opinion that today’s individuals or small groups trying to validate their attacks by claiming allegiance to ISIS are the next phase of terror. How to arrest the current trend and save us all from a premature apocalypse is what should concern us all.
There is a very wide consensus on the positive role education can play in combating radicalization as a first step to reducing the scourge of terrorism. However, education alone is not enough in combating the root cause of the present conundrum; until we restore justice and fairness in our dealings with each other, as individuals, groups and nations. There is no doubt however, that education has an important role to play in raising a new crop of youths who will not be amenable to accepting, hook, line and sinker, the false ideology being currently peddled by the evil merchants of terror: Hence, the possible role of education as an anecdote to radicalization.
Both the Quran and Hadith are very explicit and emphatic in their admonition to parents about the education of their children. ‘Children have a right to education, is a famous saying of the Prophet. “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” — Tirmiadhi and Al-Bayhaqi.
A father is responsible for teaching his children according to Islam as follows:
1. Basic information about belief and worship
2. Basic information about high moral qualities
3. Information on what to be careful about in relations with other people
4. Vocational education
The Prophet said: “Every one of you is a protector and guardian and responsible for your wards and things under your care and a man is a guardian of his family members, and is accountable for those placed under his charge.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
And those who believe and whose families follow them in Faith,- to them shall We join their families: Nor shall We deprive them [of the fruit] of aught of their works: [Yet] is each individual in pledge for his deeds. (Quran: 52:21)
The Prophet, in this context, said: “When a believer dies, his work ceases to be except in three areas: a perpetual Sadaqa (charity), some useful knowledge he leaves and a righteous son praying for him.” (Muslim)
Parents hold enormous leverage in terms of what they teach their children and accordingly how their children grow up as adults. Islam, therefore, hold parents responsible for steering their children’s upbringing according to the guidelines of the Quran and the Prophet’s traditions. The Prophet said:“Allah (SWT) will ask every caretaker about the people under his care, and the man will be asked about the people of his household” (Nasa’i, Abu Da’ud).
Allah (SWT) states in the Quran about the need to raise families in the light of their end destination, which may be translated in the following words:
“O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are [appointed] angels stern [and] severe, who flinch not [from executing] the Commands they receive from Allah, but do [precisely] what they are commanded.” (Quran 66:6).
Children have the right, therefore, to be raised as responsible Muslim adults and parents must ensure that right appropriately. Parents must be conscious and take an active role in guiding their children and families on the path of truth. The Prophet Muhammad (s) said:“Every one of your (people) is responsible, and everyone is responsible for whatever falls under his responsibility. A man is like a shepherd of his own family, and he is responsible for them.”(Bukhari and Muslim)
Parents should inculcate in their children the correct ‘aqeedah of the oneness of Allah followed by all religious acts of worship that are needed for them to get close to Allah. As part of this training, parents should also ensure that they train their children on all the rituals of worship: Especially, Huqul-Ibad which is about respecting the rights of others and understanding them from an Islamic standpoint. A concise description of fulfilling both Huqooq Allah and Huqooqul Ibaad is found in the following verse:
“Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer [ye meet], and what your right hands possess: For Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious” (Quran 4:36).”
For example, children raised in certain non-Muslim cultures may not develop the same respect for parents and elders as mandated in Islam. Children should, therefore, be taught to be respectful and dutiful to their parents, maintain good relations with relatives, and neighbours. Children should also be warned against picking up habits that can lead to disrespecting others. These include backbiting, slandering, lying and abusing others.
Role models help people to model their behaviour and character after those personalities. Parents should, therefore, help their children choose their role models wisely. Learning about the personalities of Islam who actualized the teachings of Islam can help children learn from their knowledge and appreciate the relationship that those individuals developed with Allah and how they lived exemplary lives. This might be a good means of protecting them against imbibing moribund ideologies.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE QURAN
In addition to teaching your children recitation of the Quran, knowledge of the Quran will help your children to think beyond the mundane matters of this life and instead develop elevated thinking that can enable them to ponder about critical issues that can help them reconcile the many confusing ideologies that the world will throw at them as they grow up. Getting them to start thinking about the reasons of their existence, their day to day struggles, and where the world is heading to will make them become more prudent in terms of their life’s priorities.
Besides teaching children the rituals of worship and the rights of individuals, children should be taught Islamic morals, characters, and etiquette from an early age so that it becomes part of their habits. Children should be taught the principles of humility, tolerance, patience, and other such behavioural traits. These personality traits can help any individual tremendously in their lives. For example, teach them about patience and tolerance and dealing with tough situations, and they will be thankful to you for the rest of their lives.
Training children so that they can grow up to become responsible citizens requires that parents actively maintain an atmosphere at home that is conducive to positive learning and upbringing. This, therefore, requires that parents, too, model their lives according to the Islamic way of life. Children can get conflicting messages and thus can get confused when they do not see parents and elders following the instructions that they give to them, or when out of excessive love for them, parents become so indulgent that they turn a blind eye to their sins and fail in checking them.
The foregoing is what informed Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister ; Said Irandoust, vice president of PT Accelerated Value, Indonesia; Ashish Sitoula, a specialist in development communication and strategic planning; to proffer the thesis that education might be a veritable antidote to radicalization; because as they rightly claim,’ radicalism is often a precursor to terrorism and focusing on radicalism is tantamount to preventing terrorism at an early stage before it is too late for non-coercive measures. “Success against radicalism will ultimately not depend on wining wars but promoting non-military policies that strengthen the institutional underpinning of human development in the world”, they stressed.
The strategy of the Islamic State (the current fountainhead of terror) is to “capture the rebelliousness of youth, their energy and idealism, and their readiness for self-sacrifice.” But if most children are getting an education that promotes decent, humane values, the space this apocalyptic worldview holds rapidly diminishes. De-radicalization entails a long-term strategy which begins with the right education of our children.
We must remember that the West is still interfering in the Middle East with guns and missiles. If Western states sincerely desire for the Middle East to have a positive image of the West, they must change their strategy. Rather than endless armed interventions, they must stress such fine values as peace, liberty, equality, brotherhood, justice, love and solidarity, which they certainly espouse in their own countries.
It should be noted that: IS, resorts to bloody violence and savage acts of terror because of a belief system: That belief system is grounded in superstition, fabricated hadith and extreme beliefs that have no place in true Islam. So long as this superstition and these fabricated hadith continue to be depicted as the true source of Islam, we cannot be surprised by the violence that ensues. The problem, at its core, is this false belief system. This can only be rectified with the Quran. Therefore, IS cannot be drawn to a right path by guns or bombs or arid propaganda, but only by the Quran.
Speaking in the United Nations General Assembly last September, President Obama said: “Ultimately, however, it is not going to be enough to defeat IS in the battlefield. We have to prevent it from radicalising, recruiting and inspiring others to violence in the first place. And this means defeating their ideology. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they’re defeated by better ideas — a more attractive and compelling vision. “
So, who will take a stand against IS’s radical ideology? Who will speak the truth in the face of their false propaganda? The solution, therefore, lies not in involving religious scholars who essentially share the same ideology as IS, but in waging this campaign together with rational, sensible people capable of providing reasoned and true rebuttals to this false ideology. If we wish to defeat and eradicate IS ideology, we have only one option — the Quran. The antidote to radicalism is the Quran. An education based on the Quran is the sure force that IS ideology will be unable to withstand.
Brown hits the mark when he claims that the hearts and minds of people cannot be won through violence but education. In his comment on Brown’s position, Roony Noor, English Professor at University of Texas said: “Fruitful education requires an understanding of the source of violence just like a medicine to be effective requires knowledge of the cause of a disease. And the prime cause of this disease called violence is a desire for hegemony. So the chief perpetrators of violence – those toppling governments from Latin America to Africa to Asia, helping or producing groups like al-Qaeda, Taliban, and Daesh – or installing dictators or puppets in power to cause misery to millions – are the ones most in need of education”. To avoid being exploited by vested domestic or foreign interest, the ignorant and backward jihadist must be educated to be self-respecting individuals who will value life, not death; who will make the best of their lives to contribute positively to the world instead of sacrificing themselves for the hegemony of others”.
“Education is also needed for the dictators and poodles who crave power at any cost to serve foreign masters, as we see in Syria, where the US and Russia are vying to defend their strategic interests, taking advantage of the uncompromising nature of Russia-backed Assad and US-trained radicals, while thousands die and millions flee the country”.
“Last but not least, education is crucial for all young people so that they can grow up to be conscientious men and women who will not cause misery to their fellow humans for hegemony or for the interest of their military-industrial complex by wearing the mask of democracy or religion. They must understand that a common thread binds all religions. To gain that knowledge, students have to be educated – in schools, seminaries, madrassa, and other religious institutions – on the philosophical basis of God”.
In conclusion, we should always remember that, God is the symbol of goodness. It is a moral concept that comes from the Indo-Aryan Vedic religion, where it is represented by Indra. This concept was borrowed by the Persian prophet Zarathustra, who called it Ahura Mazda (or Ormazd), later borrowed by Jews and Arabs; which is today bequeathed to us as the supreme deity of the three Abrahamic religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Thus, proper education on God and religion will help people to refrain from violence. At the end of the day, the ultimate solution rests with Almighty Allah.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend