Radicalization of Muslim Youths
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
Present-day Muslim militancy derives neither from the Quran nor the Sunnah. It is basically a product of the Muslim media—although this has come about unintentionally. The Muslim media since its inception to this day have been a vehicle for the launching of protests. And it is this protestant nature of the Muslim media that has formed the mindset of present-day Muslims. Muslim militancy and suicide bombing are mainly the consequence of this Muslim media.
The printing press was popularized in the Muslim world in the eighteenth century. Napoleon Bonaparte of France (1769 – 1821) was the first to introduce the printing press to Egypt when he invaded the country in 1798. That is to say, the printing press was brought to the Muslim world by the European colonial powers. It was a coincidence that the printing press came to the Muslim world at a time when they were witnessing colonial expansion in their lands.
Every day there was news of western powers encroaching upon the Muslim world, in one way or another. For example, in 1771 the Russian fleet totally destroyed the Ottoman Navy in the Mediterranean Sea during the Russo-Turkish War (1768-74). Sultan Tipu of Mysore was killed fighting the British army in 1799. The Mughal dynasty of India faced a crushing defeat at the hands of the British East India Company in 1857. The Italo-Turkish war between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy led to the capture by Italy of the Ottoman province of Tripolitania in 1912. Such events were bound to lead to repercussions in the Muslim community, which was further reflected in the Muslim press.
The Muslim world has been beset by such incidents from the eighteenth century right up to this day, and these events have been reported with exaggeration in the Muslim press.
In this way, the Muslim press has developed into a kind of protestant journalism. Now the electronic media is being used by Muslims towards the same end.
It is media of this kind that has created the Muslim mindset of the present day. The kind of thinking that characterizes Muslims in our times is not based on Islamic teachings, but stems rather from the Muslim media which invariably speaks the language of protests and complaints. It is this pattern adopted by the Muslim media which has made Muslims negative. The Muslim community has therefore become an angry one and it is now directing its anger at other communities. When they saw that their gun culture was not producing the required results, they began, on account of their increasing anger, to indulge in suicide bombing in order to de-stabilize their supposed enemies.
The Muslim militancy of the present age is based neither on reason nor on any teaching of Islam. It is entirely the upshot of the Muslim community’s anger, disillusionment and negative thinking.
It is said that the greatest menace of present times is the radicalization of Muslim youths. But the question is: What is the source of this radicalization? The Quran and the Sunnah are certainly not the ideological sources of this radicalization. The source of this culture is the use by Muslims of internet or social media as an extended form of Muslim media. Muslims have easy access to the international network—the internet, and are using it on a vast scale. Thus they have filled their websites on the internet with false pictures and false reports which show that Muslims are an imperilled community. This outreach of the social media is there in everyone’s pocket in the form of mobile phones.
It is this website or internet culture that has basically contributed to the radicalization of today’s Muslim youth. To save young Muslims from this negative culture, an extensive campaign is required to awaken Muslim minds in such a way that they may analyze information on websites on their own and develop the ability to differentiate between truth and falsehood.
This kind of violence cannot be eliminated through counter-violence, because any counter-violence can only further aggravate the Muslims’ anger. It is only due to this aggravated anger that they have taken to suicide bombing.
In the modern age, almost the entire Muslim community has started to lodge protests and complaints. Because of this mindset of theirs, Muslims have become receptive to negativity and not to positivity. Under the influence of this mindset Muslims tend to treat positive news with suspicion. All they know is that others are their enemies; they are unable to view people as creations of God. They only look at the negative aspect of events and fail to take account of their positive aspects.
Muslims today have coined a new term, that is, Islamophobia. This means that the West has wrongly come to regard Islam as danger to non-Muslims. This, however, is not actually the case. I think this term would be more apt with a slight change. That is, the term should be ‘Muslimophobia’.
Muslims have adopted the culture of violence in the name of Islam. In this sense the West is right to consider Muslims to be dangerous. Yet Islam, in itself, is a great blessing from God for the whole of humanity. But the present Muslims, due to their wrong interpretation of their own religion, have misinterpreted Islam as a religion of violence.
Muslimophobia addresses Muslims rather than anyone else. It is telling Muslims to abandon the wrong interpretation of Islam and shun the gun and bomb culture, so that people may be saved from developing misunderstandings about Islam. In this way, people will be able to have a positive understanding of God’s blessing which has been sent for them by God in the form of Islam.
In view of the present situation, the question is, where is the silver lining? In the modern age Muslim reformers should focus on the Muslim youth. In his early, formative years, a person is relatively free from conditioning and is thus in a position to view things objectively and examine events in an unbiased manner. Our efforts should begin by trying to inculcate positive thinking in Muslims while they are still very young.
The new generation of Muslims is our hope, especially those who are availing of modern education. Modern education is helping in their de-conditioning. They are able to see the world in a more objective way and are developing the ability to understand things in a more realistic manner. It is these Muslim youths who are our hope for the future.