Latest newsletter #160 Click to read online

Islam Identity Crisis at the Core of Radicalisation

Abridged article by Hussain Nadim, doctoral candidate, University of Sydney

The tendency amongst the Muslim community leaders to remain in denial about the problem with religion is what is driving the identity crisis. Muslim community leaders in Australia are rarely on the same page - except for when it comes to criticising the government's counter-radicalisation efforts. All stand united against the government for its lack of understanding the issue of radicalisation and not "consulting" them with important policy decisions on the subject. Yet, when you talk to most of these Muslim community leaders on identifying the problem and proposing tangible solutions one can't help but notice their rudimentary understanding of the subject offering little beyond textbook prescription to focus more on "socio-economic" issues and conducting "true consultations" with the Muslim community leaders.

For a start, the overwhelming claim by Muslim community leaders that "research" suggests socio-economic and political issues drive radicalisation is not only erroneous but reveals a primitive understanding of the debate on the subject... Most of the notorious terrorists including Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed come from educated, middle-class or upper-class backgrounds.......
Moreover, the idea that the "problem lies not with Islam, nor even with some of the Muslims but with the environment Muslims are currently in" has no legs, since Sikhs and numerous other migrant communities are in equal if not lower socio-economic and political conditions than Muslims all over the world but without the radicalisation and terrorism prevalent in their communities.

This tendency amongst the Muslim community leaders to remain in denial about the problem with religion is what is driving the identity crisis which is leading to radicalisation among Muslim youth. Why is it so hard to accept that there is in fact a problem with Islam - the way it is being used? Especially, when the trend of abusing and misusing Islam is nothing new, nor is radicalisation. Almost a thousand years back al-Ma'arri (circa 1010), a Muslim poet, criticised what he then saw as hate and radicalisation preached at mosques, arguing that nearer to God are those people that keep a distance from such preaching.......
The uneasy fact is that Islam is in desperate need of internal reforms that have been delayed to this point where the religion is being damaged from within causing serious identity crisis amongst the Muslim youth. And it is this very identity crisis that is at the core of radicalisation problem leading young Muslims to fall prey to terrorist propaganda joining Islamic State and other militant groups. As long as those at the helms of power in the Muslim community remain in constant denial blaming the government, the "environment" and anything else while ignoring the real issues, deradicalisation will not prove easy.

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