There is no need to always look for external forces to see what actually is harmful for Islam. We should first look inside ourselves. Like the inhuman and hate-filled practices such as those of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, al-Shabaab in Somalia and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the savage actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria give rise to Islamophobia. The atrocities committed by fanatics bring down troubles on the entire Islamic world. Islamophobia is spreading across the world because of a handful of fanatics; the savage practices of fanatical belief terrify the world.
Two hundred female students between 12 to 15 years old were kidnapped in the Nigerian state of Borno on April 15th; eight more girls were seized on May 6th. Boko Haram, alleged to have links to al-Qaeda, assumed responsibility for these inhuman actions. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau continues his defiance and issues threats saying he will sell the girls into slavery.
Hundreds of acts of terror supposedly committed in the name of Islam by numerous radical organizations have taken place in Africa in the last 50 years. These organizations use violence to try to impose their own beliefs and living systems. Boko Haram says it does not want to see a scientific and European-style education system in Nigeria; their very name means “Western education is forbidden.” They therefore attack schools, students and state institutions. The terror organization killed 50 people, 42 of them students, in an attack on a school boarding house in the state of Yobe in September 2013. In the last year, this radical organization is responsible for the deaths of more than 1,500 people.
The USA offered assistance to Nigeria in the wake of the seizure of the female students. However both the USA and the European countries have largely failed to produce policies that lead to success when it comes to dealing with radicalism. As talk of “eliminating radicalism through force” rises in the West, it leads to the radicals who declare the Western world to be “the enemy” to resort to violence even more. Radicals attract supporters by spreading propaganda saying that the West is a foe preparing to destroy them. Victims of violence turn to violence and those who have access to guns use guns. Hatred and violence do nothing but incite further hatred and violence. As a result, every death, invasion or war turns into an agent that strengthens radical propaganda; it creates what's known as a positive feedback loop.
Contrary to what people think, fanaticism is not an unconscious and blind system. Fanaticism is the name given to a “dark philosophy of life” furnished with misinformation. People in it are loveless and sick at heart.
For example, Boko Haram is opposed to Western education, but engages in intensive educational efforts using its own sources filled with superstitions. It regards the Holy Qur’an, the main source of Islam, as insufficient - may Allah forbid - and fabricates hundreds of rules based on false and unrealistic sources. As a result of these perverse and sinister philosophies, they issue fatwas concerning the kidnapping of female students, selling them into slavery or otherwise legitimizing violence. The members of this group therefore lose the ability to judge and analyze by the light of the true Islam and imagine that they are in fact on the true path. At this point, one needs to reconsider the issue: Since radicalism is based on a false belief, all it needs is education with the truth. Indeed, teachers of love who will tell people of Islam using true sources, who are capable of approaching people with love, friendship, brotherhood, peace and reason, and of telling them of love and compassion need to be supported.
Fanaticism can be treated. Their sickness, fears and doubts can be overcome through systematic and scientific educational mobilization, without hating the fanatics. That is how they can be re-integrated into society. It is important to understand their concerns in striving against radicalism and to build a solution accordingly.
The underlying reason why a fanatic opposes science, technology and Western-style education is that he fears these concepts will undermine his own beliefs; he tends to believe that science is used against religion. The fact is, however, that all scientific advances prove the truth of the divine faiths. The hostile attitudes of the fanatics can be quite easily done away with by including these scientific advances in education systems. This education system will also prevent the emergence of new fanatics. If people are intellectually, philosophically and culturally equipped with accurate information about Islam, then fanaticism will lose the very support it needs in society in order to function.
In truth, misogyny – another issue commplace among those with the fanatical mindset - is a long-standing historical problem as well and we must not look for it only among fanatical Islamic groups. Bearing in mind that women across the world were only given the right to vote and stand for the office in the 20th Century, we can see a very twisted attitude toward them in many societies and belief systems. These rights were finally bestowed in 1944 in France and in 1971 in Switzerland. Abuse of and violence toward women is at very high levels, even in the European countries we consider to be the most civilized. Women have been regarded as half-human for thousands of years. Yet in the Qur’an, men and women are equal in all respects. This is clearly explained in the 13th verse of the Surat al-Hujurat.
As it is seen clearly, there is a world of difference among the false sources used by the fanatics and the Qur’an, the true source of Islam. Let us remind ourselves of the one thing that urgently needs to be done – education.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Harakah Daily: