Explosions, first at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in Turkey, then in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Baghdad, the deadliest bombing in Iraq in 13 years, have moved the fight against Islamic State (IS) to the forefront of the international agenda. They also prompted lengthy discussions on security measures and comprehensive airstrikes in Syria.
However, many people seemed to have forgotten the fact one of the biggest coalitions the world has ever seen has already been fighting the radical organisation of IS. Many didn’t even mention the fact that large-scale bombardments have been underway to reclaim the areas of Syria and Iraq captured by IS. Maybe if these facts were also discussed, many could have realised that security-oriented solutions cannot really be the solution.
IS is retreating at particular points; but even a military defeat of IS simply lays the foundations for the next group of extremists, just as surely as Al Qaeda in Iraq laid the foundations for what is now IS. Defeating a militant group, regardless of whatever moniker it is going by, does nothing to defeat the underlying ideological basis that drives it and similar ones.
Most of the time, the members of these radical groups choose a lifestyle that can be defined as radical bigotry. Some people wrongly think that bigots have certain ideas that they follow blindly without giving any thought to it. However the situation often is the complete opposite. It is true that in some cases radical and deeply reactionary ideas are adopted due to ignorance and lack of education, but sometimes they are deliberately adopted after years of training.
The radical bigots that receive this kind of training have the unswerving belief that what they have been taught is, in fact, the most accurate interpretation of life and they start to deliberately and willingly espouse these ideas. In other words, radicalism does not always stem from a lack of education; it can often be obtained through a deliberate and conscious educational choice.
People with this ideology pass on their traditions in a highly disciplined manner, with education in the family, at school, etc; in other words, the indoctrination of superstitious bigotry begins at childhood and proceeds in a systemic manner.
Since most of the time the parents had also received similar training in their youth, their actions do not necessarily clash with the education their kids are receiving. This further cements those bigoted beliefs in young minds. For this reason, a child who is raised in a radical family usually has little choice but to develop a similar mindset.
This understanding that considers the Qur’an to be insufficient and which argues that religion can be learned only from certain scholars and their books, creates a life full of hatred.
It is very wrong to think that such hatred can be stopped just by heavier security measures and more heavily-armed police or soldiers at shopping malls, airports and borders.
There is only one effective method to stop this threat resulting from hatred and anger; using the Internet, TV, radio and other mass media outlets more effectively than the bigots do and offer a more comprehensive counter-ideological education. If the bigots have, let’s say, 1,000 websites preaching hatred and violence, we should have at least tens of thousands of websites spreading love, brotherhood and unity.
Muslims should work to develop an understanding that only takes the Qur’an as a guide. For this, large-scale educational programmes, works to purify Islamic books of fabricated hadiths and superstitions and a broad-based education of the people with the true solutions based on the Qur’an are required. In schools, social media, press, on TV, the perils of bigotry and the importance of the peace and love that the true Islam brings, should be explained.
It’s clear that we are facing an ideological and intellectual problem. Therefore it can be countered only with a counter-education and ideology. Military operations alone cannot defeat ideas. For every IS member killed, scores of new ones will arise with stronger feelings of vengeance. IS can be stopped only with education, with the pure Islam found in the Qur’an and a thorough-going education based on that.
The biggest duty, no doubt, falls on Muslim countries and their respective leaders. It is obvious that such an effort will require serious changes in educational systems. Furthermore, a grassroots educational campaign first and foremost targeting children and their families, accompanied by seminars, would be extremely helpful.
When all Muslims, Sunni or Shia, adopt true Qur’anic moral values and embrace everyone with a spirit of friendship, love, brotherhood, respect and solidarity, the separation between different Muslim sects will be eliminated. Leaders of the Islamic world, setting examples with their loving, embracing, democratic, just attitudes and with a particular focus on love and brotherhood, should work together to build a common language of love. This will be the beginning of a new and peaceful era when problems are solved not through military methods, but through policies of love.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Gulf Times & The Hans India: