Islamic fundamentalism.

Adhering to a religious script in a very specific, strict manner is known as fundamentalism. In this particular piece, I’m going to talk about how Islamic fundamentalism,not Islam has given rise to terrorism in the 21st century and how extremist organisations gain their followers.

Islam was founded in the 7th century CE. Its message was spread by Prophet Muhammad, Muslims believe that there is only one God (Allah) who is merciful, all-powerful and unique. They consider the Koran as their holy book and believe everything written in it as the verbatim of God. Over time Islam has developed several factions within itself where each faction has their own way of interpreting the holy text and this is what has given rise to Islamic fundamentalism. These are the Sunnis , the Shias and the fairly new, extremist school of thought called Wahabism.

To understand Islamic fundamentalism we must take into account that due to early colonialists drawing boundaries without fully understanding ethnic differences and now modern Russian and American interests , the middle east where the religion followed by the masses is Islam, is a region which has constantly been in turmoil. To retaliate against this Western interference, several independent leaders and preachers have used Islam as a mobilising force to convince people to rebel against this and therefore given rise to so called Islamic fundamentalism.

Let’s for instance consider this hypothetical world where the scenario was reversed, i.e , the middle eastern countries were the dominant force and the Americas and Europe was a turmoil stricken region due to interests of the middle eastern countries. It is equally likely that in this case it would be western preachers and independent leaders who would use the religion followed by their masses (Christianity) as a mobilising force and wage war against their Eastern intruders. The world ,then would’ve seen the rise of a so called Christian fundamentalism movement. In this case terrorism would grow out of Christian fundamentalism and not the religion of Christianity itself. It is therefore very important to understand, Islam doesn’t promote violent terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism does.

Let us now explore the shortcomings of the Koran and how it has aided the rise of fundamentalists. Koran as a holy scripture is very ambiguous and therefore it has allowed several extremist factions to emerge within Islam. These extremists explain the meanings of several verses to their followers in a way which is far from the originally intended interpretation. Let us take Jihad for example. Several modern readers , as soon as they read the word Jihad , they picture black ISIS flags, be-headings, guns etc. This is what extremist groups have led their followers and the world to believe. Jihad is far from violence against fellow human beings. The Koran states that Jihad means ‘striving’ or ‘struggling’ for a ‘praiseworthy aim’. The ambiguity of the phrase ,”a praiseworthy aim” is thoroughly exploited by fundamentalists and they’ve convinced their followers that carrying an armed struggle against the Western forces is a praise worthy aim and if they die they’ll be ‘shahids'(martyrs) and will reach ‘jannat’ (heaven), thereby brainwashing their naive , uneducated followers.

Rich Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia provide extensive monetary aid to extremist organisations as they are extremely devout to their cause. This helps them extend Islamic influence around the world. Although, there is nothing wrong with this , these organisations spread the message of the religion in an extremely radical manner which promotes the rise of fundamentalism. These acute thoughts are instilled in an individual from a very young age which forms their core foundation of thinking in line with these extremist views. These organisations have cracked the code of spreading their message, once they plant an idea and make it a strong foundation of one’s thinking it is bound to be passed from one generation to the next. Even if the organisation dies, the idea will prevail, which in fact is their ulterior motive in most cases. So any one learning in these ‘madrasah’ won’t be able to see any flaws in what they’ve learnt over the years. It’s as simple as, if a child is taught ‘2+2=5’ from the beginning and this is reinforced time and again by the time they grow up will firmly believe this to be true and no matter what anyone else says, it’s very unlikely that it’s going to change anything.

So, why would parents choose to send their kids to these madrasahs? One is quite simply because that is the education they received when they were young (idea planted and passed on the next generation) and the other is because some parents simply lack the funds to send their child to an ordinary school. These institutions pledge to take care of the child i.e , their education, food, health, everything. This is a very valuable investment for these organisations as in return they get firm loyalty from their students which help them advance their political cause in ‘guise of religious belief.