Da’wah conference held to address youth radicalization PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 11:44

By PEACE KEEPER

On March 19, 2016, a one-day conference on “How to Address Youth Radicalization: Promoting Peace and Unity with Direction”, was conducted at Ma’had Maluso Al-Arabie Al-Islamie in Upper Port Holland, Maluso, Basilan. Sponsored by the Islamic Development Bank-Graduates Association (IGA) Team Philippines in the person of Mr. Tim Ijiran and hosted by Madjlis Al-Khutaba, the conference aimed to educate young Muslims, ulamas, and guru of the area on radicalization.

The first part of the conference provided venue for the speaker, Ustadz Melvin Daud, Chairman of Madjlis Al-Khutaba’, to discuss basis and understanding of radicalization and extremism among youth, looking at the political spectrum and Islamic perspectives.

Mr. Daud shared basic knowledge in Islam poses a great factor in preventing extremism among youth. “Islam calls for unity and love and we must surrender to Allah completely. We have to reinforce that surrender by ensuring good relationship and observing compliance,” he said. As Islam teaches Iman (faith), we also have to distance ourselves from what are forbidden and do the things that are commanded. He added, ‘mangadji kita marayaw supaya dih kita niyu malaung’ (Let us seek knowledge for us not to be ignorant of our own religion)

Mr. Maudi Maadil, Project Coordinator of Mindanao Industry Coordinators Network- Advocates of Peace and Human Rights, contributed to the discussion his study on radicalization and extremism among youth. He discussed that there is no exact definition of radicalization. But, generally, it is a process of mobilizing an individual or group as they come to adopt an increasing extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that undermine the status quo, contemporary ideas, and expressions of freedom of choice. Radicalization can be both violent and nonviolent, although literature focuses on radicalization in violent extremism.

He discussed that radicalism can serve as a catalyst in pushing for progress. Radicalization does not immediately equate to terrorism and that there is a difference between ‘radicalism’ and ‘extremism’. Radicalism remains open to differences in political thinking but extremism is closed to any other political thinking and it promotes the use of violence even on civilians to further its cause. Radicalization can be linked to extremism if the ideologies of the group promote and glorify the use of violence including human rights violation.

The question of identity can be traced as the main reason for radicalization. There are rumors of the presence of ISIS in Zamboanga and that Facebook is being used as an instrument for their recruitment, exploiting the vulnerability of youth in terms of their identity. Truly, if one cannot understand radicalization then one cannot draw its effects.

In order to counter radicalization, Mr. Maadil said that strong family ties must be given primacy. There is a huge challenge in propagating Islam easily when problems in the community cannot be addressed. Society has a huge influence on the youth. It is where their attitude change gradually until they could not be controlled by their parents. Parents and elders have a great responsibility to the youth to know their friends and the community they belong to be able to guide them accordingly.

He stressed that educating the youth on radicalization starts in the family and at home. Terrorists have certain twisted ideologies as Muslim. He cited that suicide bombing is considered by many as Jihad. This act is said to be done in order to enter ‘sulgah’ (Paradise) as the bomber’s twisted faith teaches. A child can perceive this as true even when it is not. A consensus among this group has formed that religious beliefs poorly explain suicide bombing, and that other situational factors are far more significant, such as concrete grievances and self-esteem issues on the part of the bomber.

Ustadz Asjalul asked ‘unu in hinangun para dih ma radicalized in mga Muslim? (what needs to be done for the Muslim not to be radicalized?) Ustadz Melvin reminded the basic knowledge in Islam mentioned earlier. Muslims who perform sambahayang (prayer) are somehow typecast as sinless. But he told everyone that this is not the case. What truly matters is to obey what is commanded and detach oneself from what is forbidden. In connection with this,  Mr. Abdulham Mohammad, Secretary of Madjlis Al-khutaba, said that there are two (2) general guidelines on how to fight or address radicalization and they are the Hadith  and the Qur’an. We must also understand that each one of us has different level of ability, and leadership, much more different level of pangadji.  He said there are groups where their agamah is oppressed and we should not be surprised if they will step forward someday. There is no need to blame them, he said, but what we must do instead is to mangadji (seek krowledge) and this will give us direction.

Mr. Ijiran summed the discussion to one thing—ilmuh (knowledge). A Muslim must have IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional quotient), but what matters most is SQ (spiritual quotient). The formula IQ + EQ + SQ = CMCP (Committed Muslims and Competent Professionals) can address radicalization.

Mr. Maadil, added the struggle against terrorism in the name of religion is first and foremost a battle against “extremist ideology.” It is a radical interpretation of religion that leads to numerous violent actions, so the most effective way to stop terrorism is to refute the extremist ideas that nurture it, before people progress to the stage of terror attack recruitment, planning preparation and execution. The process of radicalization predominantly occurs online. Restriction and filtering initiatives alone are ineffective in tackling online radicalization. While the internet is an important primary socializer and potential catalyst for radicalization, offline initiatives are better in prevention, particularly within mosques, Islamic centers and universities. Apologist and sympathizers of ISIS and other violent extremist groups should not be given a platform at the Mosques, Islamic Centers and Universities in order to radicalize young Muslims, even when these sympathizers speak on non-violent issues, exposing young Muslims to them is dangerous.

These days call for peaceful revolution, and we are in need of committed Muslims and competent professionals where a Muslim can be able to balance his faith and the academe. Apart from the conference, the team is planning to conduct madrasah visitation which will start on April 2016.

According to Mr. Ijiran, the team dreams of bringing Muslim youth ‘outside the box’.