I’ve just finished watching a video of the new (at time of writing) British Prime Minister Theresa May reciting lines from the Quran in order to ‘prove’ that it’s a religion of peace and then going on to make the popular claim that ISIS is ‘nothing to do with Islam’.
While it’s clearly wrong to suggest that Islam is solely to blame for ISIS, I believe that it’s equally wrong to claim that the two are unrelated and to essentially exonerate Islam from blame. Naturally, Theresa May does so in order to ‘prove’ that she’s a progressive PM and combat the ideas people have of her already, based on her past actions, now that they are inconvenient to her. Ironic. The problem with making such claims, aside from the obvious disingenuous nature of them, is that the only people profiting from this are ISIS themselves.
Radicalisation made easy
If you follow a religion based on an ancient text which, like all ancient texts, can be interpreted in many different ways by different people, and then raise your children from birth to believe that this text is the literal word of an all powerful, intangible overlord who is always correct and holds the fate of the entire universe in his hands (but also really cares how you cut your hair, or whether you eat specific foods), and must never be questioned, then, in many cases at least, you’re inadvertently teaching your children how to be followers. In some cases, this can, and as we’ve seen, does help others to control them.
If a child has spent their entire lives allowing what they eat, what they wear, how they think and who they love, to be controlled by an ancient book to such an extreme way that deviance from this can often lead to ostracism by their own family, is it such a stretch to imagine that this same child, as an adult (or in some cases younger) could be convinced by others that this book is really telling them something else? That they are the chosen soldiers in a holy war? If the child has become disillusioned with how their ideas conflict with modern society, their role in life or society, then the idea that they have a ‘higher calling’ as a Jihadist soldier might be rather more compelling.
Of course, this is not to suggest that everyone who is raised in Islamic culture will be an easy target for ISIS by any stretch, but those who are vulnerable will always be targets. ISIS use Islam as the basis for their recruitment precisely because they know that it makes for easy recruitment. Half of their work has already been done for them!
A world of peace
Sadly, in this modern era of hand wringing and claiming bigotry or victimisation at every criticism, it’s necessary to mention at this point, that none of these things are exclusive to Islam. Indeed, all religions are based on control and have similar ideas which must be adhered to, and some of them have their own insidious organisations which are all too eager to use this to their advantage, taking the indoctrination further and using it to breed hatred (the Westboro Baptist Church, for example), however, Islam is the one being used by ISIS to justify their attacks on both non-Mulsims and other Muslims who do not agree with them. The fact that the religion is also used to justify the human rights violations of Muslim countries who share values with ISIS (such as Saudi Arabia), helps them no end too of course.
If we successfully convince the public that there’s no need to reform Islam as other religions have done, then what we’re doing is simply keeping the status quo, and as we’ve seen, the status quo is not working. We cannot continue allowing young British Muslims to be subverted by the likes of ISIS. It’s time to change for the better and move with the times. There’s no reason that Islam cannot continue and even grow, but it must modernise and allow for a generation in Britain, who are becoming more and more disillusioned with how modern society is at odds with ancient ideas. If some of those ideas could be modernised too, then perhaps future generations could learn to truly live in peace and ISIS would be forced to recruit elsewhere.
The writings of Hemant Mehta are also worth a read in this regard.