The Futile Search for a Silver Bullet for Deradicalization

A friend of mine sent me this blog (see the URL below) from one of India’s most respected newspapers, The Hindu.  I read all essays and books that deal with radicalization and that of deradicalization.  Thus far, I haven’t read anything that persuaded me to say that, indeed, we have found a silver bullet against those phenomena.  But my search continues.

If an economist is writing about these subjects, he/she would lean toward explanations underscoring economic deprivation and the resultant anger as part of the reason for radicalization, as the essay below quotes Princeton University Professor Alan B. Krueger’s work on the subject.  If a political scientist or a sociologist is the author, he/she opts for politico-social variables as reasons for radicalization.  But psychologists remain a source of hope to me, even though all psychological studies that I have seen on the subject are far from being labelled as impressive; even though most of them who have studied these issues seem think that they really understand them and have found ways to cure, if not counter, radicalization.

Blaming Islam is another convenient way out by depicting the radicals as “crazy ones,” brainwashed by half-educated mullahs.  I know, the law enforcement groups and intelligence agencies of Western and Muslim countries have their own respective versions of explanations and silver bullets.

Perhaps the ultimate way to comprehend these phenomena is that there is no one single cause that is generating radicalization of young Muslims worldwide.  What we need to do is to reexamine all major works on radicalization, especially the deradicalization programs, in all major Islamic countries to see where the real success has been and then find ways to further polish those tactics to deradicalize other jihadists.

No one approach may have all the answers to explain radicalization.  Thus, no one discipline should be relied upon to prepare deradicalization programs.  Thus, perhaps we need mega-theories explaining the causes of radicalization and then use multiple disciplines to develop effective countermeasures (deradicalization).

“The ABC of radicalisation”

Will Obama’s Principled Pragmatism Be Emulated by His Successor?

Principled Pragmatism Implemented

One of the greatest features of President Barack Obama’s legacy is his exercise of “principled pragmatism.” Fredrik Logevall, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Professor of International Relations at Harvard, uses this term to describe Obama’s reluctance to seek military solutions to the conflicts during his two terms. This is an umbrella phrase that also describes Obama’s unique frame of reference, or even his grand strategy, to deal with America’s allies and foes. He has made it clear to our allies that America will not fight a war that they initiate in their own neighborhoods. The United States will examine all evolving crises and determine how each of those crises is affecting America’s vital interests and then determine the course of action regarding them. Continue reading “Will Obama’s Principled Pragmatism Be Emulated by His Successor?”

Ibn Taymiyya Under Public Scrutiny

In Saudi Arabia, teenaged twins are under government custody for killing their mother.  Her “crime” was that she was stopping them from joining ISIS.  A Saudi writer, Mohammad Ali al-Mahmoud, told Reuters, “Had this [murder of a mother] come from drug addicts or ignorant youth, it would not have been unusual.  The shock is that it came from a pair of religious children acting in the name of Islam.” An additional shocking aspect is that its goes directly against one of the basic doctrines of Islam that requires the respect and honor of parents, especially the mother, by the offspring.

Saudi Arabia is currently having “an impassioned debate” of whether the killing of a mother was justified on the basis of the Takfiri doctrine, which was the brainchild of Imam Ibn Taymiyya, “one of Islam’s most forceful theologians, who, as a member of the Pietist school founded by Ibn Ḥanbal.”  The Saudi government is not having any part of blaming Ibn Taymiyya, because Wahhabism, in reality, is inspired by the writings of Ibn Taymiyya.  The government’s position is typified in a statement issued by the Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister, Saleh bin Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh.  He was quoted as saying that, “Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa allowing a son to kill his father had been taken out of context.”  Any informed reader of Imam Taymiyya’s writings would dismiss that statement as a flimsy one.

In the ongoing public debate inside Saudi Arabia, “several writers and scholars said it was time to remove the sanctity from traditional theology that permits such actions, saying ancient teachings are not always appropriate in the modern age.”  That is precisely the point.

The entire writings of Ibn Taymiyya need to be publicly discussed in order to conclude that his doctrinal positions justifying violence and killing—which are wholeheartedly incorporated by ISIS to spread bloody mayhem in several Western and Muslim countries—need to be abandoned.  In the aftermath of the recent terrorist action inside its borders, the government of Saudi Arabia must consider playing a leading role in that discussion.