PEACETALK: Addressing Religious Violent Extremism from an ideological framework: Some thoughts for consideration

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Many social scientists have looked into violent extremism and many have always talked about socio-economic contexts and conditions as the push and pull factors in facilitating the rise of religious extremism.

What many social scientists forget is that there is an ideological condition in this challenge, the ideology that has been called by others as “jihadist” or Takfiri.” It is an ideology that espouses religious exclusivity and salvation, social hate and anger against non-Islamist society, non-adherents of their ideology and against non-Muslims. This then forms the theological basis for violence against adherents of other faiths or Muslims who do not agree with their perspectives.

This has permeated many Muslims throughout the globe, most especially when there are socio-economic injustices that are present. These are the justifications that these religious extremists use to radicalize young Muslims and recruit them towards violent extremism.

This ideology espouses closed minded thinking and does not respect religious, intellectual and cultural differences. Viewing the need to address this, government should include several key policies that may directly address this.

Considering that the government has been engaged in a multiple stakeholders approach, also known as whole of nation approach, it is important as well that Government considers the following actions:

First, Government as a policy can suggest to educational and cultural institutions the inclusion of the following foundational documents:

  1. A Common Word ( www.acommonword.com/the-acw-documen… ), an interfaith document signed by Muslim scholars highlighting the acceptance of the two commandments to be present in Islam and Christianity, “Loving God” and “Loving neighbor”. This is important so that Muslims would openly welcome the concept of respect for non-Muslims and respect for Christians.
  2. Amman Message ( www.ammanmessage.com ). This is a document signed by different Muslims scholars recognizing the many schools of thought in Islam as well as recognizing that diversity of understanding in Islam, that it recognizes and respects all Muslims regardless of school of thought, respect and jurisprudence. This document clarifies that Muslims should not shed blood of fellow Muslims on the basis of differences of belief and are required to respect them.
  3. Letter to Baghdadi (www.lettertobaghdadi.com). This letter was signed by Muslim scholars explaining why DAESH/ISIS is misguided and that what are the theological and textual references to prove that DAESH is un-Islamic.
  4. Marrakesh Declaration ( www.marrakeshdeclaration.org/ ). is a declaration of Muslim scholars on how non-Muslim minorities are to be treated. This document was signed as a response to the abuses done by DAESH against non-Muslim minorities and is a guide to Muslims on how to engage with non-Muslims when they are the majority.
  5. Charter of Madina or also known as the Madina Constitution (www.constitution.org/cons/medina/ka… ), a theological document of the first government of Muslims in Madina which clearly defined community and Muslim to non-Muslim relationships from a communal to state level.

To exclude these documents in the ideological discourse means there is a serious attempt to avoid addressing the ideological roots of extremism.

Second, minimize sending of Muslim scholars to countries that support or predominately practice the religious ideology of Jihadi or Takfiri Islam and should engage with institutions coming from countries that support Moderate Islam such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt and Yemen. as these are the countries where originally Filipino traditionalist Islam which is moderate in nature comes from.

Thirdly, Government must support these Moderate Islamic scholars and groups who shall partner with government in crafting counter-narratives and assist in recovering communities that have been penetrated by Radical, Jihadi and Takfiri ideologies.

Together with these policies, Local government should organize local bodies with the function of engaging with Muslim communities along participatory governance, interfaith and intercultural dialogue. These can be made possible by creating Muslim Consultative Councils and Interfaith Councils. These are both possible through passage of local legislations creating such councils as allowed by the Local government code.

These councils shall then in addition to the regular Interfaith and participatory processes that Muslims shall be invited to join in include the five aforementioned theological documents to be discussed and implemented in these councils.

Lastly, we should formulate a concept of Active Citizenship and Nationalism, which will incorporate important elements of Nationalism, patriotism, citizenship and Nation-building. This concept should be incorporated with these policies.

Together these policies could in a way help Muslim Filipinos counter violent extremism in their communities.

If we wish to avoid an Aleppo scenario or a repeat of the Marawi siege, it is but very urgent these steps be undertaken.  (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her thoughts on peace in Mindanao. Yusuf Roque Morales is currently Commissioner representing Muslim Minorities (Sama Tribe) at the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and a member of the Board of Advisers of Al-Qalam Institute for Muslim Identities, Ateneo de Davao University, a Consultant for Muslim and IP concerns of the Social Development Council, Ateneo De Zamboanga University and adviser to the Indigenous Peoples Council of Leaders of Zamboanga city and of Salaam Ateneo de Manila University.  He is currently a visiting lecture to several service academies and schools in the uniformed services of the Philippines)

 

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