Cult Friction

At my old job, a while ago, we were sitting watching the tv in the staff room. The news was on, and one of the stories featured Sarkozy. Involuntarily, I grimace.
A colleague asks me, “So you’re not a fan of Sarkozy then?”.
“Definitely not. I’m just glad I’m not a French Muslim.”
“I can understand that”.
“Yeah, I have to say, the U.K is definitely a good place be Muslim, compared to most countries in Europe.”
“Then why do we have such violent extremists here?”
“I don’t know… I don’t understand it at all”.

I didn’t know what else to say. His question was a valid one and I did not know how to answer it.

I have to point out something that is very obvious, but rarely stated:

Violent extremists are just as frightening and perturbing to Muslims as they are to Non-Muslims, because they care as little for the lives of other Muslims as they do for anyone else. To them, we are either not true believers, or we should be happy to die.

Indeed, death will come to us all, as Allah the Almighty and Glorious wills it, but it’s fair to say that I don’t want to be blown to bits while sitting on a bus and I’m sure my coreligionists feel similarly.

So why do these people attempt or carry out such violent acts? Firstly, I do not accept U.K foreign policy as a valid excuse or justification. The vast majority of the U.K people are opposed to the Iraq and to intervention in Afghanistan. The 15/02/03 protect against the Iraq war was the largest in U.K history. I was there and can testify to how colossal it was.

I’m tired of whataboutery. We know our deen. Injustice in Iraq, Palestine or anywhere else will not be stopped by a burning car at Glasgow airport. Such acts are not just futile, they are gravely sinful. The vast, overwhelming majority of Muslims know this, so why are some deluded into thinking otherwise?

The key phrase here is deluded. Their mind has been deceived, twisted. How has this happened?

Brother Tariq Nelson and Brother Hood, both wrote excellent posts about the cult mentality of some Muslims and Muslim movements.

Recently, at a programme of presentations aimed at converts to Islam, I attended a talk by a charity called the Cult Information Centre (CIC). The talk focused on what a cult is and their techniques of psychological coercion. The congruence with cases of suicide/attempted suicide bombers were astounding.

CIC defines psychological coercion as having two basic principles:

1. If you can make a person BEHAVE the way you want, you can make that person BELIEVE the way you want.

2. Sudden, drastic changes in environment lead to heightened suggestibility and to drastic changes in attitudes and beliefs.

So what now? I think a key is to educate our young about the dangers of such groups and thinking. Just saying “These actions are haraam”, is not enough, we must equip our community to recognise the tactics of such groups and why they are dangerous.

Some people at the talk were unhappy that a non-Muslim was talking about such things to Muslims. It’s seen as dirty laundry. Well this ‘dirty laundry’ affects everyone and we need to fix it, without squeamishness or short cuts.


8 Responses

  1. Wonderful post, absolutely wonderful post.

    I did a couple of papers in the uni about racial/religious radicalization in the face of marginalization. It focused a lot on how when children of immigrants or immigrant children are racially/religiously marginalized by a society they have something similar to a knee-jerk reaction and radicalize themselves either on race or religion or both.

    US/Europe/UK are prime petri-dishes for just that sort of marginalization and vis a vis radicalization.

    This makes me want to write another one.


    Great post.

  2. I was wondering myself why the UK, where Muslims are arguably getting by better than Muslims in the French “suburbs” or in Holland, where they’re getting treated like a cancer lately, seem to produce more extremists (Anyone who blames the Paris riots on Islamic extremism is a f-g idiot). Paradoxically, I wonder if I’m answering my own questions there; it seems like a lot of UK radicals (the foot soldiers, not as much with the imams) have relatively prosperous parents who are westernized, often somewhat secular, etc, or are converts (obviously not referring to anyone like you here). It’s people who were confused, looking for something, and latched onto it. A lot of people, and this is in any movement or ideology, not just Islam, automatically think more extreme=more authentic. Seeing desi youth in the UK who sport white shalwar kameez and beards while their parents wear suits and dresses is almost surreal, and while I don’t want to relate it to terrorism (I don’t feel there’s any connection), I think the hardcore, uncompromising versions of Islam, whether on a lifestyle or political level, are more enticing. I mean, you don’t see many first generation immigrants from the Muslim world to the UK who act as crazy as Abu Usamah, whether secular or highly religious. Just my 2, I lived in the UK briefly 5 years ago, before I was a Muslim, so it’s possible I’m a bit out of touch.

  3. I like the term “whataboutery”!!!

  4. Salaam Alaikum,

    Molly – Thanks. I’d like to read a post about your findings.

    Dave – I think the worrying part is that lots of the people involved in these acts are not necessarily confused or isolated. The Glasgow Airport incident I referred to was carried out by a medical doctor and PhD student. They were both from abroad and had come here for short term work. This tallies with the CIC research that people susceptible to cultism are often highly educated and economically advantaged.

    I don’t think it’s as simple as confused + anger at UK foreign policy = sucide bomber. Something else is happening and I think psychological coercion is a massive part of that.

    MMW – I can’t take credit for the term. It arises from the Northern Ireland conflict. To quote the Slugger O’Toole website:

    “Some years back the BBC quoted Cardinal Cahal Daly as having described Whataboutery as “the commonest form of moral evasion in Ireland today”, referring to how both communities use the terrible burden of past events to lay obstacles in the way of peace.”

  5. I couldn’t find one single ayah or hadith or sunnah that legislates violence in the name of ‘Islam’ as being portrayed in the media todway so it’s mainly the wrong interpretations and wrong applications from ‘Muslims’ and hereby the two cases are totally different.

  6. Salaam Alaikum and welcome to my blog, Hicham.

    While I totally agree with you about the media misrepresntation of Islam, I’m not quite sure which “two cases are totally different”. Would you care to elaborate?

  7. “Violent extremists are just as frightening and perturbing to Muslims as they are to Non-Muslims, because they care as little for the lives of other Muslims as they do for anyone else. To them, we are either not true believers, or we should be happy to die.”

    Assalamu alaikom
    You know, you’ve summed up this sentiment so succinctly, and I appreciate it… It usually takes me many more words than this to express myself regarding this issue. Thanks!

  8. Salaam Alaikum,

    Thanks you sister and welcome to my blog.

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