Wherever Islam goes, so goes its ethos. The barbarity and variety of actions of Islamic extremists are seen daily around the globe, committed under the banner of Islam, and have become so commonplace that the world has come to view them as part and parcel of a troubled humanity. And from time to time, the world is shocked into a passing and momentary realization of the evil deeds these Islamist robots commit…and quickly gets over it and does nothing to seriously address this affliction of humanity.
Humankind is confronting a deeply troubling quandary. On the one hand is the aspiration of tolerant people whose objective is to forge a world of diverse people into one human society ruled by peace and respect for the inherent dignity and well-being of each member of that family. On the other, Islamic extremists are hell-bent on imposing their stone-age dogma on everyone else.
Savagery and viciousness carried out by the devotees of Muhammad in Belgium’s capital city of Brussels was another reminder that every now and then (and much more often these days), the adherents of the “Religion of Peace” are willing to massacre innocent people in cold blood in a most dastardly act of cowardice. Returning Islam to its pure and glorious roots is precisely what the “jihadists” are fighting for.
Atrocities of this magnitude not only break our hearts, but make us wonder. What compels a seemingly ordinary person to even contemplate, much less carry out, such a slaughter? How did these creatures end up carrying out all these heart-wrenching murders?
An easy answer is Islam. The life manual of Islam, the Quran, is a document of exclusion, hatred, and violence that shapes Muslims’ thinking and behavior. Sadly, Muslims themselves are the ones who are most victimized by Islamic doctrine. They have inherited this viral psychological disease of hate and violence; they live by it, and they transmit it to their children as well as to receptive others.
Qur’an 9:5 “Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.”
Islamic doctrine, like a mental retrovirus, has mutated into numerous varieties and degrees of severity over the past 1,400 years. Everyone born in a Muslim family, as well as those who convert to Islam, contract a particular mutation of the Islamic virus. As is the case with all retroviruses, the Islamic virus burrows deeply into the person and erupts from time to time, with potentially devastating consequences.
A puzzle to non-Muslims: why would any intelligent and reasonably sane person live his life by the dogma of Islam? It is particularly disconcerting when this Muslim lives in a secular non-Islamic society. The befuddlement becomes mind-boggling when seemingly educated women in free societies voluntarily submit to the yoke of Islamic misogyny.
There are a number of possible explanations to the enigma of believing in Islamic doctrine and even propagating it with zeal and violence. Some possible explanations are treated here.
For one, Islam is stamped on the impressionable mind of the child from birth. The parents and immediate members of the family are the ones who make the very first impressions on the tabula rasa of the young mind. These early impressions are the grid-work for further formation of the person’s mind and belief system. It is by far easier, as life goes on, to incorporate “items” that readily fit into the grid-work than to modify it or dismantle it altogether and begin anew. It is in recognition of the importance of early training and education that people such as Saint Augustine and Freud considered the first few years of life as critical for molding the person.
Another reason is the herd mentality – stay with the group, be one of them, and don’t strike out on your own. This strong disposition to belong is reinforced by privileges that the group bestows – social pressure, as well as the fear of castigation by the wielders of power. There are security and power in numbers – in any numbers.
A human being arrives in this world with his brains already washed in the sense of being what 17th-century English political philosopher John Locke called a “tabula rasa,” clean slate – ready for experiences to imprint its script. John Locke was only partly correct. The brain also arrives with numerous predispositions already in place (Nature and Genetics). It is a combination of life’s influences (a nurturing environment) and a person’s own decisions that determine which of these dispositions develop and which ones fail. It is through this process that a unique person is formed.
Islam is a powerful magnet for the masses who are unable to deal with the uncertainties of life and death on their own. It is from this population, many already thoroughly indoctrinated from birth, which the majority of die-hard jihadists emerge.
It is the bargain the jihadist makes. He surrenders totally to the religion of surrender in exchange for blanket security. Islam gives him all the answers he really seeks for dealing with this world and promises him a most lush and eternal paradise of Allah once he leaves it. And leaving this world in perfect submission as the foot soldier of the paradise’s creator gives the faithful unimaginably glorious sensual eternal reward in his next life. It’s a bargain that some buy in whole, some in part, while some refuse and seek other means of dealing with their questions and the unrelenting existentialistic anxiety.
The great majority of jihadists emanate from the ranks of those born into the religion of Islam, simply because they are the ones who are most thoroughly indoctrinated and influenced by the Islamic dogma in their most receptive early years. Yet there are others who embrace Islam in adulthood, on their own, and enlist themselves as devoted jihadists for the same rewards that Islam offers them.
Within this sea of surging humanity composed of some 1.5 billion Muslims, each individual believer – a drop – through a combination of choice and forces beyond his control, ends up in one of its many waves. It is the jihadist wave that is highly attractive to the deeply indoctrinated and poorly adjusted in dealing rationally and independently with life. Here, he finds the ironclad perfect solution to his anxieties and perplexities.
To a jihadist, death is nothing more than casting off a shell of the worthless earthly existence and donning the suit for winging joyously to the life of bliss promised by none other than Allah’s beloved final emissary, Muhammad.
Eradication of jihadism is a daunting task, since Islam is truly a virulent persistent pandemic disease. Massive education efforts, combined with resolute confrontation of all sources and people that support and promote this deadly philosophy, hold the best promise of dealing effectively with this affliction of humanity.
In addition to the family, places such as mosques and madrassas, Islamic associations and charitable organizations, prisons, and the like are incubators of jihadists. Massive efforts are required – on the one hand, to drain the breeding swamps of the Islamic virus, while on the other hand helping Muslims adopt an alternative perspective of life that addresses their perplexities and offers a degree of comfort that religions dispense without pitting one segment of humanity against another.
Expressions of grief are appropriate at this hour of sorrow. Yet, the civilized world must, and will, take the necessary and often painful measures to confront evil.
In short, Islam is busy with what it did from the time of its birth, fighting non-Muslims and infighting. Violence is the animating force of Islam. Islam is a religion born through violence, raised by violence; it thrives on violence and dies without violence.