Onislam.net/ How to Protect Muslim Youth From Extremism-1

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SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Radicalization amongst the youth is a problem in nearly all communities, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or upbringing.

Effects, in itself, unfortunately, are also seen through the Muslim youth of today, who are mostly surrounded by misconceptions about Islam.

These misconceptions are propagated through the media or through their own culturally-inclined communities.

Other factors include diverse ideologies within the Muslim society, the lack of a correct understanding of Islam; and discrimination from the communities that surround them.

Whether one grows up in the West or in more traditional settings, it is easy for young adults to fall prey to violent and dangerous tendencies, filled with hatred and animosity, in the name of Islam – while having nothing to do with the religion.

As those raising the next generation – which essentially represents the future of the Ummah – it is wise to be aware of such radicalization, and the misguidance, as well as frustrations and enmity, that fuel them.

In staying connected to the youth, adults are able to provide a healthy outlet of expression and open lines of communication before driving teens to unhealthy tendencies that involve extremism, and worse still, violence in the name of our faith.

Brutal honesty is needed to address this problem, lest it persists, and it pays to pay heed to the perspective of the youth before becoming judgmental and arrogant in our right.

But why is radicalism happening?

What can we do to prevent it? And what more can we do to channel their energy into positive endeavors instead of allowing negative influences to fester?

There is a great need to rethink the youth of today, as we reform their education and mould it into a cohesive one. Similarly, providing the youth an outlet of expression will help mitigate the harshness of the environment they live in and turn them into a thriving community of their own, all within the guidelines of Shari’ah.

Rethinking the Youth of Today

The Muslim youth stand at the foot of an Islamic renaissance with the amount of resources readily available and the diverse knowledge as per the Sunnah that is readily being shared by scholars who have a wide access to information dissemination.

However, due to excessive information, exposure, and sometimes conflicting messages imbued by culturally-inclined families, many messages tend to get lost in translation and are often misinterpreted.

Education really begins at home, and with the problems of youth being “recruited” for the purpose of radicalization, in the false name of Islam, this sends a resounding message to families to take education of the young seriously.

Islamic education has taken a back seat in the West, especially when children are enrolled in State schools, and Islamic schools operate mostly in the evenings or on the weekends. Muslim families need to play a more integral role in safeguarding their children’s roles in developing the ummah, but this can only happen if parents themselves are well-acquainted with the Quran and the Sunnah.

Seeing as we live in a time where knowledge is readily available through different scholars and institutions that teach very closely to the Quran and Sunnah, this is a call to break away from misconceptions of the faith that can hurt the youth. Keeping the majority of the youth close to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah will in turn discourage the expansion of fringe groups that will wither away in the long run.

But taking a step back, there needs to be a change in mindset amongst culturally-inclined families too. Breaking these cultural mindsets is important because negative baggage and understanding of the deen can impede the actual cohesiveness of the ummah.

A cultural understanding of Islam (especially when Muslims tend to stick to those of their own nationality or race), can breed the ill feelings of “’asabiyyah,” where one community feels an “entitled superiority” over others. This naturally causes prejudice and distrust, even amongst the Muslim ummah and conjures misunderstanding, hatred, and even violence.

Adults need to be very aware of this, and those who are in da’wah circles that comply with the Quran and Sunnah, need to make a greater effort to reach out to such communities, in order to mitigate the harshness of their understandings.

Teenagers – who are at an extremely impressionable and vulnerable phase in life – and are engaged in the cultural understandings of Islam, will unfortunately absorb this type of misguidance and come to poor conclusions on how Islam is supposed to operate, especially in today’s world. It takes the collective of the ummah – not just scholars, imams, and teachers – to put right what is wrongly understood before more violence in the name of our faith breaks out amongst communities.

Cohesive Education: More than Just Schools and Syllabi

While it is dangerous to stereotype Muslims in a Western community, and generally we should not, certain trends amongst Muslim families are quite pertinent when it comes to living in the West.

To be continued…

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