Sunday, 19 August 2018

Of extremism and our new jihadists

Md. Shamsul Islam, Executive Editor, Our Time: I was quite amused to see in our media that a woman activist of the outlawed Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), was arrested lately in Mymensingh who allegedly motivated her elder daughter to emigrate or hijrat for the causes of Islam.
Though the news did not give us further details, it seemed interesting to witness the rapid transformation taking place in the psyche of our extremists, adding new dynamics to an already complicated matter.
Much has been written on the roots of extremism in an apparently tolerant country like Bangladesh. But as the new dimensions are being added day in day out, like that of migration or hijrat, we must remain vigilant to the new vocabularies our new jihadists are now counting on. For instance, in rigid Islamic explanation, hijrat is required when the citizens are forced to leave their own country in order to protect their faith. So, the related question is: has it become impossible to protect one’s faith in Bangladesh? Only a moron would tell so. In fact, Dhakaites are now suffering from an acute shortage of mosques as the number of people going to mosques is rising. Even I found it very difficult to make a place for myself in a mosque last Jummah, located in the heart of the city.
Ironically, the preachers of extremism, in the guise of becoming the saviors of Islam, are now devising innovative tactics to counter the government’s strategists to mitigate radicalism. What we fear most is the different and distorted interpretation of Islam in the name of religious sermon or waz, being propagated not only through the net, but also through face-to-face communication in different corners of the country. Citing an isolated ayat from the holy Quran or from the Hadith literature, preachers are sometimes instigating our innocent youth to pursue a bumpy ride of extremism.
It is no denying the fact that deteriorating situation of Muslims in Syria, Gaza or in Myanmar is rubbing salt to the wound, making it harder for policymakers to prevent from creating a kind of pan-Islamic thinking among the youth. An ‘imagined community’ among the Muslim youth has already been developed in parts of the world, and unfortunately, many of our youth have joined the bandwagon, willingly or unwillingly.
But carrying out astray attacks on civilians or departing the country to aid any deviated group like IS does not solve the crises in Muslim states, either in the Middle East or beyond. Many such issues, including the Rohingya one which we are facing currently, require intervention from the big powers. So, in a way, the major players of the world also have a role to play preventing the emergence of new jihadists here and there, by helping bring peace and stability in the present world order.

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