Menace of Extremist Preaching in Kashmir

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We Have Led Our Youth On The Path Of Destruction. When Shall We Stop? 

For too long in Kashmir now, radical extremist preaching has helped to spread fundamentalism, social orthodoxy, obscurantism, and overall closing of the mind. This has also inevitably fomented a culture of violence and extreme hate based on religious supremacy. The social transformation is antithetical to essential Kashmiri values of pluralism, humanism, and peace. We have paid a heavy cost for moving into this toxic mind space.

The Eight-Stage Jihadist Recruitment Process

Reputed  Danish scholar Michael Taarnby’s popular analysis of radical jihadi terror ideology explores an eight-stage jihadist recruitment process. He outlines the structure of the jihadist recruitment process with the following stages or components.
1. Individual alienation and marginalisation
2. Spiritual quest
3. Process of radicalisation
4. Meeting and associating with like-minded people
5. Gradual seclusion and cell formation
6. Acceptance of violence as legitimate political means
7. Connection with a gatekeeper in the know
8. Going operational

The first stage of alienation and marginalization is almost a universal phenomenon. It has many underlying causes like class inequality or psychological complexities. This alienation of individuals has been analyzed by many social scientists, psycho-analysts and philosophers ranging from Marx to Freud to Sartre using varied perspectives.

How Islamists Distort The Youthful Search For Meaning

Alienation can be diluted or contested by resisting despair and hopelessness through finding some meaning and purpose of life. It could be done through the process of some socio-economic, spiritual, and some other rational means. This is what civilized human institutions strive to do. Unfortunately in Muslim societies in general, struggling to come to terms with the question of modernity, this individual alienation is often capitalised on by the Islamic extremists and fascists to sustain their almost apocalyptic project of jihad. This has particularly been true for Kashmir.

The third stage of Taarnby’s analysis is the process of radicalisation. From this stage onwards, jihadi theoreticians and demagogues completely hijack the thinking of the alienated young men who are striving for meaning in a seemingly hopeless world beset with problems. Instead of giving hope or any rational alternative, these merchants of doom further reinforce these youths’ despair and hopelessness while showing them dreams of some blissful, fantastical and eternal life in paradise. Sadly, this makes a terrible Freudian deathwish dominant among these individuals as they are completely taken away from life spirit. Some critics and theorists argue that this is also something that is sadly ingrained within the Islamic eschatology – the part of theology concerned with death, judgement, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.

The rest of the stages from the third stage onwards of Taarnby’s analysis are enacted, sustained, and perpetuated by a large network or superstructure of Islamo-fascism. This has been assiduously embedded in Kashmir over the last 50 years. This jihadist superstructure includes extremist organisations, radical preachers, jihadist literature, past mythologies, frontal organisations, social institutions and platforms. All of these work in tandem and in a systematic manner to continuously reinforce individual alienation. They prey on the youth by converting them into killing machines and jihadist zombies.

The jihadist zombies are devoid of any independent thinking and the cognitive processes, because they have given up them. Their thoughts and feelings are dictated and structured by this jihadist superstructure. Simply, they cannot think on their own. They die the deaths of their conscious self the day they become radicalized. That is why they happily embrace death during encounters. This death of the conscious mind is also the reason why these persons feel no remorse or guilt when they resort to the killing of fellow human beings. This is unfortunately true of all jihadists whether he or she is in Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabab, Taliban, TTP, Lashkar e Jhangvi, LeT, JeM or HM.

The Damage Caused by Radical Preachers

Religion is the dominant public discourse in Kashmir. The jihadist superstructure is mainly sustained and nourished by radical preachers of various affiliations including Jamat-e-Islami, Salafis, Deobandis and now some Barelvis and Shias also. Most of the religious sermons during Ijtimas, Friday prayers and Eids inculcate a terrible sense of psychological and social regression among young impressionistic minds regarding both their individual lives and general society. Most of the preachers in Kashmir are illiterate or semi-literate people with virtually no rational understanding of the life and world around them. For a long time, religious sermons have done a high degree of damage to Kashmiri society in reinforcing irrational and regressive attitudes among the people in an unchecked and unregulated way. The positive universal tenets of Islam like emphasis on equality, education, peace and kindness are not made part of the religious discourse.

It is worth mentioning that in most of the Islamic theocracies including Saudi Arabia and Iran, all religious preachings and sermons are checked, regulated and vetted by the ruling governments. The same is not the case in Jammu and Kashmir. The question is, why such exceptionalism? If one looks at the content of the most preachings and sermons, what comes out mostly is irrational, regressive and obscurantist teachings. Sometimes the preachings take the form of outright hate speeches.

Common Content In Most Preachings, Sermons

1. Hatred against sectarian minorities like Ahmadiyas2. Misogynistic injunctions including slut-shaming of school girls3. Anti-women education rants4. Extreme hate speeches against non-Muslims, mostly against Hindus and JewsThe Hindus and Jews are notoriously addressed as kaafirs. This is an obnoxious  term with horrible racist and genocidal undertones5. Fascistic glorification of violence in the form of jihad to establish Islam all over the world6. Emphasis on supremacist doctrines of Islam while presenting Muslims as victims everywhere7. Discouraging Muslims from adopting modern, pluralistic values8. Despising science, technology and critical philosophy other than that of Islamic theology9. Denouncing democracy and secularism as systems of kufr and baatil10. Glorifying and enforcing medieval tribal practices and bloodshed11. Practices creating an attitude of despair and hopelessness in this worldly life12. Advocating death and some illusory heavenly life over this worldly life, etc

 What Are We Preaching To Our Children?

Unabated religious preachings with horrifying content are delivered on a daily basis on massive public platforms addressing large audiences If these are not going to lead our society in general and our youth in particular to social obscurantism and extremist radicalization, then what will?

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