Part two of the virtual symposium that was conducted by MENA Research and Studies Center
Prepared and chaired by:
Ahmad Al Romoh
- Huzan Khadaj, sociologist
- Muhmoud Ibrahim, security expert
- Hassan Al Naifi, author and politician
- Ahmad Taleb Al Naser, history researcher
- Ayman Khalid, Media Expert
- Muhammed Habash, Islamic thinker
- Ussama Yaghi, Strategy Researcher
In the first part of the symposium, Dr. Muhammed Habash who submitted a research in which he discussed the responsibility of religious institutions for prevention of extremist movements. Ussama Yaghi, a strategy researcher also submitted a research in which he discussed the role of cultured elite in the confrontation with terrorism and extremism. Whereas, Ayman Khalid discussed social reconciliation that can ensure no re-emergence of terrorism. The following is a presentation of the content of the symposium:
End of Islamic State in Iraq and Sham ISIS and the closure of hell’s doors
By: Huzan Khadaj
The declaration of ISIS defeat, or the defeat of its thought will not necessarily mean the end of terrorism danger that many countries have so far suffered from its consequences including Arabic and Non-Arabic countries. This implies the need for alternative plans that require comprehensive International coordination with the aim of making strategic plans to mitigate the risk of potential spread of Jihadi ideology and its destructive effects. This can be done through coordination by different countries to prepare a data base and the establishment of an international commission to analyze data and come to conclusions and learn lessons that can help us predict the future and enable us find adequate solutions to problems.
We need to depend on an integrated work team which consists of researchers, Islamic preachers, security experts, media persons and enlightenment pioneers whose responsibility is to establish a preemptive study center that can keep up with speedy changes on local and international levels. This team is supposed to:
- Infer possible solutions depending on specific inductions, most important of which is looking for solutions deep in what ISIS pattern has offered and how it quickly moved from the concept of caliphate state into a time-and-place-bound icon that has attracted extremist young people. We also need to look into the way ISIS reinforced its existence as a state, though for such a short time, depending on excessive use of violence against all others with the justification of selected religious scripts.
- The movement from the “Nation State” i.e. ruling in the name of state to the “Religion Nation” i.e. ruling in the name of religion complies with dreams of many Islamists to conquer power in the name of Sharia. This “State Nation” concept is different from the “Religion Nation” which is adopted by extremist organizations like Islamic State in Iraq and Sham ISIS and Jabhat Al Nusra. Of course, this is an unattainable objective.
- Dismantling the conspiracy theory which implies that ISIS is a Western product and a conspiracy against Islam. The majority of those who defend Islam take this theory for granted because they deny extremism as an Islamic phenomenon out of their inability to judge things and their lack of responsibility. They are unable to judge things due to their exclusive and stereotyped thinking supported by many examples from history and heritage on the one hand, and proves the innocence of ISIS as it an impressed entity rather than impressive one on the other hand. This fabricated conspiracy theory is an attempt to prove that Islam is the victim of other Non-Muslim nations. Thus, the underlying thought of ISIS and the desire to resurrect it will remain as long as Arabs are alienating from realities of the modern age. To respond to their retrogression on the civilization scale, Arabs resort to blame the Western colonization and its scientific supremacy. This retrogression can not be terminated through ISIS project and the like. Development of Arab and Muslim countries can only be achieved through new thinking mechanisms that can contribute to resurrection of the nation and ensuring the nation’s return to civilization scale of humanity.
- Coordination with local players to control this phenomenon
Prevention of re-emergence of ISIS or the like depends on dismantling its thought and culture which are liable to spread, get momentum and disconnect social structures whenever any turmoil prevails in the region. This necessitates finding applicable solutions by three parties including countries that are concerned about this terrorist phenomenon, religious institutions and Muslims’ society.
- Arab and Muslim countries should separate religious institutions from state and dealing with these institutions in the same way they do with other civil societies to mitigate their influence. Their custody of society should be terminated as they impair any aspect of freedom or human activities. These religious institutions should not interfere with any religious or jurisprudent issues and this will pave the way for new religious institutions to take over and start attracting people through new approaches to understanding religious scripts.
- There is an urgent need for re-structuring committees that take care of mosques, and these committees should be subjugated to laws and legislations to prevent any possible bullying against society or inciting people. Fatwas should be controlled especially those encouraging apostasy and refuting other believes. Philosophy of Sharia schools and colleges should be investigated and revised so as to contribute to religious reform and laying the foundations for modern thought and assign them a greater role in raising human awareness.
- Making a national plan should be made for confronting terrorism to help in filling the gap in identity and exerting greater efforts related to all social, religious, cultural, economic and political aspects of life. Rationalism and balanced thought should be enhanced for the establishment of an integrated society with the participation of all involved formal, public and private institutions.
- Plans and strategies for identity gap-filling should be made through the advocation of enlightened and modern religious thought that can bring back the value of human being who is mandated on earth regardless of any religion he or she belongs to.
- Building the institutional capacity of Sub-civil societies to enable them play an effective social and economic role. Their social role is represented in their ability to provide visions for the inauguration of dialogue between advocates of the same religion with all its sects like Sufis, Salafists, Moderates and Shias. Such dialogue is intended to lessen the level of antagonism and incitement within the society. As for their economic role, they are supposed to implement the basics of Islamic economic systems in social insurance according to economic needs and the distinction between private properties and public properties which belong to all citizens of the society.
- The role of civil societies should be empowered and their activities should contribute to the spread of dialogue culture and the acceptance of others opinions and pluralism. Moderate thought, whether secular, religious or nationalistic, should be the basis of all activities. Moderateness is not a doctrinal law to be used for confronting others. It is the best way to put an end to different types of extremism. Moderateness is a thinking approach which is intended to protect society.
These preliminary steps will lead to separation of politics from state without getting involved in disputes with trends that reject this principle as an infidelity. What is intended by these steps is the reinforcement of connection between religion and society within codes of conducts that can convert religion into unifying spiritual values based on common basis with other religions. The focus should be on common values of all religions like tolerance, justice and co-existence. The solution to the problem of extremism doesn’t lie in deviation from religion because many extremist religious movements have appeared in Europe and America despite the prevalence of secular ruling regimes.
The collapse of ISIS which opened the door for hell and management of brutality will not be a reality as long as its thought and motives is still existing in the minds of many Muslims. Therefore, any efforts to completely terminate it will fail unless these efforts are based on an integrated plan that is relentless and long-termed. Such plan can disconnect the social incubator that might breed the thought of ISIS again and give its advocates another chance to reunite themselves. ISIS is still alive in its social incubator and it is able to resurrect itself any time and anywhere regardless of the entities that might motivate it.
An overview of social security for communities that are harmed by ISIS after it geographically disappeared
By: Mohamoud Ibrahim, security expert
Geographical disappearance of ISIS doesn’t mean the end of its ideology and structural existence because the underlying devilish basis and motives are still there. Therefore, it is a priority to reproduce and rehabilitate communities that are harmed by terrorism on the social, economic, environmental, security and political levels. All these can be summarized by social security which is a typical feature of advanced societies that are repulsive to extremism as an abnormal human phenomenon.
Social security is a state of social internal peace integrated with the human environment constituting a certain society. It implies a real stability that allows productive activities related to civilian and intellectual structure of that society. It takes the society to a renewed reality with civilization leaps. This is what all societies need to move from violent static status imposed by extremist powers to a state of stability and peace in the context of social security. Consequently, this movement from static status to stable peace needs activities and alternatives that enable civil societies, political entities, military institutions, including armed forces, police and security forces and intelligence agencies, to establish social integrated and stable status, and to dismantle thoughts and logistic capabilities of any extremist organization.
Steps needed for the isolation of extremist environments and prevent their resurrection
Some security theories emphasize that the human psychology bears the seeds of violence, so these seeds should be controlled either by internal commitment or the supervision of the society especially societies of the Middle East which have moved from the theocracy of the sole leader who is half a god to the religious theocracy represented by extremist movements of which ISIS constitutes the ugliest and most famous outlook.
While identifying the objectives of Anti-terror project, security and intelligence theories are taken into consideration. All these theories state that extremist organization can be isolated, but not completely terminated. Therefore, a sustainable plan should be worked on for close monitoring of extremism and isolating it in each society according to its features, its capabilities and the amount of damage caused by extremism. Societies of the Middle East, therefore, need to be included in the above-mentioned treatment proposed by the plan according to the following steps:
- A security system should be established under close monitoring of the constitution, and within the limitations of the International Humanitarian Law. This is particularly important because the absence of governance systems and legal follow-up on ruling regimes with all their sovereignty oppressive institutions, mainly security and defense ones. These security and defense institutions constitute the crucible environment in which extremism is brought up. Here comes the importance of imitation of legal institutions patterns with sovereignty authorization that is keen on dismantling security, intelligence and military entities which are responsible for escalation of violence in terror-struck countries. These institutions should be integrated in the new alternative ones.
- Interactive educational work system should be developed. A modern educational environment should be enhanced with programs that take care of students with truancy and kids exploited by terrorist organizations. These kids should be protected on family and education levels through integrated safe environment that cares for both families and kids.
- The activation of social stability of family on both food security and settlement. This can be done through surveys of the affected areas by local teams who collect data and propose solutions based on needs for food security and structure of the society targeted by these programs.
- Women empowerment programs should be supported. Women really need to be active in closed societies that are affected by war or oppressive regimes. This is an existential necessity for the defeat of abnormal extremism. It also requires a fully aware local strategy that considers empowerment of women as a soft weapon in the face of extremist policies that disintegrate societies.
- Minorities and their status should be preserved. Their presence and performance in international forums should be increased to ensure stability of all other social components of war-affected societies.
- The relationship between state and society should be reinforced. This can’t be achieved without the termination of tyranny with all its forms and aftermaths including militias working in military and security domains together with economic mafias exploiting livelihood projects and public services like health care, water supplies and electricity.
Through the above-mentioned strategies and limitations, the World and each country can terminate the state of terror and distortion resulting from the deviation of the compass of war against terror. The battle against terrorism should be moved from blood and revenge to investment of sustainable security for societies of the Middle East as a vital and important strategic area which is the key to International peace and stability.
The three pillars of extremism
By: Hassan Al Naifi, author and politician
Extremism constitutes an illness which has concerned the World. So, the right treatment of this illness is not limited to eradication of this phenomenon. Rather, it requires the abolition of reasons for this phenomenon so as to anticipate any re-emergence. To do this, we need to investigate the three openings through which extremism penetrates a society and the crucibles in which it grows and changes into a danger that can threat all humanity.
I will talk about three main issues that constitute the main objectives of any project that intends to deal with extremism:
- Quranic scripts and the need for knowledgeable reading.
There are two problems that are always present with most Islamic projects whether these projects are political or proselytization-oriented. The first one is related to knowledge and culture. It stems from the conflict between mechanisms of understanding and methodologies of thinking on the one hand, and the Quranic script on the other hand.
Is our reading of the Quran bound to fixed historical and knowledgeable inductions?
Or it is liable to benefit from other intellectual products of the human minds in all fields of knowledge. This question might pose another one which is more specific.
Did the Quran express fixed values and meanings to which human minds should adapt themselves?
Or that these values are open for interaction and reconsideration in the light of intellectual products that come up in the process of time?
The second dilemma is related to values and ethics. It is embodied with two patterns of behavior. The first one is historical and derived from religious inheritance which is sanctified although it was not originally sanctified. This sanctification had been reinforced by a jurisprudent system that belonged to the empirical era.
The third dilemma is a cultural one. The main concern should be how to integrate with humanity and derive civilization and ethical values from religion. Theses values should be easily adapted and interrelated with universal human sets of behavior shared by all other peoples of the World.
The crisis Muslim are facing is not the result of Islam as a Godly revelation as much as of thinking mechanisms and the way humans look at religion. To overcome this crisis there should be a knowledgeable reading of Islam rather than a jurisprudent reading because any jurisprudent reading will be based on a jurisprudent heritage which was formulated long time ago. It was dominant at a time and under circumstances that are completely different from those of our age. Fatwas are supposed to respond to a need at a specific time. Therefore, when time proceeds, needs will change and new Fatwas are required. Scientific and knowledgeable reading of religious scripts is usually supported with renewed cultural and scientific tributaries. This kind of reading is supposed to keep up with the current needs of people.
Knowledgeable understanding of the essence of Islam is to be associated with other correlative concepts like cultural and civilization openness towards others. Looking forward to the future and the avoidance of adherence to nostalgic concepts and the ultimate belief in freedom as a pre-condition of true faith. The rejection and abhorrence of coercion and authoritarianism is a key issue in this regard as Allah says: “There is no compulsion in religion” (verse 256 of Al Baqara Surah). This should be considered as a constitution that we need to defend and cling to.
The greatness of Islam doesn’t specifically lie in its ideology and rituality. It lies in its humanitarian and social aspects as Islam can’t exist without human societies. Religion was originally intended to serve humans, not to be celestial. That is why we do need to elicit plans and projects from Islam to benefit people. We enhance renaissance in terms of economics, culture, arts and all other aspects of modern life. Undoubtedly, taking Islam from its closed ideological framework that breeds all types of extremism to its human framework. Such projects can’t be implemented by one person here and another one there. There must be institutions or entities as research centers and academies than are devoted to making plans and strategies for the fulfillment of objectives.
Tyranny is the godfather of extremism
Termination of extremism is not necessarily dependent on termination of extremist organizations; It is the termination of reasons for extremism. That is why there is no point in launching wars as a sole and criminal means for fighting terrorism which mostly lead to killing many innocent persons. We need to set off to new horizons like social development, harmony between theory and practice, supporting the just cases of peoples, reinforcement of knowledge and culture, supporting enlightenment religious reform centers, literature and arts. Fighting terrorism should not be limited to ugly means; there are other good ones.
Confronting religious extremism of the collective thought, examples from history
By:Ahmad Taleb Al Naser, history researcher
Features of extremist religious thought are clearly spotted in social components that are hostile to research, renewal and Islamic comparative jurisprudence. In these societies, people usually prefer pre-designed patterns that don’t admit time and place with their reflections on the development of human thought.
Despite the dominant cultural, intellectual and social introversion, advocates of this thought are committed to global principles. They don’t recognize borders between Arab and Islamic countries. This refers to an absurd contradiction between what is subjective and what is objective in their mentality.
Thus, steps and procedures for the best solution to the problem of spreading religious extremism inside these patterns are elicited from the very structure of the above-mentioned contradiction in thought.
We do think that the first step is the advocation of “citizenship” as a concept with all its implications like the freedom of religious and political practices. This concept should be included in the literature of these social components. It has become the need for investigation and thorough study of the experiments of modern democratic ruling systems ever since the beginning of renaissance and enlightenment age in Europe and up till today.
To fill the wide gap recently made by Islamic Jihadi groups in each society, especially in countries of the Arab springs, where some components have been supported to have an overestimated collective identity, we do need to give a chance for all components to take part in the requirements posed by democratic systems mentioned above like participation in general elections, polls and other democratic practices.
In order to successfully and effectively take this step, societies that have recently experienced extremist Islam with organizations like Islamic State in Iraq and Sham, Al Qaeda and the like, we need to introduce new laws that can regulate the relationship between different social components on the one hand and their relation with the state on the other one. This should be done without any discrimination between entities whether sectarian or ethnic.
Although the experience of the French Revolution is relatively old (1879), there is no harm in benefiting from this experience as it constituted laws that guarantee human rights and citizenship-based equality regardless of ethnicity, religion, sect or language. These laws are still valid in many countries of the World. Except for political additions like state security courts and some items related to the totalitarian regime, Syrian Criminal Law, for example, is derived from French legislations with some amendments related to Personal Status Law which is rhetorically dependent on Islamic jurisprudence.
Thus, one of the requirements that comes on top priorities is to draft a new precise and detailed constitution for Syria. From such a constitution, many fair laws need to be enacted so as to remove any class discrimination between different components especially those which have suffered from extremist religious organizations like the Syrian regime which witnessed the penetration of ISIS and Al Nusra into social component in cities and towns. Military, political, educational and intellectual domination of these organizations has affected the fabrics of society, especially the tribal component in Eastern Euphrates Area. These extremist organizations including Assad’s Regime worked hard to ideologize these components through the injection of extremist figures of the society who were supported to subjugate members of their tribes. These procedures created a new system that changed tribes into some kind of religious tribes or political ones.
One of the most relevant patterns that the Syrian case can benefit from is the experience of Algeria despite its different origin, figure and its limited scope.
During the 1990s, Algerian society suffered a lot from a bloody conflict between the Islamic salvation Front and Algerian Regime. This conflict turned Algeria into a bloody arena and Algerians paid a high price before all parties managed to reconcile and get involved in the political scene in the country. Conflicting parties agreed on transitional justice and relative forgiveness by all sides.
From this recent experience, we can conclude that the right implementation of transitional justice in Syria will have positive results on political and social levels if accountability is activated with some concessions related to reconciliation and forgiveness are made by war-torn social components whose fabrics have been disconnected by the dominance of approaches of extremist organizations and their previous applications.
In the same way these tribal and political systems have been a disunification factor and a fertile soil for extremist organizations, they can constitute helpful means for the termination of these strange concepts if mechanisms of social reconciliation are activated in a just and fair way in the future.
Conclusion of the second part of the symposium
Conspiracy theory should be degraded as it considers ISIS to be a Western product and a conspiracy against Islam. Local stimulants for extremism are still clearly visible.
The formal religious institution should be separated from state. It should be considered just as any other institution to mitigate its influence and end its custody of society and its abortion of freedom and liberty.
Activation of sub-civil societies through building their institutional capacities so as to enable them play a social and economic role through providing a clear vision of social dialogue with no limitations.
Activation of social and family stability through housing and food security projects. This should be done after doing surveys of war affected areas by local teams which collect data and propose need-based solutions to enhance social security.
The crisis facing Muslims is not the outcome of religion as a Godly revelation. Rather, it is the result of human thinking mechanisms and the way Muslims understand religion and its contemporary role.
The establishment of a state that takes care of its citizens and works according to the constitution which terminates all types of discrimination, will be a solid ground for protection of society.
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