In a June 3 Rotana Khalijiyya TV interview, Prof.Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, former Dean of Islamic Law at Qatar University, discussed the phenomenon of terrorism and how to deal with it. Terrorism, he said, was based on ideology, not on financial distress or economic circumstances, and "begins with the sowing of hatred, the sowing of extremism" and with "this rhetoric about a nation constantly under attack." According to Prof. Al-Ansari, the first step to dealing with the phenomenon is to "let go of the culture of denial," to "acknowledge that something is wrong in our cultural order," and to "open up to other cultures."
Following are excerpts
Interviewer: Let's start with the issue of terrorism - is it an ideological or economic crisis?
Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari: Terrorism is rooted in ideology. As it says in the UNESCO [constitution], wars and peace are constructed "in the minds of men," and only then are translated into conduct. Terrorism is based on an extremist ideology, which takes over minds susceptible to this type of ideology. If terrorism were indeed related to unemployment and the economy, in line with the materialistic interpretation of history...
Well, many nations suffer greatly, but they have not produced terrorism. Financial distress may give rise to rebellions, to crimes. You may remember Farid Shawqi's film "I Have Been Made a Murderer." It is possible that when a person is persecuted or cannot find work, he turns to crime and steals, but only faith and ideological conviction could lead him to blow himself up. It is not an easy thing for a human being to leave this life. They talk about economic distress...
Interviewer: It often comes up in Western polls.
Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari: That's because they do not believe in religious and spiritual motives. That's because they do not believe in religious and spiritual motives. They adhere to materialistic standards. What led this person to blow himself up, they ask. It must be economic circumstances. But a person may emigrate to improve his economic circumstances. Some people might turn against the regime to improve economic circumstances. But for a person to blow himself up?! On the contrary, criminals love the good life.
The terrorist, on the other hand, does not care about life to begin with. for the sake of another life, which he believes to be better, more beautiful. So this is based on faith, on ideology. ey talk about economic circumstances or about injustice. But injustice does not lead a person to blow himself up. In order to turn a person into a human bomb, you need to... It requires an ideological mixture... An ideological mixture which you plant in his mind and which takes over his soul.
Terrorism begins with the sowing of hatred, the sowing of extremism.
interviewer: That's the first step.
Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari: The first step is to sow hatred, saying that the other is not worthy of living, that the other is an infidel, that the other is an enemy who wants to attack me, that the other is a secularist, who is trying to change our identity, to invade [our world], and to Westernize our women, that the other wants to lay snares for Islam. They always portray us as targets, as if there are enemies lying in wait for us. This rhetoric about a nation constantly under attack is how hatred begins. This is how you plant hatred in the soul of a child, who later becomes an extremist.
The first step in treating any disease is acknowledging the sickness.
Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari: We must let go of the culture of denial, and stop saying: "This is not something a Muslim would do." A Muslim would do it, and then some. Why say he wouldn't? "This was done by the Jews." "That was done by the Mossad or the CIA." People, it is our own children who are doing this. They have turned against us. We did not know how to raise them and educate them properly, and they have turned against us. The first step is to acknowledge that something is wrong in our cultural order.
The second step is to reexamine what is wrong. We need to analyze this. We need to pinpoint what instills hatred, extremism, and takfir, and then remove these things from the curricula, the mosques, and the media. We should open up to other cultures. Why can't we be like other nations? How come they educate their children properly, and discover and invent new things? How come it is only our children who turn to destruction instead of construction?
The notion of Jihad must be reexamined. What is the Jihad of a student? My Jihad? Your Jihad? So it doesn't have to be military... Military Jihad nowadays is limited to the members of the military. Nowadays, we have a state, a constitution, and citizenship. Why are we paying salaries to soldiers? I do not need to wage [military] Jihad. My Jihad lies in education. The Jihad of the jurisprudent lies in da'wa. Your Jihad lies in the media. The Jihad of students lies in acquiring education in the service of their country. Jihad is not limited to military activity. So it is an erroneous notion... Yes, you cannot teach Jihad the way it was taught at the advent of Islam. You didn't have all this back then. There were enemies, and you needed a general call to arms to establish the Islamic state and defend it. Now, it's over. There are over one billion Muslims, and more than fifty Muslim countries. They have armies, with weapons. Leave the defense to them. Military Jihad is their duty.