How would I deradicalise Shamima Begum? With Islamic scholarship

As an imam, I have helped indoctrinated young people to see the errors of a medieval, misguided and misapplied worldview
shamima begum
‘The kneejerk reaction of stripping nationality from dual citizens means we would export terrorism abroad.’ Photograph: POOL New/Reuters

How do we deradicalise young, indoctrinated people like Shamima Begum? As part of their ideology, takfiri terrorist groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaida justify their aggression towards the west by creating a divide between Muslims and non-Muslims. They argue that the modern nation-state model of governance is incompatible with Islamic principles, and that the Muslim world must be governed by a caliphate based on medieval Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. From her recent interviews, it is clear that Begum is confused and conflicted about these issues: she has clear loyalty to Isis but did also criticise them and called Britain “home”.

The medieval Muslim model of the world has been adapting and evolving for at least 700 years, and modern Islamic jurisprudence accepts that the nation-state system is entirely compatible with Islam.

During my work in 2018, I attempted to help several young radicalised men, including a terrorism convict and a terrorism suspect, to deradicalise and accept and appreciate their British citizenship after seeing how it is supported by Islamic values. My work involved discussing various concepts for them to study.

According to ninth-century Islamic jurisprudence, the world was divided into two – the lands of Islam (dar al-islam) for Muslims, and the lands of disbelief (dar al-kufr) for non-Muslims. Within dar al-kufr, lands were distinguished between lands of war (dar al-harb), and lands of peace-treaty (dar al-sulh).

However, this binary worldview is medieval and no longer a fit for a modern world.’

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3 replies

  1. What you fail to recognise about Shamima Begum, and girls like her, especially here in the U.K. is. That as soon as they become teenagers the family tends to lock them in. They aren’t allowed to visit other friends houses, or go to the cinema or walk around a shopping mall with friends. The parents are fearful of them meeting ‘boys’. I have seen this personally 500 times and experienced it personally. So you are stuck in the family home, the threat that you may not even be able to attend college or university is also dangled over your head. Visits to family members are allowed, your life begins to revolve around the family home where you are pretty much a captive. Even what you read is monitored. I have known homes where music is considered haram, forbidden, as with movies and magazines. So the girls become quickly depressed. So they turn to the internet. What do they see? They see ISIS the worlds biggest ‘gang’, with the sunken eyed uzi toting rock and roll gods. Promising them escape to a paradise a utopia, where you can live rent free in your own house (usurped form a Syrian kafir). Free groceries, a town to mill around and shop in, you don’t have to work, it’s famtastic and you will be protected by the laws of Shariah. For only two hundred pounds in airfare, which you can buy with some stolen gold from your parents wardrobe, you can be here in our Utopia. We will protect you, the world is terrified of us. The house bitten girl with her friends plots their escape. It’s easy. The parents trusts her friends, and they won’t notice the stolen gold until they attend the next wedding. So off they go to Turkey, slip across the border and they are in Syria. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Shamima doesn’t know that Utopia actually means an impossible place. She does now.

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