It’s very easy for people who are marginalized to instrumentalize religious ideas, because very often religious traditions do talk about good versus evil, right? But it’s just a question of who you define as good and who you define as evil.
– Professor Ali Asani, Harvard University
Recruiting Radical Muslims
Posted by PBS: Religion & Ethics on November 21, 2014
LOTHIAN (PBS): The depth of that violence is on display across the internet. Extremist groups like ISIS spew disturbing rhetoric and proudly carry out beheadings. It’s often done in the name of religion.
PROFESSOR ALI ASANI (Harvard University): People have tended to focus very much on, okay, this has to do with Islam, but it is ultimately an Islam that is interpreted by criminals.
LOTHIAN: However the Qur’an is interpreted, radicals are finding new recruits in the US and around the world, and social media is expanding their reach. Professor Ali Asani, who heads Harvard’s Islamic studies department, says the appeal may defy logic, but to the right audience it makes sense.
ASANI: It’s very easy for people who are marginalized to instrumentalize religious ideas, because very often religious traditions do talk about good versus evil, right? But it’s just a question of who you define as good and who you define as evil.
LOTHIAN: Some argue many of these young recruits lack a deep understanding of Islam—religious illiterates who are searching for a cause greater than themselves.
PROFESSOR MIA BLOOM (Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, University of Massachusetts at Lowell): They really don’t have the ballast to be able to say, “No, I don’t think that’s what the Sura al-Tawba says.” They don’t really have the knowledge-base to be able to fend off that kind of manipulation of the religion that these groups are doing to convince them that this is the way that they can be the best Muslims they can be.
LOTHIAN: But some of the foreign recruits join the fight in Syria and Iraq with their eyes wide open. True believers in radical Islam. Professor Asani says they’re also lured by money, housing, wives, and a sense of belonging.
ASANI: You come and fight with us, and your visions, your ideas—you’re going to be valued. You’re going to be at the center of power.
Watch the program and read the full transcript- Recruiting Radical Muslims
Related Dr. Ali Asani at Ismailimail Archives:
- Professor Ali Asani at the Aga Khan Museum: Communing with the Divine: Islamic Mystical Traditions and the Arts
- Ali Asani views religious and cultural literacy as essential to the project of democracy | Harvard Crimson
- Rice University, Boniuk Institute – Communities of the Qur’an Conference: Ismaili Engagements with the Qur’an
- Harvard Islam Course (Day 7): Sufi & Ismaili Esoteric Interpretation of the Qur’an and Islamic Art
- Harvard Course on Islam: Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad, Shi’a Muslim Tafsir and Muslim Devotion
- Islam Through Its Scriptures: Professor Ali Asani’s Harvard’s Free Online Course about to start
- Dr. Ali Asani, Harvard University – Averting Violent Extremism | Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam
- Misunderstandings of Religion
- Panel Discussion: Exploring Islam through the Cultural Studies Method
- Roger Colton: Muslims in America: the story I heard
- The fears of American Muslims | Harvard Gazette
- Professor Ali Asani to present on “Ginans as Performative Texts” at University of Texas at Austin
- Harvard Divinity School Launches Online Religious Literacy Course with Professor Ali Asani
- Harvard EdX Online Course: “Islam Through Its Scriptures” with Professor Ali Asani
- Prof Shafique Virani and Prof Ali Asani review: The Study Quran – A New Translation and Commentary
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