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Religion is like drugs

Reader comment on item: Bolstering Moderate Muslims

Submitted by Farid H. (Germany), Apr 28, 2007 at 22:49

I agree with Dr. Pipes' analysis but would like to emphasize one little point that is crucial here: radical islamists can probably only be de-radicalized again by mainstream and moderate Muslims; preferably by their own families and friends, whom they trust more than so called "kafirun" (non-believers). Because only moderate Muslims have the antidote to the radicalizing snippets of their own religion and know how to administer it.

By the way, IMHO the same same holds true for Christians, Jews, and any other believers, regarding their own radical fundamentalists. What's all this talk about antidotes then? Well, one of the main reasons religions exist, is to help people overcome the hardships of life. It's not only a cultural phenomenon, it's also a medication, a kind of psychological drug. And like every medication, it is only beneficial if taken in small doses. Too much of it, and you get sick and could even die. I often compare radical islamists to junkies, people who blindly absorbed too much Islam for their own good.

This is not so far-off as you might think: the more such islamists dive into their downward spiral, the greedier they get w.r.t. their favorite drug; seeking more and more religious propaganda, literature, and company of like-minded. In fact, they show exactly the typical behavior of junkies, including the fact that they're in denial: to them, it seems like it's absolutely normal to do this, while the truth is, that they're merely sick from abusing too much of a psych-drug. Now, what about this antidote stuff? How come so many practicing Muslims (i.e. those who do in fact pray 5 times a day etc...) don't turn out radical, despite the fact that they consume moderate up to heavy doses of their religion? How come those people didn't take an overdose of their favorite poison? IMHO it's because they know how to deal with Islam: cautiously, but responsibly.

In fact, they have developed some kind of immunity to radicalism that the islamists sorely lack. That's probably also the reason why "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" exists: if you look closely at the biographies of jihadists, you'll notice that most of them were quite secular and well integrated into our western societies and enjoyed our free way-of-life. They may have turned radical, because after having tasted religion, but not reading the instructions that should have come with it, they didn't know how to deal with it and developed a dependence of it. And that's the crucial point: had those new radicals at this point in their life been able to talk to those (practicing) Muslims who knew how to resist radicalism, they could have been stopped short in their tracks, and (re-)educated in the way how do deal with that which they absorbed. What about those who are already radicalized?

Well, it's difficult to deal with them appropriately. But getting junkies off their drugs is just as hard, isn't it? What about "they know how to administer it"? Actually, it's quite self-evident: if you want to de-radicalize one of those islamists, you need to talk to them, but they'll only listen if you talk in their own language. Or, said differently, if you are able to temporarily dive into their world of thoughts and systems of belief; only then can you meet them there. For instance: if you're not well-informed w.r.t. Islam, you can't dispute with fundamentalists, e.g. by citing opposing views from the same sources than those they rely on. They won't believe you, if you don't talk like them. And only Muslims are able to talk to their own fundamentalists; simply because they know their way of thinking.


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