Wednesday, October 12, 2005

42] Educate the Suicide Bombers!

Educate the suicide bombers!
Azly Rahman
Oct 12, 05 12:46pm

It is said that Muslims live and die for Islam, as emphasised by the following supplication read daily: “Verily, my prayers, my Haj rituals, my life and my death are all for Allah, Lord of the universe”.

But what exactly does life and death - and living and dying for means? What is worth dying for? Would Allah welcome suicide bombers? Or would any religion condone such senseless crime against humanity - whichever way it is rationalised?

The renewal of act of self-destruction in the recent Bali bombings reflects yet another manifestation of a perpetually ‘bipolar-disorderly’ world as modern globalisation rears its ugly head. Bipolarism is a condition characterised by a total disjuncture, acute cognitive dissonance, and detachment from the physical reality of the person who suffers it. Shock treatment, therapy, and anti-depressant medications become ways to deal with this mental and spiritual degenerating psychological condition.

The age of globalisation has now become, and created, its nemesis, the age of global terrorism. It is carrying with it the global fear of a rapid deterioration of, borrowing Heidegger, the ‘spirit’ of this world; ‘spirit’ that ought to be evolving towards global peace.We are reading more and more stories on senseless military occupations (of Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) by the American Empire and stories of all-too-frequent incidents of suicide bombings as a response to the continuing presence of the American occupying forces.

In between these senseless/mindless crimes against humanity lies the death of innocent people, including women and children.Is there hope in the reconstruction of a peaceful world order in our suicidal world of political bipolarism? Specifically, is there hope in seeing the emergence of an educational outlook that teaches peace and prevents the creation of the human as weapon: the suicide bomber? We must first ask ourselves what the self is and why it is now used as a ‘weapon of jihad’.

"The self as timed bomb"

What creates a ‘suicide bomber’? In what ways must education play its role in not creating these creatures of mass destruction?The mind of a suicide bomber is highly complex yet explainable. One must understand the evolving system of this new genre of self-destructive being in order to understand the philosophical approach to the treatment and prevention.

One must first be able to get access to the inner confined and the dungeons of the mind in order to dig through the walls that will kill the beast within and help the rational soul escape before abrupt and total self-annihilation happens.

Suicidal ideologies and institutions create the suicide bomber. Ideologies are devoid of philosophy and when religion becomes enmeshed and becomes one with ideology, or becomes institutionalised, and next becomes an institution of mind control that will in turn produce inscriptions on the mind of the would-be suicide bomber.

As a student in totalitarian systems, the psychology of ‘blowing up’ oneself is what is of interest to me. In the name of religion and nationalism, one brings trails of destruction onto innocent beings including children and women, who do not have anything to do with the design and implementation of destructive social-economic-political practices.Who or what controls the mind of the suicide bomber? How do we romanticise the act?

"De-school the mind"

The mind of the child must be infused with philosophical thinking; trained in the art and science of judgement, reasoning, imagining, and envisioning - beginning at a very young age.Religion can no longer be taught via the “banking concept of education”, as the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire would call, but instead via the system of active questioning fashioned after Socratic dialogue.

A mind that is schooled, tamed, dociled, and systematically indoctrinated can be a good candidate for training camps in senseless crimes that kill innocent people.As early as possible youth must be taught to use philosophical quest in learning about religion so that they may then learn to create meaningful connections between what is preached and what is personal to their understanding.

There is nothing mentally/educationally damaging about questioning the teacher, be it secular or religious. If they have the answers, those will be the teacher’s answer and understanding - they are not the student’s.By questioning what is learned, students can construct their own understanding of what their religious reality will be. Each child should be encouraged to question whatever they have of religion. We need to inculcate the spirit of the European Enlightenment and Renaissance period of “dare to know” without the fear of being made ignorant.

I believe only through such a mode of learning about religion that we will be able to create educational practices that are preventive in nature and work against the creation of suicide bombers. The foundation of this form of dialogical human enterprise will be through peace education.

Strategies of teaching must change - we must teach our children how to think. The Malaysian education system is creating docile minds of varying degrees. Critical thinking must be infused even into the teaching of religious studies.We also need to educate children of the meaning of ‘jihad’.

"Deconstruct jihad"

We are given a biased, opportunistic understanding of jihad - entirely external and political. But Islamic historian Syed Hoessein Nasr quotes the Hadith (the record of Mohammed’s words) as saying, “You have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.”This is usually understood as an emphasis of the internal struggle (the greater jihad) over the external violence (the lesser jihad). This suggests our bodies to be the site of the more important jihad, according to the prophet.We cannot rely on the Western media to tell us what ‘jihad’ means.

The media, owned by those who wish to sell ideologies through the creation of “the semantics of terror-vision” (as my Burmese professor of communication Maung Gyi would write) have been numbing ours TV-addicted sense into believing that ‘jihad’ is about suicide bombing only.

In the 1980s, the American media successfully educate/desensitise its viewers by transplanting the word ‘Islamic jihad’ into the public discourse. Islam is therefore made synonymous with jihad.We must bring the meaning of jihad as “a struggle know and love oneself “ into the forefront of the jihad to change media perceptions.

"Love reigns supreme"

Suicide bombers do not love themselves because there is no philosophical sensibility and the celebration of human in the educational conveyor belt they are in. Love does not exist in the heart of the suicide bomber and its producers.Suicide bombers will not go to Heaven because they have created Hell in themselves as a system of existence. The ‘double-hell’ will go to those who train suicide bombers.

When the purpose of one’s life is to know oneself and to love all living things, creatures big and small, blowing up oneself means blowing off the inherent, mystical, enduring system of signs and symbols called ‘the Self’.

One purpose of life is to meditate and to mediate - not to annihilate.

Human beings are endowed by the Creator with a mind to actively pursue the love of the Self and for Humanity, not to be used and disposed of in a manner as hideous as suicide bombing.

Life is about educating oneself to be productive and humanistic of this or that religious/philosophical system of one’s choice and upbringing - not about educating oneself to graduate as a weapon of self-destruction.

Let us help cure this acute global bipolar disorder through a spiritual awakening that teaches our children to love themselves so that they many know the Creator and to love all of creation.

Paradise is not built for suicide bombers nor for brutal colonisers.

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