[ by Charles Cameron — nor intellect the best response to emotion ]
Offered without further ado.
[ by Charles Cameron — nor intellect the best response to emotion ]
Offered without further ado.
[ by Charles Cameron — Kuwaiti Ramadan ad message: Let’s Bomb Hatred With Love ]
At the time I’m writing this, the following video has received 2,298,068 views:
One site posting the video commented:
As we know from the consumerization of Christmas, nothing seems to scream profits to large corporations like a religious occasion.
In this case, Zain is the large corporation, and Ramadan is the occasion for the video, which features Emirati pop star Hussain Al Jassmi.
Ramadan, the fasting month in which the Quran was revealed to Muhammad, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Zain is a Kuwaiti mobile telecom provider reaching across the Middle East and Africa.
The text of the ad, icluding Al Jassmi’s lyrics, is as follows:
I will tell God everything …
That you’ve filled the cemeteries with our children and emptied our school desks …
That you’ve sparked unrest and turned our streets to darkness …
And that you’ve lied …
God has full knowledge of the secrets of all hearts.
I bear witness that there is no God but Allah.
You who comes in the name of death, He is the creator of life.
I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
The forgiving and forbearing who hurts not those who hurt Him.
God is Greater
Than those who hide what doesn’t show.
God is Greater
Than those who obey without contemplation.
God is Greater
Than those lurking to betray us.
God is Greater
God is Greater
God is Greater
Worship your God with love .. With love, not terror ..
Be tender in your faith, tender not harsh ..
Confront your enemy, with peace not war ..
Persuade others, with leniency not by force ..
Let’s bomb violence with mercy ..
Let’s bomb delusion with the truth ..
Let’s bomb hatred with love ..
Let’s bomb extremism for a better life ..
We will counter their attacks of hatred, with songs of love .. From now until happiness.
There os an interesting comparison implicit here between the words of Christ:
You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
and those of the Quran:
The Koran says in the subject of surrendering one’s right to exact vengeance from another, “Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better: then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate.” (41: 34) So the Koran holds forgiveness, forbearance, restraint, and turning a blind eye to abuses to be the higher ideal of a belief.
The text from which I’m quoting here, with the Quranic verse embedded in it, is by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali entited Islam and Thurning the Other Cheek, and includes a thoughtful comparison of Martin Luther King and Malcoom X.
I’m hoping to write up a fuller comparison between the Christian and Islamic doctrines, possibly for LapidoMedia, and will report back here.
A popular quote attributed to Ali ibn Abi Talib, fourth caliph of the SUnni, first Imam of the Shia:
Hate no one, no matter how much they have wronged you, live humbly, no matter how wealthy you have become, think positively, no matter how hard the life is, give much, even if you have been given little, keep in touch with the ones who have forgotten you, and forgive who has wronged you, and do not stop praying for the best of those you love.
Blessed are the meek. Ramadan Mubarak.
[ by Charles Cameron — a term from cultural anthropology as a marker for jihadist intensity ]
Ahmed S. Younis, Deputy Special Envoy and Coordinator, Global Engagement Center, U.S. Department of State, during the George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security event, Toward a Global Partnership to Counter Online Radicalization and Extremism, the Understanding Online Counter-Messaging panel, March 28,2017, a little after the 2 hr 03’50” mark in the video above:
I would posit that terrorism and extremism by their definition are liminal states. They are defined by their inbetweenness. And often when we see someone who is radicalizing towards terrorism, they are shifting in a crevice between a series of pieces of life that bring them to a place where this type of activity appears as a solution or an option for their frustration with lived experience. And we lose, as people who want to fight this effort, when we try to pretend this is all about shariah and fiqh and issues of Islam. .. If radicalizing is sexy, then that sexiness is by definition interdisciplinary, and we have to meet people in the liminality of their moment. .. Reality is complex, and it is interdisciplinary.
My eyes prick up — I know, “pricking up” is really a phrase that’s apt for the ears, but I think it should apply to the eyes as well — my eyes do a double-take when I see the word “liminal”. It signals importance.
I’ve talked about liminality before, lightheartedly [Liminality I: the kitsch part] and more seriously [Liminality II: the serious part] — but by way of a reminder, I’ll just quote two stories from the latter, along with this definition:
liminality is between-ness — it’s what happens on thresholds
Here are the two stories:
Something pretty remarkable happened as 1999 turned into 2000 — something liminal. And it happened aboard the USS Topeka, SSN-754 (below):
Its bow in one year, its stern in another, the USS Topeka marked the new millennium 400 feet beneath the International Dateline in the Pacific ocean. The Pearl Harbor-based navy submarine straddled the line, meaning that at midnight, one end was in 2000 while the other was still in 1999… The 360-foot-long sub, which was 2,100 miles from Honolulu, Hawaii, straddled the Equator at the same time, meaning it was in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Some of the 130 crewmembers were in Winter in the North, while others were in Summer in the South…
Sitting pretty on the threshold between two millennia, two centuries, two decades, years, seasons, months, days and hemispheres was an extraordinarily liminal idea — as the two-faced January is a liminal month — and I think illustrates effectively the terrific power of the liminal to sway human thinking
Navy commanders in charge of billion dollar ships seldom get up to such “fanciful” behaviors!
And if we might turn from the contemporary US Navy and its submarine to ancient Indian mythology and Hindu religion for a moment:
The story of Narsingh (above), the fourth avatar of Vishnu in Vaisnavism, also captures the idea of what’s meant by thresholds very nicely:
A tyrannous and oppressive king obtained a boon from the gods that he should die “neither by day nor night, neither within the palace nor outside it, neither at the hand of man nor beast” and thought his boon conveyed immortality — but when he persecuted his son, a devotee of God, a half-man half-lion figure — the Narsingh avatar of Vishnu — met him on his own doorstep at dusk and slew him, so that he died neither by day nor by night, neither within the palace nor outside it, and neither at the hand of beast nor of man.
Dusk, doorsteps and metamorphs are all liminal — with respect to day and night, home and abroad, man and beast respectively.
Two other references at the intersection of terrorism and liminality:
Arthur Saniotis writes in Re-Enchanting Terrorism: Jihadists as “Liminal Beings”:
Religious terrorists have been the subject of much scholarly scrutiny. While such analyses have endeavored to elucidate the ideological logic and implications of religious terrorism, the transnational character of jihadists necessitates new ways of understanding this phenomenon. My article attempts to explain how jihadists can be defined as liminal beings who seek to re-enchant the world via their symbolic and performative features. Jihadists’ strategically position themselves as ambiguous not only as a distinguishing device, but also to enhance their belief of a cosmic war on earth. Jihadists’ use of symbolic imagery on the internet works within the ambit of a magical kind of panoptic power which seeks to both impress and terrify viewers.
And Marisa Urgo Shaalan, in the course of a post on Liminality at her Making Sense of Jihad blog powerfully comments:
perhaps the most important factor drawing many young men into jihad is the sense that it is authentic and sacramental life. [And I mean sacramental. Jihad is a sacred act that they are told guarantees them paradise.]
I’d be very interested to learn more about Dr Younis’ insights into liminality in jihadist recruitment, and it’s implications for CVE.
[ by Charles Cameron — multi-causal and single focus motivations not incompatible ]
Tim Furnish offered a terse “File this under ‘duh.'” in response to a CNSNews report titled Study: Religion is ‘Primary Motivator’ of Foreign Jihadists Who Go to Iraq & Syria on Facebook today. In response to a comment, he elaborated: “I’ve done the same study about 37 times over the last 15 years.”
Tim’s right. But I also believe we need a more nuanced approach to the issue of motivation.
Here’s the passage from the study in question, Lorne Dawson and Amarnath Amarasingam‘s Talking to Foreign Fighters: Insights into the Motivations for Hijrah to Syria and Iraq:
The findings reported here converge with those of these other studies in terms of how people radicalize and become foreign fighters. However, they tend to diverge with regard to why they go. In the twenty interviews analyzed no one indicated, directly or indirectly, that forms of socioeconomic marginalization played a significant role in their motivation to become a foreign fighter. Moreover, the interactions with these individuals were so heavily mediated by religious discourse it seems implausible to suggest that religiosity (i.e., a sincere religious commitment, no matter how ill-informed or unorthodox) is not a primary motivator for their actions. Religion provides the dominant frame these foreign fighters use to interpret almost every aspect of their lives, and this reality should be given due interpretive weight.
There we are:
Religion provides the dominant frame these foreign fighters use to interpret almost every aspect of their lives
I couldn’t agree more. But then again, as Will McCants reminds us in Trump’s misdiagnosis of the jihadist threat (late 2016, but now twitter-pinned “because the causality question comes up constantly”):
The disappoint stems from the desire to attribute the jihadist phenomenon to a single cause rather than to several causes that work in tandem to produce it. To my mind, the most salient are these: a religious heritage that lauds fighting abroad to establish states and to protect one’s fellow Muslims; ultraconservative religious ideas and networks exploited by militant recruiters; peer pressure (if you know someone involved, you’re more likely to get involved); fear of religious persecution; poor governance (not type of government); youth unemployment or underemployment in large cities; and civil war. All of these factors are more at play in the Arab world now than at any other time in recent memory, which is fueling a jihadist resurgence around the world.
I’ve never been clear-headed enough to follow Aristotle‘s distinctions between material, formal, efficient, and final causes, let alone discussion of hypothetical causes that follow their effects, but it seems to me that the two statements above are easily reconciled if we understand that there are many causes for disgruntlement, to which a religious solution is in all cases present as disgruntlement turns to ISIS-sympathetic recruitment.
Religion (as Dawson & Amarasingam have it, “i.e., a sincere religious commitment, no matter how ill-informed or unorthodox”) is the sine qua non of jihadism.
So yeah, doh! — with multi-factorial causality earlier in the process..
[ by Charles Cameron — a scary thought for a poet, given that “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet / are of imagination all compact” ]
Considering the matter of altered states of consciousness as they relate to terrorism, I’m reminded of one of Shankara’s aphorisms:
Who is the greatest hero? He who is not terror-stricken by the arrows which shoot from the eyes of a beautiful girl.
Shannon Conley met a guy online. She was 19, a normal Colorado teen with glasses and a big, toothy smile. He was 32.
One day in early 2014, Conley nervously told her father that she had a new boyfriend. She wanted her dad to meet him, so she set up a Skype call on her laptop. During the chat, the couple asked for his blessing to marry. They also told him that Conley would be moving to Syria, where they would wed and start their lives together.
Their lives, they told him, would be dedicated to ISIS.
Conley had recently converted to Islam after researching the religion online, and felt strongly about righting the global wrongs against Muslims. Then, adopting an extremist stance, she decided she wanted to lend her skills as a certified nurse’s aid to ISIS—also called the Islamic State, and known the world over as the vicious terrorist group responsible for brutally murdering countless victims and inciting new levels of global fear. They, she thought, were the way to do it.
It was then that my question struck me: is anyone studying romance, specifically, as a gateway drug for violent extremism?
And the converse? How about romance as a cure?
Bruce Hoffman told us more than a decade ago in All you need is love: How the terrorists stopped terrorism, romance can be the cure…
Black September was, suddenly, not a deniable asset but a potential liability. Thus, according to my host, Arafat ordered Abu Iyad “to turn Black September off.” My host, who was one of Abu Iyad’s most trusted deputies, was charged with devising a solution. For months both men thought of various ways to solve the Black September problem, discussing and debating what they could possibly do, short of killing all these young men, to stop them from committing further acts of terror.
Finally they hit upon an idea. Why not simply marry them off? In other words, why not find a way to give these men—the most dedicated, competent, and implacable fighters in the entire PLO—a reason to live rather than to die? Having failed to come up with any viable alternatives, the two men put their plan in motion.
They traveled to Palestinian refugee camps, to PLO offices and associated organizations, and to the capitals of all Middle Eastern countries with large Palestinian communities. Systematically identifying the most attractive young Palestinian women they could find, they put before these women what they hoped would be an irresistible proposition: Your fatherland needs you. Will you accept a critical mission of the utmost importance to the Palestinian people? Will you come to Beirut, for a reason to be disclosed upon your arrival, but one decreed by no higher authority than Chairman Arafat himself? How could a true patriot refuse?
So approximately a hundred of these beautiful young women were brought to Beirut. There, in a sort of PLO version of a college mixer, boy met girl, boy fell in love with girl, boy would, it was hoped, marry girl. There was an additional incentive, designed to facilitate not just amorous connections but long-lasting relationships. The hundred or so Black Septemberists were told that if they married these women, they would be paid $3,000; given an apartment in Beirut with a gas stove, a refrigerator, and a television; and employed by the PLO in some nonviolent capacity. Any of these couples that had a baby within a year would be rewarded with an additional $5,000.
Both Abu Iyad and the future general worried that their scheme would never work. But, as the general recounted, without exception the Black Septemberists fell in love, got married, settled down, and in most cases started a family.
If so, would that be a sort of variant on the homeopathic formula Similia similibus curantur?
Shakespeare — who coined the phrase “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet / are of imagination all compact” which I used in my subtitle — died 400 years ago today.
Switch to our mobile site